Deep Silver and Koch Media gave me the chance to play 4A Game’s latest instalment to the Metro series, Metro Exodus. Metro is a series inspired by cult classic novels written by Dmitry Glukhovsky, and the series has flourished over the years with two highly successful titles with it now looking to add a third in there.
I managed to play a few hours of Metro Exodus, exploring three levels which were distinct from one another but offered engaging and thought provoking survival/action gameplay.
What is Metro Exodus?
This instalment of the Metro series sees Artyom and his beloved wife Anna, band together with the legendary Spartan in order to find a new home. They take to the rails on a beast of a train to explore what remains of Russia. That’s right, Metro is going over ground people! But there is a train so it does equal out really.
The most interesting change is not only the rise from the underground but rather seeing new environments of the post-apocalyptic wasteland. We’ve seen the frozen, urban decays that were once Moscow many times before but we finally get a chance to explore further. Metro Exodus ditches the linear level structure and now gives players expansive environments to explore and with each new location being drastically different from the last. One of these new areas includes the aftermath of the ocean drying up, only to leave a harsh desert with oil pits, sun bleached ruins and new forms of sun-baked mutants. Then there are more idyllic looking areas, something resembling a beautiful woodland area which is inhabited by dangerous and disturbing new wildlife and fractured elements of humanity.
Taking place over four seasons, Artyom and his group will explore massive areas each dedicated to a seasonal change, whether that is winter, summer, autumn and Spring. Each area brings its own form of challenges, environmental hazards, unique discoveries and of course structure to level design.
So for the summer level I played which took place in a small area of the desert, I had to drive around in an old and decrepit camper van. Otherwise is would be long walks across the sand, lakes of crude oil (which I could ignite as a tactical advantage on combat) and various landmarks which once represented former aspects of society. The whole level reminded me of Mad Max and actually felt more like a refined version of the original Rage back from 2011.
Back then you embark on the winter level and you’ll find a complete contrast to pacing and tone. From something more action focused to a level that combines survival and action elements which balance out for an engaging experience. Where there's crazed cultists who believe technology killed off the majority of humanity and beneth the surface of the lack lies one of the series most menacing foes. This level is particular combined the series best aspects from intense combat, survival and exploration with great payoffs and tension.
Lastly was the level set in autumn which featured a focus on stealth as Aytom battled crazed cultists and a giant bear which was really serving as the predator for the level. It would appear randomly and if you were caught in it's path then it was game over. However you could use this to your advantage and take care of smaller enemies, considering this level gave Artyom considerably less supplies than others.
Much of the world has been updated and feels massively organic compared to the previous titles. My time with the Metro Exodus should a vast amount of exploration, which felt meaningful and highly rewarding. While I did come across some pretty staggering foes, there were multiple ways around them.
My own experience found me fighting off a hoard of crab like creatures until a pack of feral beasts appeared and they began to fight one another. In the confusion I made my escape and came across other instances where multiple types of creatures would battle one another, hunt, eat and even sleep.
Fight, explore, survive in Day or night, rain or sunshine:
Metro Exodus introduces a day and night cycle with dynamic weather effects. Players can explore the world and find themselves in the middle of the night if they’re out for too long. Finding shelter and resting can change day to night and night to day. But there are various advantages and disadvantages to going out before and after sunrise. New enemies make an appearance but it’s easier to sneak your way through at night. Plus it’s easier to infiltrate various guarded compounds in the dead of night.
Doing your exploration at night just makes everything creepier and especially when you’re going into random basements filled with flesh eating mutants.
I felt this was a meaningful mechanic as it actually changes certain aspects of the environment, creating another layer to the world and allowing players to change tactics if needs be. You can go out in the light of day allowing you to see everything and not feel dependant on a flash light you’re your night vision googles. But also be seen by numerous other enemies and be detected much more easily. It gives you the chance to carry out what playstyle you feel more comfortable with. However there is only one major complaint.
My only minor complaint was the lack of refinements with the stealth. There's nothing wrong with it at all and it's totally serviceable if not a little clunky and underwhelming in execution. No clear indications are given on your approach apart from a blue light on your watch which really is easily forgotten about and the time between an enemy's alertness raising and Artyom being fully detected is very short. If you have the patience to sneak around then it does work, but expect some trial and error in the mix. Still you can run away and hide, awaiting the heat to die down and try again once it does. I did also like the fact that if you kill enough enemies then those remaining will surrender.
I was also a little disappointed that we didn’t spend more time on the train from the demos. It’s an interesting concept which can lend itself to delivery more story elements and immersive gameplay. Something that could work would be finding parts to upgrade the train, living on the train from day to day and even have some form of combat while on the train. Now this could be introduced in the full game and hopefully this is the case, being more than just a means to take you from one location to another.
Aside from some minor flaws, Metro Exodus is shaping up to be one of early game of year contenders if it plays it’s cards right. There’s value to this sequel as it expands the world massively, allowing players to explore different regions above ground that feature numerous types of enemies, environments to explore and a compelling story which appears to take the series in a slightly different direction. While I’m looking forward to Resident Evil 2, I can add Metro Exodus to my list of games I should be excited when they come out.
Check out brand new gameplay footage below and stay tuned for more news regarding Metro Exodus.