Metro Exodus DEALS
Need your fix of apocalyptic wastelands that Fallout just isn’t cutting for you anymore? Look no further, Metro Exodus has your back. At least – you’d like to think it does. Metro Exodus is the 3rd installation in the Metro series, where you and your band of merry Spartans venture off to experience life outside the ruined metro tunnels of Moscow. I’ve been playing this with no experience and very little background knowledge of the previous games, but after a couple of YouTube catchup videos I was all caught up, and got stuck right in.
As you’d expect, the story for Metro Exodus kicks off after the events of the last game, Metro: Last Light. After the attacks on D6, Artyom is sick of all the fighting and corruption within the metro tunnels, and becomes obsessed with proving to find life and existence outside the Metro. Your wife Anna (or metro wife, I can’t assume they legitimately got married) has concerns about you, and also does her best to keep her pissed off father, Miller, leader of the spartan order off your back. As it turns out, on one of his expeditions, Artyom and Anna see a working train fully functioning on the surface.
Upon further investigation, involving your wife getting captured by Hansa soldiers and Artyom being left for dead, it is apparent that the train is under enemy occupation. Artyom survives, finds the trains location and sets off to free his wife with the assistance of his fellow Spartans; a group of elite special forces willing to take on any encounter.
Artyom soon finds and rescues Anna, and in the process of occupying the train for themselves, they manage to shut down a signal jammer that was blocking all communications going to and from Moscow. After realising he was right, and life on the surface had survived, Artyom had further concerns on what lies had been covered up. After successfully stealing the train, Miller, Anna, Artyom and the Spartan order decide to flee Moscow. After a brief grilling from his daughter, Miller then reveals that the war did not end. Instead, Moscow blocked all communications to assume the role of a dead country, whilst the NATO forces then proceeded to occupy territory. His next move was to find allied forces and relay with the Russian government.
The story takes place across a whole year based from those events. Through all the seasons, each one a new location and different environment to tackle, all with their own enemies and quirks to look out for. So far, I can say it’s a solid storyline, one that has been incredibly thought through. After all, it was based off a best-selling book.
Equipment and Weapons
Let’s start with what you have at your disposal. It’s safe to say that Artyom is essentially a walking armoury. He’s packing more equipment than a nuclear bunker, but that being said the things you encounter in this game, you’ll be glad to have on you. A Gas Mask with filters is a priority, as radiation on the surface is still present in certain pockets. Your wrist watch is advanced too; giga counters, light detection and a compass are all available on your wrist, which I can’t begin to describe how handy it is. It even has a timer to tell you when to change filters on the gas mask.
The biggest feature of Artyom’s equipment is his backpack. It’s essentially a mobile workshop, capable of making ammunition, throwable’s health packs, filters and weapon tuning. The customisation feature for tinkering with your weapons is outstanding, and is very clever in the way the devs have done it. Instead of the game featuring hundreds of different weapons, it instead has a few different types, varying from a revolver, single shot-loaded shotgun, submachine gun, pistol, crossbow, assault rifle and more.
Each one of these weapons has a wide range of attachments that can be scavenged across the wasteland. These attachments can transform a weapon and its characteristics into something completely different; stocks, magazines, barrels, nozzles, sights, firing mechanisms and much more can all be swapped out to suit the situation you are in. That revolver I mentioned can fit a sniper stock, extended barrel and a double action chamber to become a small-arms, semi-automatic rifle. The shotgun can be transformed from a single to double barrel, long-range hard-hitting blunderbuss, capable of taking down any freak in your path. Assault rifles to snipers, sub machine guns to bullet hoses, anything is possible when you have this sort of customisation at your fingertips.
Of course, each weapon has their own drawbacks, despite their varied customisable options. Overheating and lack of ammunition are the most common, both can be prevented by savaging and maintaining your weapons by cleaning them regularly. There are also exceptions where you will need a more make-shift approach, such as the Tikhar; an air fed rifle that fires ball bearings by charging up the rifle’s air-tank.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a bog-standard BB gun though, this pneumatic powerhouse can take out enemies quietly and cost-efficiently, since rounds are easy to craft for it. Just as long as the air gauge is in the green though, nothing worse than having no pressure in the tank with enemies charging towards you.
So, you’ve got the gear sorted, do you rush headlong into every encounter? Good luck with that. As I quickly found out during my first moments of gameplay, it is rather easy to get yourself killed in this game. It’s fantastic for realism but you then have to have a rethink of strategy. You can’t just rush head first into every situation. Stealth, and your environment, are your true friends. Learning which moments to engage can save your life and your resources.
I learned this the hard way. I was approached by a Watchmen, this mutated crossover of a wolf and a rat. I quickly disposed of it with my shotgun, only to hear the further howls and cries of its brethren which were nearby. I survived barely by sneaking my way out of there, learning my lesson about Watchmen hunting in packs and never alone. Stealth is also incredibly useful for taking out human encampments too; you can perform stealth kills as well as using throwing knives or silent weaponry to dispose of enemies quietly.
A lot of factors are based around your ability to stay hidden, the environment is a big one. Metro includes full day and night cycles as well as dynamic weather and climate changes, so instead of taking down that human encampment in the day, use the night to conceal yourself, or maybe strike when it is heavily raining to conceal the noise of your actions. You can also turn off lights and candles that would otherwise illuminate your position. This is a great feature, and one which quickly told me that this just wasn’t a story lined based FPS but a survival-based FPS-RPG.
