Metro Exodus Preview - Hands-On Gameplay in a Terrifying Desert

Published: January 16, 2019 11:00 AM /

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Like many gamers, I've hunted down every bit of Metro Exodus gameplay I could find. I reviewed both Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light Redux some time ago and I'm excited to check out the next chapter of this most excellent franchise. Fortunately, I got the opportunity to see the game in person and happily jumped at the chance. Going in, I didn't know much more than any other dedicated fan following the game's progress. After a few hours with the Metro Exodus preview build, I can now say that I am way more excited about what else is coming.

The Metro Exodus build I played only covers a single area set in a desert in the summer. This is one of the four seasons you'll get to experience in your travels. I found myself inside a train with the Ranger's commander Miller, Arytom's wife Anna, and a number of other colorful characters. They were discussing the fact that the train was running low on water and fuel. One person mentioned that the train seems capable of running on diesel instead of what they were using. (It might sound strange, but the idea of multifuel/flexible fuel vehicles has been around for a while.)

Everyone on the train got their assignments and I set off into the world. This single level seemed roughly the size of some of the largest Battlefield maps. An expansive desert lay before me and I could pretty much go where I pleased. I decided to stay on the rails and head towards my first objective: an antenna tower in the distance. Even so, gameplay in Metro Exodus seems to be pretty free-form. I could have gone anywhere in this wide-open expanse.

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Although the Metro Exodus preview build took place in a desert during the summer, it wasn't bright all of the time.

After stepping off the train, I moved along cautiously through open ground. As I neared some ruins, I noticed a slightly strange shape stuck to one of the walls. Suspecting an enemy, I decided to stop and check my equipment. I had three partially-modified guns on hand: an Ashot shotgun, a Bastard submachinegun, and a Tikhar pneumatic rifle. This made for a well-balanced loadout for short, medium, and long-range encounters.

One of the most interesting things I experienced was the ability to modify your weapons on the fly. You can plop down your backpack and add or remove modifications to guns at the push of a button. Higher-end crafting needs to be done on a crafting table. I had access to one, but I unfortunately didn't notice it while I was on the train. Thankfully, there's still a lot that you can make out in the field. The Tikhar proved especially useful thanks to the ability to craft ball bearings out of any scrap I found. According to a fellow writer from The Outerhaven, you could make all sorts of ammo at a proper workbench.

Once I sorted that out, I crept closer to the ruins. A ghoulish creature hugged a wall in an attempt to blend in. I promptly shot it in the head. I moved through the ruins and repeated the process, only to discover that he had a few buddies laying down in the grass. That was the first of my many deaths. Complicating this issue was a bug that only one of the two demo machines was experiencing: a quick-time event just wouldn't work properly on my machine. (It worked perfectly fine on other demo units from what I saw.) That made me extra cautious for the remainder of my Metro Exodus preview time—getting caught in a melee QTE was effectively an instant death.

I eventually muddled through the ruins and proceeded to approach the antenna. The same creatures that gave me so much trouble picked off humans one by one. Once I actually made it to the antenna, a radiation storm (or something like that) descended right on top of me. I began a frantic exploration of the area in an attempt to figure out where to go. I was completely caught in the open with only a limited amount of gas mask filters to protect me. If you think being away from the city makes you safe, you're dead wrong. Metro Exodus' gameplay features plenty of the same hazards you're used to.

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I believe the woman on the left is the mysterious denizen of the lighthouse I was trying to reach. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it to her before my time with the game was up.

The ability to craft in the field saved me from certain doom. I made some makeshift gas mask filters out of metal scraps and chemicals. These were the only two types of crafting resources that I saw. I often picked up bits of scrap or chemicals alongside ammo and other useful equipment. Field crafting also let me make medkits when I ran low, but both the medkits and gas filters were terribly costly. I imagine they won't be as abundant as some might hope.

After safely emerging from the storm, members of the Aurora got back in contact with me. They informed me of a woman in a lighthouse who might be able to help us. Unfortunately, the lighthouse was under heavy siege from several not-so-friendly humans. I made my way to the location, occasionally shooting the enemy soldiers I encountered. They were part of a faction that was led by someone who called himself a "Baron", likely one of Metro Exodus' many wasteland dictators. I was able to snap up a couple of Kalash rifles and quickly ditched the Bastard in favor of this superior weaponry.

I couldn't find an obvious way up to the lighthouse on a cliff. Eventually, I discovered a cave that was packed with enemy soldiers. Fortunately, the cave was also loaded with deadly traps and many of them were either dead, dying, or panicked. I came up from behind them and picked off as many as I could before open combat was unavoidable. I was just about to see what was on the other side of the cave when my time was up.

metro exodus preview metro exodus gameplay flamethrower trucks
Flamethrower trucks give the desert level a little bit of a Mad Max flair. I did see vehicles in the demo, but I wasn't able to hop on. Interestingly, an icon indicated that it was disabled so we may very well get to ride around on one of these bad boys.

So, what did I learn from my time with Metro Exodus? I was cautiously optimistic about the introduction of open world and crafting elements into a linear game. Exodus certainly feels a lot less claustrophobic in the open-world areas, but it sure as heck isn't any safer. As for the crafting, it may give you more options but it certainly doesn't look like you'll be awash in resources like a Strong Back build in Fallout 4.

During this preview, I only had about 2 hours in total to spend on this desert level. I easily could have spent half a day (or more!) seeing everything this single level had to offer. I managed to breeze through 2033 and Last Light in under 10 hours and I have a strong suspicion that I'll be spending a lot more time in the world of Metro Exodus.

TechRaptor covered Metro Exodus on an Xbox One X developer console at a press event conducted by Deep Silver. The images in this article were provided after the fact by the publisher and are not from this specific gameplay session.

What do you think of the Metro Exodus preview build as described above? Are you excited to learn more about what other Metro Exodus gameplay there is to enjoy? Let us know in the comments below!

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A photograph of TechRaptor Senior Writer Robert N. Adams.
| Senior Writer

One of my earliest memories is playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I… More about Robert N

More Info About This Game
Learn More About Metro Exodus
Game Page Metro Exodus
4A Games
Deep Silver
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date
February 15, 2019 (Calendar)
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)