One of the big attractions for me at EGX this year was Metro Exodus. If you had asked me a year ago whether a Metro game had any appeal to me, I would have run away screaming in horror just thinking about the terrors of the tunnels underneath Moscow. However, after spending a snowy week at the beginning of the year exploring the world of Metro, my interest in Exodus is high, and excitement even higher after going hands-on at EGX.
The demo at EGX featured several moments from the Gamescom trailer, and left me feeling confident that 4A Games are doing the right thing by taking the series out of the tunnels, and into the wilds of Russia. There is no room in this world for standing still and resting on your laurels, and 4A could have so easily copied the successful formula of 2033 and Last Light, but I applaud them for moving forwards.
As is always the way at events like this, the demo was over way too quick and I could well have spent the rest of the afternoon sat uncomfortably close to a massive screen. Even without being able to take a step back to fully appreciate the joys of the rich, detailed visuals, I could tell it was a smart looking game. Despite the demo being set in an abandoned village, not the tunnels, I instantly felt like I was where I, and by extension, Artyom, belonged.
I didn’t really pay attention to what my saviour said during the brief rescue from drowning that opened the demo, so soon enough I was up and about without really knowing what I was meant to be doing. There was a clear path leading up and away from the shoreline, with a handy crossbow strapped to a statue at the end of the way. I explored a couple of ruined shacks and witnessed bodies that had been strung up and left to rot with signs that said “rapist” and “murderer” leaving me in no doubt that this was still a dark world, even when miles away from Moscow.
Moving past the gruesome scene, I was presented with two paths. With dusk drawing in, I thought better of wandering into the wilds, instead turning right towards what seemed like a more substantial collection of ruins than I had passed earlier. Exploring these buildings revealed some classic Metro moments. Collections of cans hanging in key locations to warn others of my (or a creatures) approach if blundered into, and reminders of a world long lost, and the struggles people braved through after the bombs fell. A letter here, a recording there, all revealing back story and context for your environments in the confident manner that the earlier games also possessed. Nothing feels wasted in this world, and every scrap of information is something I wanted to savour, but time was pressing so onwards I went.
The middle of the village was dominated by a bridge that had long since fallen to ruin…as I approached the collapsed section which neatly led to the stream below, a couple of nasty looking dudes from across the way made their presence known, trying to shoo me away. Disinclined to fall for their shooing, I followed the path opened by the collapsed bridge to reach the enemy dominated side of the village.
Using a combination of the ever-darkening skies and some luscious shrubbery, I was able to make my way to the outskirts of the village. A bad guy (I assume they were all bad, I never tried to talk to them) stood in a wrecked bus, talking to his guard buddy on the perimeter fence of the village. I snuck onto the bus, and mid-conversation, silently took care of the bus dwelling bad guy…but his buddy didn’t seem to notice the end of the conversation and stood there in blissful ignorance.
The AI being a bit shoddy is the only complaint I could have of this demo of Exodus, whether their intelligence had been toned down for the masses of a show like EGX, or there is still more work to do on AI routines, I’m none too sure. All I know is that running around the village, with little ammo and even less regard for my health wouldn’t have been possible in 2033 or Last Light. So, I choose to believe my successful bandit-slaying was thanks to a combination of the aforementioned factors.
Sadly, after clearing the village of the nasty buggers, I only had time to nose around the village briefly, venturing into a basement or two before the time limit on the demo ran out. I left eager for more. I have no qualms about the change of scenery, the wilds of Russia will be just as scary as the tunnels in Moscow…my hope is that the challenge of the game remains. Ammo should still be cherished like goldust, it’s the AI which will be my concern for now. But, we are still a few months from release, so I am quietly confident 4A will get everything in order.