Developer: 4A Games
Publisher: Deep Silver
Rating: Mature, 18+
When the Last War started nearly seven billion people were wiped from the face of the Earth by nuclear fire. In Moscow, the ones who survived were down in the Metro system when the bombs struck the city. Now, twenty years later, the people of Metro are trying to survive the mutants and radiation left behind by the war. That is how the Metro series starts in 2010’s Metro 2033. A sequel, Metro Last Light, hit store shelves in 2013, and on February 15th this year the final game in the trilogy, Metro Exodus, was released.
All the games are based on the book series by Dmitry Glukhovsky. Metro 2033 was started by Dmitry when he was eighteen, and he released it on his website in 2002. Dmitry followed up with Metro 2034 and 2035. Dmitry Glukhovsky was a contributing writer on the games Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light. The stories center around a young man, Artyom, who grew up in the Metro, and who later becomes one of the Spartans elite rangers who protect the people of the Metro.
Metro Exodus is rated M for mature and PEGI 18. The game is described as a horror survival game and that is an apt description of the game, and there are a lot of depictions of violence in the gameplay and cutscenes of the game. I found that within the first fifteen minutes of the game Artyom was shot and thrown into a mass grave. Artyom then has to crawl through the grave to get on with the rest of the mission. Ammunition is very scarce which means that after fighting other humans the player has to search their dead bodies for ammo.
The game also has some scenes of violence against women, and there is a lot of foul language in the dialogue. Artyom and the other characters drink alcohol from time to time. I didn’t come across any sexual themes, but from my reading the rating and my experience with the previous games there are sexual themes and nudity in the gameplay.
Metro Exodus is a story-driven first-person shooter with elements of an open world game. Players who are new to the series will not need to have intimate knowledge of the first two games in order to play Metro Exodus, but that knowledge is helpful to understand character relationships. The story within Metro Exodus, and the Metro series, is a Russian story. There are elements of Russian culture and history within the story which may seem foreign to Western players. The Western ideal of individualism is counter to the tone of Metro Exodus which emphasizes the community over the individual. For example, at the beginning of the game, Artyom ends up in the hospital to receive blood transfusions because he’s been exposed to so much surface radiation. The doctor chides Artyom for being selfish and taking blood that could have been saved for the others in the community. Artyom is later told by his commander that he needs to be a good example to young soldiers in the Spartans because they look up to him. The game doesn’t promote socialism or communism because that is viewed as slavery to the characters. Dmitry Glukhovsky was critical of the socialist system in his books but he did have a love for Russia.
The release of Metro Exodus had an unexpected development when Deep Silver announced that they’d be releasing the game on Epic Games Store instead of Steam. I bought the game through Epic Games and downloaded on the release date. I experienced a technical issue when I tried to launch Metro Exodus through the Epic Games app; I like to play FPS games with a controller, but when I launched Metro Exodus it would not recognize my Steam controller or my PS4 controller. I looked through the options menu and found support for both controllers, but the game would not recognize the controller even though both were wired into the PC.
I was able to solve this problem by adding Metro Exodus to my Steam library as a non-Steam game. I have not been able to find anyone else who experienced the same problem, but I did read other reviews of the PS4 version of the game which mentioned controller issues. Once I got the controllers working the gameplay was fine, and I would recommend playing with a controller on the PC version.
I have read some complaints that Metro Exodus is not a very good open world game. In truth, Metro Exodus is not actually an open world in the first place, but I understand the confusion that some people have with the game. Artyom and his follow rangers come upon a train in the ruins of Moscow which allows them to make contact with the rest of the world. The group then uses the train to travel across the Russian countryside and learn about the new world.
The stops along the way serve as sandboxes where the players can explore and complete missions. Each sandbox has limits which the player can’t move beyond until the storyline mission is completed. Missions are given to the player by the different members of the Spartans; some of the missions are vital to moving the train along while others are meant to build up the morale of the unit, and in the various villages along the track, the player can find other humans to join the train. When the train stops you have a chance to talk to all the members of the Spartans, but more importantly, the player can listen in on the conversations between the other characters.
One of the characters a player meets early in the game is Katya and her daughter Nastya; when they joined the train I listened to them talk to one of the other soldiers, Stephan. They were clearly bonding, and Stephan even stated he would stay behind with them if they were not allowed on the train. The game got me to care about Katya and Nastya, so when Nastya asked me to retrieve her teddy bear, I felt like I had to get it, even after I found out that the bear was in the nest of a large flying mutant called a Demon. The mutant was more powerful than me, but I fought it until I ran out of ammo and had to beat it to death with the butt of my gun.
Survival is one of the key components of Metro Exodus similar to the other two previous games. The last war left the world a polluted, dangerous place, and the player needs to maintain weapons and equipment during the missions. Unlike the previous games, however, Metro Exodus has done away with the bullet currency to buy items. In the current game, the player must scavenge the area for parts and chemicals to craft items. When the player encounters toxic areas a gas mask is necessary for survival. The gas mask has filters which need to be changed every few minutes, which the game reminds the player to do. The mask can also be damaged during combat and then needs to be repaired or replaced.
Weapons in the game are crafted and upgraded in a couple of different ways. Every time a new weapon or upgrade is found it can be added at the workbench or with a mobile tool kit Artyom carries. The player can only craft weapons that have been found during the game on the workbench. As weapons get used they get dirty, which means they will jam or overheat easier. The only place to clean weapons is at workbenches, which are on the train or in certain areas of the map. I enjoyed the realistic nature of managing the gear, but I also didn’t like it because my equipment broke a lot.
The world of Metro Exodus has a lot of dangers in it, including mutant crawfish, wolves, and bats, as well as bandits and mutated humans. The AI of most of the enemies was pretty good and made the game challenging. I could not take out an enemy who was standing near any other enemy without alerting everyone. I also noticed that enemies would point out my location to each other. The game is not about shooting first but taking a more tactical approach because Atryom will quickly get overwhelmed in a fight.
I would recommend Metro Exodus to anyone who likes Fallout or any other post-apocalyptic game. Despite the technical issues, I think it runs well and is fun to play. The game is long and scavenging everything gets old, but I didn’t feel like I was grinding. I am sad that this may be the end of Artyom’s story but it’s the best one so far.
[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B072JYVYGH][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B071JRHD7M]
The Bottom Line
Metro Exodus is not just another post-apocalyptic video game. The game is a character-driven story that is intriguing. Metro Exodus has great gameplay and gorgeous scenery, and it's a fun game to play.