|“||To live without hope is to cease to live.||„|
Metro Exodus (Russian: Метро: Исход) is the third part in the Metro video game series, set after the events of Metro: Last Light and Metro 2035. It follows the adventures of Artyom, who returns to reprise his role as the protagonist of the game.
Exodus is a story-driven first person shooter from 4A Games that blends deadly combat and stealth with exploration and survival horror. It features a mixture of confined corridors and vast, non-linear levels (set in the Russian wilderness), tying up together to follow a storyline that spans an entire year through all four seasons. Inspired by the novels of Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro Exodus is the first game to be set completely after the books rather than during or between them. It continues Artyom’s story from where Metro 2035 left off. It was first announced at E3 2017 with a release date of 'departing 2018', and then given a specific release date of 22nd February 2019 during E3 2018. By mid-December of 2018, Exodus went gold and its launch was pulled earlier to the 15th of February, 2019. On 28th January, 2019 it was announced that Deep Silver and 4A Games were partnering with Epic to sell digital PC copies exclusively in the Epic Store, though all Steam pre-orders would be honored. It was later announced that Metro Exodus would return to Steam and other store fronts on 14th February, 2020.
Like with the previous games, Dmitry Glukhovsky worked on the scenario of Exodus. The heavily modified steam locomotive used by the main characters is known as the Aurora. Not all of Artyom's comrades will survive the journey, as 4A promises decisions with consequences as part of a gripping storyline with massive replayability.
Since Exodus is set after the events of Metro 2035 (in the year 2036), Artyom is still the protagonist and his partner Anna (Miller's daughter) plays a part in the game's plot as a member of Aurora's crew - the best sniper in the Spartan Order, she is Artyom's advisor and provides support on missions outside of the Aurora. Some of the events of the third book are canon, in one form or another, in the video game continuity as well, so Artyom and Anna are now a married couple.
They have fled from the metro, leaving Moscow entirely, on a journey to find a new home. The Aurora travels across the country using the Trans-Siberian Railway. In the game we can explore vast stretches of the Russian wilderness, where the air is breathable without the use of filters and the soil may be fertile in some areas; this confirms information already presented to the reader in the Universe of Metro 2033 book series.
In an interview with the developers, it was confirmed that the Redemption ending of the previous game is canon. Metro Exodus follows on from this, where Artyom has gathered a group of survivors to leave the metro and embark on a journey. Anna and Miller are some of the familiar returning characters, but there are more. Some of the new characters include: Alyosha, Duke, Tokarev, and Yermak - among others. The Moscow Metro's bullet economy does not apply outside of the city, but scavenging is still just as if not more important than it was before.
The game's canon seems to depart from the books in how it presents the character of Miller, who is either a very different character to what he is like in Metro 2035 or has had a huge change of heart.
Much like previous games in the Metro series, Exodus is a first-person shooter with survival horror and stealth elements - however, it is not quite the same formula, as the experience has been greatly expanded and built upon for even more variation and non-linearity. Since the core teams at both studios have experience from working on S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl, their idea was to combine the mostly linear gameplay of the Metro franchise with the more open-ended nature of Stalker.
Therefore Exodus consists of large sandbox areas tied together by linear underground sections to preserve progression. The developers refer to this as "Sandbox Survival", highlighting the fact that it is not a fully open world title. The largest areas of Last Light capped out at 200x100 metres, while the regions of Metro Exodus stretch to 2 square kilometres. There are numerous places to explore on the surface, but some irradiated outdoor areas may still require gas masks to be worn for safety. Exodus includes a full weather system with a dynamic day/night cycle (Artyom can rest to pass the time, similarly to how this worked in Far Cry 2). 4A Games has promised no Ubisoft-style fetch quests. Unlike the titles developed by Bethesda, there is no convenient fast travel system here, though Exodus does feature safehouses as well as occasional ziplines to launch the player straight into an activity.
The player can customise Artyom's wristband with indicators (the nixie watch from Last Light is back as part of this), while the firearms utilised in the game can be modified in five different areas: scopes, barrels, magazines, attachments, and stocks. Artyom can strip the attachments off of the weaponry he finds on his fallen enemies to later apply to his own guns. Plenty of mutants from the older titles in the series return (e.g. the bear), but there are also many new additions (like the humanimal or the wolf) - varying by location and climate. Completely new gameplay mechanics include a map of the sandbox area, a Geiger counter, and binoculars that may be used for analysing the environment. Artyom can now holster his weapons to approach potential hostiles with a less intimidating intent, sometimes even allowing you to bypass combat with other humans entirely. Holstering your gun also bolsters Artyom's running speed.
Some examples of how far the customisation goes this time are the returning Uboinik shotgun and a variant of the Helsing multi-stroke pneumatic air rifle; both have seen some major changes, as the Helsing can be completely converted into a crossbow, while the Uboinik can switch between several magazine types. Similarly, the Revolver serves either the function of a suppressed killing machine with expanded capacity, or a portable hand cannon with fewer rounds, depending on player choice in weapon mods. In fact, unlike prior games where Artyom could only upgrade weapons at set points, firearms can now be modded and customised in the field. Artyom's armour can be modified as well.
