In post-apocalyptic Soviet Russia, train catches you
Think ‘Metro’: Think mutants, madmen, and mysterious odours (and that’s just the one we ride to work every morning). This Metro however, is all of that and more—more harrowing, more anxious, more Russian. More of… well, just about everything actually. For its latest outing, 4A Games is promising that bigger really does mean better, but will scale outstrip substance, or make this the mother(Russia)-of-all sequels?
To find out, OXM sat down with 4A’s executive producer Jonathan Bloch to discuss all things MetroExodus. Our first priority: To discover just how players will traverse this huge sandbox?
With a great deal more freedom, according to Bloch. “Players will be able to wander around these large areas and approach their objectives how they see fit,” he says. “There will still be story wrapped into these levels that will guide the player along, but there is plenty more to do that players can discover on their own.” Think of it as straddling the line between true open-world scale and the sorts of gripping set-piece sequences that the franchise is known for. If that all sounds a bit like
STALKER— ie, the cult classic PC series upon which many of the team cut their teeth—then that’s very much by design. “Many members of our core team originally created STALKER before 4A Games was formed,” explains Bloch. “We wanted to blend the two experiences together in order to bring our fans something they have been asking for, while still retaining that classic Metro gameplay, and the story-driven, atmospheric experience that they are familiar with.”
That atmosphere, one of breathless tension and grime-lined realism, is still very much in evidence here. Oh sure, the monsters may not be real, but the filthy locales (and even filthier locals) remain every bit as authentic as before. It’s an attention to detail that the team is proud to produce. Every weapon in Exodus has been designed with real-world practicality in mind, so much so in fact that every last one of them could—though probably shouldn’t—be built in real life.
You seen bolt
Bloch explains that the team even agonized over the size of the explosive crossbow bolt glimpsed in the game’s E3 trailer. “There was a desire to make the arrow bigger and more noticeably an explosive round,” says Bloch, “but our weapon designers pointed out that if the arrow was any bigger, it wouldn’t fit through the barrel or the loading mechanism.” Clearly, physics and realism are key.
Also glimpsed in the trailer was the game’s new rolling hub, aka the ‘Aurora’—a steam locomotive that looks set to replace previous games’ city-station locations. Here, you can stock up, trade, and chat with your fellow passengers. As the train moves, so do the seasons—introducing new weather systems, and allowing players to utilize the day/night cycle to their advantage.
Before we go, we ask Bloch about the fact that the overworld now seems to be filled with (probably fairly pongy) oxygen, rather than facemutating radiation. “Even though the player is able to breathe above ground in certain places, there will be pockets of radiation and other hazards that will require the use of the mask,” he says.
Bigger, better, but still as bleak as ever, MetroExodus is quickly shaping up to be one of the most exciting titles of 2018. Or is that 2036?
“Every weapon could— though probably shouldn’t— be built in real life”