The Metro series of games, until now, has been somewhat niche, most people I know barely know anything about the series. They definitely don’t know that the first two games have a bunch of shit about Aliens, or that they’re based off of novels. Metro Exodus feels like the series has finally been thrust into the mainstream eye, and in a pretty good way. The game has retained the brutal nature of the first two, without all the bizarro, weird stuff about aliens from the first two games. That’s mostly due to the fact that that storyline just sort of ended in the second game and wouldn’t really serve a purpose here.
Don’t worry though, the game doesn’t totally abandon bizarre, strange ideas, such as sentient balls of lighting that cause you to burst into flame if you get too close. There’s so much more but I really don’t want to spoil anything cause this game is brand-spanky new and lots of people either haven’t played it yet or haven’t gotten very far in it. Just know that there are a bunch of weird happenings in this game that’ll either make you genuinely scratch your head or make your skin crawl. You’ll get your fix of weird and wild stuff, if that’s what you’re looking for.
A much larger portion of this game takes place outside, a huge shift from the first two games. If the first two games were 70% underground and 30% above ground, this is more like… 80% above ground and 20% below. It’s got a pretty decent pace too, it kept me wanting to play more and more, and didn’t get tiring like Fallout 4 (like I thought it would). The intro part of the game where you’re basically just getting tons of cutscenes and being thrown into fight after fight is a couple hours long and not that great. That kinda stinks because I feel like it could turn people off before they really get to the meat and potatoes of the game.
The best parts of the game are the open-world-ish parts where you’re given free-range to do whatever. You get a whole bunch of little side quests every time you get to one of these areas and can either choose to take them on, or just barrel through the main quests. I highly suggest that you don’t do that because you’ll miss a whole lot of items and things you’ll want for later. You’ll also miss things that’ll make the people that are part of your caravan happier. When a little girls asks you to get her teddy bear from a nest of giant, evil bat mutants, YOU GET THAT TEDDY BEAR. The Aurora, which is the train that you travel across Russia on, is your base of operations whenever you proceed to a new open area. You can talk to your fellow comrades, or any of the random people that you pick up along the way. You can craft ammo for your weapons and clean them, as well as patch up your gas mask. You can swap out your weapons entirely for other weapons here as well, in case you decide that your next objective requires a shotgun rather than, say, a silenced revolver.
You can craft small supplies like medkits, and change out your weapon attachments anywhere, however, with your backpack. This is an extremely helpful feature, because there is a buttload of different attachments for all of your weapons. Say night falls while you’re out exploring, and it gets harder to see, now you can slap a night vision scope on your Kalash to get the upper hand on your enemies. Being able to craft new medkits on the fly is a godsend as well, and not too difficult given how often you find supplies. The crafting isn’t overly complicated either, you have chemicals and metals, and everything you make requires a certain number of each. There isn’t 100 different types of materials to collect and hold onto, it’s easy and satisfying, and I don’t hate it like I do with many crafting systems.
The gunplay itself feels tight mostly, though I must say that every so often, inputs feel a little delayed. It’s not all the time though, which makes me question exactly where the issue lies, and I’ve heard other reviews talking about this as well, so it isn’t just me. You’re given plenty of opportunities to explore being either stealthy or action-y, which I appreciate. I like that almost every mission or situation can go either way, and that stealth doesn’t feel like total BS. Enemy AI seemed fair for pretty much the whole game when I played, in terms of knowing where I was, reaction times, etc. Getting spotted isn’t the end of the world, if you’re fast enough, you can still pop them in the head or run in for a quick take-down.
Also, you can just throw grenades everywhere and mow down all that get in your way, and that’s equally fun.
The game is definitely not perfect, though, and my complaints are not the end of the world, but they’re worth mentioning. Voice acting is pretty bad at times and can really pull you out of the experience right in the middle of decently long story sections. Artyom is silent and that’s fine, he talks during the loading screens, and I like that, it’s a nice little refresher after long stretches of gameplay. Graphically, this game on the Xbox One X is all over the place. Sometimes I’ll go multiple hours without noticing anything egregious, and when that happens, the game looks real pretty. There were lots of times though, where enemy bodies would spaz out once killed, jittering and flipping all over the place. Lighting effects would sometimes flicker in and out of existence, and pop-ins were rampant. These things don’t really affect gameplay, they just look bad, so I’m not too hard on those, however…
The game froze and crashed on me no less than 7 times, and I got stuck on environments, unable to move a handful of times as well. Thankfully the game never saved when that happened or I’d have been screwed, but with the crashes, I had to hard power off the Xbox One a couple times. This is absolutely unacceptable, seven times is too much. If it happened once, maybe twice, I’d be okay with it and barely mention it. At one point, the game crashed three times within an hour, and the game takes multiple minutes to load some of the bigger areas. It takes so long that I could get up and make a cup of tea, come back, sit down, check twitter, and the game still hadn’t loaded. On the base Xbox One is what I’d expect this on, but on the Xbox One X, I expected a lot better. I’m assuming that with a couple of updates and patches, this stuff will get better, but these problems were still around on launch day.
Metro Exodus has a gameplay loop that feels rewarding, a story that’s satisfying, a supporting cast that I give a shit about, and a world that’s engrossing. Unfortunately, voice acting and technical difficulties take the game down a peg, as much as it hurts me to say that. I loved the first two games so much and I wanted this to be perfect. It’s really great and almost amazing, and I hope that I can come back after a couple of updates and say that all of my problems are fixed! Fans of the series and newcomers alike will like this game, you don’t really need to have played the first two (though you should cause they’re awesome). Give this game a chance, it’s worth wading through the couple of problems it has, and not many games with those kinds of problems can have that said about them.
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