For the first time in the last few years I had some money in my pocket during the Steam Holiday Sale. The most expensive (and one of the most enjoyable) purchases I made was the Metro Redux Bundle that included Metro 2033 Redux and Metro Last Light Redux.

I knew a little bit about the Metro setting beforehand. I thoroughly enjoyed Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, and I was eager for another post-apocalyptic experience. The Metro Redux Bundle delivered admirably, but I have to admit that I found myself disappointed that they were linear, chapter-based FPS games.

The Metro Universe all originates from the novel Metro 2033 written by Dmitry Glukhovsky. What was originally a serial released online has turned into a wildly successful book that has spawned an entire universe comprising over 30 novels, two video games, and a board game. The two video games I played explored the setting well. Metro 2033 followed the story of its namesake book closely by all accounts. The sequel Metro Last Light was good enough that it has inspired Dmitry Glukhovsky to write Metro 2035 based on it.

The first two Metro games have visited a handful of locations in the sprawling Moscow Metro.

The first two Metro games have visited a handful of locations in the sprawling Moscow Metro.

Fallout 3 and the two Metro games share a lot of striking similarities. You are a loner trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland that exists due to a great war. There are terrible mutants roaming the land. Sometimes the only way to get from Point A to Point B is often through a subway tunnel (indeed, Fallout 3 has quite a few locations in its take on the DC Metro). There are a variety of factions vying for control of natural resources and strategic locations.

I made a point of my hopes for an open-world Metro game in my reviews of the titles and was met with some criticism in the comments. The fact that they were linear games was not really a detriment to the games themselves. However, open-world games offer a lot of possibilities for exploration and story that are just not possible in a linear game.

The primary Metro universe set in the Moscow Metro has three major factions – the Rangers based out of Polis and D6, the Fourth Reich based out of three stations, and the Communist Party of the Moscow Metropolitan based out of the Red Line. There’s also a variety of smaller bandit groups and independent stations. These are just the groups we know about. The in-game maps of the Moscow Metro are quite large and yet we’ve only seen a relatively tiny portion of it compared to the whole. That doesn’t even count what we could find on the surface!

Metro: Last Light had a handful of bonus missions where you could play as a Nazi or a Red and see a little bit from their perspective. Sadly, that’s about as far as the games have touched on those subjects. Imagine a game where you could willingly choose to align yourself with the brutal Fourth Reich or glorious communist Reds and fight against the other factions for domination of the Moscow Metro. Fierce sieges could take place over critical strategic locations such as Armory Station or D6 similar to the castle sieges in Mount & Blade or the civil war storyline missions in Skyrim.

This scene at the start of Metro Last Light shows the Ranger Armory in action. Someone has to make and maintain an army's weapons, after all - wouldn't it be nice if you could do it, too?

This scene at the start of Metro Last Light shows the Ranger Armory in action. Someone has to make and maintain an army’s weapons, after all – wouldn’t it be nice if you could do it, too?

Crafting is another element that wasn’t really touched on in the Metro games. Filters could be refurbished provided that you have the necessary materials. Fallout: New Vegas had an excellent ammunition reloading system that could be emulated. Players could make better or worse ammunition depending on their skill and the materials they have. Gunsmithing is another possibility – players could modify the various parts of their guns to improve or change their performance. Another interesting facet of gunsmithing could be the creation of entirely new and unique firearms.

Granted, there are some limitations in the Metro universe compared to the setting of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. The toxic air above ground means that it would be difficult to explore the surface for any significant amount of time. There’s also the hordes of rampaging mutants constantly roaming around to worry about. Sure, Fallout had its Deathclaws, but the games in general were not as unforgiving in the hostilities one could face in the wilds as compared to Metro. Imagine a Deathclaw with wings and you’ll have a good idea of what it’s like to go up against one of Metro’s Demons.

You're tantalized with scenes such as this location just outside the Archives in Metro 2033 Redux. If only you could explore all of those other buildings!

You’re tantalized with scenes such as this location just outside the Archives in Metro 2033 Redux. If only you could explore all of those other buildings!

Another advantage in an open-world game with multiple story paths is the ability to see a story play out in different ways. Fallout: New Vegas could be completed with the player favoring Caeser, The NCR, Mr. House, or even themselves. The different factions and their story choices afforded a lot more replayability compared to a linear game. I’m sure there are hardcore Metro fans who will say that the game has a lot of replayability, but the story has very little in the way of variance – there’s a “good” ending and a “bad” ending in both games and that’s about it. To be fair, it would be possible to have branching story paths in a linear FPS. That said, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to revisit past locations and see the effects of your choices as easily as you would in an open-world game.

Rumors are abound that 4A Games is working on another Metro title, fueled in part by this interview over at Eurogamer in August of 2014:

Oles Shishkovstov: For the game we are working on now, our designers have shifted to a more sand-box-style experience – less linear but still hugely story-driven.

Seeing as 4A Games’ releases have comprised two Metro games and two redux editions of Metro games, it’s reasonable to assume that they are working on another one. If they’re not, well… I really did enjoy Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light Redux. I’m sure I will get a lot out of whatever 4A Games’ next release happens to be. I just have my fingers crossed that their “more sand-box-style experience” will be set in the Metro universe and allow me to really explore the dark corners of the Moscow Metro.

A guy can hope, can’t he?

Would you want to play a sandbox game set in the Metro universe? Let us know in the comments below!

Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!

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