Metro Exodus might be the latest in the popular shooter series based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s dystopian books, but it’s blazing a new trial compared to its predecessors. Exodus is a more open experience, with players having finally escaping the Russian Metro and now able to explore large, open levels as returning hero Artyom travels across Russia.
Recently, we got the chance to go hands-on with Metro Exodus, as well as sit down with the producer, 4A Game’s Jon Bloch, who gave us a more detailed account of what’s different this time around and how Metro Exodus is aiming to shake up the series’ formula.
The story picks up from Metro Last Light, and we re-join Artyom as he is travelling East across the continent on a train called the Aurora.
This new open world gives the series a more non-linear approach, allowing players to explore much larger environments than the claustrophobic subways present in previous installments.
During our gameplay session, we explore an area called Volga, for instance. This huge hub contains a lake you have to cross in a boat, as well as church which acts as a hideout for an electricity-hating cult.
While you still have one main objective to follow, taking your time to explore immerses you in Metro’s world in an entirely new way.
Another huge shake up is the introduction of a day and night cycle, as well as a dynamic weather system. This visual shake-up, coupled with gorgeous lighting and effects, further immerses the player in the world.
But they’re not just for show. These additions will also impact the gameplay in a number of unexpected ways, making it easier or harder to approach certain situations.
Executive Producer John Bloch explains: “If you were to approach a bandit camp during the day, the bandits may be moving around a little bit more.
“[Meanwhile], if the player were to approach from night time, some of those bandits may be asleep. Some of them may be centered around a campfire and not really paying attention to what’s going on.”
Speaking of bandits, the new setting also leads to different types of encounters, like when we stumble onto a bandit camp who are holding a villager hostage.
We make our way slowly throughout the camp and take them out stealthily, using the element of surprise and the cover of the dark to help clear out this bandit gathering and save the poor civilian who was locked up.
While this new type of gameplay excites, Bloch assures us that there’ll still be a strong, focused narrative “It’s an open experience that players can choose to play at their own pace, but still has that core narrative thread that drives the player throughout.”
One of the biggest changes with Metro Exodus is the customisation system. You now have the ability to craft ammo on the fly and dismantle weapons for new modifications.
Again, this just further reinforces that idea of player freedom, allowing you to add scopes and other essential upgrades to improve the quality of weapons. Not every loadout will be the same, giving the game a more personal touch and a sense of improvisation.
“Supporting that more open style and freedom, some systems had to get overhauled,” Bloch says. “It had to be rebuilt from the ground up to support this new modular system of customizing weapons on the fly, to where players are able to find attachments and modifications, either out in the world or they are able to find other weapons that have these features and strip them down in their own loadout.”
It hasn’t abandoned the series’ roots, however. The game still has the same tense atmosphere and narrative focus we’ve come to expect from the Metro games.
During our play session, for example, we encountered a thrilling underground sequence where we had to clear an area, and rescue Artyom’s wife Anna, before escaping. This area was clearly reminiscent of the previous entries, but benefitted from this Exodus’s myriad improvements.
We’re looking forward to seeing how it comes together when it launches in 2019.