Metro Exodus, the review

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Valery Aloyants
@valeryaloyants
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In a few months it will be exactly 6 years since Metro: Last Light, the last original work by the guys from, arrived on the market 4A Games. Since then, the team has only made a handful of remastered, a dubious quality title for VR platforms, and was then embroiled in a series of vicissitudes that involved first the dissolution of THQ and the subsequent handover to Koch Media, and subsequently the relocation of the main office from his native Kiev, in Ukraine, to a more discreet and less folkloristic Malta. Perhaps it is also for all these reasons that it took more than five years to see the conclusion of the videogame trilogy of Metro. A trilogy that has always been characterized by a unique narrative and atmosphere and particularly characteristics that have often made up for a poorly refined gameplay and perhaps too far from the standards of the most famous shooters. With Metro Exodus, the new chapter subject of this review, however, 4A Games has decided to go all-in, changing the cards on the table and aiming really high with a formula that, while remaining faithful to the genre of first-person shooter and classic physicality of the series, greatly extends its expectations with some grafts from the open world, the presence of crafting mechanics and exponentially increasing the variety of scenarios. The ultimate goal is to make this chapter appreciated by as many players as possible, without overdoing it and above all without distorting the main elements of the series. Follow us in this Metro review: Exodus to find out if the guys from 4A Games have succeeded in their intent.



The history of Metro Exodus

The Metro franchise is a virtuous example of "trans-media". By this term we mean a universe that transcends its original medium and develops over multiple media. In fact, Metro was born from some short stories by Dmitry Glukhovsky, then merged into the novel Metro 2033 and subsequently expanded through the video games of 4A Games, some amateur shorts, other novels by the original author and a series of further stories signed by other writers and which represent a sort of expanded universe of the dystopian future hypothesized by Glukhovsky. The peculiarity of this scenario lies in the supervision work carried out by the Russian writer who, in this way, tried to maintain in Metro: Exodus a certain basic coherence in the narrative plot and above all to keep some key characters including Artyom, the protagonist of the entire series (and video games); Colonel Miller, chief of the Order's rangers, or the Spartans Artyom joins; Anna, his wife and Miller's own daughter; plus a handful of other soldiers and factions that periodically connect to the events of Artyom, modifying them significantly or undergoing major upheavals from the passage of our hero.



Going into the details of Metro Exodus, but being careful to avoid any spoilers, we will find ourselves in front of theepilogue both of the videogame trilogy and of all Glukhovsky's novels as the game is positioned not as a direct sequel to Metro: Last Light, but as a sequel to Metro 2035, the book, thus concluding the entire story arc by Artyom and associates and narrating their definitive removal from Moscow. The universe created by the Russian writer, for those unfamiliar with it, is based on a third world war that took place in 2013 following some battles that broke out in the Middle East and then resulted in a conflict on an international scale whose disastrous outcome led to the nuclear bombing. which involved a large part of the globe. In Russia, the Holocaust has seen the very few survivors concentrate in Moscow thanks to the refuge offered by the underground tunnels, and in some suburban cities. Obviously, the war has not only led to the decimation of the human population and the creation of new societies of survivors, but also to the genesis of unprecedented mutated and terribly violent animal and humanoid species.

In practice, the game develops almost as if it were a sort of road movie and will see us crossing Russia aboard a train, theAurora, which acts as a narrative glue between one scenario and the next and will allow us to become familiar with the other Spartans, our wife Anna and some survivors that we will collect along the way. All through dialogues optional contextuals or interacting with the on-board radio with the sole purpose of listening to the conversations of strangers and thus discovering some accessory elements of the world of Metro and the places that we will find ourselves exploring. In this regard, while appreciating the full-bodied writing work of the screenwriters, we could not help but turn up our noses in front of dialogues that are too banal, obvious and often extremely telephoned in their epilogues, sometimes even with a soap opera feeling.



The journey of almost 8000 km that will take us along the red lands will last about a year and will see us face all four climatic seasons with tangible consequences on the environments, through 12 different chapters of very variable length. And here we come to the first crucial element of Metro Exodus: you can really talk about shooter in prima persona open world? The answer is absolutely no. The work of 4A Games has nothing to do with a Rage or a Far Cry but has a classic level structure with only some very large scenarios that allow a free roaming approach to the objectives. In reality, if you want to deepen the question, only three maps are really open, while most of the chapters maintain a more linear structure thanks to a whole series of narrative tricks and excellent design ideas.

