Nearly four years ago, I wrote that the Metro 2033 franchise could pull off an open-world game. Now with the revelation of the Metro Exodus open world, one might be curious—did they manage to make something great? And more critically, how is this broader world going to change the game?
What I had hoped to see one day was a game set in the Moscow Metro with the ability to explore all of the different sides of the conflict. After all, we don't spent much time with Hanza, the Reds, or the Reich for much more than a level or two in Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light. It would have been interesting to see just how these three different societies managed to keep things together in face of the terrible condition of the world.
Instead, the Metro Exodus open world gives us something entirely different. We get to leave Moscow entirely and head east towards Vladivostok. Each "stop" that the train makes will be its own little open world of sorts. This is still arguably linear gameplay, but each of the individual levels gives you an unprecedented amount of freedom to move around.
The Story Trailer gives us a nice look at the varied locations in the Metro Exodus open world.
In my estimation, the Metro games had a relatively simple narrative structure. You'd have a destination in mind and then you'd work your way there over a few levels. For example, the first game has Arytom trying to reach the rangers at Polis. That journey takes you through a goodly chunk of Moscow's subway system. Once you get there, you'll find that a new goal is set before you, requiring a change in destination. You'll go through a few more levels for this goal, again and again up until the end. Metro: Last Light plays out much in the same way.
The Metro Exodus open world seems to change up this formula significantly. I can comfortably say that there will be a much longer stretch of time in-between the individual levels of the game based on the details I've personally seen so far. All of those intermediate levels between your short-term goals where you're just trying to get from A to B have effectively been merged into the Metro Exodus open world that we'll soon be able to play.
My hands-on experience with a preview of the game established the formula of the Metro Exodus open world pretty solidly. For one reason or another, the Aurora will stop at a particular point in their journey. You'll partake in a short briefing with the people on the train and then head out into the game world to get started on your mission. Of course, you don't need to make a beeline for the goal right away—you can scavenge and explore to your heart's content.
This subtle change to the Metro formula raises several questions that I still haven't yet found an answer to. We do know that you'll encounter a few different groups of people out in the wild and that the way you deal with them will have consequences for the overarching narrative. But, there are certain elements of the game that we don't quite yet have a handle on.
For example, Military Grade Rounds are no longer a thing. Players will instead have to scavenge for items that will ultimately be broken down into Materials and Chemicals, two resources that can be used to craft equipment, ammunition, and the like. Does that mean that bartering and trading is no more? Is there even a chance of encountering any non-hostile people in the vast wastes of Russia? I do know that your weapons in the game have a maximum ammo capacity, but I didn't encounter any such limit for Materials and Chemicals. (That's not to say that one doesn't exist, though!)
Another question of interest comes down to just how much you can carry. This time around, you have a noticable backpack that lets you haul a good bit of junk with you. Anyone who has played a Metro game knows how important it is to conserve your equipment wherever possible. You always feel like you run the risk of not having enough gas mask filters or ammo or any other pieces of equipment to get the job done.
However, the Metro Exodus open world presents players with the opportunity to carefully and methodically pick apart the world for anything of value much like Fallout 4. I am one of those people that made a Strong Back build in Fallout 4 so I could carry as much junk as I wanted without slowing things down too much. Are you going to have a carry limit in Metro Exodus? Will you be able to pop over to the Aurora and stash your haul on the train? The answers to these questions may very well represent a fundamental shift to the formula.
I can certainly see a player methodically sniping enemies from a distance (something that wasn't always possible in the game) and then stripping them of everything of value. A cautious and perceptive player may very well find themselves with an abundance of resources at the cost of only their time. This could make for a departure from the previous games where you were always very concerned about conserving as much as possible.
The Metro Exodus open world isn't quite what I asked for, but it nonetheless advances the gameplay into an interesting direction that shakes up the formula of the previous two games. I'm excited to see just where the Aurora will take us.
What do you think of the Metro Exodus open world? Do you believe you'll be able to hoard equipment as never before? What do you hope to see in the game? Let us know in the comments below!h