Metro Enhanced Edition impressions: I like this Ray Trace guy

4A Games is offering up the definitive version of the post-apocalyptic shooter and it's worth a second look for those with beefy PCs.


When Metro Exodus first released in 2019, it managed to straddle the line between console generations. Its console versions dialed back the visuals to maintain a stable framerate while the PC version was one of the very first titles to offer support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing features via Microsoft’s DXR. The PC version looked leagues better than the console version, but when pushed to the limit, it was still capable of bringing the best PCs to their knees.

Fast forward a little over two years and 4A is releasing Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition. In a release that seems like it would be made explicitly for the PS5 or Xbox Series X, the reality is that PC gamers get a bit of an exclusive this time around. The development team has implemented the latest updates and features granted by the most recent GPU releases and has built a new version of the game that looks and runs better than ever before.

Dirt, dust, and grime never looked this good before

I’ll lightly touch on the game design and experience of playing Metro Exodus because I know that it may have gone overlooked by some the first time around, but prospective buyers should know that the overwhelming majority of the enhancements delivered by this new edition are for the technical/visual side of things. The game itself remains intact, for better or worse. 

I would be inclined to recommend it to any FPS fans or those who may be growing weary of the ocean of AAA games that mandate online interactivity and cosmetic sales. As odd as it may seem, the marketplace is mostly bereft of true single-player shooters with this kind of production value. It is a genre that used to be bursting at the seams with releases more than a decade ago, but the financial realities of video game production often mean that most games end up being designed to be all things to all potential audiences.

Metro Exodus aims to tell its story through a linear campaign that holds many of the same tropes invented by Half-Life some twenty-plus years ago. It doesn’t really break new ground with mechanics or storytelling, but it knows what it is and I personally find it appealing.  Though 4A Games now resides in Malta, the studio’s Ukrainian roots manage to shine through at nearly all times. The Metro games ooze with an uneasy vibe and a bit of jank that you won’t find outside of Eastern European or Russian-produced games. They have a soul, but it certainly is not for everyone.

Moving onto what is new with Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, players can expect a total reworking of how the game handles lighting, shadows, and reflections. Those without DXR-capable GPUs need not apply as the game client requires such hardware to run. For the first time that I know of, we now have a game with AAA production values that is using fully ray-traced illumination. I wrote a feature last week that dives into the finer details and explains the differences between how the original release and the Enhanced Edition render their scenes.

What does this all mean when it comes to playing? Things look much more realistic, even to the point of being unnoticeable if you aren’t looking for them. Light bounces off of surface materials and can cast objects in various hues that were simply not possible with rasterized rendering. Certain sections of the game that were so dark you couldn't make out details are now much closer to how they would look in reality or a movie. As a general rule, I found everything to be a few notches brighter than the original release while playing in SDR. In HDR mode, the boosted contrast offers striking highlights without crushing details in the darkest corners. This is a glimpse at where video game rendering is headed and it can be experienced now.

All things being equal, Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition looks better than its PC predecessor and offers measurably higher, more stable performance. The addition of support for NVIDIA’s DLSS 2.1 upscaling feature takes things even further. The amount of ray tracing calculations required to deliver the Enhanced Edition’s visuals on the Ultra preset are incredibly large, but DLSS allows you to experience it at 60fps on current hardware. Using a Core i9-9900K and RTX 3080, I was able to play at 3840x2160 resolution with all the bells and whistles at a stable 60fps when using the DLSS Performance option. While this renders the game at a native 1920x1080, the resulting output is so close to native 4K that it doesn’t matter that you aren’t playing at “real” 4K.

Down to your last filter

Left: Metro Exodus (2019) --- Right: Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition
Left: Metro Exodus (2019) --- Right: Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition

Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition will be a free upgrade for anyone who previously owned the original game on Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG, or Windows 10 Store. It will be a separate library entry due to the massive changes in how the game renders. If you missed it the first time around or have been on the fence since 2019 (your butt must be impossibly numb at this point), I can wholeheartedly give this new edition the thumbs up. Here’s hoping you can actually find a compatible video card for sale — a feat that may be more difficult than surviving in Metro’s irradiated wasteland.

These impressions are based on the PC Steam release. The game key was provided by the publisher for coverage consideration. Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition is available now for PC. PS5 and Xbox Series X versions are scheduled for release later this year.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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