Ambition is both Metro Exodus’ greatest strength and detriment, allowing it to excel in its storytelling and world building yet ultimately acting as a barrier to it fulfilling its potential. Leading on from Last Light’s “good” ending, Exodus sees Artyom, Anna and Miller, followed by a troupe of Order members, commandeer a train and set out across Russia in search of a new home. This journey is fraught with danger, desperation, adventure and wonder, and while narratively Exodus is the most focused and compelling game in the trilogy, its sprawling world often feels empty.
A stunning opening cinematic, backed by a stirring monologue from Artyom, brings players up to speed with the world of Metro, setting the scene for the journey ahead. Exodus is fully accessible to new comers, doing an excellent job in its opening hours of establishing its characters, their goals and what is at stake. However, Artyom and Anna’s story is all the more impactful and meaningful for veterans of the series, providing a moving conclusion to their saga.
Like previous games in the series, Exodus is split into chapters, each taking place at different junctures along the rail-line. Spanning 3000 km over the course of a year, this pilgrimage is vastly more epic in scope and scale than any Artyom or developer 4A Games has undertaken before. The open-world hub areas are the most significant change to Metro’s structure, offering a departure from the linearity of previous games and promising a more diverse, dynamic gameplay experience.
These hubs are great stretches of landscape, each aesthetically distinguished by the season they exist in and home to their own unique version of the post-apocalypse. The Volga takes place in spring, the low sun shimmering off its thawing snow banks and ambling estuaries. A technology fearing cult occupies the hollow of an old church while insectoid mutants dubbed “shrimp” and other bizarre aquatic beings infest the polluted waterways.
The Caspian basin is stark and arid, the rusted husks of ships jutting from its dunes in the dancing heat of summer. The aptly named Humanimals, corrupted former humans with sharp teeth and pallid skin roam this area while bandit encampments dot the desert in this Mad Max meets Rage hell of sand and steel. The Taiga, a densely forested region beset by the hues of autumn runs parallel to a great river, populating it with swamps and bayous. Forest folk that dwell in ramshackle tree houses guard this region while packs of wolves and a great mutated bear pursue you through the wilderness.
These regions are diverse and make your journey feel constantly fresh and exciting with each change of scenery. While the open nature of these areas allows an initially liberating sense of exploration, very little incentive is offered to stray from the critical path. Beyond a few simple side fetch quests, my own curiosity was often the only thing spurring my exploration of these expansive hub worlds. While I was rewarded with beautiful opportunities for photo mode, some fascinating environmental storytelling and the occasional gear upgrade, Artyom’s story was too compelling and the world too lacking in things to see or do for exploration to be fulfilling.
Gunplay is solid yet essentially unchanged. However, some significant improvements have been made to diversify how you approach combat situations. Firearms feel weightier, and streamlined customisation mechanics allow you to adapt weapons to the given situation on the fly. Time of day effects enemy behaviour with day and night lending tactical advantages to approaching both humans and mutants. Survival mechanics also make a return, requiring you to maintain your weapons and craft med packs and ammo from the salvage you encounter. Unfortunately, all this customisation and crafting is fairly redundant beyond personal preference, at least on normal difficulty, due to plentiful resources and poor enemy AI.
While the sheer number of enemies can easily overwhelm you, whether cornered in cramped corridors or surrounded in open areas, they usually mindlessly rush towards you, allowing you to systematically pick them off. Stealth is a viable approach but again it’s more a preference than a necessity, especially when clueless foes can simply be gunned down with little tactical challenge. Exodus is enjoyable enough to play but this lack of evolution makes it feel outdated and a little clunky.
An integrated HUD mounted to Artyom’s wrist along with a physical in-game map help keep you immersed in the experience while feeling tactile and authentic to the world. Similarly, excellent art design and lighting effects ensure Exodus’ world feels tangible, and especially on PS4 Pro with a 4K screen. It is often stunning, though some rough textures and character models, awkward animations and general inconsistencies in presentation break the immersion, preventing it from being on par with the high standards set by its contemporaries.
Exodus’ tale is fairly simple in concept but the investment it cultivates in its characters, and the twists and turns it introduces, keeps it engaging and exhilarating. Morality returns as a mechanic, acting covertly to shape your narrative. Members of my party lived or died depending on my actions and while the relationship between cause and effect was sometimes vague, this personalised narrative enhances Metro’s storytelling. Some overly wordy monologues from certain characters are the only misstep in this narrative’s delivery, acting as an inelegant and uninteresting tool for packing in some extra story detail.
Metro Exodus is a great game and the most vivid realisation of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s fiction yet. This final chapter in Artyom’s story is excellently told and deeply moving, and 4A Games’ unique vision of post-apocalyptic Russia is gorgeous in all its vibrancy and decay. While narratively and visually Exodus frequently excels, many of its attempts to innovate seem like missed opportunities.
Exodus is at its best when its experience is directed, prioritising story and atmosphere much like previous entries in the series, yet a lack of commitment to a direction dilutes the overall experience. Hub areas are tragically underutilised and clunky design often stunts the promise of the game’s full potential. I thoroughly enjoyed my 20+ hours with Exodus and as fan of the Metro series my criticisms of this conclusion to the trilogy stem from a disappointment in an ambition that ultimately feels spread too thin.
Metro Exodus PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.9/10
Metro Exodus’ excellent storytelling, art design and atmosphere make it the most engrossing entry in the trilogy. However, clunky, inconsistent design, poor AI and open-world hub areas which are severely underutilized prevent this ambitious project from fulfilling its full potential.
– Strong storytelling and a fitting end to Artyom’s saga.
– Slick crafting system and plenty of customisation.
– Solid yet familiar gunplay.
– Gorgeous art design and a rich, cohesive world.
– Hub areas are underutilised and offer little incentive for exploration.
– Poor AI and inconsistent presentation.
– Some clunky design and a lack of evolution leave it feeling outdated.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.