“Metro Exodus,” the third installment Deep Silver’s ‘Metro’ series, is a rewarding departure from the norms of the series, that only falters slightly because of some poorly executed story mechanics. The world of “Metro Exodus” is set in post-nuclear war Moscow. Where “Metro Exodus” shines brightest, is with the beautifully realized world the developers at Deep Silver have crafted. Gone are the linear levels of the past, where the player felt claustrophobic while being trapped in Metro tunnels. Instead, you explore a diverse and ever-changing ecology. The visuals on display here are stunning, with the game seamlessly transitioning from frozen tundra, arid deserts, craggy forests and dreary swamps. Each of these terrains are visually interesting and populated by a diverse array of people and creatures.
Survival in post-nuclear Russia is harsh, and most of the remnants of humanity have become equally harsh to survive it. If you just follow the surface level storytelling, these survivors may seem one dimensional, but with a little exploration you can find a rich and enthralling backstory. In each area you visit, you can find old diaries and voice recordings that shed light on the events that led to the world you find yourself in.
It’s not just the land and people of “Metro Exodus” that are harsh, but also the creatures that populate it. The creatures of Russia have been mutated into bloodthirsty and humongous monsters. “Metro Exodus” is a first-person shooter and gives the player the opportunity to engage in all out combat or a stealthy approach. It is possible to completely avoid some confrontations by sneaking around the humans and creatures of “Exodus.” That is where the games day and night cycle comes in. During the day there are fewer creatures, but humans are more alert, at night the opposite. It’s important to deciding when, where and even if you want to strike.
For me, I usually was active during the day. It’s easier to see and traverse the world during the day, and I avoid monsters at all costs. The reason for this, is how limited supplies can be in “Metro Exodus.” Between maintaining air-filters, keeping your equipment clean and functional, crafting health packs, and finding and crafting ammo there is a lot required to survive the wasteland. Every movement in “Metro Exodus” is cumbersome, you’re not an elite super-soldier rushing across a battlefield, you’re a survivor carrying the very means of your survival with you at all times. The creatures of the world are quicker than you, travel in packs, dole out massive damage and require lots of ammo to take down. Couple that with the fact that they don’t drop anything in terms of salvage and their better left undisturbed.
I enjoyed the world building and game play, but I did have a few gripes with the storytelling. One of my biggest pet peeves in gaming is a silent protagonist, specifically one which is named. In “Metro Exodus,” you play as a man named Artyom, but he never speaks in game. He does narrate some journal entries he’s written between loading screens but otherwise he does not speak beyond the odd grunt or gurgle. The confounding thing is, the game relies heavily on the use of radio communication, which sometimes goes in and out service throughout the game. Despite Artyom never speaking characters are aware when he is back online saying things like, “Artyom, thank God you are okay.” How do they know? Even during in person conversations there are some oddities. They often ask Artyom a question and then sort of answer it themselves. While I understand that having a silent protagonist can increase immersion, in this case it really took me out of the experience.
The most egregious sin of “Metro Exodus” is its inconsistent morality system. Yes, the game is registering the choices you make in game and based on these choices you may find yourself with the “good” or “bad” ending. The game doesn’t ever acknowledge that it is doing this, nor that there is a choice to be made in the first place. For example, at one point in the game you are sneaking through a warrior-slave camp. If you are spotted by either the slaves or the slavers, they all attack you. Killing the warrior-slaves lowers your morality. I received the “bad” ending, and after many hours of game play it was a bummer to be punished for breaking rules that I didn’t even know existed in the first place. Why fill the game with fun game play options and then punish the player for taking them?
Despite these flaws, I really enjoyed my time with “Metro Exodus.” The world is rich and ripe for exploration and the combat challenging without ever boiling over into insanely difficult. While I feel a voiced protagonist and clearer morality system would strengthen the final product, the game deserves credit for its ambition and changing up it’s well established formula. If your looking for a challenging and intriguing first-person-shooter, you should hop on the train that is “Metro Exodus.” ALL ABOARD!!!