Outside the dark, oppressive tunnels and the radioactive surface of Moscow, emerging societies emerged from a nuclear apocalypse and a future land inhabited for new life. This is a reasonable change in settings that expand the Metro's horizons, although it sometimes loses focus with the known series. However, fire and inscriptions provide a familiar and unbelievable tension, complemented by modern survival mechanisms needed to deal with dire threats. However, with Artyom and his friends printing one-way tickets in the hope of greener pastures, Metro Exodus is becoming more a journey for a lasting bond that ties a serious survivor team.
During opening hours, the returning protagonist, Artyom, is constantly reminded that human life is outside the subway. This brought him into serious trouble and further showed that more conspiracies were being played. Their departure seemed too sudden and somewhat awkward for the difficulties of the previous match, but the heat of the moments and premonitions of their colleagues helped create the conditions for a year-long expedition on the train.
In this way, Metro Exodus took the bold step of franchising. The main chapters open up a sandbox-style environment where you can hike, explore interesting places that are not critical, and follow the main storyline. Research is usually not a reward, because this open area is scarce and can hardly encourage you to venture far. In this way, you are pushed into mutants that force you to spend valuable resources for very little results. The navigation isn't very pleasant, no matter if it's a slow Volga ship or an empty area in the Caspian Sea. Sometimes it can be felt that Metro methodological movements are thrown into a much larger space that is not intended. Fortunately, this game captivates you with other chapters, especially when you take it to the lush taiga forest, which guides you skillfully and at medium speed to and from open and closed spaces.
During your time in an open area, an optional side search will organically fill your card with tips or environmentally friendly symbols that mention points of interest in the dialogue. This is not a traditional side mission that is on the checklist. Instead, they offer the opportunity to experience more intense subway scenarios that lead to the discovery of new devices, additional resources being washed out, or smaller stories matched with the overall picture.
Apart from the addition of an open environment, Exodus is largely similar to the previous game and has accumulated a number of forces that exist most of the time. The carefully crafted levels balance the freedom of approach and linear path, focus on the target when you face human enemies, creating a smooth flow of missions. Of course, some guards will have comfortable backs or make stupid moves in battle, but the general sensation is that you can kill quickly or get killed. Another underground staple against mutant animals offers a different type of tension. Irradiated spiders, agile mutants, and hiding amphibians are afraid to look for their attacks in shattered dark corridors and flooded buildings. Even harmless spiders crawling on your arms and face create a terrible atmosphere. This is a condition of vulnerability, covered by a layer of horror that was restored by Metro.
They rarely feel hurt or overwhelmed when a weapon is fired in one move and can be difficult to deal with. Each weapon has a modification list to get rid of enemy weapons - visors, visors, barrels, loading mechanisms - that allow you to control how you want to fight. These adjustment options can turn a dirty revolver into a great long-range weapon or an assault rifle that destroys the bright Kalashnikov - a satisfying system that adds depth to the weapon. Conversion can also be done with a backpack at any time, so you have the opportunity to adapt to the situations in which they occur.
Workbenches and your backpack are saving graces in Metro Exodus, since there are no longer any shops to buy equipment and items. Gone is the clever system of trading in military-grade bullets for critical items; in its place is a crafting system that's both manageable and fitting for the survivalist mentality Exodus instills. You'll accumulate scrap metal and chemicals to craft medkits, filters, and ammo, and maintain weapon condition. Even when you're juggling systems such as keeping your flashlight charged and changing out gasmask filters, it never becomes overbearing and adds an enjoyable challenge of gear management even as you're fending off foes throughout.
For the most part, Metro Exodus does away with the supernatural by leaving the clairvoyant Dark Ones in the past. In venturing into the unknown, the game tends to rely on familiar post-apocalyptic tropes. You have the cultists who've brainwashed locals to shun technology, a society of cannibals who put up an orderly front, and slavers who exploit and abuse others. But Exodus uses them to lay the groundwork for its better moments between characters and the struggles they endure. And despite the story being less centered around Artyom--who oddly remains a silent protagonist outside of loading screen monologues--Exodus unfolds in a much more personal fashion. The broader examinations of humanity and psychological twists have been dialed back to make room for a more grounded story about the necessary sacrifices you make for the ones you love.
The best parts of the story are found in chapters between the action where you simply hang out aboard the Aurora, the train that functions as headquarters. Here you have the chance to tune the radio to eavesdrop on transmissions that play off of in-game events or listen to some sweet tunes, but more importantly, it's your opportunity to unravel the endearing personalities that make up your crew. These characters are brought to life with an impressive amount of dialogue that seems to go on forever, but because the moments of levity have a degree of charm and earnestness, you’ll want to stay and listen. It's not without a few lines that feel contextually out of place, though the natural flow of dialogue and interactions between the team communicates just as much about them as the stories they tell.
Anna shares her thoughts about the life she hopes to build with you as she rests her head on your lap. Damir's commitment to his ethnic roots and what remains of his homeland of Kazakhstan leads to a bittersweet exchange. Stepan, the big softy, is an uplifting presence who also fills the air with his acoustic guitar. And Miller is the hardened leader exemplifying the tough love of a father figure who wants the best for you and his daughter Anna. These are just a few of the characters that represent the best in Metro Exodus' narrative.
The exact narrative threads can change, however; Metro's morality system makes a return, subtly judging your actions without explicitly revealing itself. What's important is that it doesn't always force you into a non-lethal approach; if you want to cut the throats of the heartless slavers or take a shotgun to a cannibal's head, by all means do so, and as long as you don't hurt the innocent, you're in the clear. And with a keen eye or sharp ear, you may also come across unexpected events that'll pay off depending on your course of action. Consequences don't make themselves immediately apparent, but can lead to fascinating results as the story progresses.
It's worth noting that technical issues are strewn throughout Metro Exodus. In one playthrough (pre-day one patch), I've fallen through the game world just after an auto-save, inexplicably lost upgraded equipment I couldn't get back at a workbench, and had some rare, but noticeable framerate drops at modest settings with a fairly high-end PC. They didn't break the game, but can frustrate and negate hard-earned progress. In the few hours spent with the PS4 version, the game was stable, and as expected it ran on a lower framerate than a capable PC. It's not always a smooth ride, though it doesn't take away from the gripping journey that the game takes you on.
At first glance, Metro Exodus gives you that wide-open, free, and dangerous world unbound by tunnels, though the scope of its tale focuses on what drives you personally and the lengths you're willing to go to protect what matters most. The open sandboxes may not be strongest addition, but the game still embraces the sense of vulnerability and post-apocalyptic terror alongside impactful weapons used in refined combat and stealth scenarios. You may miss the mystery and intrigue of the previous games, but Exodus puts together a charismatic crew of friends and family that you'll want to follow to the ends of the earth.