Metro Exodus Review - Русский симулятор Waifu

Anna is best waifu

This review contains minor spoilers.

Metro is a series of books created by Dmitry Glukhovsky. They were later adapted into video games by 4A Games. I don't have much experience with the books but I have played at least two of the three video games, with the first I experienced being Metro: Last Light and the most recent, the topic of this review, Metro Exodus.

In this series, the world was essentially destroyed after a devastating nuclear war, and some people managed to make it into their underground Metro tunnels. Everyone else died or were turned into awful mutants. The outside world is heavily irradiated and almost completely destroyed, and any ventures into that outside world are extremely dangerous for various reasons. On the surface, individuals have to contend with said radiation and mutant creatures of all kinds. In the Metros, the differing factions and political landscape can cause wars to spike up amongst the Metros.

It is not an easy world to live in.

 A once beautiful world decayed by war and left to scavengers and killers. No matter how far away from home you get, some things never change.

The Controls

Right away a big issue becomes apparent. This is a PC game through and through, and the developers don't quite know how to nail the dual stick controls of playing this game with a controller. So, just like my experience with Metro: Last Light, I ended up having to spend the first 20-30 minutes of the game playing, adjusting the way the controls work, playing, readjusting the controls, etc etc. In the end I never quite found a "perfect" configuration of stick sensitivity so it always felt like I was either under-aiming or over-aiming.

Everything else was fine and enjoyable, but the rest of the game was a bit of a struggle. One does have to wonder, with as much criticisms the other two Metro games got for having the exact same problem, why they never put any time into figuring out how to smooth over these issues?

Everyone else is ugly so there's not many options.

Janky Intro

The story starts out well enough, with the main character of Artyom exploring the dead and decayed surface of Moscow, before descending into the tunnels and getting attacked by a bunch of mutants, almost dying, and then being rescued by his friends.

It does what Metro does best. Sets the pacing and tone and how you're really never safe. But unfortunately after this the opening becomes kind of... poorly developed I suppose I'd say. Artyom has this dream for finding life outside of Moscow, as everyone is essentially trapped there and unable to leave due to the inherent dangers of the outside world.

Everyone calls Artyom crazy saying things like "No Artyom! There could never be life outside! The world was destroyed by the bombs!" but then like 20 minutes later you're out exploring the world with your wife Anna and get kidnapped due to a case of mistaken identity. A motorized scout detachment that apparently drives around and monitors the outside world picks up Anna and Artyom, and right when they think they've been rescued by friendlies, the two are knocked out and captured.

It's in this vehicle that Artyom notices two other individuals. They claim that they aren't from Moscow but a village far away. Anna's all like "wow Artyom you weren't crazy after all!" and then they are taken to an execution field near a train yard where the two individuals are executed, and Artyom fights back to avoid getting shot but it doesn't quite work out. The bullet catches some instrument or other he was wearing and thus he survives.

This is about the sum of the intro that I wasn't a fan of. I think it rushes straight into it when it should have taken some time to analyze the approach. If they spent more time on this "Artyom thinks there's life outside" before finding out he was correct, then I feel like it would have been better paced. But as it is the level opens up with Artyom and his wife scouting Moscow for evidence of life outside, Anna, like everyone else has, doubting Atrytom, but then immediately discovering that he's been right the whole time. Fortunately though, that's the end of it and the game picks up into much better storytelling and pacing and never stops.

The jig is up.

The Aurora and Beyond

After that the game really kicks off. You find out that the world is not only still kicking, but in fact the reason Moscow wasn't recieving any transmissions is because there was a communications jammer running. It's a massive conspiracy that Artyom quite literally falls into after being almost killed. He sneaks into this facility and finds a train conductor named Yermak, and from there rescues his wife Anna, and in the process gets this communication jammer shot up and destroyed, which is what reveals this whole conspiracy. Suddenly communciations start flooding in from all over the world and you can see many nations in the world are still very much alive and communicating. They manage to steal a train and get away. They are chased by someone else in their orders command and in order to actually get away, Artyom jumps from one train to another and disables the rival train before hopping back onto this new train. They then escape Moscow in Exodus, hence the title of the game.

The crew names the train as the Aurora and they venture forth to discover what the world has hidden away, and what civilizations they will find.

From here the game becomes somewhat of a sandbox as you are sent to one massive location to another. Each one with a unique theme and unique hook. You get to complete side missions which alter the story slightly and get to, for the first real time, explore beyond Moscow.

I didn't follow the game at all so I found it all very unexpected. The Metro games are usually very linear action adventure game set in, well, the eponymous Metro tunnel systems. But here you're outside with a full day and night system, seemingly dynamic weather and a constant threat of danger as you must avoid radiation spots as well as roaming hordes of mutants.

But there are other challenges to contend with, such as enemy bases which house several fully armed and equipped human enemies which can make your life very difficult unless you deal with them. Fortunately though the facilities usually contain a upgrade to your gear which will help alleviate the tension as you acquire better tools for your suit. So it's usually worth taking the risk and going in.

The game still retains its signature stealth game core so sneaky tactics and silent take downs are at your disposal, or else you risk putting yourself in great danger with a full on assault by the enemy forces.

The photomode in this game let's you take great pictures.

Immersion and Atmosphere

I don't think anyone can deny that, no matter how good the Metro series is, the thing it excels at is the atmosphere. It really makes you feel fully immersed in the world by building everything from your tools and equipment, and weapons, around the world.

