Despite some roughness around the edges, the first two Metro games were cult classics that excelled at providing an atmospheric first-person experience in a hostile, post-apocalyptic landscape. Now, with Metro: Exodus, developer 4A Games have traded the claustrophobic corridors for a more open world approach and have succeeded in raising the bar for the series once more.
Based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novels of the same name, players again assume the role of Artyom, a ranger searching for signs of civilization beyond the metro’s walls. With the aid of his wife Anna and a colourful group of characters, Artyom sets out on an old train engine dubbed the Aurora, traversing the Russian landscape in search of survivors.
From dense forests to snowy tundras, and even the scorching heat of the Caspian desert, Metro: Exodus’ story spans all four seasons and features a great deal more visual variety than Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light. There’s always dangerous and dilapidated environments to explore, rife with useful components for crafting medkits, ammo and even the odd diary entry to further flesh out Metro‘s already rich lore.
Though the dialogue and writing is serviceable, Exodus’ voice acting and staging is sometimes a bit stiff, with multiple NPCs speaking over each other awkwardly on more than just a few occasions. Controls never feel particularly snappy, though fans of the series should already be familiar with the previous games’ weighty, more deliberate sense of movement. Exploring the Aurora as a hub area during downtime is a nice change of scenery from the metro living quarters in previous games, and speaking with crew members one-on-one is often a worthwhile way to pass the time.
Where Metro: Exodus really triumphs, however, is in its visual style. Lighting effects and texture work is gorgeous across the board, and it’s hard to resist enabling the included photo mode to capture the game’s staggering beauty. Returning enemies such as the four-legged ‘Watchers,’ bat-like ‘Demons’ and very simian ‘Blind Ones’ look better than ever, and the newly introduced stone-throwing Humanimals are a suitably freaky addition to the terrain. As with previous Metro games, the most dangerous foes are still very much your fellow humans – cannibals, cultist fanatics, and oil barons are just some of the despicable folks that will serve as roadblocks for Artyom and his friends on their twisted path to expose the truth.
For a series that had to work hard to escape the shadow of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Fallout games that came and conquered before, Metro has made good on refining its gameplay and mechanics with each subsequent entry, and Exodus is undoubtedly the most polished game yet. Here’s hoping that the series, like a radioactive cloud, lingers with us for years to come.
Metro: Exodus is available now on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.