When IGN last checked in with Artyom’s latest post-apocalyptic adventure Metro Exodus at E3, we were less than impressed with the technical issues that plagued our time with it and, a month before release, there are still a few signs that things aren’t totally okay. A few crashes, a few hard locks and a moment where it tried to load a save file from a totally different sequence can be put down to the fact the game was running on developmental kits, but some other bits and pieces indicated that perhaps this isn’t going to be the big breakout title for the Metro series.
There’s some really aggressive motion blur on the console version (which in this build, couldn’t be turned off) which makes turning a bit headache inducing. Guns feel heavy, movement feels awkward and bullets feel ineffective, but all of that is entirely by design. Survival in the Metro world isn’t supposed to be a walk in the park. Even with thumbstick sensitivity ramped all the way up to the top of the sliders, it still feels like Artyom is covered in a nuclear treacle. When being pursued by some ghouls through a warehouse, climbing scaffold in an attempt to get to the safety of the rooftops, I fell off a couple of times because I couldn’t turn fast enough or with enough precision. And, although a stealthy approach is recommended, I found it way too easy to rush down a pack of bandits and use the melee kill attack right in front of them, because the AI just didn’t cope with the rush-in strategy!
The desert is one of the larger areas seen so far, a vast wasteland that is best explored with a vehicle.
When the crew rides the train into the Caspian Desert, the summertime backdrop to the latest area shown off, and it’s about as far removed from the bleak urban areas of the previous Metro games as you can get. The desert is one of the larger areas seen so far, a vast wasteland that is best explored with a vehicle – a beaten-up old camper van that you ‘acquire’ from a raid on a bandit settlement, during a pretty impressive looking storm sequence. It was during this section that the promise of the move to more open levels starts to show. Being able to sneak up behind a bunch of raiders waiting to ambush and stabbing them up before they have a chance to react is a real strategy when you’re working with a landscape that will allow you to hide and move between bits of cover.
For a desert, it’s surprisingly varied. A battle through a trap-filled cave network leads to a clifftop firefight outside of a huge lighthouse, before you discover a few abandoned buildings full of mutated beasts – a section that is a bit more ‘traditional Metro.’ However, the jump to more ‘open’ levels doesn’t really add much to the proceedings other than a bit of a walk/drive between missions, and it’s still ultimately funneling you to specific areas and some admittedly quite cool set pieces.
Being able to craft ammo and first aid adds a survival element, but it’s refreshingly simple. While Fallout has you picking up all sorts of useless rubbish, anything you scavenge is split up into two categories, for technology and science, essentially, and Artyom can access his crafting backpack at any point. Sure, you’re going to have to find a safe space to get this all sorted out, but it means that you’ve got a means to combat the constant struggle for bullets – getting caught short during a firefight isn’t uncommon, so you’ve got to think on your feet, grabbing upgrades and enemy weapons to stay in the fight.
It’s hard to say whether Metro Exodus will change the series’ reputation as a bit of a cult title. It’s a stunning looking game, and it’s going to be interesting to see if the finished product can pull in some new fans.