I had the good fortune to spend a bit of time with Metro Exodus in a hands-on preview. I also was afforded the opportunity to speak a bit with Alex Brewer, the head of Deep Silver's Public Relations. I took the opportunity to learn a bit more about the world of this upcoming title from 4A Games and Deep Silver. I left with just as many questions as I had answers.
One big question that immediately comes to mind is why exactly the Spartans have decided to leave the Metro. The books hold some details as to the possible motivation, but the Metro games have always changed things up a bit, and we can't say if those motivations will also apply here. What we do know is that Artyom and the Spartans have seen fit to get the heck out of Moscow and head East to Vladivostok. This will be accomplished through a steam train called the Aurora.
Whereas previous titles had you traveling between Metro stations (and occasionally stopping in-between), Metro Exodus has the Aurora making stops at various points of interest. From what I could glean from my preview session, these can be motivated by different factors. The particular stop in the level titled The Caspian primarily had two focuses: link up with an antenna to get some information and secure more fuel and/or water for the train. Essentially, the Aurora appears to act like a base on wheels that will let you carry over all of the various equipment you pick up in-between levels.
The one level I played was pretty large—much bigger than any previous level I've seen in a Metro game. It seems that the shorter focuses of the previous game's chapters are no more. I don't think you'll have to sit through a loading screen to get to another part of the same location like the library in the first game. Rather, it seems that all of your objectives will be placed on one massive map for you to accomplish at your leisure.
One thing I had noticed in my time with the preview build of Metro Exodus was the loading screen. As always, it had a measure of detail about the story so far. A few points of interest were highlighted on the map, but these had specific dates tied to them. While the names were in Russian, the dates made it clear that the journey of the Aurora would be taking place over several months. It seems like there's going to be a good bit of time in-between each place you stop. I also don't think that we'll see much in the way of backtracking, either—once you leave an area, you're gone for good. Pretty par for the course in a Metro game.
There's a little more to the game world than just its size. The level of detail packed into the character models and set pieces was pretty robust. As an example, I had happened to glance at Anna's butt during the pre-mission briefing because, well, I'm a guy and I still have a pulse and functional eyes. Aside from her appealing figure, I had also noticed that someone had taken the time to animate the flaps on her pants pockets. Similar bits of equipment and clothing also moved in a much more believable way—certainly a step above the simple bump-mapped textures of yesteryear. It seems to me that the increase in the game's scale has in no way diminished 4A Games' taste for detail.
There are, however, some other questions that remain that we just don't have answers to. For example, we know from as far back as last year that the Military Grade Rounds currency isn't a factor in the game anymore, but does that mean we won't be doing any trading or meeting friendly people? Crafting comes down to "materials" and "chemicals", but I can't say for sure if a player is solely going to be relying on scavenging in Metro Exodus.
One also has to wonder about the much-touted "seasons". The game is set to take place over the course of a year with stops taking place in each of the four seasons. The Caspian was certainly large enough that I could see myself spending four or more hours in that level alone, but will we only get four "core" levels or will there be more? Previous preview maps were reportedly smaller, but that's not necessarily representative of the content in the game.
I think I can comfortably say that Metro Exodus is aiming to be much bigger than its predecessors, but there are still a lot of unknown quantities about the games. Both 4A Games and Deep Silver have been tight-lipped about what we can expect to see beyond the few morsels of details we've gotten so far. I think they'll go a great job once again, but I'm curious to see just how well Metro Exodus holds up with so many changes to its core formula.
What do you think about the changes of Metro Exodus as compared to the previous games? Are you looking forward to the changes or would you have preferred to stick around the Moscow Metro? Let us know in the comments below!