METRO EX­O­DUS

Ex­pe­ri­ence the beauty and hor­ror of the waste­land in an all-new shade of apoc­a­lypse Adam Bryant

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - Pub­lisheR Deep Sil­ver De­vel­oper 4A Games ETA 22 Fe­bru­ary 2019

From the creak­ing of the trees and the sound of the wind rustling through their branches, to the birds chirp­ing and singing songs on the air, or the soft crunch of au­tumn leaves un­der your feet as you make your way through a beau­ti­fully orange and am­ber-hued for­est, you know that this is an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent Metro. In Metro Ex­o­dus you play as Artyom. Fol­low­ing on from the events of the pre­vi­ous games, you, along with your wife Anna and a team of Spar­tan Rangers, head west in search of a new home and a new fu­ture for your peo­ple out­side the cold and harsh con­fines of the Moscow Metro sys­tem. The game takes place over the span of a full year and in a world seem­ingly re­cov­er­ing from the dev­as­ta­tion of war you’ll get to ex­pe­ri­ence it all dur­ing the four sea­sons. We’ve al­ready had a glimpse of the all-too-fa­mil­iar nu­clear win­ter in Moscow, spent time trudging through the Volga river dur­ing spring and now we get a good look at the waste­land in au­tumn.

Apart from hav­ing a com­pletely dif­fer­ent vis­ual pal­ette than what we’ve seen so far, the for­est en­vi­ron­ment it­self of­fers up a whole bunch of new ex­pe­ri­ences, from the way you play, to the peo­ple or en­e­mies you meet and the things you dis­cover.

The game is pre­dom­i­nantly about sur­vival so you’ll be ex­pected to ex­plore and scour the en­vi­ron­ment to look for sup­plies and re­sources. But as the for­est is lo­cated far from any ur­ban set­tle­ments these re­sources are in short sup­ply which means you’ll need to be more mind­ful of your ac­tions and de­ci­sions. You’ll not just be re­warded with items and am­mu­ni­tion for be­ing an in­quis­i­tive player, how­ever, you’ll also be re­warded with in­for­ma­tion that will flesh out the story and maybe even in­flu­ence the way you play and the de­ci­sions you make. A prime ex­am­ple is found at a nearby camp where we meet the Chil­dren of the For­est, a ter­ri­to­rial group that will do any­thing to pro­tect their land from those who tres­pass upon it. Orig­i­nally they were a group of chil­dren who were based at a sum­mer scout camp and thanks to the war were left alone to fend for them­selves, save for the guid­ance of their camp leader who they now re­vere. Hav­ing not grown up in the usual man­ner they have honed their skills as scouts and learnt how to live and sur­vive in the wilder­ness.

Nu­clear fam­ily

You’ll catch mo­ments of their naivety while over­hear­ing con­ver­sa­tions be­tween mem­bers of the group. At one point there’s a quar­rel be­tween two of the mem­bers about how they in­ter­pret the teach­ings of their leader. The way they talk to one an­other and the triv­ial opin­ions that they have high­light just how child­ish they are in their na­ture. Dur­ing an­other mo­ment one of them is seen writ­ing on a black­board in what looks like a class­room, whether through pun­ish­ment or do­ing a lit­tle late-night study­ing, and can be heard slowly re­peat­ing what he’s writ­ing. Re­gard­less of why he’s do­ing this, to at­tack them would feel like at­tack­ing an ado­les­cent. This brings forth a whole bunch of moral im­pli­ca­tions. These aren’t nec­es­sar­ily bad peo­ple, they’ve had to sur­vive the only way they know and they cer­tainly have a

“The for­est en­vi­ron­ment of­fers up a whole bunch of new ex­pe­ri­ences”

sense of morals. This is ev­i­dent when we see the corpse of a man hung up with his body mu­ti­lated and a sign at­tached to him that reads ‘Rapist’. Their meth­ods might be ques­tion­able, but do these peo­ple de­serve to die by your hand as you in­vade their home? They’ll even call you a ban­dit if you’re caught or start tear­ing through the camp. In their eyes you’re the bad guy and they will do any­thing they can to rid them­selves of a threat.

