Metro Exodus review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: 4A Games
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

After 6 long years, the next chapter in Artyom’s journey is finally here. Our Russian hero has been busy since the events of Metro: Last Light, and Metro Exodus finds him exploring outside of the Metro and growing increasingly more daring in his search for outside life. Reviewers were specifically asked to avoid story details as much as possible so I am going to stick to the main points that folks already know from the trailers. *Spoiler* You make it out of the Metro. Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the game, I am going to address the giant, exclusive elephant flossing in the corner.

I will not waste a bunch of time with this, but I feel that ignoring it would be a disservice to anyone looking to play on PC. Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light are available on PC through Steam. Steam users were given the chance to pre-order Metro Exodus as soon as it was available as well. It was heavily advertised on Steam to a massive user base. Three weeks before release, it was announced the pre-orders were being pulled from Steam and Metro Exodus was going to spend the first year of its life on PC exclusive to the Epic games store (anyone who had already pre-ordered the game would still receive it Day 1 on Steam). This was a decision that understandably upset a lot of people, myself included. I intended to play the game on PC for my review as well. I am all for competition on PC, if Epic wants to compete with Steam, go for it. My issue is when they start throwing their Fortnite money around and buying up exclusivity on games that are in no way related to their company. The whole point of PC gaming is freedom of choice. I choose not to download their sub-par launcher that is lacking most of the basic features that make Steam such a great platform. With that in mind, I opted to review Metro Exodus on the PS4 Pro, and will judge it based on that content, not on the publishers exclusivity choices.

Ok, elephant addressed, we can move on. This game is damn good. The first two Metro games were linear, claustrophobic shooters taking place almost entirely in the Metro tunnels, giving the player very little choice in terms of approach or exploration. You could choose to be stealthy and hide in the shadows, or go in guns blazing. Exodus retains a good bit of the linear story of the previous games, but the way you go about getting from scripted story point A to scripted story point B can vary greatly. Metro Exodus takes advantage of its new above ground setting and allows the player to really explore when you are not immediately engaged with the mission. Now, the entire game is not open like this, which may surprise some of you. Exodus flips back and forth between these open areas with side missions and exploration to the more traditional, underground, A-B shooter settings. There are 2.5 big areas to explore, with side quests and exploration points marked on your handheld map to go find. Choosing to take the time and do these, as well as talk to your crew and do person specific missions is by far the most rewarding part of Metro Exodus. The overall story is generic and a bit weak, but the character really shines through in the quieter, more personal side moments.

The muddled, difficult to track morality system present in the first two games returns again in Exodus. You can choose to sneak through human encampments and knock out all of the enemies without raising a fuss or you can run in and slay everything in sight. These decisions have a large impact in the way the story plays out, not just in which way the game ends. Without specifics, there is a mission that ends one of two ways depending on how you choose to play it. If you go the pacifist route, you and your team survive and relationships are built. If you kill too many people, (a number that is neither given to you or visibly tracked) you will lose teammates, and they are gone for good. This not only alters the course of your game, but locks out certain aspects later on as well. Thankfully, Exodus allows exceptions for the REALLY bad guys. There are some sequences I was allowed to really open up and let loose with the lead distribution without having to worry about my fragile morality meter. These are clearly indicated in the game and there is never a question of whether you should shoot or not in these cases. Crazy cult follower who thinks electricity is the devil? Knock out if possible. Cannibal who is intent on eating you and all your friends? Shotgun to the face works quite well.

While Metro: Last Light leaned more into the supernatural elements of the Metro series, Exodus swings hard in the other direction. This is a very human story, with the god/angel/alien shenanigans of the previous two games nearly ditched entirely. While I enjoy those aspects of the other two games, I found that Metro Exodus was a much better experience. I found myself absorbed in this world and the environments. The mutants and ?demons? feel much more like something out of a Fallout game than something supernatural, and the open world aspects really take something from that and build on it. I affectionately dubbed the first open area ?Fallout: New Moscow? while playing. The later biomes lose a bit of that feel, but they still retain a character that I previously only found in Fallout titles. That isn?t to say that the Metro gunplay is lost, because that is certainly not the case.

Ammunition always feels scarce, with a mere 3 magazines of rifle ammo, a few cylinders full for your revolver and a bag full of shotgun shells keeping you afloat. Every round is precious, and it further encourages the player to conserve and play stealthy when possible. You are given a backpack to help craft certain things in the field, but you have to make sure you are safe before being able to do so, and you must have the necessary crafting materials as well. The actual shooting still feels solid. It is not the best gunplay in the world, but it certainly does not detract from the experience. It is grounded, with the recoil and control needing to be managed through attachments or simply by shooting in shorter bursts. You must also maintain your firearms, cleaning them regularly when you return to a base camp at a bench. As they get dirty, their reliability will begin to decrease and you start to experience jams or failures to fire that must be fixed with some immediate action drills. These can get you killed against tough enemies or on higher levels.

Playing on the PS4 Pro, Metro Exodus looks beautiful. It is by far the most diverse Metro game when it comes to the environments, and they really did a great job of making the most of that. My biggest complaint with performance is the load times when you first boot up the game and continue from your last save point. It is possible this will be fixed after launch, but I timed it one day to see if I was crazy, and the time from when I hit continue to the time the game was loaded and I was able to play was 5 minutes and 13 seconds. 5 minutes is a long, long load time. I checked a few others, most of them clocking in just over 3 minutes, which is also far too long when compared to other games of this generation. Aside from that, performance was pretty solid.

The English voice acting with the Russian accents is just as bad as the other two games, but at this point it is almost an endearing feature. I expect the goofy, poorly done accents when I play Metro and find them to be part of the overall experience. The character animations are also pretty bad, with the facial expressions feeling half done and hard not to laugh at sometimes. These issues do lessen the feeling of immersion a bit, but they are certainly not bad enough to stop playing the game (looking at you Mass Effect: Andromeda).

Metro is decently long, coming in between 18 and 25 hours depending on how much exploring you do and whether you choose to take your time and play stealthily. Running around and killing everyone is faster, but the payoff for a more reserved playstyle is certainly worth it. I absolutely loved Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, and Metro Exodus is one of my most anticipated games for this year. I feel that by leaving behind some of the mechanics of the older games and embracing aspects of open world survival games, in their own way, opens the Metro series up to several more games in this universe. A game that could have easily felt like the final part of a trilogy now feels like the start of something more, and has laid the groundwork for potential Metro games to come.

Note: Deep Silver provided a Metro Exodus PS4 copy for review purposes.

Grade: B+