When I first saw the trailer for the game, I expected this to be something similar to a roaring good time. Like, let’s travel with my friends and see the rest of the war-ravaged country. How wrong I was, as the underlying tones of despair and grim are still present. However, I have to get this out before we go any further; while the game retains much of the ambiance and atmosphere that the series is known for. Except it really doesn’t get dialed up until you’re near the end. It felt more like an adventure title, more than anything else. That’s not a bad thing, not by any means. However, it might disappoint longtime fans of the series.

Game InfoRecommended Badge
Game Name: Metro Exodus
Platform(s): PC (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Deep Silver
Developer(s): 4A Games
Release Date: February 15, 2019
Price: 59.99
Time Played: 12-13 hours to complete
Install Size: 51GB

This game drops you on your head right at the start. A huge plot twist gets dropped into your lap about 30 minutes into the game. One so huge that it basically changes the history of the Metro series forever – you’re not alone. For years, the survivors of Moscow thought they were the only ones left, but it was all lie. A plan to keep the world from knowing the truth, as well as those survivors. But now that you know, you’re an outcast. A traitor to the cause, which sets off your journey to find a new life with your troop, wife and her stubborn father. While the game isn’t based in the Metro tunnel system anymore, I’d say the situation they find themselves in is more dire than ever before. 

Sadly, things just don’t get better for Artyom and crew. Metro Exodus‘s biggest draw is the story and the characters who accompany yours during your journey. Not just your fellow rangers, as you’ll encounter more NPCs along the way, some of which will stay with you. As the story unfolds, I dare say it grips you, compelling you to keep playing. I’m not usually one for long playing sessions, but I simply couldn’t stop once I started. I had to know what happened next. You’ll experience a gambit of emotions if you’re one who grows attached to your digital comrades. By the time the credits rolled, I was heart-wrenched. I also likely got perhaps the worse ending as well, so that didn’t help matters. Then there is the whole “humans are terrible” narrative that is constantly beaten into your head. Yes, humans are the worse possible thing in the world. Even when everything is lost and your fellow man is supposed to lend a hand and help you up. Or at least you’d think so. Instead, they rather slaughter you while laughing all the way to the food bank. Yep, it’s cliche as all hell and you’re going to bump into it over and over. So get used to that.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. Yes, it’s really depressing most of the time. Yet during it all, there’s always this glimmer of hope and it’s that hope that keeps the characters going. It’s what drives and motivates you as the player to strive to do what’s best for them. Of course, if you’re able to do is a different matter.

Metro Exodus Review screenshot-01

Let’s talk about this new open world

Unlike the previous titles, Metro Exodus is a completely different beast in terms of gameplay. While the linear gameplay is still present, with the sandbox world implemented, exploration is now a huge factor. For those worried about how much of sandbox experience this is, we’re merely talking about larger maps and not a full-fledged “go where you want” affair. 

Sure, you have quests that need to be completed in order to proceed through the story. However, exploration will yield items for crafting, as well as mini-quests such as saving people before they’re killed. Or stumbling across tidbits such as recordings left behind by unfortunate souls before their untimely demise.  One mission presented me with the option of saving a group of people that were captured by some bandits. I could have ignored them and carried on with my mission. Instead, I choose to save them, to which one of the captives presented me with access to some much-needed resources that were in the same location that my main quest. Had I passed up on this, I would have never gained access to those. 

There’s also plenty of lore and personal stories left behind in either notebooks or recordings. Many of which you’d never find if you just progressed from point A to B. Again, this is where exploration comes in and if you’re a fan of diving deeper and uncovering mysteries. Then straying off the beaten path is highly recommended. There’s a reason why this game has massive maps now.

As for those concerned about those lovely indoor and underground claustrophobic areas that the is knowns know for. Relaxed, as there’s plenty of those in the game as well. There’s something here for everyone.

What about those wonderful toys

The gunplay is exceptionally good, as to be expected from 4A Games. They’ve progressed over the years and the elements presented here are the best I’ve seen from them so far. You can go in with guns blazing, though you might catch a bullet or two, or worse. Still, it’s so satisfying that I can’t fault you if you choose to go that route. Or go stealth, plotting in the shadows and hidden areas, deciding which enemy to take down next. Stealthy runs also present you with the option of not killing anyone at all and is definitely worth giving a try. More on that later. You’re still able to carry three weapons at a time, and two of a specific type. You can also swap weapons with a dead adversary. It’s not all perfect, as there is a line-of-sight issue in the game. I’ve noticed on a number of occasions where I tried to shoot something only for it to be blocked by some unforeseen force, despite having a clear shot. This not only wasted ammo but gave away my position. It mainly happens when you’re trying to shoot from behind a tree, or a fence. It’s likely a collusion issue, but it doesn’t change the fact that it does hinder your gameplay at times. Especially if you’re trying to pick off targets without them seeing you. 