And right here lies the answer to one of the most recurring questions in the heads of those who loved the previous Metro precisely because of their claustrophobic atmosphere, almost survival horror, often very guided: Exodus betrays the canons of the series? Yes and no: on the one hand it is obvious that being largely set outdoors, away from tunnels and sometimes in lush or desert scenarios, it moves away with great strength from the imagery that it had helped to create with 2033 and Last Light. At the same time, however, precisely having kept the more open world aims at bay, having retained a certain survival component also thanks to crafting and above all by offering a last third of the campaign that approaches in style and atmosphere precisely to the first chapters of the series, they allowed him to maintain a thin veil of familiarity. Whether you are a fan of the Glukhovsky universe or not, this first-person shooter exclusively single player will be able to entertain you with good gimmicks for most of the 20, 25 hours of play that it will take you to complete it, but be prepared to have a radically different experience from that of 2033 and Last Light.



Gameplay

On the front of the gameplay Exodus is both a confirmation of the most well-known feature of the Metro series, its physicality, and a natural evolution of it that materializes through crafting and a system of modifications that concern weapons and equipment. Let's start from the first element: the title of 4A Games is not a simple first-person shooter where the interactions with the guns and the equipment of the protagonist stop at the change of the magazines and, at the limit, the use of a medkit, but great care is instead placed precisely in the activities that we will be called to carry out during the fighting and in the few, well-deserved moments of rest. Weapons tend to jam as they get dirty, forcing us to reload more than necessary or fire several blank rounds before seeing them work again. The equipment that Artyom wears will physically occupy the visual space when consulted, such as the watch to monitor the duration of the gas mask filters, or the map with attached notebook to get information on the roads to take to reach the objectives or, again, the dynamo that we will have to use from time to time to keep the battery that powers the flashlight charged. Among other things, just the mask it once again represents a distinctive element of Metro's iconography: wearing it means seeing little of the environment around us, being forced to clean it every time we carry out close killings or the bad weather will dirty it; sometimes we will even have to repair it to prevent oxygen from escaping. From this point of view Metro is perfectly in keeping with tradition.

Metro: Exodus also brings a system of crafting and improvement ofequipment. Through the backpack that we can open at any time without interrupting the game action, we will be able to create medkits (energy is not restored automatically), filters, ammunition for special weapons and supply a couple of throwing objects such as daggers and jars to distract enemies. However, we will have to find workbenches to be able to produce the ammunition of the standard guns, clean the latter and interact with the equipment worn. The possibilities granted for are much more interesting modify weapons equipped: at any time we will be able to change the stock, barrel, magazines, sights and some other extra features, recovering the modifications from the weapons left on the ground by the enemies or sometimes by some key characters. In this way we will be able to bend the guns to our needs, for example making a gun much more versatile over distance or silencing it, or by significantly changing the rate of fire of a sniper rifle or even the range and power of a shotgun.

The system convinced us with its versatility and goes well with a component stealth e survival that permeates thegame action: ammunition is always in short supply, the enemies are very tough and being able to hit an opponent in the head, perhaps from a distance and without him noticing the shot we are firing in advance, means arriving better equipped for subsequent clashes. Many of the chapters that make up the campaign offer approaches to objectives that can significantly reward those who manage to act in the shadows, waiting for the night, avoiding patrols and silencing the minimum number of guards possible. Even mutants can often be bypassed or will tend to ignore us if we do not disturb them insistently, especially in the more open levels where there is even a minimum respawn of the killed opponents. Exodus therefore knows how to stimulate a certain stealth gameplay, also thanks to an excellent level design full of secondary passages and alternative ways, but it never backs down if you prefer the approach with weapons at the ready thanks to a good feeling of the instruments and the excellent differentiation between the available fire mouths.

It is therefore regrettable that this variety of equipment in Metro: Exodus is not accompanied by a similar richness in the composition of enemies and their behavior in battle. The opponents can conceptually be reduced into two types: humans more or less armored and mutants more or less aggressive. In the first case, we can only expect distance fighting and a certain underlying immobility that reaches its peak in stealth actions; in the case of demons the attack pattern changes but repeats itself indefinitely as they will all tend to come towards us to attack us in melee. There are only a couple of sporadic exceptions with some mutated animals able to "spit" us from afar, but after a few hours of play you will already know perfectly well how to behave according to the enemies that stand in front of you and there will never be a change of paradigm or some news that can really surprise you.

The more airy structure of the Exodus maps also brings with it a renewed management of missions: now, alongside an always clear main objective, we will also have a handful of secondary activities completely optional that we can receive from some characters or discover simply by exploring the scenario. Nothing particularly original or creative, but it helps to increase the longevity of the game and to offer variations to the simple mechanics of the shooter related to "reach the X place to carry on the campaign". It is only a pity that the developer's choice to minimize suggestions and indications and to force the player to consult the map with its notebook, makes it very confusing and cumbersome to understand what the various question marks that will fill the map during our wanderings. We will have to try to remember the dialogues by heart, often proceeding by trial and error and exploring the various areas to the end to be sure not to forget anything.

