Posted on 22 Feb 2019 by Jay Shaw

Metro Exodus

The Defence

Developer: 4A Games
Publisher: Deep Silver
Genre: Action, Shooter
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 15 Feb 2019

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 4440 @3.1 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 670
AMD Radeon HD 7870
HDD: 59 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: Unknown
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K @3.5 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56
HDD: 59 GB
DirectX: 12
Controller: Full
Mod Support: Unknown
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

Metro Exodus is the third entry in the venerable Metro series of games inspired by Dmitri Glukhovski’s novels of the same name. For the first time it takes the series to more open levels and introduces more exploration and resource management than previous games; but is it a step in the right direction or is 4A Games not paying attention to the Geiger counter?

The Trial

Exodus wastes no time in setting up the tone; right from the pre-rendered intro video you’re thrown into a world of surreal ruins. From frozen corpses picked apart by mutants to streets full of abandoned civilian and military vehicles, there’s a weird kind of beauty in the desolation. Making the above-ground more palatable is the hopeful mood of the characters; they believe in the journey and want to see it succeed but there’s always trepidation about what’s down the track and choices often don’t work out as the crew expect.

As best as I can explain without spoilers: the story is that Artyom, Anna, Miller, and a bunch of the other Spartans leave the Moscow metro stations aboard a stolen train after they discover a secret and set off across a Russia devastated by nuclear war and the resulting hungry mutants and bands of human survivors. Motivations for the factions aren’t always clear-cut, some are even rather likeable and you’re often encouraged not to kill out of hand both by the excellent writing and literally by characters saying it.

Mutants on the other hand are a different matter: you can avoid them easily enough out in the open world but once you’re spotted you’re in for a pretty prolonged fight. Many mutants can take a serious amount of punishment before going down so getting caught by a pack of Humanimals or Watchmen can quickly spell a hasty retreat after your bullets run out. The story missions mostly throw out the aversion to killing once mutants are in play, often forcing you to battle them openly without much regard for conserving supplies. At least in these instances the AI companions are mostly competent at defending themselves and will engage enemies eagerly.

Humanimals: Learn to hate them, because they hate you.

Game progression follows a basic formula of open world areas book-ended by more traditional linear missions. Main missions in the open-world areas will often have you venturing into bunkers or areas so that the structure of the mission takes on a more linear fashion as you make your way deeper into danger, often looping back around to the same door you came in by a lot worse for wear but having accomplished some important objective to keep the train moving towards your distant goal.

Of the open world areas the first, set on the banks of the Volga river, is probably the most interesting: a snowy hellscape with a large dilapidated church sitting in a mutant infested swamp and rail yards and factories making up the remainder. Electrical anomalies light up the night, frying anything that comes near, and Demons prowl the skies. Large packs of Watchmen roam the world looking for their next hapless victim and abandoned buildings are often packed with dormant Humanimals just waiting for an idiot to stumble in and trigger their trap.

The second area, set in a desert, has the mutants mostly take a back seat to the human enemies. Humanimals hide amongst the sand and sandstone walls expertly, often well enough that you can walk right up to one without noticing it. Demons and Watchmen still wander around but they’re far less prominent than the Volga region. Humans meanwhile are well established in this area; building their huge camps on the backs of a subjugated local population.

The desert region has a very Mad Max vibe to it.

The third area, set in a heavily forested region, puts the mutants at the forefront. Human enemies are less plentiful and a huge mutant bear stalks you and anything else through the wilderness. Its roars seem to come from everywhere and nowhere, the foliage and abundance of trees make it difficult to see very far even with vision enhancing night vision. Picking paths off the forest floor and stealthily passing through enemy encampments by expertly slipping between patrols feels natural and well designed with the sneaky approach not really slowing gameplay as much as it does in the first two areas. There’s also a couple of boss battles against the aforementioned bear that, while rather bland in mechanics, shake up the tone of the whole segment and force you into open conflict.

Between missions you can also wander around the train, talking to Artyom’s companions. Their personalities show through well and each of them is good company. From women obsessed Alyosha to anything-but Idiot there’s going to be at least one you feel a connection to and more companions are picked up fairly regularly adding a handful of new faces to the party at regular intervals. Of all the companions it’s Artyom’s wife, Anna, that really stands out. Between their animations and her tone when speaking to Artyom her love for him really shines. They hug at every opportunity and she’s always glad to see him but it doesn’t feel forced or pandering, these are well developed characters going about their lives and despite Artyom being a silent protagonist you never feel like an outside observer thanks to interactions like sharing a cigarette or being poured a drink.