How­ever you de­cided to ap­proach the sit­u­a­tions you come across, it’s ul­ti­mately your choice and you can do what­ever you deem fit. But by ex­plor­ing and find­ing out more about your sur­round­ings you’ll be able to make in­formed choices. Do you let them be? Or do you push through re­gard­less? Apart from com­plet­ing the main ob­jec­tive to progress through the game you’re not forced to do any­thing. There is player choice at ev­ery turn, even down to how you ap­proach the level. It’s en­tirely pos­si­ble to go through the camp with­out killing a sin­gle per­son if you re­ally wanted.

Things change even more dur­ing the night. Metro fea­tures dy­namic weather and a full day and night cy­cle. Not only does this change the mood and tone of any given area, you’ll also ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent events and haz­ards de­pend­ing on the time of day. We see Artyom stalk­ing through the for­est un­der a moon­lit sky and as you can imag­ine vis­i­bil­ity dur­ing this time is pretty ter­ri­ble so night vi­sion gog­gles are a must. The air is more still now and crows can be heard squawk­ing in the dark­ness. Your senses are height­ened and it puts a dif­fer­ent hor­ror spin on the series than what we’re used to. It isn’t long be­fore the howl­ing of wolves sig­nals the ar­rival of a ra­bid pack that at­tacks Artyom. Fend­ing them off doesn’t seem to be too much trou­ble, just be sure not to get caught off guard by the ir­ra­di­ated griz­zly bear. As this is a new area and 4A Games is big on re­al­ism you’ll start to see mu­tated ver­sions of all the crea­tures you would ex­pect to see in those ar­eas. So as well as the wolves and bears, you’ll find deer, birds and oth­ers.

Metro-craft

We also got a chance to see more of the types of weapons you’ll have ac­cess to. The cross­bow, called the Hels­ing, makes a re­turn and is now pos­si­bly our favourite. It’s stealthy, com­pact and it just feels great to shoot. But the level of cus­tomi­sa­tion at your dis­posal can dra­mat­i­cally change the way it func­tions. Each weapon will have five ‘hard-points’ of cus­tomi­sa­tion which re­late to the bar­rel, scope, mag­a­zine, stock and gad­gets to at­tach things like laser sights. These can be com­bined in dif­fer­ent ways to make the weapon func­tion ex­actly the way you want. You can do this any­where in the world thanks to your trusty back­pack which stores ev­ery­thing you’ve gath­ered. You’ll also be able to craft medi­packs and fil­ters for your gas mask. How­ever, if you wish to cus­tomise your ar­mour or craft more ammo for your weapons you’ll need to make use of the many work­benches that you’ll find within safe­houses scat­tered through­out the world. Ad­di­tion­ally these work­benches will al­low you to clean your weapon. As you progress through the game your weapons will ac­cu­mu­late dirt and grime which will im­pede their ef­fi­ciency. The last thing you want is to be in the mid­dle of a chaotic gun­fight and for your weapon to jam up, so keep­ing ev­ery­thing well­main­tained will be a pri­or­ity.

Each set­ting we’ve seen so far has been unique and given us a com­pletely dif­fer­ent mood and at­mos­phere and we’re cer­tain that the next lo­ca­tion and sea­son we see will be no dif­fer­ent. All of this feels like a nat­u­ral evo­lu­tion of the fran­chise and a huge step for­ward. Ev­ery­thing from its nar­ra­tive de­sign, en­vi­ron­ments, en­e­mies, gun­play and au­dio comes to­gether co­he­sively to im­merse you in its world and brings out what we think will be the best Metro game yet. De­spite bring­ing in a wave of changes fans of the pre­vi­ous games have lit­tle to worry about, and while re­tain­ing all of the el­e­ments from the past that we love it adds so much more. We just can’t wait to see what the sum­mer has in store for us.

“Just be sure not to get caught off guard by the ir­ra­di­ated griz­zly bear”

Main A new pre­view, a new sea­son. Artyom ex­plores an au­tumn apoc­a­lypse.

Below The Chil­dren of the For­est have learned to sur­vive on their own.

The United States and Rus­sia pos­sess 90% of the world’s 15,000 live nu­clear war­heads

Below At night you’ll have more places to hide but more dangers to be aware of, too.

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