Metro Exodus – E3 2018 Preview.
In the game world you have survival games, survival horror games or simply games in which you have to survive, usually in a post-apocalyptic world. In the latter subgenre there will be another top game called Metro Exodus, and Wouter has been able to touch that game in London and again in LA at E3.
The Metro series can compete for the title ‘franchise with the most depressing post-apocalyptic settings ever’, along with of course Fallout and, more importantly, STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl. Because not only the eponymous book series by Dmitry Glukhovsky is a very direct source of inspiration for the Metro series, also the game that is loosely based on the book Roadside Picnic – and the film Stalker based on it – is an important example. Not surprising, because STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl is a damn ambitious game for the time, considering we hadn’t seen that many post-apocalyptic survival games set in an open world with different endings in 2007. Moreover, the developer of STALKER is a fellow countryman of 4A Games; both come true Ukraine. So yes, that creates a bond. 4A Games sees the latest part of the Metro series as their STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, because they are now also ready to make an open world survival game. And she seems to succeed …
Metro Exodus: a post-apocalyptic Beijing Express
In Metro Exodus you don’t just hang around in Moscow, but travel all over Russia by train, like a kind of post-apocalyptic Peking Express. In this way, as the main Metro man Artyom, you do different areas that are each a mini open world. So actually Metro Exodus is not an open world game at all, but it does its best. I myself was allowed to poke around in an area called Volga, and you probably know that name, because it is the longest river in Europe. The area is therefore quite watery and I regularly took place in a dinghy to properly explore the place, where at one point I was attacked by a gigantic, mutated fish freak. This was quite a shock and reminded me of the water monsters I’ve encountered in several Resident Evils; even similarly scary and memorable as a Del Lago from Resident Evil 4. It was also one of the many scripted moments that add a somewhat linear touch to the open areas. Because that’s another thing that sets Metro Exodus apart from the Far Cry’s and GTA’s of the world; it’s more guiding than a real open world game, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Because the dark side of too much freedom in games … Well, you all read my article about that in the PU, right?
Metro Exodus: the craft backpack
When Artyom gets off the train in the Volga area, you can walk behind his wife (do you notice that main characters in games are more and more married?), Anna, to keep following the main story. Then you automatically end up in a kind of harbor church where a bunch of religions are delirious, and the blast starts when you want to save a woman and her daughter from these crazy people. The action is nice and spicy, with fairly tough resistance, partly due to excellent AI. The latter even goes so far that I was regularly attacked from behind by a circling movement, and the enemies make context-sensitive comments (‘Hey you behind that crate!’ Well damn, I’m behind a crate!). The difficulty is also so high because Artyom still has far from an infinite number of bullets and some of his weapons are bulky to say the least. Until you start tinkering with it… And with that we come to a big difference compared to the previous parts: the way you can customize weapons and craft. With the push of a button you demolish the upgrades of guns that enemies have dropped from their hands, after which you can immediately place them on your own gun. All you have to do is get your backpack, after which Artyom gets down on his knees and goes to work very The Last of Us-like fixing gadgets and upgrading weapons (on workbenches I have you more customization options). In no time you can put a larger magazine, a longer barrel or a better scope on your shooting iron, which you can then immediately test for the survivors or mutants around you. Like those weird monster shrimps that abound on the banks. Spitting freaks …
Metro Exodus: yeah, let’s go survive!
Metro Exodus offers a lot of freedom in both the action and the way you explore, even though the game has scripted events and uses subtle ways to get you to follow a particular route. You are constantly encouraged to collect and thereby improve your suit and weapons, which gives you a huge incentive to explore. Quite weird, because a post-apocalyptic Russia is about the most depressing environment in a game since… um yes, STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl; not exactly inviting. The Volga is not as wintry as in the previous Metros (spring is starting, because you will experience seasons in Metro Exodus on your long journey), but still filthy, scary and very unfriendly to your health. You have to survive, and although we have already managed that for two Metro parts, it is now a lot more challenging …