by Kenneth Kok
previewed on PC
A real exodus
Announced a year ago, Metro Exodus’ few available video’s left us wanting for more throughout what felt like a very long wait. The Gamescom demo picked up where we last left Metro back in 2014 - coming out of the metro system and into the light.
The demo blew me away. There is so much that I want to tell you that I don’t really know where to start. Hmm okay, let’s start with what is perhaps the biggest change in the game compared to the prequels, which is where the game takes place - the outside!
While Metro: Last light gave us glances of the outside world, most of the previous games played out in the underground metro system. The few peaks outside have been linear levels. Metro Exodus takes us outside, into a glorious and beautiful game world.
The demo started wet. Our character Artyom being dragged out of the water by an unknown person. He scatters as soon as he is on dry soil, but not before saying that he needed to go to some place. After Artyom gained his sense, I was able to take control. I stood up, and the first thing I did was looking around and be awed. The world 4A Games created is just stunning, I honestly felt that I was watching a movie. The environment looked so realistic that I needed a couple of minutes just to take in the sights. Trees, grass and other flora moved around with the wind, reflections in the water broke as I created ripples wading through it. Amazing.
Artyom’s movements feel natural and there is a real, organic notion of speeding up as you start walking or running and even jumping (especially to the side). One thing I did learn quickly is that Artyom can not swim! 4A Games even made that special. Usually games in which you cannot swim either stop you from going in the water at all, or you instantly drown. Not so in Metro Exodus. When Artyom goes chest deep into water, an animation starts which shows Artyom struggling and kicking around to get back to the surface, and then how he climbs out of it save and sound. This to me is a more realistic way to handle not being able to swim than just drowning. I mean, who in his right mind goes below water if he/she does not how to swim or float!
No Metro without scary
Beauty aside, Metro Exodus would, of course, not be a Metro game without getting into the scary part of a post apocalyptic world. I soon found a crossbow and a couple arrows, a sure sign of trouble ahead. Trying to figure out where I need to go - remember, there are no hand holding maps in Metro - I stumble upon a small broken down bridge. Three pirates jump out of hiding telling me, or rather warning me, not to cross the bridge and into their territory. Earlier, I found what I think was a mission marker on the left wrist of my jacket which said I needed to cross the bridge and walk through the broken down village the pirates called their base. As they wandered back into the village and out of sight, I started crouching from bush to tree. I peek through the window of a building to see a couple pirates doing their daily business, talking, sleeping, hanging around and decide on a stealth approach. Crouching to the side entrance, I aim around the corner and plant an arrow in the head of the first pirate. That alerted the others, and things kick of from there. The whole pirate base is now alerted to my intrusion.
The AI did a great job chasing after me, taking cover and searching for me when I was out of sight. I manage to outsmart them regardless and the skirmish ends with me being victorious, but also with a surprise. The last few pirates surrender. Wait what!? That is new. So killing enough of their gang members made the remaining members not wanting to die. Walking towards them, I was given two choices. I need their goodies so I could kill them, or knock them out. Not sure if it they are able to come back after me later, I decide to kill them and loot the bodies. It seems a harsh choice, but ammunition is really scarce. I walk away with a shotgun, a makeshift SMG and some crafting parts that I found in the nearby buildings.
The day turned into night and I found myself wandering into a forest. I had let myself be lulled into a false sense of security by the beauty of the forest when I got a huge scare. All of a sudden, a pack of wild dogs started howling as if their life depended on it, and a very large bearlike creature roared in anger simultaneously. I did not feel brave enough to get close and find out what kind of mutant I was dealing with, so the running, crouching and avoiding started. I am not sure if I would have gotten away in one piece as our play time ended there and then, but I may not have survived the clash.
Metro Exodus was a real joy to play and it left me wanting for more. I have not read the books by Dmitry Glukhovsky but knowing the rich storylines from Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light (which story is not based on the the books), I am certain Metro Exodus has a deep, eerie and scary tale in store for its fans. The open world that 4A games has created is the perfect setting for a thriller of a game come February 2019 when the game is set to release.