Review: Metro Exodus

As far as controversies go, Metro Exodus is one of the first of the year. At the end of last month, Deep Silver announced that the PC release would take place on the Epic Games Store instead of Steam. This led to a lot of resistance from gamers. Such a shame, because this takes the focus away from the wonderful experience that Metro Exodus has to offer.

In Metro Exodus you take on the role of Artyom. Artyom is part of one of the communities created in Moscow's subways after a nuclear fallout. Artyom is convinced that the Moscow metro does not contain the only survivors. This while they cannot get radio contact with anyone. "There must be a better life than this" is his motivation. In the beginning of the game, Artyom turns out to be right and they leave the Metro. This is the beginning of the Metro Exodus story. This means that, unlike the previous games, this one no longer mainly takes place in the metro.




The gameplay above the ground is therefore slightly different than we are used to. This is because it is no longer completely linear. Instead, you play several small 'open worlds' one after the other. Each area has its own environment and properties. For each area it counts that the train you travel with serves as a kind of base. Within these areas, the missions often consist of linear gameplay with predetermined events here and there. When you have completed certain missions (and possibly side missions), you can move on to the next area. This way of playing is also nicely incorporated into the story.

Gameplay

Like the first two parts, Metro Exodus is not your standard run & gun shooter. Many elements from other games are seamlessly merged. As mentioned, open worlds and linear gameplay are well combined. You don't have much health, but enemies don't either. Direct shoot-outs are also usually very unwise. Stealth is often the best option. You have to listen to guards for hints. If you try to distract them several times, they will tell you to stop throwing things and show your face. If you've already knocked out almost everyone, others will often surrender. I once experienced this even being used as a tactic to provoke me.

You can also use different times of the day. At night it's easier to get in and sneak past guards, etc. The flip side of this is that there are more monsters lurking out there. You should always expect the unexpected. You can play everything in a straight line, but then less of the world comes to life, and you will of course find fewer special items. The world feels like it has a life of its own. If you see a group of people, you can walk towards it. If you put your weapon away, some will respond kindly. Others don't do this. If you secretly watch and listen to them, you can often tell what sensible options are. All this ensures that no two playthroughs will be the same.

survival

The game will never hold you by the hand. Sure, you'll get everything explained. Then you will be released and you can figure it out for yourself. You do have a card on which you see crosses or signs because there is something to do. However, do not expect Assassin's Creed practices where it is completely sufficient with icons. There are no markers or arrows. There is no line in your image showing you the way. Just your compass, which doesn't just point to everything. For side missions, for example, it's pretty useless. The HUD is also minimal. You get most of the information from the instruments on your wrist. And everything Artyom does is completely connected to the world. Flipping switches, opening doors, turning valves, it all feels like it has weight.

Of course there is also a good survival element in it. Your weapons and bullets are not taken for granted. If you don't maintain them, they will get stuck. You need to charge your flashlight. You must wipe off your gas mask and provide it with filters. One of the most important things in the game is your inventory. Everything is scarce and often the question is whether you make medkits or filters, or possibly ammo. If you make one, you have fewer resources for the other. When you find a weapon, you have to choose whether to trade it in with your current weapon or destroy it to get parts or resources from it. If something goes wrong, it really feels like your own fault, you should have made better choices.

Presentation

If there's one place where there's a big compliment, it's the presentation. I've also been lucky enough to be able to compare the Xbox One X version to the PC version with an Nvidia RTX 2080. Looking at the Xbox One X version, it's roughly comparable to the PC version on High. Of course there are a number of features missing (for enthusiasts: e.g. tessellation, Adv. PhysX, Hairworks and of course ray tracing and DLSS) but it still looks beautiful. If you want to play on 'extreme', you need a very good PC. In my opinion this is the game to invest in an RTX card.

Make no mistake, even without Ray Tracing, Metro Exodus remains very beautiful. Everything feels very natural. It seems like everything has been thought of, even Artyom's shadow is fully animated.
Sound is also a big plus. Everything has the right punch, so to speak. Weapons feel weighty and every shot counts. Footsteps and other ambient sounds feel natural and nuanced. The sound placement is nothing short of perfect. I have never come across a game with this high quality. Dolby Atmos is supported, but I have only experienced it in 5.1. But even so I was able to place everything perfectly. Distances, proportions and reflections came across perfectly. Where many will especially praise the graphics, I am most impressed by the sound. Even music is used very thoughtfully.

Not quite OK

Like any game, this one also has flaws. Unfortunately, some edges are very rough. Two of the most practical points are the initial loading time and crashes. If you start a save game, you can easily wait two to three (!) minutes before playing. I also experienced about six to eight full crashes. I had to completely shut down the game and restart it. After some research, I found out that this problem mainly occurs on Xbox One X and PC.
In the game world we see some extremes graphically. While the effects and environments are beautiful, some details are disappointing. Perhaps this is the expectation that the rest of the game creates, but when you see beautiful details throughout the game, and then come across a jar of pickles that looks like it has a picture of pickles stuck on it, you'll wonder why this is. then just falls short. Obviously this doesn't make the game bad, but it does stand out. Also, facial animations are quiet 2015. Stiff and limited lip movement. The animations and acting performances of the characters are also somewhat disappointing. Pro tip, set the votes to Russian, and this experience is instantly a lot better.
The high detail of the books compared to the low textures of the case. Nice detail: Also pay attention to the books on which the games are based.
Given the level of the rest of the game, these rough edges weigh a lot less than with many other games.

Conclusion

Metro Exodus is simply one of the must-see games this year. Beautifully elaborated setting, great atmosphere, vibrant world, no holding hands and a great presentation. There are few games where the puzzle pieces fit together so well. I'm sure it's going to be a big hit at the next Video Game Awards.
Note to PC gamers: Just take off those pink Valve goggles and get it from the Epic Games Store. Yes, the platform is far from perfect, but this doesn't detract from the game.


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