The Metro series of shooters has always held a special place among gamers. Offering something unique within the genre, each previous game featured an interesting world with even more distinct gameplay. Metro: Exodus looks to continue this trend, bringing some new innovations while still sticking to the formula that worked so well in 2033 and Last Light. After getting some hands-on time with the game on Xbox One X, this fan is quite pleased with the results so far.
Taking place in the same open, snowy environment seen in the trailer so far, the demo began with Artyom and his band of rugged survivors traveling across Russia on a massive train. After hitting a road block, set up by what appears to be a nearby group, Artyom sets off to take out the threat so his group can continue their journey toward what could be the last remnants of civilization.
Yes, Metro: Exodus is going open world…kind of.
The last two Metro titles were tightly designed, linear shooters. Aside from a few choice locations, the games mostly funneled you down a narrow path, letting you experience the game just as it was intended. This made sense given the setting, deep underground in the titular Metro subway tunnels. But for Metro: Exodus the group has gone above ground, and now the levels have adapted to suit.
Yes, Metro: Exodus is going open world…kind of. There are still distinct levels it seems, as we loaded up into this area that definitely had borders. But within that space we were free to roam, with the game nudging us toward our objective via other characters and an objective marker on our map. This was at least true for the first half of the demo, where Artyom and a companion search for the rogue group.
Exploring the wasteland of nuclear irradiated Russia was just as disquieting and tense as exploring the underground of the previous games. The brightness of the sun offered some relief, but only a bit before mutated monsters brought all the fear right back. You have a lot of options to take them on though. Customizable weapons such as a rifle and pistol offered a way to survive against the ravages of nature, and your fellow humans.
Each gun can be changed in different ways to allow you to play the way you want. Prefer a more silent and stealthy approach? Want to just deal out tons of damage? Change up your weapon attachments and loadout and you can get there. Along with this comes crafting, with players able to create medkits, gasmask filters, and certain kinds of bullets within the demo. While crafting often slows shooters down, it worked well within Metro: Exodus as players already explore each building and environment, and the system was streamlined heavily, only relying on two types of crafting materials for all items.
While shooting mutated creatures in the irradiated wasteland is tense, the real adrenaline rush came as we found the group that had disabled our train. Holding up in a church, I rowed my boat within only to find a religious cult that hated all technology. Given the state of the world, these guys actually might have the right idea, but they’re in my way so I’m not gonna bother with political debates.
The group appeared friendly at first, explaining that the incident wasn’t what it seemed, but as I got deeper into the group it became clear that nefarious stuff was going on. A young girl said her father had been killed by the group, and she and her mother could help me escape. Stealthily I worked my way through the church, eliminating enemies as they appeared in front of me. Eventually I was spotted and the gunfire began. Shooting feels just as frenetic and unique as it did in previous Metro games, so expect to be pleased there once again.
After taking out a few of the enemies the rest began to surrender, giving me the choice to take them out violently or leave in relative peace. I hopped into a new boat and made my way back to the train, but the nuclear holocaust isn’t time for relaxation. A giant, mutated creature rose from the murky water and attacked my boat, sending me to the shore. At this point I again could do some exploration, but headed to the train to get a new weapon and a rundown of the situation. Afterward I had a new objective nearby, which was accessible by either boat or land. Both options ended up killing me, proving that Metro has not lost any of its edge.
Metro: Exodus feels quite different in many ways so far, and yet it also feels just like classic Metro. The fighting is intense and brief. The world is grim, yet beautiful. The story is fascinating and deep. Everything is here once again. If you’ve been a fan of the series then get ready to eat this new game up when it hits PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019.