The Quiet Apocalypse Of Metro Exodus Shines Even Brighter On New Consoles
4A Games has become a master of the quiet apocalypse since the launch of Metro 2033 way back in 2010. Each subsequent entry in the shooter series has built upon its own personal brand of darkness, helping expand a world laden with fascism, radiation, and a general sense of oppressive dread that never seems to subside. Playing as Artyom, all we can do is survive and try to find some kind of greater purpose along the way.
2033 offers an isolated experience that seldom sees us venture beyond the underground metro tunnels, while Last Light isn’t shy about ascending to the surface in search of something more. In the case of the latter, Arytom’s exploration of the cities above mirrors his own personal growth as he meets Ana and discovers a path to a meaningful future. The world is still a morbid wasteland, but one with a faint heartbeat slowly bringing it back to life.
While part of me prefers the confined nature of past entries, I can’t fault Metro Exodus for its ambition, and I’m not nearly far enough into the campaign to draw my own conclusions just yet. However, I can confidently say that it shines brighter than ever before on PS5 and Xbox Series X. Acting as a showcase title for PC upon its original release, its console counterparts fell behind in a number of ways. Performance suffered, while image quality didn’t reach the lofty heights many had hoped for. It was still gorgeous, but now a new way to play on console has arrived, I’d struggle to go back.
From the opening moments, it’s clear that Metro Exodus on new-gen consoles isn’t messing around. Arytom spends the first few minutes cautiously roaming the underground, keenly aware that monstrous beasts prowl the tunnels alongside him in search of their next meal. I don’t know why I’m out here, all I can do is push forward with my clumsily assembled shotgun in hand, hoping it houses enough bullets to keep me alive. However, I keep finding myself stopping to admire the scenery, with ray-traced pieces of light piercing through the fractured ceiling and reflecting on the environment in a way that feels frighteningly realistic.
Before long I’m ambushed, my comrades arriving just in time to wrestle my body out from beneath a pile of mutated corpses. I’ll live to fight another day, but all of my friends are confused as to why I was stupid enough to explore so far away from home on my own. It turns out Artyom is busy searching for other bastions of humanity, determined that something is preventing their communications from reaching the outside world. It turns out he’s right, with the opening chapter unveiling that the world is very much populated, with multiple countries carving out an existence amidst the apocalypse.
Part of me was concerned that this drastic change in direction would nullify the survival horror that makes this series so compelling. Thankfully, these moments of quiet isolation are still present and accounted for. The world we explore might be vast and uncompromising, but it’s also home to smaller locations that harken back to the previous two games perfectly. You can spend 20 minutes scouring an abandoned building in search of resources and notes that provide vital context on exactly how such places came to ruin. It’s beautifully immersive, with the wider narrative meshing perfectly with smaller stories peppered across each new chapter. The voice acting and animations remain oddly campy, but somehow they add to the overall charm, something that few properties have been able to replicate.
I’ll delve into the characters and themes of this series in greater detail at a later date, but if you’ve been hesitant about pulling the trigger on Metro Exodus now it’s arrived on new consoles, I wouldn’t remain sceptical for too much longer. 4A Games has achieved something special here, and I’m keen to see it built upon in the years to come. One of the unexpected highlights of this new generation is seeing already fantastic games receive a new lease of life on new platforms, no longer confined by constraints that once held them back. If upgrades like this keep coming, we have so much to look forward to.
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