Despite not being as popular as other FPS franchises such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, the Metro series has been one of the most ambitious and consistent franchises over the last eight years. Since Metro 2033 launched in 2010, the series has garnered somewhat of a cult following, and it has positioned itself as one the deeper FPS experiences out there.
So when we got the chance to take the newest game in the franchise, the upcoming Metro Exodus, for a spin at E3 2018, we jumped at the chance.
Playing a feature-complete demo, we were told that Metro Exodus is 4A’s most ambitious title to date, featuring larger open areas to provide hours of gameplay, a day and night cycle to enhance immersion, and a dynamic weather system to keep environments fresh. And all of that is on top of a deep story.
With the panoramic walls around us providing shots of the entire level — which this demo represented only a mere fraction of — we got started.
Set two years after the «good» ending of Metro: Last Light, Metro Exodus once again puts the player in the role of series staple Artyom, who is now on a journey to the far east with a group of Spartan Rangers, that includes his wife, Anna, and her father.
After some lengthy dialogue — Exodus features more dialogue than both previous titles combined — we were sent to investigate a nearby village set on top of a lake. Some of the dialogue seemed a bit misplaced in our demo, but with a release date of February 22, 2019, it should be fixed up by launch.
Moving forward, we then had to get on a boat and travel into the village. And although the environment was utterly gorgeous, the boat sections to get from one part of the lake to another were excruciatingly slow — and were hands down the «worst» part of the entire demo.
Once we got to the church in the village, we encountered a cult who believed electricity and technology are to blame for what the world has become. Seemingly friendly at first — despite their strange beliefs — it was later revealed that like most cults, none of these people were who they seemed. They had kidnapped a little girl (whom they believed to be a demon) after killing her parents.
Our mission then changed from investigating the church to rescuing the girl from the cult.
As things went from bad to worse, fighting naturally broke out. We had to defeat some of the cult members with the weapons available to us, and these mechanics work as expected, with left and right triggers aiming and shooting, with bumpers used for projectile weapons such as throwing knives.
Like other entries in the series, enemies didn’t have to be killed; players are given the choice to either kill them or just knock them out. In our demo, it was completely possible to finish the mission without killing a single person. It’s a mechanic that, in previous games, has never been blatantly explained to the player, but acts as an arbiter of each game’s ending, so it’s natural the system would return in Metro Exodus in some way.
However, a new, tiny wrinkle has been added to weapons in Metro Exodus: weapons can now be customized any time from the player’s backpack, rather than having to find a workbench. But this doesn’t make the workbench completely obsolete. The workbench still needs to be used when your weapon has been degrading by dirt, and it provides a quick way to clean them up.
As we continued our demo and progressed through the story, we headed back to our base, but not before another slower-than-necessary boat ride. This boat ride differed a bit than our last trip, though. This time, an aggressive mutated whale-like creature repeatedly attacked us and eventually destroyed our boat. Luckily, we were saved by an ally just in time so we wouldn’t drown.
From there, we had to traverse a few highly irradiated areas. To do so, we had a gas mask and a radiation scanner. The gas mask protected us from radiation poisoning lowering our health, while the scanner determined whether we still require the gas mask.
Something interesting I noticed in this demo was the level of detail that went into it. The environments, although ppost-apocalypticand grimy, look visually stunning. The game was running on an Xbox One, but it’s safe to say it most likely look terribly different on a PS4 and, perhaps, even better on a high-end gaming rig.
But the detail wasn’t just in the environments: even the gas mask had a ridiculously high level a realism to it.
At the end of the day, it’s obvious that Metro Exodus still has a few bugs and kinks to work out, but with where it’s headed, it looks like both old and new fans can look forward to this upcoming entry. The increase in openness and player freedom seems to be the most important key feature in this entry, and it will be interesting to see how the game’s increased impacts its gameplay over time when it releases next year..
Metro Exodus will be released worldwide for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 22, 2019. Stay tuned to game skinny for m ore news on the upcoming FPS as it develops.