For a series that has made its name by putting players in tight, poorly lit tunnels fighting monsters and crazed humans the move to a more open world design surprised me. Taking place not long after the events of the last title, Metro Exodus promises to give players an immersive and challenging experience about exploring the wider world on a journey to finally find a new home. With two successful titles behind it and plenty of lore to build on, this latest entry looks to expand on the formula in almost every way possible. But for a series that has lived in the dark is the move into the light one of that works in its favour? Honestly, no.
From a gameplay standpoint, Metro Exodus keeps the familiar slow feel of past games but now places it in the open world. This transition is fine for the most part but in the large areas it can be frustrating moving at a snail's pace and finding yourself spotted from across the map. The shooting is solid though, with systems like how dirty your weapons are affecting your ability to fight. You’ll always want to take a moment before engaging in a fight to ensure you have the ammo and resources before committing to that encounter. Metro Exodus nails the gameplay on the head with the feel of slow, mechanical and stressful shooting while also keeping the usual features such as the gas mask. Though vehicles are hard to control and more often than not are just annoying.
At its core Metro Exodus tells a human story about hope. Players will leave behind the familiar Moscow Metro system very quickly as they venture out into the open world but that doesn’t mean the storytelling has changed. Events unfold slowly as you carefully progress into the unknown with moments of action mixing up the flow. You’ll even have plenty of down time between story beats to interact with your crew and experience plenty of engaging lore and character development. Though it is a shame that characters all end up talking over each other making it sometimes hard to hear what each is saying.
Of course, keeping everyone's spirits up is a fundamental part of the journey and your actions will have an impact on the world. Like past games a hidden karma system is present which will see some events play out differently depending on what you do. For example, sitting with your crew and having a drink and a laugh might have a positive impact. Playing the guitar to entertain other characters could also be of a benefit. Should you kill civilians or perform questionable deeds then you could rank up bad karma but honestly, the system is very unclear.
Because of the karma system and the large worlds Metro Exodus can become very stressful to play at times. This isn’t helped by the fact that taking the non-lethal route is made harder now than before. You can sneak around, hide in the shadows, turn off lights, and plenty more but with large open areas and unforgiving enemy AI, you will be hard pressed to actually get around quietly at the best of times. The result of this will, of course, be a ‘bad’ story in which your playstyle and actions lead to a somewhat disappointing conclusion. Should you play the game “correctly”, then you might be lucky enough to see the good ending.
Metro Exodus also makes use of side missions which offer the chance to further the narrative while also rewarding you with much needed supplies. To help with this and the new open world design you’ll find a day-night cycle present which also affects your gameplay and the dangers in the world. During the day more human enemies will be present in the world along with having a much larger field of view allowing them to spot you with ease. At night more creatures will be out making it more dangers to travel but human enemies will be asleep and less likely to see you. Night time also sees anomalies coming out which honestly, are never explained and basically one shot you so it is best to just avoid those.
Speaking of the creatures in Metro Exodus, they can just go away. I say that half out of frustration and half out of fear. You see in those moments where you do find yourself in a closed space full of creatures you’ll be victim to a number of close calls, jump scares and even some quick time events to see you survive. These moments are brilliant and make the creatures in the world feel like a real threat. Then there is the time you are travelling from A to B and they won’t leave you alone. The boat in the first region is a key example of this as you’ll be continuously spammed with enemies resulting most likely in death.
Regardless of how you play though, Metro Exodus for all the world building it does fails to really impress with the story outside of a few key moments. The overall ending along with the fate of some characters is easy to read from over a mile away while actual development feels like a step backwards for some. Take Anna for example, your beloved wife. In Metro Last Light she is a badass character who as the story progresses reveals a more caring side. In Metro Exodus she is reduced to nothing more than just being ‘your wife’ and it is a similar situation for many other characters. Heck, when a character died early on - as a result of me not performing three steps perfectly - the response from the crew was dull at best. People die in the world of Metro, but the weight of your actions never seems to be there.
Moving onto the technical side of things I’m sorry to say that it goes downhill here for Metro Exodus. First and foremost, the Epic Games launcher. Though this isn’t really an issue the serious lack of features is an understandable annoyance for some players. The only real problem it created for myself was that it lacks a screenshot function. Where as in Steam you hit F12 to take a screenshot you’ll need to use an external program if you’ll playing on the Epic Games launcher. This is fine, as the Nvidia overlay handles this task nicely but considering it crashes frequently it can make grabbing the perfect shot harder than it should be. It isn’t just this that crashes mind you as Metro Exodus has a bad habit of just not wanting to work anymore. You also can’t Alt F4 or Alt Tab the title which is a rather interesting issue to encounter.
Let’s also not forget about the save feature or rather the lack of save slots. The whole game uses one save and you can only load the last auto or manual save. At the time of writing the game features a number of serious bugs that can cause the game to break and even delete your save which is a big issue. Fingers crossed the development team fix this, along with all the other bugs in the title, soon rather than later. Visually speaking though Metro Exodus is a beautiful title and the sound that accompanies it makes for a truly immersive experience. Well, except for the melee sound. That sounds like it has come straight from Looney Tunes.
At the end of the day, Metro Exodus is an interesting title that has many high points that unfortunately is let down by technical problems and poor design choices. Most of all the story of Metro Exodus fails in comparison to the other entries in the series and is the main disappointment. Sure, gameplay is fun when it works as intended but the whole journey is a painful one both for the characters and player. If you can look past all the issues you’ll likely find a title worth playing but for many it will all be a bit too much. Metro Exodus left me disappointed and it isn’t a title I’ll be revisiting anytime soon.
Metro: Exodus (Reviewed on Windows)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
With a less than impressive story, poor design choices, and technical problems aplenty. Metro Exodus ends up being a disappointing end to what is otherwise a brilliant series.