As for the actual gameplay, not a huge deal has changed from previous Metro games. The gun play feels smoother than ever and it feels a lot more comfortable to get into a gun battle now. Even firing from the hip using the cross hairs is fairly reliable. Weapons degrade as they get covered in grime too; general use and things like falling in water will dirty them up and require maintenance otherwise their performance will degrade and they’ll start jamming. Choosing when to wear your gas mask is also important as it too can be damaged if you take damage while wearing it. Some of this damage can be patched up in the field with a quick tap of the “wipe visor” button but you really don’t want to end up with a destroyed mask in a cloud of radioactive dust.

Little Boy Blue is hardcore in Russia.

Customisation plays a big part in how you’ll approach the game too. You can only carry three weapons, two regular guns and one special gun. You might turn your pistol into a sniping weapon with an extended barrel and magnified scope or you might put a suppressor on it. Attachments fall into a few categories: weapon body/stock, barrel, sights, magazine, and laser sight. You’re never really starved for choice and field stripping fallen enemies weapons will yield new parts on a fairly regular basis, allowing you to experiment or upgrade a build you’ve grown accustomed to every couple of hours. Artyom’s suit can also be customised with better charger/battery capacity, reinforced gas masks, different tools worn on the bracer, and a variety of different equipment carriers so you can stuff more of your favourite items in your pockets.

Graphically, the game’s pretty impressive. Dark areas are actually dark (assuming you set up your gamma correctly) and sand storms can leave you almost entirely blind. Lights shine bright at night when the moon and sporadic bandit camp fires are the only illumination present. Thanks to the enemies helpfully wearing head-mounted lights this gives you a good idea of their cone of vision and the exact direction they’re looking at all times so you can always formulate an approach fairly effectively and being discovered usually isn’t the fault of a surprise but rather a lack of observation in the scouting phase or a misjudgement in execution.

Small details like frost forming as the temperature drops and sand storms blowing in before they hit you fully help to reinforce the illusion of a well realised world. It’s a place that’s easy to get lost in; you may not always be having “fun” per se but when you’re sucked into the experience it hardly matters because you’re too busy worrying about how you’re going to survive a swarm of approaching mutants in the dark with half a magazine and a tin can.

Cleaning your guns is important. Don't want them to jam in a tough fight.

Audio wise 4A Games have done a great job at realising the destroyed but not dead world of Metro. The wind blows, grass rustles, water splashes and laps at the shores of islets as mutants slip into the dark water with barely a sound, and deep virgin snow crunches satisfyingly underfoot. Where the sound design begins to fall a little flat is in repeating sounds: attacks by spider enemies can result in the same sound effect getting repeated every 5-10 seconds. This is exacerbated towards the end of the game when a type of enemy and an environmental feature combine with a fairly slow-moving boat ride to create the least enjoyable rhythm this side of a Cypress Hill track. It was the one part of the whole game where I just no longer wanted to be a part of this world and took my headset off for a few minutes until free of the brain meltingly excessive sound clip spam.

Our time with the game hasn’t been completely glitch free, though fans of 4A Games will be well accustomed to putting up with some minor and often hilarious glitches. Nvidia Hairworks can occasionally turn a rabbit into a tesseract-like monstrosity and the physics implementation can sometimes leave you skipping down a slope uncontrollably even if you walk into it carefully. The physics sometimes just freak out as physics are wont to do – on one notable occasion I had a pair of rabbits launched clear into orbit after the object they were on was lightly brushed against by another creature. That said, these glitches are far less frequent than previous Metro games and 4A have obviously majorly stepped up their efforts to polish the game.

It is worth noting that an otherwise excellent ending was marred by a glitch: What was supposed to be a big emotional climax and fade to credits sequence turned into a Three Stooges style skit when one character in the in-engine cutscene spawned holding his gun the wrong way around and shot himself in the face, causing two nearby characters to turn towards him and shoot each other in the face. Slow-pan out, roll credits, let the futility of man’s struggle against an uncaring world sink in. Or laugh your guts sore at the three idiots who ruined the scene. Your mileage may vary.

