by Sean Martin
reviewed on PC
When Metro: Exodus was announced back in 2017, I was confused. “How can you have a Metro game that isn’t set in ‘the Metro’, isn’t that their whole thing?” I was afraid that such a departure might harm the series, especially in what looked to be the last installment (if the books are anything to go by). But I believe it was Shakespeare who said “All the world’s a Metro, and all the men and women merely mutants” and I have been pleasantly surprised by Exodus, a game which not only updates many of the previous game’s best features, but that adds a whole new dimension to the series. A Metro for a new generation.
Exodus starts off much like the others — you play as the stalwart Artyom, hero of the Metro and former member of the Spartan Order, who now spends his time lugging a radio up to the surface to search for the survivors he believes must still populate the world. Just as in the books, Artyom is a firm believer that the life human beings have in the Metro isn’t worth living, at one point comparing the tunnel dwellers to the mushrooms they grow (a quote I’m very sad was left out). But Artyom continues his investigation and poking his fingers into the wrong pie, is forced to leave Moscow behind, Spartan companions and his wife, Anna in tow.
ASPECTS OF POST-APOCALYPTIA
The first thing to say about Exodus, is that the maps are incredible — huge, diverse, post-apocalyptic landscapes in which countless mutants and terrifying creatures roam. Whether that’s the Volga, a town and industrial complex, flooded by the river, which is now occupied by mutants, bandits, a giant deadly fish, and a cult who worships said giant deadly fish. Or the Caspian sea, which is like something straight out of Mad Max, with oil refineries and rusted ships and cars buried in the sand.
Each Exodus area feels like it’s borrowing from a different genre aspect of post-apocalyptia that we are all familiar with, and this is further complimented by the shifting seasons as the game’s narrative progresses. There is a great balance of aimless wandering and narrative drive — there are missions you can pursue, but there are also locations of interest, which you can investigate, or little secrets tucked away in secluded sections of the map. There are also a variety of safe-houses to discover and unique weapon/equipment modifications to hunt down. All in all, it reminds me a lot of Farcry 2 in terms of exploration, except the map is slightly more filled with items and things that will gratify players.
Exodus has done a wonderful job creating a tactility around all items in the game, whether weapons, flashlights, cars, gas-masks, or even just the buttons and levers you interact with. This is in large part due to the weapon modification system — at any time you can un-sling your backpack and take bits off, or put bits on your guns. You can add features to your armour, your flashlight or your watch. You can also craft ammunition, grenades and molotovs at workbenches, or even build new guns, based on what parts you have available. This is all accomplished using the two basic scrap resources, which can be found around the maps, if you have a good nose for loot. It’s a simple scrap system in a lot of ways, but it’s an attractive simplicity, far more favourable than running around the Commonwealth in Fallout 4, looking for a dinner plate, or some wonderglue.
The shooting also feels satisfying — if you find every upgrade (which I made sure to do) you can carry lots of items and always have scrap to build more bullets, but even with all this, if I were to let loose on a bunch of mutants with my Kalash, I would quickly find myself running dry. Exodus allows you to work out what works best for you, with my set for example, I found turning my Kalash into a sniper rifle, then also carrying a silenced shotgun was a good balance, but with the crafting system, you can change your guns attachments as the situation demands.
Most mutant creatures are kill-able, but they can catch you out — the human mutants for example, are very weak, but if you shoot one, more will come, and they soak up bullets, so the only efficient way to put one down is with a head-shot. But it can be hard to concentrate on a head-shot, when a pack of them are circling you and probing for weaknesses. The same can be said for the fish creatures in the Volga, they mostly ignore you, but if one jumps into the water and you hit it with your boat, it’s gonna be mad. Exodus really feels like a survival shooter in the sense that, all creatures aren’t automatically hostile, you can sneak past, kill, or even choose to trick some into fighting each other — whatever works best.
THE BEST METRO
In my opinion Exodus is quite easily the best Metro game ever made — with the combination of huge explorable areas, each with unique post-apocalyptic charm, and a wonderful tactility, expressed in the way you interact with the world and in the crafting system. The story, though at first seems somewhat silly, adapts, just as the characters following the narrative do. Metro in the past for me felt like it was never reaching its true potential, too much like a corridor shooter but never really a *true* survival game. But with this installment, the series has truly spread it’s wings. Metro shmetro, I hope they never go back.
Wonderful explorable areas, great crafting system, Sam’s voice actor is Spike from Cowboy Bebop
Weapons could perhaps be a little crazier, no real melee weapons, dialogue can be occasionally silly