So after 5 years of development the third instalment for 4A Games’ fantastic cult series is finally here. Metro is the video game series which was adapted from the post-apocalyptic bestselling series of the same name and focuses on the survivors of Moscow after the world faced total nuclear annihilation. Metro Exodus takes a bold step out into the cold and ventures up to the surface. The developers much like Metro Exodus are taking a gigantic leap of faith and going to places they’re unsure of. Can 4A Games deliver on their most ambitious project yet?

Will this turn into another Stalker? Let’s find out.

Artyom and his fellow Spartans take on the most dangerous journey yet after a huge disaster forces them out of Moscow. But upon the destruction, Artyom discovers that there is life outside of Moscow and it could mean the end of living under ground. However it appears that not all those on the surface are friendly and not all of them are human. Metro Exodus takes players on a journey through several different regions of Russian as Artyom, Anna, Miller and a few others attempt to find the safe haven of Russia’s government officials and hundreds of survivors.

In order to traverse the country, they’ve got themselves a several tons worth or iron that travels at 80 miles per hour. An armoured train named the Arora soon becomes their only hope of survival and acts as a refuge for those they pick up along the way. So don’t worry, there’s still a train theme going on.

Metro Exodus brings another impressive story with a stellar supporting cast made up many well written characters you’ll grow to love and hate over the course of the game. Many of whom have interesting back stories and distinct believes and perspectives on the situation at hand. Now it wouldn’t be a Metro game without its captivating sense of morale and there’s still compelling moral choices in this epic. Players will encounter different situations that push the moral compass of the players, asking them to either engage or simply move on when things look bleak. There are multiple factions which again have their own stance in the world and often disagree with what would be the norm. Many of whom really don’t pose a massive threat unless the player feels otherwise but now in Metro Exodus your moral compass won’t slide for killing off truly awful people. Like Bandits, murders and mutants. It’s nice to see a fleshed out and balanced approach to morale this time round.

It’s a shame that in 2019 we still see that Artyom lacks any commentary or thought. He speaks in loading screen but never mutters a word in game. I can see this is meant to allow players to become the protagonist but when confronted in difficult situation or simply engaging with loved ones, it would’ve been nice to hear the man speak his mind. It can be done and if Call of Duty: Black Ops is one of the few FPSs to allow a speaking protagonist in an FPS game, and then it’s a little disheartening.

What is of course the biggest change from the previous two games is how 80% of the game now takes place over ground. This might be alarming to some fans but in many ways, this is the right direction for this sequel. We finally get a chance to see the rest of Russia with the creative flare 4A Games has with portraying life underground. There are still plenty of creepy creatures lurking the wasteland, ruthless bandits murdering and robbing anyone in their paths and the decaying ruins of a world that once was full of life. Plus, the world looks amazing!

Plus there are still plenty of underground areas where mutants roam and huge rewards are hidden. So for those who love dark, claustrophobic environments which hold many challenging elements, then don’t worry as you’ll be covered. Even the outside world borrows elements from the Stalker series but much more refined including dynamic weather, random enemy encounters and plenty of dangerous area which can kill you in seconds.

Gameplay breaks down into several areas including intense survival gameplay with item management, gunplay and exploration. Players will be for a majority of the game be dropped into large areas each one being inspired by one of the four seasons. You’ll explore a cold and bitter swamp that looks like something from an actual Stalker game, a sun-baked dessert which reminds me of Mad Max and a dense woodland area that’s home to savage pilgrims. It’s great to see 4A Games take Metro into the light and show players an impressively detailed world, full of history, character and plenty of things to find, kill or craft.

Artyom is able to craft ammo, gear, customise his weapons with an immense line up of attachments and gun parts and be able to scavenge resources and discover new hideouts through what is the series most engaging exploration. Each area is littered with plenty of points of interest, high octane set pieces and mysterious lairs, home to Russia most dangerous creatures.

The controls don’t feel as refined for the change in level designed, but never did they feel like tank controls for the actions you would perform. Stealth is basic but works well in a majority of areas throughout the game.

While the number of bugs are much lower than previous games, many of them are quite noticeable and can be rather distraction and immersion breaking. Like seeing bandits run through thin air or mutants walk through closed doors is annoying and effects gameplay in some regards. It only happen a couple of times throughout the game yet still broke the immersion for a few minutes in an otherwise stellar experience.

I will admit that mutants are still some of the lost annoying enemy types in the game, with the stand out being the mutant crabs in the Spring River level. When these buggers get a hold of your boat, it’s annoying, when half a dozen swarm you and you have very little ammo, even worse.

It doesn’t help that there’s on one save slot for the campaign. So if you muck something up and save by accident then you’re really going to suffer for it.

The Day/night cycle is an interesting dynamic and introduces a new element of player choice for tactical gameplay. In the day you can see more clearly but be warned most creatures come out at this time. Then at night you’re pretty much hidden from most enemies apart from the overpowered electrical enemies simply known as anomalies which appeared in both previous Metro games. So the tension and survival aspects are heightened with some neat new dynamics.

Overall Metro Exodus is a great return for the series, moving up and expanding upon its original framework with some compelling new ideas and a return of its classic survival gameplay. While there are a few flaws from the bugs, annoying enemies and the unrefined controls, these don’t hold back what is otherwise an enthralling journey that fans will adore and new comers will no doubt become immersed in.

++ Immersive survival gameplay
++ Beautiful visuals and compelling world design
+ Very good story
-- Controls feel a little unrefined for open world gameplay
- Quite Few noticeable bugs and glitches

An Xbox One review copy of Metro: Exodus was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.