A carry-over from the Metro Redux games is the ability to modification weapons. Only this time the modification process is more abundant and you don’t lose parts should you decide to switch up your weapons. Add scopes, iron sights, bigger magazines, muzzles, stocks and more. Don’t like that single barrel shotgun? Well, add some extra barrels and a bigger stock. Need some extra range on your rifle? You can modify that to your liking as well. The only downside is that many of the weapons are story-gated, meaning you’ll only find them or are given to you once you hit a certain area.

Expanding on the weapon crafting is the item crafting system. Out in the world, you’ll collect various resources that can be used to create ammo, health items, and various weapons such as grenades or tossing cans to distract the enemies and more. It’s another welcome addition and one that’s quite handy. Just collect the resources and open up your mobile construction kit when you need something and build away. The only restriction is that certain items, like modifying your weapons, can only be done at a workstation. Which also happen to be plenty and be found not only at your base of operations, but also most main areas in the game. That said, I felt this cheapened the experience abit. Being able to just craft a healing item at any given moment does ruin some of the suspense. Sure, I’m about to die and I’m nowhere near the end. What shall I do… oh wait, let me just craft a few health items and I’m good. Minor grip and it’s likely just me.

Metro Exodus Review screenshot-sam is not too thrilled about this

Sam is not too thrilled about this

Rise and shine

The night/day and weather systems are also nice additions to the game. Not only do they cycle as you’re playing, but the system also allows for multiple opportunities to carry out your quests, each with their own advantages and dangers. Take a quest during the day and the chances are that you’ll be seen by the enemies. Or do them at night, which allows for you to carry them out with better chances of not being seen, though there are more dangerous beasts and such lurking in the shadows. I enjoyed being able to decide on how to play instead of being forced with no option. Also make use of camps scattered throughout the game to not only progress time but also recover your health, which is helpful when you’re low on resources.

The quick time events also make a return, much to my disappointment. I  just wasn’t a fan of rapidly banging a key, hoping that this time I wouldn’t fail the event. Thankfully, an option was added to change the function from frantically pressing a key, to simply holding it down. Make sure to change this before you start. You can thank me later.

As for the visuals, 4A Games excels once again. The designs of the world you’ll explore is breathtaking at times. From the toxic forests to the hot and dry deserts. It’s a visual tour de force. Every area gives off its own vibe and includes features you’d expect to see in such area. I especially enjoyed the desert, right when a sandstorm is setting in. The area grows dark, while the winds kick sand in every direction, lowering your visibility to nothing. The monster designs are also top notch. From the many creatures, you’ll encounter, and not just the big ones. Even smaller ones such as rats or bugs that scattered by your feet are well done. There’s also a really nice visual effect when you use your lighter in certain places. I won’t ruin the surprise, but I will caution many of you to not hit your screens.

The sound direction is damned good as well and easily one of the best highlights of the game. It really needs to be heard to be believed. This made those firefights or when I was running from a certain creature that much more realistic. I swear that thing was right behind me, then suddenly above me and a few things I did jump when it pinned me to the ground. For those who’ve invested in a decent audio setup, you’re in for a treat. There’s also Atmos support if your hardware supports it.

At the heart of it all is the idea that everything you do in the game will ultimately decide your fate. Every decision you make, every person or creature you decide to kill or let go, and even who you save, will all play into which ending you arrive at. 4A Games states that there’s no good or bad ending. Instead, whatever you get is what you deserve, which are harsh words. As such, my ending in my eyes was really bad, and while I won’t spoil it, I thought I did what I needed to do to survive. That’s exactly what the game does to you, it forces you to rationale the “it’s you or me” mentality. Forcing you to live, take revenge or forgive throughout the entire game. I loved every minute of it, right up until my unfortunate ending. I’ve already started another game and I’m hoping things are better this time around. 

Metro Exodus Review screenshot-03-mutants

What are you looking at? I’ll scratch your eyes out!

Remember when I said the game felt more like an adventure title, more than anything else? That’s how Metro Exodus feels to me. Especially when you’re traveling on a train, going from area to area, performing fetch quests. Yes, it’s still Metro, and I see that 4A Games wanted to try something else. It’s hard to put into words exactly. I enjoyed the game, though I wanted it to be more sci-fi/supernatural. It’s definitely a solid outing, but it feels like something is missing. I just can’t be sure. Lastly, a certain species that was heavily present previously was nowhere to be found here. I was hoping they’d pop up eventually, but they didn’t and I’m still not sure as to why. There is a season pass planned, so hopefully, we’ll see them whenever this comes around. 

