Metro Exodus review: Movement of the people

The third game in the Metro series looks to make things bigger and better, but does it still pack the same punch as its predecessors?

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When I first dove into the dark, nuclear-ridden world of the Metro series with Metro 2033, I was instantly engrossed in the story. The dialogue, pacing and overall experience was something memorable. The tension that the shadowed corridors of the metro brought was unforgettable. 4A managed to capture this same tension and attention to detail with Metro Last Light, and now, with Metro Exodus the developer has tried to up the ante even more, offering massive open-world portions of the countryside up as a delicate treat.

There’s a lot to love about this new way that 4A has approached the story in Metro Exodus. While I will say I wasn’t the biggest fan of the large, open-world portions, overall the experience is tied together extremely well. This allows it to deliver a tense and unforgettable experience that helps to bring Artyom’s story to a nice close, should the developer want to move on and tell other stories within this world.

Identity Crisis

Metro Exodus dark tunnel exploration
There are still plenty of dark corridors to explore in Metro Exodus.

In Metro Exodus, players finally get a clear view of the world outside of Moscow. It’s a lot different than the debris-riddled tunnels that you explored in the first two games, instead trading the more claustrophobia inducing passages for rolling hills, mountains and pathways. While the new environments are beautiful and haunting—the landscape is pockmarked with various debris and structures from before the war—they feel empty at times, as you move from objective to objective. I’d even go so far as to say that some areas of the game start to feel less like a Metro game and more like a generic open-world, survival game set in the apocalypse.

This is, of course, an issue that we’ve seen in plenty of open-world games, and while 4A has done a good job of offering up some additional storylines and quests for players to explore. Metro Exodus still feels best when you’re following the path that they’ve clearly defined for you, making your way through the story. This is where the real tension lies, and that—at least for me—is what makes the Metro series stand out from other games in this vein.

There are also times where the series roots start to show through, as massive points of exposition are thrown at you as you just stand there, waiting for your companions to finish carrying on about their life stories. It’s a nice touch, as you get to know the characters a bit, but it also makes talking to people feel like a chore at times. While you can often just walk away from these encounters, listening to people talk is also how you gather up valuable information. As you explore and sneak around, you’ll often hear the conversations of your enemies. Sure, you could sneak up and stab the guy blocking your path in the throat, but if you take the time to listen to him, he might also reveal some useful information, like a back way into the camp you’re trying to infiltrate.

Building a Better Tomorrow

Metro Exodus weapon upgrade and item crafting
You can upgrade your weapons, craft ammo, and even craft new Filters and medkits in Metro Exodus.

The size of the world isn’t the only thing that’s changed, though. In Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light, players would have to scrounge for ammunition, purchasing it from vendors, or taking it off the bodies of their enemies. This time around, you can craft your own ammo and items thanks to a new Workbench system, as well as a backpack that Artyom carries around. Resources are still scarce, though, and you’ll want to watch how you use your ammunition and filters, as getting caught low on supplies can often prove fatal.

Another new system that you’ll see come into play a bit during your time in Metro Exodus is the sleeping system, which allows you to pass time and heal up without using your medkits. Passing time can give you alternate ways to approach situations, as bandits and the like will often patrol less at night, and the darkness will make it easier to sneak around, taking out enemies without causing undue panic. This was the biggest thing that I liked about the more open approach to situations, as it allows you to think for yourself and really explore the different options available.

All in all, the changes made to the formula are good, and help to create a better experience all around for those looking to dive deeper into Artyom’s story. The open-world portions of the game are still worth exploring, despite the fact that a lot of times, traveling from point to point can feel a bit empty. I just wish that they’d peppered more content throughout the large areas, as it would have helped to carry the tension and overall feel of the game more evenly throughout.

When the Walls Close In

Metro Exodus open world exploration
You'll be able to use boats and other means of transporation to explore the open world areas in Metro Exodus.

Despite the love I have for the new, more open approaches, Metro Exodus still feels best when you’re exploring the dark, underground passages of the Russian landscape. The feeling of claustrophobia that sets in as you move through the tunnels, spiders squirming into the shadows as your flashlight paints a narrow beam across the floor. That’s where the Metro series really shines, and Metro Exodus has so many moments like this plastered throughout the story.

4A Games have done an excellent job of continuing Artyom’s tale, all while evolving and making it grow to something far bigger than before. While a lot of the open-world stuff can feel empty at times, the world is still beautiful and haunting, making it worth exploring. The dialogue, while a bit much at intervals, really helps to bring the setting to life. Taking time and listening to the things that people have to say will open up even more options for you, and give you access to more story and lore.

Metro Exodus humanoid enemies
Take on various mutants, bandits and other enemies in Metro Exodus.

Metro Exodus is best when it follows the classic Metro formula, painting the world with tension as you dive deeper into the darkness of the world. While the game does suffer with a bit of an identity crisis at times, at the end of it all, the tension and fear that is peppered throughout more than makes the journey worth the trouble as players get their first look at a much bigger world and the dangers that lie within it.

To learn more about Artyom's latest adventure, head over to our Metro Exodus home page.


This review is based on a PC copy of the game provided by the publisher. Metro Exodus will release on February 15 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.

Review for
Metro Exodus
8
Pros
  • Tension and pacing of the story is top-notch.
  • Beautifully detailed environments that are peppered with throwbacks to the old world.
  • Weapon upgrade and crafting system offers a lot of functionality.
  • Players are rewarded for stopping and listening to the world and dialogue around them.
  • The more open nature of the game allows you to really approach situations as you see fit.
Cons
  • The open-world can sometimes feel a bit empty as you move from point to point.
  • Dialogue can be a bit too heavy at times.
From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 14, 2019 1:15 PM

    Josh Hawkins posted a new article, Metro Exodus review: Movement of the people

    • reply
      February 14, 2019 7:37 PM

      Sounds pretty positive overall! I'm excited to pick this one up.

    • reply
      February 14, 2019 10:54 PM

      Overall, well done with the review. 2010's Metro 2033 and 2013's Metro: Last Light were great. There were parts of these games that gave me jump scares. I guess Metro Exodus just adds to my backlog of games.

    • reply
      February 17, 2019 5:42 AM

      Sounds like a solid entry to the series, which is a shame because I won't give a publisher my money after they've taken away my right to choose where to make my purchases.
      I'm sure some people won't care and I hope the game does well, but I don't like seeing storefront exclusives (even if steam was the only place you could buy it) any more than I like console exclusives.