Review: Metro: Exodus (Computer)
- Release Date (NA): February 15, 2019
- Release Date (EU): February 15, 2019
- Publisher: Deep Silver, Koch Media
- Developer: 4A Games
- ESRB Rating: Mature
- PEGI Rating: Eighteen years and older
- Also For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
To be totally clear right up front, I didn't finish this game. I probably only got around 65% complete when I ran into a brick wall in the form of a completely computer freezing bug in a small canyon while finishing up a side quest. Since I was in the middle of a stealth section, I had saved my game in the singular save slot that is available to you, effectively ending any advancement I had in the game without having to complete restart the entire thing all over again. I would definitely have liked to have finished the game, but that all depends now on the developers releasing (another) patch so I can get out of the area I am stuck in.
Let's back up a little bit and talk about this issue from the beginning-- As soon as I had finished installing this massive game, I was instantly stuck with a game breaking crash during the very first cutscene of the tutorial. This wasn't even just a game crashing bug, this was an entire PC freezing bug that required a physical cold reboot to get back up and running. I spent a few hours fiddling with my drivers and settings until I found online that this was a very common issue, and the workaround was to shut off DirectX12 and let the game use DirectX11 instead.
After finally getting the crashing issue sorted, I dove further into the settings to tailor my gameplay and was met with a baffling set of options. Motion Blur was pre-set to High, and you could only bring it down to Low, not completely disable it. There was no Windowed or Borderless Windowed mode, so you were stuck with your primary monitor engaged at the games resolution. Anyone who has ever played a game that runs in a non-native resolution Full-screen knows it messes with your icons and, in the case of dual monitors, completely misaligns windows and other applications. So now not only was I locked into 4k Full-screen, but I had to put up with forced motion blur and DirectX11. I was also restricted to only being able to use the Nvidia screen capture tool (which of course didn't work right away and required fiddling) because good ol' Print Screen wouldn't work, and neither would any third-party screen capture tools since the game was running in Full-screen. By the way, it takes longer to change graphics settings than it does to load an actual area of the game...
I've been running the game from a 1TB SSD, i7-8700k, and everyone's favorite 10-series Nvidia Titanium graphics card and this game chugs. I'm not sure who or on what in-house rig they used to play it on Ultra settings in 4k with High motion blur but they couldn't have had a good time doing it. Molotov cocktails will really bring you down to slideshow levels of gameplay, but I found lowering everything to High and leaving off the Hairworks option made the game run at 45FPS (in 4k) or better in any situation. Two days into playing and they released a 4GB patch that supposedly cleared up the DX12 issue, but I'm still personally stuck in that same canyon, no matter what settings I use. In a few years I'm sure this game will hold up very well graphically on the hardware of that generation, but this game will probably be long forgotten and won't see much play at that point.
Really terrible controls really got on my nerves as well, with a lot of options, like the Inventory screen (I), requiring you to hold the key down to use them, despite them being clear and far away from other keys and being able to accidentally press them. Other keys have equally poor choices, such as when using the ever-present pneumatic ball-bearing gun; (R) is used to reload the ammo, refill the air pressure (Hold R), and it is also the key used to salved enemy weapons (Hold R). Needless to say, this gun is a nightmare to use in closed quarters with lots of dead enemies around.
I think the major take away here is that if you are going to play Metro: Exodus, play it on a console. If you do happen to get it on the PC, do yourself a favor and look up the directions to edit the config files to disable motion blur and make sure you have it patched to the absolute latest version to stop any (potentially) operating system destroying crashes.
Good golly and gosh almighty this game is beautiful to look at. Each area is a gorgeously themed zone full of derelict old buildings and makeshift fortresses built upon the remnants of the ruined world. Everything matches perfectly and recycled game assets are few and far between. A lot of the make-shift buildings are works of art in-and-of themselves and really make the world come alive as your eye picks out pieces of garbage or junk metal 'naturally' found in the area and nothing ever looks out of place. All cut-scenes and story segments happen in real-time, never swapping over to any pre-rendered videos (as far as I could tell), and weapon models look photo-realistic, even on less than maximum settings.
Each of the few areas of the game act as mission hubs with a couple primary objectives and a handful of smaller side-objectives. While impressive to look at, the areas themselves aren't actually that large, and can be traversed and fully picked clean in very little time. Each area typically has a vehicle unique to its zone, such as a rowboat or a car, and all handle abysmally bad. The controls are so stiff and awkward you will likely avoid these props as often as possible in favor of just running to the next objective on foot.
After every zone/chapter the action is broken up by a small slice-of-life scene as you converse and interact with the survivors you've acquired to your rag-tag band of misfits. Each of the characters seem unique and charming, despite the mostly horrible voice acting and terribly timed line delivery, yet its hard to get attached to most of them when the game barely scratches the surface of these interesting personalities. The framework for a very touching and compelling story is all solidly in place, but the final product is just missing so much to it, like holes in a block of Swiss cheese.