4A Games creative director Andriy "Prof" Prokhorov described Metro Exodus’ structure as almost like an accordion, with every level shrinking or expanding depending on what the story calls for. A scavenging system, somewhat reminiscent of Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4, has been implemented; the player can convert the junk and valuables they find in the world into two key resources: chemicals and materials. These resources can then be utilised to craft tools and other items. Workstations will be littered around each map, allowing you to craft ammunition and modify your equipment.
This extensive scavenging/crafting system has been put in place to replace the bullet economy of the previous games, which does not apply outside of Moscow. Artyom can now comandeer vehicles, such as rowing a boat across a lake. Quick-time events make another appearance in the gameplay of Exodus, but are used sparingly. Enemy behaviour changes with the time of day and form of environment. The karma system from the previous games is back and has evolved.
The changing seasons (each with its own factions, wildlife, and weather) are an important new feature in Metro Exodus that have a direct effect on how players behave and how NPCs react to the environment.
Metro Exodus begins in Moscow, during the harsh winter that fans are already familiar with. The freezing cold is a natural habitat for demons, nosalises, watchmen, and so on. Human bandits can pose a threat too.
Winter is still hanging on to this flatland archipelago when the Aurora arrives, but spring begins to dominate as the warm sunlight melts the ice and snow. This region centres on a lift bridge that must be lowered for the armoured train to continue its journey eastwards. Other notable elements of this area include a port, a train depot, and the old church where a cult leader indoctrinates his followers to worship the Tsar Fish.
Some zones of post-apocalyptic Russia are arid locations. During the summer we will come across a dried-out, desert area near the Caspian Sea - where rusted cargo ships and submarines litter the sand, while oil pipelines run along vast stretches of the land. Vehicles are useful to move through this region. Sandstorms whip through the area, giving players a dynamic weather element to deal with. The region is controlled by the Munai-bailer, a raider group led by a man known as "The Baron".
A gorgeous, mountainous, riverside valley that features many elevation changes and a complex system of caves to explore is the region that the Aurora's crew finds in autumn. There are many man-made wooden fortresses and tree-houses here, as well as a marshland and dam. This zone is mostly controlled by the Children of the Forest, while wolves and bears continue to be a threat. A much less harmful animal that Artyom can come across here is the deer.
The game was first announced at E3 2017, with a late 2018 release date, which was later delayed to February of 2019. Initially Exodus was to be set in Moscow, linking the vast network of stations together in a more open world, but the studio wasn't enthusiastic about staying in the metro for several more years of development time. The decision to explore the rest of post-nuclear Russia was first brought forward by two artists, whose idea became popular with the team and with Dmitry Glukhovsky, as it suited his book Metro 2035 as well. Jon Bloch from 4A Games has claimed that Metro Exodus is their most ambitious project yet; this can be seen easily by looking at the scale and graphics of the game.
It runs on the same engine that was used in Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light - the proprietary 4A Engine - but this technology has, of course, been heavily updated since the first title was released, as well as evolving significantly over the course of Exodus' development. Physics-based rendering, overhauled lighting, full facial capture for cinematics, a dynamic weather system with day/night cycles, a state-of-the-art atmospherics system, simulated AI biomes, and an AI motion controller that automates the blending of animations for NPCs are some of the new features. The engine was built to be cross-platform from the ground up, so it is said to take full advantage of each console and the PC.
About 80 people in Kiev (Ukraine) and 70 team members in Sliema (Malta) are working on the game, connected together by an almost always online live connection to better coordinate their efforts. A dedicated team of 6 people are assigned with the job of making sure that each of the post-apocalyptic weapons crafted in Metro Exodus would actually work in real life. Furthermore, 4A Games recorded gunfire in an array of environments to provide realistic 3D audio effects for the game's firearms, as gun blasts accurately reverberate around thick walls or brick rooms, while rifle shots produce an echo in open spaces.
The "Aurora Limited Edition" and pre-order bonuses for Metro Exodus were announced in August of 2018. The Aurora edition - available at select retailers worldwide, in limited supply - includes the following:
- One copy of the game in an exclusive steelbook case
- One 32-page art book from the world of Metro
- One season pass for Metro Exodus
- All contained in a metal outer case inspired by the Aurora
A cheaper "Gold Edition” includes just the game and its expansion pass. Pre-order bonuses for (whichever edition of) Metro Exodus, included with either the physical or digital version, are:
- Xbox One - a copy of Metro 2033 Redux for X-One
- PlayStation 4 - a PS4 dynamic theme based on the Metro Exodus "Winter" artwork
- Microsoft Windows - a digital art book and the Metro Exodus original soundtrack
The Spartan Collector's Edition, with even more physical extras, was revealed some time later.