Choo-choose this one!
I’ve been a big fan of the dark, brooding and melancholy Metro games. They’ve managed to bring a real sense of world-building and story-telling to the world of first-person shooters, and their pacing and design has generally gone very much against the general grain of shooters, which has been to make them bolder, brasher, faster and more multi-player focused. Can “Metro Exodus” survive against all the Battlefields, Apex’s and Fortnite’s of the world?
Exodus is based upon the Metro 2035 novel, and continues the story of Artyom, who has been forced to live underground in the Moscow Metro since World War III wiped out humanity over twenty years previously. Our young hero, together with wife Ana, has become increasingly convinced that there must be life outside of the network of underground tunnels.
Early in the game, you’ll unwittingly destroy a top-secret device which has cut off Moscow from radio broadcasts across the rest of the world, find out that the war is somehow still going on, and be forced out into rural Russia, in search of a better life elsewhere. This leads to a year-long odyssey across the ravaged ruins of a once-proud country, and brings in a host of new characters you’ll meet along the way.
By taking most of the journey on your train, the Aurora, you’ll also see there’s some downtime where there’s some touching moments with friends new and old and your family. The standard of writing is exceptional, and the characters have really been brought to life. Each one has a story to tell, and some made me quite emotional. Many little side missions also have some kind of small story impact too, like early on in the first main area where you’ll make a little kid’s day by rescuing their teddy from the top of a gargoyle infested tower. It’s touching to see how much detail and thought has been put into the plot.
Some of these choices will then also determine which endings are available to you at the end of the game, so be careful about mainlining it to the end of the game and ignoring the consequences!
The Metro games have always been far slower paced than your average action game, and Exodus is no different. In fact, it’s probably the slowest-paced game in the series. And that’s a good thing. There’s always someone to speak to. A map icon to explore. Some scenery to take in. The world is very well realised, and it’s a joy to spend time in.
The actual shooting of things requires some thought and finesse, because a) the weapons are less accurate than you would want (frustrating but probably more realistic and adds to the sense of resources being sparse) and b) changing weapons is slow, with lengthy animations, and each weapon has a set of compromises. The AK47 jams frequently, whilst the pressure rifle requires constant pumping before it becomes a pea-shooter. You even have to compromise when it comes to upgrades as many of them come with trade-offs. Sometimes this means you’ll have a rant when you die – it can feel unfair from time-to-time.
However, the game is really encouraging you to think about how to approach any given scenario. Did you bother to craft enough ammo? Should you have actually been stealthier? Was there a better direction to approach from? The crafting system is new, and whilst the currency of the previous games was simpler, the backpack and workbench system here suits the world and is simple enough to use, with just two resources to gather. It also encourages you to explore the maps, as most of the biggest caches are off the beaten track.
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