Weapon customization is easy and quick, allowing you to fit different parts from scavenged guns to create your own personal murder machine. While all fun in theory, I used a silenced pistol I fitted with a sniper scope very early on (silent one-shot kills) and continued to use it through my entire play-through, never once deviating or using another weapon-- aside from one occasion where I was stuck using the Pneumatic gun during a long story section, since you can only craft regular ammo at a crafting station. Certain accessories also add an element of randomness to the mix by causing your gun to malfunction and jam, though I never saw the need for any of these accessories (such as laser pointers), so I never ran into this issue. All the ammunition and throwables, as well as the ability to "clean" your guns and gear (read: durability), all rely on two components: Wrenchy-things and Flasks. Both are acquired from looting human type enemies and dismantling their weapons, but monsters (including humanoid zombies), do not drop anything. You can also acquire them via various small boxes and lockers lying abandoned across the wasteland, as well as looting certain biological things like mushrooms.
Durability affects not only your weapons, but also your gas/radiation mask, which requires constantly replacing the air filter on every couple of real-time minutes, but thankfully isn't required that often. Taking damage with your mask on will cause it to crack and lose its efficiency, and guns dirtied completely will (apparently) break. Stepping too hard (or whenever the water feels like) in puddles will splash gunk all over your mask that you can wipe off with a keypress (a neat gimmick), but the gunk landing on the mask and your weapons degrade them slowly. This also happens when picking radioactive mushrooms and from certain enemies dying near you. This all leads to one of the worst points of this game: Exploration is pointless.
After all the side missions of helping people, exploring abandoned buildings, and ransacking monster dens, I never once felt like I came out ahead. After repairing all my gear and replacing ammunition and accessories, all my supplies were neutral or worse than what they were when I set out. There are a few nice accessories you can rarely find that add a feature to your gear at the cost of another, but I personally never ended up using them anyway as anything important is given to you in the course of the main storyline. The bullets and durability lost looting natural resources and fighting monsters which drop no items whatsoever just wasn't worth it. Knowing what I know now, if I were to replay the game to escape my hard-lock situation, I could easily remake my favorite gun in the beginning area and just jump through the very minimal primary missions of each zone without having missed anything at all about the game. There are a few side mission that cause you to interact with members of your party briefly, but there doesn't seem to be any lasting effect of doing so aside from a quick 'thank you' cut-scene.
Enemy AI isn't anything special, but the real fun of the combat comes from the stealth aspect. Time flows naturally in the world, so for most missions against humans you will want to travel at night under the cloak of darkness. Various light sources such as fireplaces, candles, and electric lights all threaten to give away your position. Sneaking around and dousing these sources of light and stealthily avoiding enemies to shut off a circuit breaker is really fun, and it feels great to clear an area without ever being detected. Stealth is optional, of course, and you can just jump in guns blazing if you so wish. Conversely, mutated monsters have no problem finding you in the dark, so your role becomes reversed as you enter infested dwellings and try to light every candle, fireplace, stove, or re-charge any electrically powered lights you can find to avoid being a midnight snack for these creatures. It's a very interesting dichotomy that works exceptionally well.
Little bugs and creatures can latch on to you too, and you have a rechargeable flashlight and a lighter that lasts forever (as far as I can tell) to help illuminate your path. Burning cobwebs and spiders with your lighter is amusing, but ultimately another gimmick the game could have done without as it's done very sparingly and isn't entirely necessary. Certain terrors are only vulnerable to light, so making sure your flashlight stays charged with your hand-crank generator is crucial, leading to a very horror-survivalesque section at one point that quite frankly spooked me right the F*%! out.
Other bugs were minor and didn't impede gameplay in any way, but did appear out of place sometimes. Randomly floating objects or incorrectly chosen textures only showed up rarely and were more amusing than anything.
All-in-all, Metro: Exodus is worth playing, especially if you are looking for a much lighter alternative to, say, Fallout. The game is truly a feast for the eyes and the gameplay is genuinely good, but the total lack of necessity to explore and the underdeveloped characters and unexplored story don't really leave much to think about after everything is said and done; which is especially disheartening considering very solid groundwork is already there for all of these things to be built upon.
+ Beautiful Graphics
+ Great Atmosphere
+ Fun Stealth Mechanics
+ Solid Survival Shooter
- Pointless Exploration
- PC Endangering Crashes
- Terrible Vehicle Controls
out of 10
Metro: Exodus is a beautiful disaster that will probably disappear from the radar quickly and is likely to be remembered for its incredible graphic design, but forgotten for its lack of substance.