You ask: What's it like?
You: A little more detail please!
Me: Not Good.
This is a game that was almost really good, but it stumbled in the threshold of greatness, clumsily breaking almost every bone in its own body, coming out as a crippled dwarf on the other side.
So what is Metro Exodus? It's a story oriented, linear shooter. And to be frank, it not being open world is kind of a relief. I don't know about you, but I'm getting sick and tired of the filler content open world games are padded with. This being mostly a corridor shooter means there is barely any filler content.
There seems to be some confusion what being a "corridor shooter" really means among the people loving the game. Cause when I suggested that this is what this game was, some didn't take it very well. They thought it was a diss. And tried to argue that it's open world since you have optional goals that you can choose not to complete in certain chapters. But being a corridor shooter has nothing to do with that. All that means is that your goals in the game can only be reached trough a single point of entry, by being funnelled trough a narrow "corridor". Which doesn't have to be an actual corridor, it can be two lines of trees, buildings, or any barrier that you move between. And being linear means that you don't choose the locations you travel to, they come after one another in a specific order.
Now that we got that out of the way let's see what is good about the game. Obviously being story oriented is great, and the story, if I view it in a vacuum is decent. They nailed the atmosphere of the game. And the graphics is pretty good even without real time ray tracing. The gunplay is good as well. You have plenty of weapons to choose from, and each can be upgraded. The pacing is excellent. Action is always preceded by exploration, and each chapter concludes with consulting your crew.
Well guess technically it's not your crew, since you're not in charge for a change. And with that let's see the story. You are living in the Moscow metro, has been since the war, but you have been going on expeditions to the surface to find traces of other survivors. You've been told that everyone else is dead and there is nobody else, but you still persist. Of course this doesn't come as a surprise (or as a big spoiler) you have been lied to. Outside radio communications have been suppressed deliberately by broadcasting jamming signals to keep the people of the metro in the dark, both literally and figuratively.
Of course since you discovered the secret, you're not allowed to go back, so you and a bunch of your mates snag a train and go your merry way to look for other survivors. You travel for years and trough thousands of miles in the game, but this is only reflected by the narrative, you can't really feel that scale otherwise. Of course there will be monsters, bandits, nomads, fanatics on the way.
The characters are good enough, not going to love anyone like you did in Mass Effect, but they are passable. There was some criticism over the net about the voice-over quality of the game. I think it's neither here or there. It's certainly not award winning material, but I've seen many worse.
I'd have enjoyed the story, if the game wouldn't have slapped me in the face at the end with the "bad" ending. As it turns out, whether you get the good or the bad ending in the game is determined by a completely arbitrary metric. Namely did you kill enemies or used stealth in specific missions. I say that's complete bullshit, and the worst idea ever. The point of having the option to stealth trough levels, and to rambo trough them as well, is that players can choose which play style suits them. Rewarding one and punishing another is a terrible idea. And it's not even enough to use mostly stealth, you cannot hurt a single soul in those missions if you want the good ending.
Another thing related to the story that bothered me were the forced failures. There are a few of those in the game, guess A4 games didn't read Warren Spector's memo on how to make a good game.
The game also suffers from some balance issues. The start of the game was quite hard for me, resources were extremely scarce, ammo almost non-existent. Then the middle was super easy. And the end a bit harder again. Normal enemies are OK, but they did put a few bullet sponges in there for good measure. Like the bearape monster in the Taiga chapter. Or the snow yetis at the end of the game. You can craft ammo in the game at workbenches or even on the go for the base weapon. But the problem is that you use the exact same resources for crafting ammo as you use for crafting medkits. Which is a game design mistake in my opinion. And since there is no auto-heal in the game, not even after minor injuries, you are forced to keep those medkits coming. And they cost quite a bit of resources too. This meant that I often reloaded games even if I got trough an encounter alive. Because I wanted to get trough them without injury, or at least using less medkits or ammo.
Another gameplay related issue for me was that melee is almost completely useless in the game. The hitboxes of enemies are often unreachable. You stand right in front of them, mash the melee key and your attempts keep missing. It is really frustrating when an enemy gets a hit on you because of this bug, and you have to use a medkit.
To be honest the game has numerous borrowed ideas from Half-Life. One or two I'd have let slide, but there are probably half a dozen things in the game that are lifted from Half Life almost directly.
And the game also ended quite suddenly I expected it to have at least two or three additional chapters / levels. Especially since the last level felt so underwhelming. It was more a walking simulator than a shooter.
And unfortunately that's still not the end of the negatives. Because we have the AI, which is the worst I saw since I can remember. They are completely idiotic, unable to adopt to anything unexpected. Often freeze in place doing nothing, or get stuck in infinite loops. Or even ignore your presence completely. The most hilarious part is when an enemy NPC runs at you and you scramble to kill it, but miss, and then you see it run past you. Or even better they start pushing you in front of themselves. I would laugh if I didn't remember that I paid 53 Euros for this game.
And unfortunately there are reports of game breaking bugs as well, which I thankfully didn't encounter. But I did encounter numerous crashes. Almost all of my sessions with the game ended in a software crash or freeze.
And finally, the game is filled to the brim with scripted events, like enemies spawning behind you when you hit a trigger point. The amount of blatant and obviously scripted events in the game is something I have not seen for at least a decade in any other game.
The character rigs seem to be very outdated as well, with polygons on people's joints stretching awkwardly when raising their arms and gesturing. It's deep in the uncanny valley. Plus clothes are not separate but simple textures on the models, so they look like they are body paint instead of actual clothes.
Here goes the Pros and Cons:
- No throw away filler content
- Believable characters
- Train travel segments
- The bits of gameplay where you don't have to constantly worry about resources
- Terrible AI
- Forced failures
- The ending depends on whether you used full stealth in some missions
- Crash and burn, I mean freeze
- Melee mechanic is useless
- Ammo and medkit shortages at times
- Scripted events
- Outdated character animations and rigging.
- I'm sick of the mute hero trope (that's just one idea borrowed from HL)
- A good chunk of the game's monsters and mechanics are plagiarized from Half Life
- I didn't expect it to end when it did
That's it folks! Oh, I almost forgot the verdict:
overall impression: 6/10
It wasn't a bad game, because it wasn't a bad game, but this is not how a good game looks like either. I'd definitely wait until it's at least discounted before buying. If you're looking for a shooter Far Cry New Dawn seems to be a much superior game. As soon as I get my ass to finish it, I'll review that too.