How does the PC version fare

My main concern with this title is that just like with the previous games. Metro Exodus still doesn’t include any sort of windowed mode. No borderless window, or fullscreen window which is problematic for people that use ultrawide-screen monitors. Yes, the game does support the format (21:9 / 43:18), in case you’re wondering. And yes, it works well, partially. There’s this weird FOV issue when using a ratio higher than 16:9, where images on the sides of the screen are stretched. This is is easily apparent when an NPC, specifically their face, is displayed. A FOV slider would have addressed that concern. A FOV slider would have addressed that concern. I also wasn’t able to tweak with the *.ini files as I have with the other Metro titles on Steam.  The bigger format also isn’t very good for recording game footage or streaming the game. It would seem that titles Epic Games Store are hiding those files and as much as I looked, I couldn’t find them. Those who pick up the game on Steam should have better luck. 

Anisotropic Filtering is limited to 4X and 16X, while the AntiAliasing option was absent. Which explained the appearance of jaggies that were apparent during my game, even with V-Sync enabled. There’s also an option called Shading Rate, which is basically the image quality. Raising the value did make the overall presentation look better, at the cost of my framerate tanking and more of my GPU memory being used. I also experienced multiple crashes during my time with the game. Several occurred during a heavy firefight, one happened right as I was finishing up a mission. The heartbreaking crash happened during the flipping end. Thankfully the game saved my progress, so I didn’t have to replay the segment over again. Still, it’s frustrating to experience so many crashes and on the patched game code. 

Metro Exodus Review screenshot-02

I’ll guard the train comrade, you scout ahead.

I know optimization is going to be at the top of everyone’s list for those looking to play Metro Exodus on PC. Despite my concerns with the lack of PC-centric options and the crashing, the game ran well. On the PC I used for the playthrough, I was easily hitting 90-100 fps at 1440p at both high. I also fired up the game on a much less beefy machine and few a few tweaks, I was able to run it at a respectable 60 fps. It goes without saying that Nvidia’s Hairworks and Tessellation will cause you to drop some frames. So be sure to disable both of those, and drop DirectX 12 to DirectX 11 while you’re at it. The game also supports ray tracing and DLSS, however I wasn’t unable to test this due to not having a video card that supports these features.

PC 1 - High EndPC 2 - Low End
Resolution2560x14401920x1080
ProcessorRyzen 7 1800xRyzen 3 1300x
GPUNvidia GTX 1080 TiNvidia GTX 1060 6GB
OSWindows 10 ProWindows 10 Pro
Video Driver418.81418.81
DirectX VersionDirectX 11DirectX 11
QualityUltraMedium
Texture FilteringAF 16XAF 4X
Motion BlurLowLow
TesselationOnOff
VSyncFullFull
Advanced PhysXOffOff
HairworksOffOff
Shading Rate100 - Default100 - Default
Averge Framerate217.0047
Min. Framerate25.436.35
Max. Framerate332.78101.06

 

4A Games has included a really nice and in-depth benchmarking tool with the game. You just enter in what system specs you have and what settings you want to use and it will run one or several tests. The result is a detailed chart, showing you the max, average and min framerate at the desired resolutions and features enabled. I really wish other developers would also do this, it’s really good.

Let’s address the elephant in the room, and I’m not talking about the purple one I rode in on. Yes, I’m referring to the Epic Games Store mess. No, I’m not a fan of it, and no, I didn’t deduct points because of it. This was nothing that 4A Games was in charge of, they didn’t ask for it and it would be silly to score their game based on Deep Silver’s odd business tactics. So no, I won’t drop the score because the game isn’t available (outside of pre-orders) on Steam. Doing so would be a disrespect to the series, to the developers and to myself. It also would be a shame if people decide not to play the game due to the same tactics. It’s a wonderful title and one that should be played. Not sat on for another year or waited until the price drops. 

Metro Exodus releases on February 15, 2019, for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Review Disclosure Statement: A copy of Metro Exodus was provided to us by Deep Silver for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.

Affiliate Link DisclosureOne or more of the links above contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission should you click through and purchase the item.

Summary

It’s still Metro we all love, just outside now

Being perfectly honest, after the last two Metro games, not only is this one refreshing change, one that was needed. The open world, the crafting, and the large assortment of NPCs that you’ll encounter during the game. The Metro’s closed walls and need for something more gave way to all of this. Sure, we’re finally on the outside, yet the hellish world that you’ve come to know doesn’t take a backseat. Instead, we’re just introduced to more of it. There’s a whole new world to explore and experience, all while this new setting does the game good. Now we just need to know which ending is canon this time around.

If this is the future of the series, I can’t wait to see what 4A Games does next.

Overall
4.5

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Available for podcasts upon request.