4A Games were relatively unknown before their work on the Metro series. The studio’s creation was the idea of former staff members of GSC Game World, known for their S.T.A.L.K.E.R series. It is truly remarkable to see them evolve from their first project as Metro 2033 to Metro Exodus. They are not just technically profound in the graphics department, but they have also mastered the art of storytelling which is where Metro Exodus shines brightly.
Metro Exodus extends the adventures of Artyom with the events continuing from the previous game, Metro Last Light. The opening prologue is a sheer genius with the way it tries to set up the mood and tone of the story. It uses a train ride purely as a symbolic representation of the journey of humanity from the start of this nuclear war that led to humanity’s destruction and death of more than 7 billion humans, to the extinct remaining population struggling to survive in this brutal nuclear-infested world.
In Metro Exodus, Artyom is desperate to prove that it is still possible to live on the radiation-infested surface of the world. Due to the nuclear war that led to humanity’s extinction, all kinds of mutated creatures roam the surface while radiation makes it impossible to survive for long. Despite these major problems, Artyom still carries the hope that perhaps some glimpse of humanity is available on the surface and tries hard to prove it by taking expeditions that put him at odds with the authorities.
Metro Exodus places a strong emphasis on the story so there is a lot of dialogue, narration, and even quick-time events that take control of action from the player. Fortunately, it is not that big of a deal because the story is pretty good and will keep you engaged with its plot twists. The characters will quickly grow closer as you spend time with them, and character development is given special attention with some great writing.
I was constantly getting surprised at Metro Exodus because of how it manages to bring together such an immersive experience for a first-person shooter. 4A Games deserve some credit for stepping up their games here in an industry where the focus is getting more on social interactions than an immersive experience. The story alone won’t give this level of immersion and this is where I will mention the next great thing about Metro Exodus. The game is atmospheric with a great art direction that draws your attention. Everything looks on-point painting the grim picture of struggling humanity that is fighting hard to survive.
One of the bigger gameplay improvements is with the expanded scope of exploration and traversal. The map design is now semi-open and while you will go through many linear segments as well, the open-approach to mission design makes the game world feel alive. It also adds to the survival horror elements where you are not sure where to go and feel a sense of dread due to the unknown nature of what lies ahead. This also brings in many interesting side quests so it encourages you to explore around and learn more about the world and its lore.
Combat encounters can offer the choice of stealth or let you go in with all guns blazing. The AI is unfortunately not that sharp so the experience is less than ideal at least on the normal difficulty setting. Everything that you will use in Metro Exodus gets crafted from items that you will find during exploration. This means to stock on ammo, you will have to craft them yourself relying on the items that you can find, thus looking into every nook and cranny. It is another difference in Metro Exodus that sets it apart from its predecessors. While Crafting is essential in the game, it is only accessible at certain special points on the map so you can’t really rely on it.
So far, it might sound like Metro Exodus is a truly great game, and it is, but there is some unfortunate setback that holds it back too. This mainly deals with the technical performance of the game including a major bug on the Xbox One X which relates to the gamma level. It is a bug that basically makes it impossible to avoid crushed blacks which ruins the atmosphere of the game. I was playing Metro Exodus on the Xbox One X and felt like the game was too dark, but the gamma level either makes it too bright or too dark with no middle level in between them. This can still be fixed in an update so hopefully, the developers should take notice of it.
Visually, it is a great looking game and more impressively, there is even a dynamic day and night cycle which took me with surprise. The game runs at a native 4K resolution on the Xbox One X so the image quality looks quite sharp, but it suffers from some performance related issues and bugs that can occasionally lock you out of the game. This is something that could get patched out in time for launch but still crops up at times.
I have heard other people reporting crashes on their consoles, but my experience is not that bad in this regard. I did play most of the game after the day one update so perhaps they fixed out some of the issues. Still, the game felt like it could have done a lot better with some polish and quality control.
Metro Exodus Review (Xbox One)
Game Reviewed on: Xbox One
Game description: Metro Exodus is a first-person shooter video game developed by 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. It is the third installment in the Metro video game series based on Dmitry Glukhovsky's novels. It follows the events of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light.
Final Score - 8/10
Metro Exodus is a memorable trip that is equal parts atmospheric first-person shooter and gritty survival horror drama set in a post-apocalyptic world. While suffering from some technical issues, the game itself is extremely well made from the way narration of the story happens to how combat encounters play out.