The Metro series is no stranger to breaking ground in games. It was one of the first FPS post-apocalyptic games to come from Eastern Europe, and alongside S.T.A.L.K.E.R, it showed that that part of the world has some great stories to tell when it comes to nuclear annihilation and the rebuilding of humanity that follows. In its case, Metro took a more action-heavy approach, while S.T.A.L.K.E.R stuck to more a focus in story with heavy doses of survival simulation. While both series managed to feature quite a bit of exploration, our excursions in Chernobyl always ended up being more open ended than any of our trips through the twisting tunnels under Moscow.
Things change now. Metro Exodus, one of my favorite games that I played at E3 2018, is set to shake things up for Metro as a series, and for games in its genre as a whole. With Fallout at yet another end of the open-world spectrum, Exodus has a lot to live up to when it comes to offering a compelling world to explore, and if the demo I played is any indication, it might put up one hell of a fight with whatever Bethesda’s cooking up with Fallout 76’s West Virginia and its country roads.
My time with Metro Exodus started as the train that’s carrying the series’ hero, Artyon, stops dead on its tracks, forcing the merry band of survivors to explore the frozen remains of the first city they’ve ran into after leaving Moscow. After setting up a plan of approach, that is, find a way to keep their ride moving and at the same time find out just who the heck decided to block the tracks, we were left to our own devices for about an hour with the demo.
The demo pointer took me towards a more swampy area of the frozen wastes, as I stepped onto a boat and paddled towards an apparent sight of survivors out in the distance. That place ended up being a church of sorts, and the leader wasn’t too keen at all for visitors, trapping me as soon as I docked. Luckily, a small family took pity on me, and helped my escape, later making their own through an open window. By sheer clumsiness of my own, I ended up bumbling my way and hit a guard, starting a small but still chaotic firefight that propelled me to make sure I got the hell out of that place. But not before getting an earful from the preacher who was laying down the word of his technology hating god.
Things didn’t turn out for the better once I was out and “safe”. I had spent a lot of my supplies during that fight, mostly my health kits and ugh, my bullets. Luckily, thanks to Metro’s tried and true crafting system, I was able to make some of the former, but not a whole lot of the latter. Even the pneumatic gun that one of my friends gave me before leaving the train proved to be quite an ammo hog, but in a good turn of events, the pegs that that gun fires only took a few loot pickups in order to be made. And boy, did they come in handy. After leaving the mutant infested waters surrounding that human stronghold, I touched down in an even more dangerous locale.
Humanoid mutants were not at all keen to seeing me as I started poking around another area of interest, this time a tall structure that I was told by a friend who I ran into on the way, was yet another survivor stronghold. These mutants weren’t direct threats on their own, but they started coming in packs, ultimately forcing me to huff it up to the roof of a warehouse that was connected by a crane to whatever structure the person I spotted before was. That was the point in the demo where my time with the game ended, sadly.
The hour or so minutes I spend with Metro Exodus passed by so quickly that I was hardly noticed. That’s just how bewitched I felt throughout that play session. It helps that I’m already a gigantic fan of the Metro franchise, and Exodus seems like it’ll be the natural step in its evolution, giving a fun, but extremely dangerous world to explore and find trouble in. It helps that the entire thing looks absolutely gorgeous, with some of the best environmental design I’ve seen during any of the demos that I played at this year’s E3.
I was totally into the idea of an open-world Metro game before playing Exodus at E3, and after having the surprise hands-on appointment I can safely say that it’s one of my most anticipated games out of the show. So it’s a good thing that Deep Silver has already dated its release for February next year. That month is already set to be one of the busiest in gaming since the late 1990s, but I’ll be saving up a few weeks then in order to play through Metro Exodus, that’s for sure.