Not a hardcore Metro fan? Neither am I, but after giving Metro Exodus a go, I wish I gave a little more time into it. Whether you played the previous games or not, Metro Exodus will still provide you the intense thrill ride and nail-biting gameplay that you deserve, if that is your thing of course. Now, I haven’t got far on it, I’m still on the first level I believe. But here are my first impressions of the game, and a couple of reasons why you should pick up and give it a go:
I’ve played my fair share of stealth games and being the sneaky sneaky type before, but I don’t remember it ever being this good. Stealth is an incredible factor of gameplay in Metro, and even more so in this latest game. The 3 mains key factors to hiding in the shadows; movement, lighting, and your environment. Obviously moving too fast will get you spotted, so crouched, slow movements will see you slip by with ease.
Lighting is interesting to use to you advantage; putting out candles or turning off lights decreases your chance of being spotted, and is uses this mechanic very cleverly. Just make sure to choose tactically how to take out lights from afar, as you don’t want to be too noisy.
The environment is important as well; clear days and blue sky’s might not always provide a tactical advantage, but with a storm overhead and in the dead of night? That can muffle your sounds of movement and mask you in the dark even better. It’s a very precise mechanic and it’s brilliant to keep you on your toes, especially when you’re surrounded several beasts with no ammunition left, is sneaky time or squeaky bum time.
I haven’t really been in tune with the story as such, but it’s not hard to catch up on. Big war happened, Russia forced underground into the metro, war still continues underground. Weird aliens called The Dark ones appear – you bomb them. Whoops, they were here to help. You’ve gone a bit cuckoo, still fighting war in metro, secret plot unveiled to poison people. Stop plot, marry Commander’s Daughter. I mean that’s by no means the best description of the previous games, so make sure if you’re interested to catch up.
This follows the story of Artyom and his will to contact life outside the Metro. After an age of trying, he finds out that there was a huge communication’s jammer, put in place to help protect Russia from being spotted by their enemies. With it destroyed Artyom, Anna his wife, Commander Miller and a group of Spartan Soldiers hijack a train: The Aurora, and set off into the wasteland in search of high command. This is where I’m currently at, so can’t report any further, but it is a well thought out story, after all, the game was based off a bestselling novel in Russia.
Graphics and Audio
The entire look of the game so far is gorgeous, even for a decrepit, toxic, violent world. The use of dark murky colours with the clash of textures and surrounding elements such as snow all seamlessly blend well with one another. Best of all about its looks is the attention to detailing, it’s right down to the rust on your rifle, the swill in a drink, the burning embers of a fire, it’s a fantastic looking game, it sets the atmospheres up so well, a true sense of danger around every corner.
The audio is exceptional too; weapons have a powerful sense to them when fired, and the noise especially in outdoor areas travels far, warning you to use them wisely, to not attract more attention to yourself. Although the sound effects of the atmosphere, surroundings and enemies are brilliant, cut scenes and dialog throughout them could be tweaked a little better, as they sometimes overlap with one another. A simple fix I’m sure.
There was a part of me that when I first played this at EGX, I could go in guns blazing and go ‘loud and proud’ as you do, ‘stealth out the window’ and all that nonsense. But taking damage in this is very much going to end in a one-way ticket to dead place for you. That hasn’t changed for the full release; attrition and taking damage are one of the biggest threats, as well as enemy factions, flying demons, behemoth creatures, savage pack animals and beasts, radiation, electrical anomalies – it’s probably just best to never leave a safe house to be honest.
I joke of course, but in all seriousness, this is as much about survival and adapting to your surroundings as it is about completing tasks and taking out enemies. Using stealth when you can, conserving ammunition, knowing what weapons to use for silent kills, checking you have enough health and canisters for your gas mask before heading into a situation, are all pertinent to survival. There are some fantastic moments in this where survival truly comes into play, which creates some incredibly tense gameplay.
I’ve always been a fan of building things and upgrades, so to be able to customise your weapons on the move as well, as on a workbench, it’s a sweet feature. Technically, there’s only around 5-6 weapons, that I know of, but the customisation options are so versatile and varied it makes it seem your carrying and entire armoury. For example; you could be carrying around a simple revolver, but with the right attachments can be transformed into a long-range rifle. Same goes for the Assault Rifle; attachments to the barrel, stock, sight and magazine can turn it into a bullet farm RPK for dealing with crowds of enemies.
That’s if you have enough ammunition for it. This is one of the issues I’ve faced so far; it’s all well and good creating a weapon to tear foes apart, if you have the ammunition for it though. It’s good to use weapons you have plenty of ammo for, or know that you can acquire some easily. Otherwise the better option is to go for less consuming, more silent loadouts for a weapon, to help preserve ammunition. I always carry the Ashot; a pistol/shotgun variant with a variety of barrel changes for quicker reloads and devastating close-range power, especially to mutants and beasts. Just have to remember to be frugal with your ammunition, the attrition in this game is real.
When you do find yourself in a hairy situation, whether you asked for it or not, you want it to be over as quickly as possible, what your weapon loadouts and equipment are determine your odds of survival. Things like having enough cans for distractions, knives for silent kills, the right weapons equipped for the right enemies, and so on.
For when you’re in combat itself, it takes some getting used to. You need to tweak the sensitivity and the feel when you turn and look in different directions. Generally, the movement is quite slow and sluggish due to the equipment Artyom has to carry, so you will have to adjust how quickly you turn when you aim to get it just right for you. Once you’ve done that though, it’s a sweaty palm experience. It could be as simple as fighting bandits, it’s still an immersive experience. There’s no guide to tell you where they are, your senses have to be tuned with Artyom’s, to listen and see for yourself, and that brings a bigger sense of realism into the fray.
Bullets will generally kill you within 2-3 hits (difficulty mode dependant) so you have to properly look out for cover. I haven’t noticed a cover system as such, like peeking over and around objects, not entirely sure there is one, I could sure do with it in the game. The enemy AI are quite intuitive as well, pointing out your location quite accurately, moving into cover effectively, working well together and generally know when to give up the fire fight too. I cleared out and encampment of around 6 guys, and the last man surrendered in an attempt of mercy. That’s really good to see in a game, that enemies also have a personality that some people can relate to.
So far, I’m really enjoying the Metro Exodus experience; the dialog needs a little work and a few tweaks here and there with the sensitivity settings, but it’s truly a solid game. Technically speaking there’s little to no glitches or hiccups, the combat and gameplay are both sound and phenomenal, and it’s definitely keeping me wary of what the rest of Russia has to offer.