4A Games brings an anticlimactic conclusion to their Metro trilogy. Artyom’s latest adventure was something I looked forward to; instead, I am beyond disappointed in what has been delivered. While the first title had its issues, it still managed to be a thrilling experience, Last Light launched itself into the sky with its massive improvements, and Exodus plummets into the ground, smashing its face as a mediocre game.
Artyom’s dream of heading out of the Metro, out of Moscow, and into the great beyond to find a place that he, his wife Anna, and his band of misfit survivors can live in peace away from radiation, monsters, and bandits. A ride of predictable twists and moments that should have made me cry, but I found myself rolling my eyes until I could move forward into the next chapter.
The series has always had Artyom as a silent protagonist, who worked in 2010 original and reasonably well in the 2013 sequel, but in 2019, I felt his tacky silence hindered interactions with the other characters and the overall drive of the narrative. Impactful moments feel awkward when people speak to Artyom and respond like he said something snarky or insightful.
The writing and some of the voice acting treated me like I was dumb with its reveals and twists throughout the narrative. Characters being surprised over new issues despite the apparent foreshadowing that nobody in The Order, Artyom’s gang of survivors, could see coming. Either these people are dumb, or the game thinks its players will be too moronic to understand what is happening.
Survival gets revamped in the Metro series by including a customization system that allows for guns to not only be upgraded but to change their class like pistols transforming into sniper rifles. The mechanic allowed for plenty of freedom and made me feel stronger as I progressed through the story, especially when I found the items myself when exploring.
Weapons have each unique qualities that shoot differently while needing some management to stay in perfect condition for the time to kill some bandits or creatures. Water, dust, and other elements in the scenery jam guns and decrease the stats. Having to clean guns only at specific workbenches adds to the survival experience. I felt worried plenty of times when trying to unjam a machine gun when enemies have swarmed me.
Exploration has plenty to offer for crafting supplies, upgrades, and diaries from strangers who had died. Each major area of the game has a dense open environment to explore for side quests and camps to raid; this is the first in the series that lets itself give the player some variety in gameplay. The freedom given in these segments feels more shallow than freeing with its lack of activity and lack of side quests. Those optional objectives are a waste of time by feeling more like an errand rather than an adventure.
Each primary environment has unique qualities like dynamic weather, enemies, and vehicles to traverse the landscapes. Cars and boats were limited to a few but were enjoyable using rather than running everywhere like previous titles. The weather did make a significant impact on gameplay but served to make the world feel alive compared to its predecessors.
Some tacked on additions leave Exodus as an empty shell. A new resting mechanic to change the time of day and heal Artyom to full health never gets utilized. Changing the day sounds brilliant due to enemy behavior differs at night vs. day, but I never got many chances to utilize resting outside of the tutorial that introduced how it works.
The AI worked inconsistently with their strategies and intelligence. Bandits would stand still or out of nowhere become surprisingly intelligent. I never knew when the enemies would attack with a plan or with a death sentence on their mind.
Random occurrences were possible for surprise attacks or interesting interactions with various NPCs in the open sections. Like most of the game, too little was done, so these events happened rarely. The few times I did see something interesting, it was worthwhile with survivors having their own motives and goals.
Like everything in my time with the latest Metro, something was inconsistent or could have been done much better, in this case, it was the animations and graphics. Many times the forests or ruined cities looked incredible by their scale and beautiful attention to detail. Plenty of times, especially with interactions with people in this world, they appeared robotic by their poor facial features or the odd ways they would interact with the world.
Endings could differ from good or bad depending on moral decisions. Instead of impacting choices, the only option given is whether or not you killed surrendering enemies or innocent people. No interactions were allowed other than ignoring or killing them. Of course, I got the bad conclusion for being a psychopathic murderer which lead me to a satisfying ending, even if it was “bad.”
Exodus was one of my top anticipated games, and it will leave 2019 as one of the most disappointing — a dull narrative with braindead supporting characters with a silent protagonist with technical issues and flat additions. Despite the many glitches that occurred were minor, they happened too frequently that hurt my experience, especially the many failed launches and frame drops.
If you need a survival experience, play the other Metro entries and ignore Exodus.
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All screenshots and videos taken on PC