Metro Exodus Hands-On Preview: A Brand New Wasteland Awaits
The Metro franchise has been a success story from day one, and after getting some hands-on time with Metro Exodus, I still see why gamers took to this new IP years ago when it came out of nowhere to compete with other long established AAA FPS franchises. I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of the Metro franchise, mostly because I’m a lazy FPS player and don’t necessarily like the whole survival aspect of its gameplay, but I respect the franchise for what it has accomplished. I do also feel like Exodus’ more open setting will be better suited for gamers like me, because it will offer a much more diverse visual palette, as well as a deeper level of exploration, which I got to experience in my demo.
The demo takes place about four hours into the game if you just go for the main missions. We were told that to reach where we were at would take 6-8 hours for completionists though, so we were placed towards the end of the first act of the game. In Exodus you’re on board the Aurora, which is a steam train full of Artyom’s Spartans and other warriors looking to find the last remnants of the Russian government, who are reportedly holed up in the mountains to the east of the city.
As soon was we joined Artyom the train was attacked by a band of survivors in The Volga, which makes up a large part of the region you will trek through in this game. These rebels take down your train, so it’s up to you to head out to a nearby church to see who these people may be, and if they’re willing to help you on your way. Being a sandbox-style open world there was no real direct route I had to follow to accomplish this objective, so Exodus really does allow you to approach your objectives in any manner you see fit.
After soaking in the wintery but sunny landscape, which I might add looks glorious in native 4K running on the Xbox One X, which is the console we used to play the demo. I also have to mention that it looked this stunning in beta, and without other enhanced features such as HDR, which haven’t been added to the game yet. So Exodus and its wilderness landscape definitely pop off the screen, even this early in development.
Anyway, I eventually found a boat that I could row across a lake to reach my destination, which I found out to be a cult of sorts, so I quickly had to change gears to save a family being held against their will. Now Exodus, like the Metro games before it, isn’t a guns-blazing type of shooter, which is due to how resources are handled, and to add to the feeling of always being on the edge of survival, so I had to approach this situation with tactics. Rather than blasting everyone away with my meager amounts of ammo, I instead stealthily made my way through the compound with my trusty knife and took everyone out like a ninja. This method worked perfectly for a bit, but I was eventually spotted, so I did get into my fair share of firefights. Even these feel a bit more realistic than say a COD, because you can’t really just run around and hip fire like Rambo, aiming is required, so I learned the hard way that getting into a gun fight with a room full of enemies can end in death more often than not.
Luckily, especially after eating a few bullets, you can now craft from anywhere in the world in Metro Exodus, so I used a few supplies I picked up while exploring to craft some additional med packs to ensure I could get out of the church compound that I had now liberated for non-cult members. Once I topped up on some health I had to figure out how to get back to my train, but unfortunately my boat had been confiscated, so I had to find a new path.
Again, finding your own way is a big part of Exodus, so don’t expect to have your hand held with your objectives. You’re given an objective and a map marker to track it down, but that’s about it. You can pretty much accomplish the objective anyway you see fit, which includes how you get to it, so I eventually found another boat and stole it from the nut jobs chasing me to get my ass back to the Aurora.
Unfortunately, the radioactive monsters that inhabit this game world had other plans, so I had to beat down a few Ghostbuster dogs en route, but I eventually got back to the train and completed my objective. In total this one little mission took me about 45-minutes, so it was a great sample of what to expect in the final version of the game. I found the experience to be a bit more challenging than I personally like for a FPS, but I also found it to be very true to the Metro franchise, so fans should be excited with what this more open-world version of a Metro game will offer. Plus, the whole traveling crafting mechanic is a Godsend, because being able to craft on the fly makes exploring so much more efficient, so that is one gameplay formula change I think both new and old fans will greatly appreciate.
If you want a sample of what I got to play you can check out a new extended video for it below. Metro Exodus will hit PC, PS4, and Xbox One on February 22, 2019.
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