Metro, the game franchise based on the book series of the same name by author Dmitry Glukhovsky, is back and the Ukraine-based studio behind the previous titles, 4A Games, is once again in charge of the Metro universe. Metro Exodus is the studios' first new game since 2013 and we got to experience the upcoming post-apocalyptic experience both at E3 in Los Angeles and again at Gamescom in Cologne; here are our impressions of both sessions.
After sitting ourselves down at our designated battle stations, having just gotten a brief summary of the part of the game we were about to play we headed off to the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Once again we got to play as Metro veteran Artyom and after a short loading screen and a lot of bottled up excitement we were walking around a train moving fast through snow-covered Russian landscapes with Artyom having one goal set; to find a home and settle down with his fellow subway dwellers above ground.
After a short while the train we were travelling on crashed into a massive barricade manned by enemy gunmen and, after taking the enemies down, Artyom set out to explore the area around the groups' once fast travelling, now stranded base with a female companion. Instantly we were blown away by the expanded game world of the new Metro game, comparing it to the previous instalments of the series. Metro Exodus is huge, open but still filled to the brim with radioactive nuclear murder monsters, as per usual.
After familiarising ourselves with the game's new map and its layout as well as the controls, we set out towards the frozen coastline and on the way we were introduced to Metro's new crafting system. Apparently, crafting is a bigger deal in the new game and the system looks massive. Everything you pick up is crucial to your survival as you use it to craft ammunition, medpacks, air filters, and other necessities. This does, however, take away from the experience slightly for those who aren't as into frantically looting for random objects. The open world experience isn't as free as one would think it would be, but those of you who like a more intense survival factor will, however, surely appreciate it.
After moving away from the stranded train we were taken to a frozen lake, took a rowboat over said lake while mutated sea creatures knocked on the bottom of the boat, presumably to get out of the cold water and join us on the drier side of the wooden craft. After a short while, we found ourselves by a massive base built upon a series of islands where we were guided through a huge gate into something resembling a church before having said gate close with a bang behind us - suspicious. What seemed to be a sermon was playing out in front of us and we get some information about the pastor while listening in. He and his followers look down on (or alternatively they're scared) of technology and have the primary goal of ridding the world of it as well as exterminating those who have embraced it. Two of these "embracers" are a lady and her daughter who have been captured by the cult high up in the bell tower of the church. After killing our way inside some of the survivors submit to our (fire)power - this seems to be a primary feature of Exodus - and we're allowed to exit the church with the hostages without any more blood spilt. The lady and her daughter are sent ahead of us to safety (so no escort mission) and it's a good thing too as we're attacked by a massive sea monster on our way back.
A short boss fight ensues and the demo ends; however, don't fret - we did get to play some more at Gamescom.
Right off the bat, this time around, we got to see a completely different setting. The area we spawned in was a barren, swamp-like area where mutated wolves and bears roamed. We were woken up after being beaten up by a creature by a nice tribal looking lady and were sent out to escape the clutches of the wild. No clear storyline this time around but moving around in the new landscape gave us a better idea of how the world was set up.
Instead of being completely open world, as the latter demo showed, we got to see some typical "semi-open" world segments in the second demo. Conveniently placed logs and branches you couldn't pass through were put up all over the place and it reminded us of the setting of the Tomb Raider reboot with its differing map system. Once again we picked up everything we could find to stay alive by using the crafting system and once again we got to force troops to surrender after killing most of their group.
We also got to meet up with one other tribal man who was fishing by some docks. As we walked up to him he pulled out his gun, telling us we were nothing but savages coming in to kill his people. When we put our gun down, however, the man's attitude changed and we made a new friend. These choices popped up now and again and it seems moral choices are more of a focus this time around. Keeping up appearances may be in your favour.
Metro Exodus looks and feels great and the changes made (the ones we've seen so far anyway) feel natural and logical. We're looking forward to seeing more from the upcoming game in the series and we're ready to play the finished version when it drops early next year.