I mentioned 2 enemies in the previous subjects, but it’s easier if you divide them into categories; Humans and Mutants. I mean it’s a post-apocalyptic nuclear scenario set in Russia, what did you expect?
Let’s start with mutants. All with different strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Generally, will be a mutated form of a familiar animal, such as wolves, rats, bears, even catfish and shrimp. Some hunt alone, others in packs or hordes. Each enemy more diverse than the last. The Watchmen are a great example of enemy that can be avoided if possible, since they hunt in packs it’s a lot harder to fight against many than against one. Other enemies might not be as simple to avoid, like the mutated bear, which although is a lone Hunter, is still incredibly hard to take down.
Nothing stands out or compares to the Demon; flying beasts that like they are the spawn from hell itself, they roam the skies ready to pick you off like a hawk to a prey. These are immensely tough to take down, and although possible I’d highly recommend avoiding. That being said though, the design and the mannerisms of the beasts themselves are fantastic, so the design team behind them deserve a good pat on the back, because I’m genuinely impressed with the level of design and thought that has gone into them.
The Human enemies generally require a much more diverse approach. Depending on who they are, can be defeated quietly or loudly, just be prepared to face a fight if you do decide to perform the latter. There’s a big difference between how mutants attack you to how human enemies attack you. Generally, humans are never alone, rarely even in groups smaller than 3, especially in settlements. If your spotted or if they spot something out of the ordinary, their senses are heightened, and you can become detected easier. When you are spotted, they collaborate and work together, communicating with one another to track your position and hunt you down.
It does feel a little more satisfying taking down human enemies compared to mutants just because of their mannerisms and characteristics, especially when you meet other cults and different groups of them throughout the game. They even know when it’s time to call it quits; I wiped out 6 guys holding a radio mast and the 7th just gave up and asked to be spared. Little details like that can really bring out the immersion m, and allow to have more control over the fate of your game.
The combat itself took me a little while to get used to. You got to examine and think carefully how you approach situations. It can be quite intense, there’s a lot to think about; go loud or quiet? Have I got the right weapon setups? What am I facing? Will there be more enemies somewhere else who will hear this? The mechanics and controls are a little strange at first, for me the sensitivity was far too low and felt a little sluggish, so you might have to fine tune it to your settings. Otherwise it’s a really great system to batter the wasteland into next July.
I would say there could be some slight improvements. For example, it would be nice to be able to peak around or over cover when you press the aim button, otherwise you just sort of start firing into the sky because you don’t have room. That and stealth could be a little bit harder to perform. There were moments I was sure that I would get caught, no matter what the situation is. But there were parts where I practically was in people’s pockets before they suspected any wrongdoing. Credit where credit is due, Artyom can carry and slug around a ridiculous amount, but there’s no way that amount of gear wouldn’t create some audio for enemies to hear you. That all being said, the stealth system is still superb, and can be a huge benefit to you when used correctly.
Audio and Visuals
I’m taking a slight risk here in saying that actually, audio in this game is more important than how it looks. The game can generate a fantastic amount of tension, just with the use of the ambiance and atmosphere itself, especially with the diverse weather, it really creates a dramatic impact to gameplay; every raindrop, footsteps and conversation is brilliantly vivid, especially for gunfire. It definitely one of those games where you realise how loud a weapon can be, other than gunfire just becoming generic to gameplay.
The only point I picked up with the audio is the dialog in cutscenes. The voice acting and characters are great when you have them on their own, but sometimes they can be a little out of sync with one another; you have characters starting their lines before another finishes, as well as sometimes experiencing long pauses between conversations. That being said though the voice acting itself is solid and really sells the story to you.
With the graphics and its appearance, it has really set the bar high in my eyes. From skin textures to landscape design, the devs have really scoured across every detail of this game. Even more impressive in their ability to transfer these looks across multiple locations and environments; Winter looks cold and bitter, whilst summers and hot deserts feel vast and expansive. Industrial parks and rail yards feel desolate and decayed while forests and plains still have a natural feel. Even something as simple as lighting gives a fantastic dark appearance to the game when used correctly.
There’s also something about appreciating the collide of both the natural scenery of the world with the devastation and aftermath of a nuclear wasteland together; you get this sense of a world that once was, to then be thrown into the new world that is dangerous and hostile. It’s incredible. On a technical level, just by the scale of the design itself across the game, it’s one of the best I’ve seen this year, maybe even the best I’ve seen in a long time. Stunning graphics.
2019 may hold some great single-player titles later on, but I highly recommend giving Metro Exodus a run for your money in the meantime. Immersive, adventurous, dangerous, intense. Although a little backfill of the story might be required, it’s not going to affect your life dramatically if you don’t. One of the best versions of a post-nuclear wasteland game I’ve witnessed, hands down.
- Great Stealth and Combat Mechanics
- Immersive Single-player Experience
- Gorgeous Graphics and Amazing Audio
- Dialog can be a bit choppy at times
- Stealth can be slightly too effective
- Metro newbies might have to play catch-up with the series