One of the most memorable reveals of the last year’s Microsoft E3 media briefing, 4A Games’ Metro Exodus seemed to offer a formula that looked too good to be true – a successful transition of an established linear shooter into a similarly well-crafted open world epic. One year on, having spent a few hours hands-on with the game, there’s the sense that the promise suggested by that stunning demo has been fulfilled. Exodus is indeed Metro as we know it, but built within a more open-ended environment, with all the opportunities that offers.
Strictly speaking though, while the new 4A game looks and plays like an open world shooter, it’s more accurate to say that it’s actually more of a collection of smaller sandbox areas, though the developer says that taking the straight, linear path through just one offers around five hours of play. Concentrating the focus opens the door to more variety from one area to the next, simultaneously retaining the sense of a hand-crafted – as opposed to a semi-procedurally generated – environment. There’s also the sense that aside from some clearly signposted objectives, the player is very much left to his own devices; side-quests abound, but your map won’t get populated with masses of non-descript icons. Extracurricular activities aren’t a box-ticking exercise here, but rather something that you organically discover during play.
Metro series purists can certainly rest easy. Despite Metro’s emergence into a bigger world, the game feels instantly familiar. It begins with your kit: the guns, Geiger counters and gas masks return, and the weaponry – including the infamous bastard gun – again feels familiar. But everything comes with a twist, such as the new weapons customisation feature. It’s a down to earth and straightforward system: if you find a new gun, you’ve got the option to collect it. Alternatively, you can strip it for parts and use them to customise your existing arsenal. Series protagonist Artyom is gifted a backpack that not only houses his kit but also doubles up as a makeshift crafting shop, where you can strip and reassemble weapons or conjure up new supplies.
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