The Verdict

Overall, Metro Exodus is probably the best entry in the Metro series yet. While the game having open-world areas was cause for some concern before launch there’s really nothing to worry about. How much you engage with them is up to you and there’s plenty of excellently designed linear missions to keep fans of that style happy. Light gathering and crafting elements never really get in the way, on normal difficulty resources were plentiful enough that with a little care you could get through the adventure with little hassle from the resource management aspect. If you’re already a fan of Metro then you should definitely play Exodus. If you’ve not played the previous two games you may find the story to be very confusing or lacking in gravitas but it’s probably still worth checking out as the friendliest entry for new players thanks to ‘modern’ features like the open world allowing the player to set their own pace and do as much or as little as they like.

Case Review

  • Custom Kit: A large variety of gear customisation keeps things interesting but never feels overwhelming.

  • Anna: Anna’s relationship with Artyom is really well done.

  • Small Things: Little details like frost forming or sharing a smoke really help the world and characters pop in a way that few games manage.

  • Variety: The three open-world zones focus on different things and you may feel out of your comfort zone in some.

  • Spiders: They can often get stuck in a loop of attacking and retreating, resulting in a stalemate where you just have to give up and leg it.

  • Row row row your boat: The rapid-fire sound effect spam in an area towards the end is one of the most off-putting areas in recent memory.

4 Score: 4/5
Exodus is on the right track to be considered a landmark entry in the Metro series.


  • Audio: Master and music volume sliders, as well as Dolby ATMOS support.
  • Game: Toggles for crosshair, hit markers, hints, subtitles, and sign subtitles. Text and voice language choices. Difficulty select. Controller select. And aim mode hold/toggle. QTE input mode selection.
  • Controls: Full keyboard rebinding. Mouse sensitivity and inversion.
  • Display: Resolution, quality presets, vsync, gamma, motion blur, DirectX mode, Nvidia Hairworks toggle, advanced PhysX toggle, tesselation, texture filtering, shading rate,


4.5 Score: 4.5/5

I went into this game with quite a lot of anticipation and fear that it wouldn’t live up to my lofty expectations. After all, this is a semi-open world Metro game. And metro’s aren’t really known for featuring large open fields or forests. So you can hopefully understand my fear of Metro Exodus falling short when you think about it. But this being 4A Games and their previous Metro titles being some of my all-time favorite experiences… I really should’ve known better and leave my fear by the wayside. This is a good one.

If you ever played Stalker, you surely know the want for more of that type of game. A realistic open-world filled with terror, exploration, NPCs that do their own thing for their own gain and some nuclear mutations sprinkled in. Metro Exodus has almost all of that, bar the NPCs. Exploration is key in the world 4A Games has crafted. Every bullet counts. But with the addition of crafting on the go you at least rarely fall short of basic things like health packs or ammo for your pneumatic Tihar gun. That is, as long as you venture outside of your objective and explore the world. And you need to think twice to actually explore a place once you notice the cobwebs and sounds of nerve wracking spidery legs. Oh how I loathed those places. However, exploring those spider-infested damp cobweb holes might give you a neat upgrade for one of your weapons. Be it a silencer, larger magazine or even a better suit of armor. Like I said, exploring seems to be the main point of Metro Exodus and it rewards you basically every time you do look around. The crafting system is rather satisfying when it comes to your weapons; you can build a silenced sniper with night vision optics or go all out Rambo with a gatling gun. Up to you, really. It’s best to keep a low profile during missions and going in quiet however. Otherwise your friends from the train will keep telling you: “It’s better to be silent.” “Make sure to take ‘em out silently.” “Why didn’t you take them out quietly?” “Oh.. I hoped we wouldn’t be noticed, thanks Artyom.”, which can get old fast.

The way the story gets told is mostly through lengthy, slow and boring conversations. You basically get told to go somewhere, sit down and listen. And they keep talking. And talking… And talking. I guess it can’t even be called a conversation with Artyom being a mute who only growls or gives high fives to his mates. Not that the story is bad, mind you. Just the way it gets told could’ve been a tad more interactive at times. All in all though, this is a fantastic game featuring some of the best visuals and crafted worlds I’ve seen to date. Here’s hoping the DLC will add whole new areas or stories placed in the already existing areas in the game. Now it’s time to start my second playthrough and I’ll go in anything but silently.

Judges Panel

4.5 Score: 4.5/5

Exodus takes you on a fantastic journey that improves and expands on mechanics and story elements from previous Metro titles. It takes a few risks and is more of a triumph for it. But, when the credits abruptly start to roll, I couldn’t help but feel that an entire act was missing.

Comments (0)