Scott Watson reviews Metro Exodus….
I’d really like to know when we’re going to get a game set in the future that’s all rainbows and unicorns, instead of this persistently brutal and dystopian world everyone seems to imagine we’re heading for in the near future. It’s bleak and depressing, and really knows how to dampen the mood. That being said, it doesn’t half help create an engaging narrative for a video game.
Metro Exodus, the third (and in all likelihood final) game based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s post-apocalyptic novels, continues on from Last Light’s “Redemption” ending. I’m not going to say much more than that to avoid spoilers. If you’ve played the previous entries you’ll be able to recognise the various characters, locations and events they discuss, beyond that the game makes sure to give you a summary as it loads up of where the story is so far.
Taking place two years after Last Light, 4A Games have decided that we need to get out of the terrifyingly claustrophobic tunnels and surrounding areas of Moscow that we wandered in the first two games. It’s a breath of fresh air, so to speak, to finally get a glimpse of how the world of Metro looks beyond the tunnels, and it is a spectacularly realised world of contrasting images and locations. The game engine produces some amazing landscapes, complimented by a brilliant weather, and day / night cycle that just makes you stop and take it all in, before opening up photo mode to capture its eerie beauty.
For all that beauty though, the world beyond the tunnels is still an incredibly dangerous place, be it from the wildlife, humans, or lethally radioactive zones. The weapons and equipment you use to take on these elements can, at times, feel horribly under-powered or unwieldy, which is a huge part of the challenge. The game uses this challenge to push you to explore where you can, for the relevant resources to craft and improve on the tools you have at hand. It seamlessly interweaves this with the story in a way that doesn’t sidetrack you too much from the journey that Artyom is on beyond the tunnels. Rewards for such exploration mean better scopes, larger ammo chambers, sturdier stocks, or resources for medikits, grenades, and the like. All of this is pulled together in a very effective, and simple, crafting system via your trusty backpack, or safe houses spread across each area you visit in the game. Ramping up the difficulty levels increases the focus on resource management, as you find yourself scavenging for every bit of weaponry, tools, scrap or otherwise to help keep you alive, and your weapons in good working order.
Story and character driven narrative aside, there are a few things that take some, but not much, of the shine from the game. Travelling across Russia with your band of brothers, wife, and assorted cohorts whose paths you cross on your journey, some of the chat can be a little bit on the wooden side as story moves on. I’ve found that with the previous Metro games too. Perhaps it’s something lost in translation, but at times some of the characters aren’t as fleshed out as you’d like them to be and conversation can seem a bit stilted and awkward. Load times too can feel a little bit on the long side when you’re getting into the game, but thankfully neither of these are enough of a problem to detract from the overall game.
Those slight disappointments aside, Metro Exodus is a fitting continuation of Artyom’s onward journey through the remains of a post-nuclear world. It’s a grim, yet beautiful, mix of open world and linear first person shooting that isn’t afraid to throw challenges at you from beginning to end.
+ Beautiful realised game world
+ Challenging but fair gameplay and resource management
+ Good mix of open world and linear gameplay
– Load times can be a bit on the long side
– Narrative can be a little wooden at times
Platform reviewed on Xbox One X