Glorious Mother Russia! It’s a lovely place. If you’ve never had borscht, for instance, you’re really missing out, that stuff is great. Likewise, if you’re ever offered some kvass it’s quite the experience. Other great things Russia is known for: Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro series of post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels and their associated video games, which offer as much stark bleakness and despair as they do excellent first-person action.
The latest of these is Metro: Exodus, and now it’s been expanded for next-gen consoles with the much prettier Metro Exodus: Complete Edition. If you’ve managed to dig up one of those from mutant scalpers or a nuked video game store, you might want to give it a look.
After the end of Metro: Last Light, hero Artyom has set his sights on more than just kicking the crap out of every baddie throughout the depths of the Russian subway he calls home. No, he’s ready to go up and see the world. In fact, the point is eventually forced, and with the help of a still-working train, Artyom and a caravan of survivors are going to find a new home and search for the remnants of humanity.
Along the way they’ll encounter monsters, cannibals and the odd set of religious nutcases while learning that maybe the devastation of the world wasn’t quite as complete as they previously believed.
If you’ve played previous Metro games, you’ve got a basic idea of how this one works. Artyom uses a variety of largely improvised weapons that tend to range in quality from junk to killing machine. Ammunition is rare at best, so you’ll want to carefully place your shots and avoid combat whenever possible. Enemies don’t typically take too much damage, but missing too often is a quick route to death. Rather than spending high-grade ammo on items as in previous games, you’ve got a crafting system using workbenches scattered throughout the world, which explains why you don’t have a huge amount of expendable “dirty” ammo this time around.
The big change here is that Metro: Exodus takes a more open-world approach as opposed to the linear levels from the rest of the franchise. Fans of more recent Far Cry and Fallout games are going to appreciate the change. There’s plenty to explore and discover if you’re willing to be patient, though naturally exploration comes with the risk of expending precious ammo.
It’s important to be cautious and perceptive when you’re digging around as a result. Crafting adds a lot to the game and makes scavenging feel a little more relevant to the experience; given the scarcity present in the Metro setting it’s surprising that this hasn’t come up sooner, but it’s here now. Being able to find hidden caches of ammo and lore in the previous games was nice, but Metro: Exodus is the first time it’s really felt vital to fully explore each area – and in doing so, you’ll be taking in the immersive world-building that this series is known for.
This bottom line is that the open-ended gameplay that typifies Metro is not only present and accounted for here, but enhanced by the open-world setup. You can often approach problems in numerous ways, from stealth to all-out assault. There’s a wide and interesting array of areas and set pieces to explore, so between that and the game’s relatively short run time Metro: Exodus doesn’t really get old.
You’ll be done by the time the game’s ready to wear out its welcome, but the Complete Edition also comes with some solid DLC to check out as well to extend the experience a bit further. Sam’s Story, in particular, follows an American soldier in a strange land and could have made for a great Metro game all on its lonesome.
We’re playing the PS5 version today and it’s a significant step up from both the last-gen console and PC versions of Metro: Exodus. Graphically, it looks about as good as what you’d expect from a mid-to-high-tier PC. More importantly, this version of the game makes the most of the PS5 controller’s haptic feedback capabilities. The unique array of slapdash weapons Artyom wields throughout the game is immensely improved by feeling each shell as you load it into a shotgun or having the controller rattle wildly as you blast away with a scrap assault rifle.
The level of immersion offered by this sort of thing can’t be overstated. It’s one of those things that’s hard to explain until you try it. For the record, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla has this feature as well.
In its own way the Metro franchise continues to be a hard-hitting franchise with great gameplay and fantastic visuals and Metro Exodus: Complete Edition represents an exciting new direction with its open-world elements and greater degree of freedom. The PS5 version is currently the best way to play this game – unless you’ve got a nice PC ready to run the Enhanced Edition, and even then you’ll want to use a DualSense controller to get the most out of its haptic feedback. It’s no surprise Metro continues to pioneer the best of what’s available in modern video gaming – and we’re sure to see Artyom again soon enough.