The map system in this game isn't some menu you access by pausing the game, it's attached to the clipboard which you can open and look at yourself. Illuminated by a small light to make sure you can see even in darkness, this kind of immersiveness is key to the game experience.

You have a flash light to illuminate the darkness, but doing so makes you easier to see. Not only that, but the game has a stealth indicator attached to Artyom's left wrist which lights up when you are exposed, and turns off when you are fully hidden. This fully in-world design does an incredibly job at getting you away from menus and splashy graphics to take you out of the experience. When you have to actually look at Artyom's watch to see how much time you have left in your gas mask filters before you have to change, it makes everything feel so much more realistic.

Not only that, but the levels throughout the game are all varied and teeming with adventure that you can only find in the Russian post-apocalypse.

Bandits in their camp sites just waiting for unfortunate people to come in and get robbed and killed, giant bats called Demons that fly around and terrorize you throughout the world. Roaming packs of mutant animals that hunt you down and spring fights when you least expect them. Latent radiation zones which make you put on a gas mask and hope for the best.

But it's not just the danger of the world, and not everything is a problem that requires a bullet to solve. You'll find little areas where you have to use your head and figure out relatively basic problems, like restoring power to a small shack which houses supplies and a special weapon or suit upgrade if you can figure out where all the gas cans are.

You also find diaries and notes scattered throughout, and can read about the troubles of the people who lived in this world before, during, and after, the bombs dropped and everything got far more complicated than typical daily life would allow. This story helps paint a picture of a world that used to be ours, but was overtaken by radiation and violence. You spend so long in the Metro wishing for a life outside in the sun, beyond radiation and monsters, but the further you go, you learn the harsh reality that it wasn't just the Metro plunged into madness.

This is an aspect of the game I truly loved. The areas you explore all have their own unique hooks which set them apart from the others completely. The look, feel, threats, vehicles. All unique to their location, so it feels like you're always doing something different.

The first major area you go to is flooded, so you will be utilizing these small paddle boats to get around the world. But that's not without danger as there are giant enemy crawfish monsters that can forcefully board your vessel and ambush you, as well as pelting you with a spit projectile.

In another level, you acquire a van which you can drive around the desert in relative safety. These differing modes of travel really go a long way to spice the game up and give you something else to do instead of building a familiar design that gets repetitive in the end. The game always feels fresh and always has stuff for you to do.

The Quiet Moments

This is probably by far my favorite part of the game, above all else. The Metro Series has excellent writing when it comes to their characters and this game is no exception. Typically the way this game works is, you go to a level, spend several hours doing things. You get to interact with all of your fellow Spartans including your wife Anna, and get to really feel the weight of these friendships and relationships, but once the level is complete you go back to your train. I call it the "quiet moments" because it focuses on the characters themselves and this game does an incredibly job emphasizing each unique personality, especially with Anna, your wife, who you have a lot of really cute and emotional moments with.
Anna is very photogenic.

It feels organic, and it feels real. In a world with giant bats and mutant creatures, that's no small task. And yet, they excel at it.

While on the Aurora especially you have some of the best "quiet moments" in the game, which is a trend that continues until the very end of the game. You will be able to spend quiet time with your wife, and hear her tell stories and monologue about the life she can't wait to have in the free open world once they find a spot worth settling down in, and the mechanics reinforce this by being able to interact with her in small loving embraces, share cigarettes(Don't smoke, kids. Shit's bad) and even drinks with her.

You can spend time in your personal cabin by adjusting the radio and listening to music stations as well as radio transmissions from individuals you either have already interacted with in the previous level, or will interact with in the next. You can hear their personal conversations, arguments, and more. It actually does a lot to build the world. Once again this game spares nothing in the way of immersion. It hits you with the realist shit every time.

But once you leave your cabin, you may explore the train and watch full scenes of conversations play out with your crew, as they joke and laugh and tell stories. As they talk about what they expect of the future, as they reminisce about their days in the Metro and how they'd like to go back and liberate all of their people from the cold hard tunnels. Except, that's no so easy, because remember, they are in exile for disrupting the big "conspiracy" to disable all radio communications in Moscow, a massive gas lighting operation left over from the Russian High Command.

So they laugh, drink, smoke, and enjoy each other's company. Usually once these big scenes are done you can interact with each member of your unit personally by standing near them. I was actually really concerned that if this stuff wasn't up to snuff, it could get boring easily, since these train segments can easily go on for about 20-30 minutes. Well, I can confirm right now that it was never the case, and I actually found myself completely enraptured by the crew and their camaraderie. In a bleak, dangerous world, it was a well needed boost in between adventures.

Additional Comments

This is probably the best game I've played all year. The mix of stealth action, atmosphere, character depth, world building. It combines so much of everything I look for in a game and executes on the concepts perfectly.

The control situation is pretty unfortunate. I did get used to it, but it was still never satisfying. Always overaiming or underaiming and it just never had a good feeling to it. Thankfully due to the fact that everything else is excellent, it's easy to over look such an issue.

The game is a great package from beginning to end and definitely a memorable experience. I do love stealth games and the unique, full depth world building. As far as I'm aware, this is the end of the Metro series since the books ended and this game also comes to a conclusive end, though it does leave it open for a new entry if need be. I sure hope we get to spend more time in the Metro universe later on, but it has to be earned. I don't want to see none of those cheap cash in mobile games. But I think with the degree of quality we've seen from 4A Games so far, I don't think I have any reason to worry.

I give Metro Exodus...

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".

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