Of all the games on my ludicrously expensive Steam wishlist, the one I’m looking forward to most is Metro Exodus. The E3 reveal was breathtaking, to say the least, and I was literally clapping my hands in excitement from my desk. I typically don’t like shooters, but Metro undoubtedly is one of my favourite series. The lore and environment sucked me in from the start. I’ve been a fan of those post-apocalyptic tunnels since I first played Metro Last Light. The story and world meshed together so well and were complemented by the realistic feeling shooter mechanics which were both challenging and fluid.
For the purpose of being completely transparent, it’s necessary to note that I’ve only completed Metro Last Light. I played it many years ago on Xbox 360 before the redux was released. My memories might be a bit rose-tinted, but I still hold Last Light as one of my favourite games of all time. Seeing as I have yet to play through Metro 2033 completely (despite owning two copies of it), but I am going to revisit that game in preparation for the release of Metro Exodus. I truly am ecstatic for Exodus and I am bound to lose weeks of my life to playing this game.
Metro has always given a realistically gritty view of human nature. The different groups of people living underground really felt like an extension of pre-apocalyptic human factionalism that was quite nuanced with the way these groups interacted. Everyone wanted to survive and they had to share the tunnels, but the ever-present struggle for supremacy persisted. These are all things that could be said about the factions in Fallout as well, but I like the way Metro presents this human struggle because the relative safety of the tunnels seems far more condensed and frail than that of grandiose settlements like New Vegas or Diamond City.
That said, the underground setting of Metro is spectacularly done. It feels cramped and dingy, dark and dangerous, yet still safer than the outside portions. Getting familiar with the shadowy underground almost confers a sense of safety unto the player – almost. There are still many dangers to encounter, but at least you don’t need to worry about radiation or being picked up by a horrid winged beast. The familiarity with the tunnels makes going outside in the light absolutely terrifying; there are fewer places to hide, more predators to look out for, and more unnerving beings to avoid. Never before have I felt afraid or disconcerted due to sunlight in a video game; Metro conveys those feelings perfectly and really helps to immerse the player into the world, and through that world, the story is explored.
The amount of detail in the conversations between NPCs helps to fill the world with interesting strangers whose conversations are usually worth eavesdropping on for nothing but entertainment value. The people actually seem like people, and Artyom feels like a person as well. He’s actually an interesting character to play as, and a lot is learned about him through dialogue with NPCs. All of this contributes to the Metro games feeling gritty and realistic, and I love that.
The sense of underground survival is further enhanced by the gunplay being deadly and feeling realistically difficult without being too arcade-like. The variety and limited availability of gun mods make the use of guns more unique and amplify the survival aspect of the world while adding an extremely fun mechanic to play around with. There’s such a natural sense of progression with the weapons and mods available to the player as the story progresses, but the enemies are still dangerous and the player never feels overpowered. I’m confident that the same fun and fluid gunplay combined with a dark, threatening environment will be brought to fruition in Metro Exodus, not to mention a gripping addition to Artyom’s story. I can’t wait to jump back into those tunnels.