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Metro Exodus was one of the toughest preview demos I’ve ever played

Metro Exodus was one of the toughest preview demos I've ever played

I’m not even mad

Preview demos rarely coddle, but they’re also almost always accessible. Like, the whole point is to get a good broad understanding for what a game hopes to accomplish. On a subconscious level, there’s probably something to be said for making a media person feel as though they excelled. It stands to reason that a positive experience would lead to positive written impressions.

I did not excel at Metro Exodus. In fact, I failed. Hard.

Maybe it was my Metro inexperience rearing its ugly head. I have not played 2033 or Last Light, although I know all of the most efficient strategies. Scavenge for everything. Everything. That’s the big one. Ammo doesn’t double as a currency anymore. Instead, protagonist Artyom crafts everything out of scavenged materials.

This new system doesn’t negate the need to conserve ammo, though. Not by a long shot. It’s still precious and rare. This is where I ran into the most trouble. Although I wouldn’t consider myself reckless, I guess I wasn’t proficient enough in taking down my many attackers. Even if I was technically successful in the earlier encounters, it only set me up for failure in later sections.

You know that moment when you realize you probably don’t have enough supplies to get through an upcoming firefight? Man, that’s one motherfucker of a bad feeling. There just isn’t enough ammo, and there just aren’t enough materials to make enough new ammo. Never having enough is a persistent theme. And, like, stealth is a viable option but you just know you’re going to bungle that. There’s no easy way in Metro Exodus and that’s one million percent by design.

I can pinpoint the exact second it all took a turn for the worse. Flitting through the stunning autumn wilderness (Metro Exodus is broken into four seasons, sparing us temporarily from the oppressive Russian winter), I let my guard down as I stumbled into a seemingly-deserted village. A member of the Children of the Forest faction swung in to greet me with “What are you doing here”-type veiled threats. I panicked. I shot first. Suddenly, I had to deal with an entire outpost of aggro warriors. This wasn’t the formula for success.

Metro Exodus isn’t the same linear death march that its predecessors were. Instead, it has open-ish environments where every path eventually funnels toward the same place. These different routes appear to be useful for either circumventing a particularly potent danger, or for scouring everything in hopes of finding extra materials to scavenge. (Previous areas can’t be revisited, so the designation of open-world isn’t quite apt. It’s just sort of less linear for the sake of strategizing.)

I didn’t do enough of that scouring or enough of that strategizing. Metro Exodus had no qualms punishing my lack of preparation. I botched one encounter and then I was hamstrung for the rest of the demo. I never finished. I can’t even be frustrated by that. This is the legacy that Metro has built for nearly a decade.

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