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4690k at 3.6 GHz
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB of memory
  • Memory: 16 GB of RAM
  • Operating system: Windows 10 64-bit

Minimum requirements

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4440
  • Video card: NVIDIA GTX 670/1050 or AMD RADEON HD 7870 with 2 GB of memory
  • RAM: 8 GB of memory
  • Operating system: Windows 7/8/10
  • Hard disk: Approximately 50 GB of disk space

Recommended Requirements

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K
  • Video card: NVIDIA GTX 1070 / RTX 2060 or AMD RADEON RX VEGA 56 with 8 GB of memory
  • RAM: 8 GB of memory
  • Operating system: Windows 10

Technical and graphic sector

Since a little above we talked about a certain paucity as regards the variety of enemies and their reactivity, let's open our technical discussion by analyzing theartificial intelligence. Always a Achilles heel of the series, this aspect of the game had left us lukewarm already on the occasion of the very first meetings with Metro: Exodus and, unfortunately, the situation has not changed with the final code. The enemies behave in a very basic way, respecting the two classic routines already described above: running towards the player to attack him in melee or shooting from a distance to try to stay in cover. The difficulty in the game therefore lies in the scarcity of ammunition and in the effective resistance to the hits of the enemies that will require a lot of bullets to go down unless you are particularly good at hitting them in the head or in their weak points. It is a little better when you try to act in stealth, even if it is just a matter of memorizing the patrols and being careful not to "wake up" anyone, otherwise the classic generalized state of alarm.

Artificial intelligence is the only real malus in the technical sector of Metro: Exodus because for everything else, graphics first and foremost, the game is absolutely excellent, with very few burrs. With the test configuration we were able to play it in Full HD with the graphics settings set to "ultra", one step before the maximum "extreme" level, never dropping below 80 FPS and the visible result is often stunning. The settings they are simply extraordinary for variety, handling of particles and special effects and for very realistic lighting of the environments, complete with volumetric fogs and beams of light projected into the dust. Also very nice are the models of the weapons with all the various modifications, and the effects of dirt and fogging that "ruin" the gas mask. The only flaws concern the quality of the interiors and some subdued aspects of the vegetation, in addition to the character models that are decidedly modest both for facial expressiveness and, above all, for the particularly woody animations and sometimes even lacking the connecting elements between a movement and the following.

Thin and light the colonna sonora which only accompanies some crucial narrative passages with a minimum of emphasis while positively surprised us by the Spanish dubbing which seemed to us to use a good number of different actors, all quite in the part, with good vocal timbres and excellent volume management. Too bad that 4A Games insists on not letting Artyom, our protagonist, speak, with some results that are not very credible when we are questioned in some situations or involved in certain dialogues.

Ray Tracing and DLSS

We also had the opportunity to try Metro Exodus with one of the new GeForce RTXs, enjoying both support for Ray Tracing via hardware, and DLSS which guarantees extremely high quality upscaling. And it is a combination that on the one hand promises superior quality lights, reflections and shadows, and on the other guarantees a substantial increase in performance, such as to compensate for the inevitable weight of such advanced lighting. The starting point, let's be clear, is already excellent, although heavy: Metro Exodus struggles to maintain 60 frames per second in 4k even with a powerful RTX 2080 Ti under the hood, and it improves aesthetically when we activate the Ray Tracing which results in more natural shadows and more realistic metallic surfaces. The weight for the hardware, however, grows exponentially, with the framerate sometimes falling below 30 FPS. But things change with the activation of the DLSS, a technology that, while not working miracles, can even increase performance by 50%. In the most demanding situations, almost exclusively out of the action, it happens to fall in the 40 FPS area anyway, but the image rendering is truly incredible. Sure, an expensive GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is required to achieve this with a massive title like Metro Exodus, but we expect further improvements in the coming weeks a bit like what happened with Battlefield V. It's also important to point out that through DLSS , it is possible to play in high-framerate 4K, turning off Ray Tracing, and further improve performance if you go down to 1080p and 1440p resolutions.

Comment

Tested version PC Windows Resources4Gaming.com

8.0

Readers (111)

8.4

Your vote

Metro Exodus is an exclusively single player first person shooter as you don't see it as often anymore. It is played with pleasure from beginning to end thanks to a fascinating narrative arc, gameplay enriched by a series of mechanics peculiar to the series, and an amazing graphics sector. To be out of tune are only a few small smears, almost accidents along the way, on all the lacking artificial intelligence and subdued character models. The radical change of the atmosphere and the type of scenarios compared to the past, will make this Exodus less familiar than expected to those who are intimately fans of Metro and its iconography. But this is not necessarily a negative element, because the greater variety and a certain detachment from the past of the series will at the same time make it more appreciable even by those who have never digested or played to the end Artyom's previous adventures.

PRO

  • The "physical" gameplay and the addition of crafting make it an original shooter
  • Technically it amazes for the quality of the rooms and the management of the lights
  • The scenarios are often vast and enjoy a great variety ...
AGAINST
  • ... and also for this reason the atmosphere is far from the traditional one of the series
  • Lack of artificial intelligence
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