Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

The Lowdown

Buy this game when it’s on sale (which it often is) if you’re unsure, but if you like wandering around big maps while constantly being behind the barrel, Metro Exodus is a decent experience. If you’ve played the first two in the series, you probably should give it a whirl to get some closure on the saga of Artyom.



  • Great use of sound
  • Modifying your weapons unlocks a tactical level that is well-received
  • Strong story arc amidst the monologuing


  • Engaging with the Open World doesn’t provide much benefit
  • Resource burn when fighting half the creatures is annoying

Well, everyone, we’ve made it. Here we have the final step in the Metro trilogy that, presumedly, you have been waiting for. Following the events of Metro 2033: Last Light, we rejoin our silent friend Artyom as he ventures out from the musky subway tunnels of post-apocalyptic Moscow. It’s certainly an ambitious switch-up of the format that was very linear in the last two games in this series, and they have learned from what worked well in the past. That being said, they didn’t get the balance quite right, and that puts it a tier below Metro: Last Light.

I beat this game’s main story in about 20 hours; here are my thoughts.

Let’s Recap, shall we? Just in case some sod hasn’t read my previous two reviews, here’s the basic premise of this world.

World War III hasn’t been kind to anyone, as you’d expect.

Instead of HOA dickheads, you have meat-eating mutated moles the size of a horse. Instead of the IRS, you have warring factions fighting over whatever dirty-ass mushroom they can scrounge in the subway tunnels of Moscow.

Instead of Todd over in sales, who won’t stop blathering about his golf handicap, his new Dodge Ram, and how his wife is hotter than yours, you have radiation and toxic gas making any sort of exploration treacherous.

To be fair, only the last one is 50-50 in terms of a headache but the rest sure blows.

Scene from Metro Exodus

Eff Off, Todd!

Metro Exodus‘s Plot

Artyom started off as just a guy, but he’s now a senior member of an elite group of military group within the Moscow Metro called “the Spartans,” and it is his job to take on the heaviest of burdens to preserve what little humankind has left.

However, instead of limiting his scope of work to just the dank tunnels, the man likes to venture up to the surface world and sit on his radio in an attempt to contact literally anyone else that may have survived the apocalypse. This pisses off his unit commander, as Artyom always comes back with so much radiation he might as well be a glowstick.

One day, Artyom sees what he has been waiting for, evidence of life outside Moscow.

A pair of humans have somehow survived the wilderness and clue him in that there may be more to life than pissing it away living in a sewer. Unfortunately, the visitors are quickly found and summarily executed…

The killers have also managed to kidnap Artyom’s wife, Anna. Using his normal method of diplomacy, Artyom decides to shoot them all to make their escapes. In the process, a console is destroyed, and this is revealed to one of a web of radio jammers that are the reason no external communication has ever been received from outside the city.

Apparently, this is all part of a greater conspiracy. All the corruption, all the misery, and all the fighting are apparently orchestrated by a shadowy backchannel bureaucracy that still believes World War III never ended.

Protecting the remnants of Russian society from destruction by potential nuclear attack is their darkest secret, and therefore, Artyom is branded a traitor.

Scene from Metro Exodus

Diplomacy in Action.

Artyom’s commanding officer is a man named Colonel Miller, who is simultaneously his father-in-law. Now if that isn’t a sitcom in the making, I don’t know what is.

Miller obviously doesn’t want to see his daughter (and Artyom, I guess) smoked, so he and their squad all escape on a steam engine they name the Aurora.

The journey is a series of running into scumbag after scumbag because the world is not only so much more populated than they imagined, those who have survived have truly become awful people.

Crossing the Volga pits, the crew is against a cult of anti-technology bumpkins and a mutant fish so mean that it takes a piece of a warehouse ceiling to kill.

In the desert formerly known as the Caspian Sea, oilfields are run by a group of raiders led by a Baron who has turned all the area’s residents into brainwashed serfs.

At a military bunker along the road where Colonel Miller assumes military high command is stationed, a group of cannibals lays in wait and prey on any poor soul looking for help.

So on and so forth.

After realizing that all these potential areas are worth dogshit, their quest changes from finding their potential superiors to finding a new home.

It’s a damn mess, but if you’ve played any of the other games in this series, you know that this is par for the course.

Only in this grim future will you have to flip a coin to decide whether to live with the rats or brave the surface.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

So What Do You Do?

As mentioned in the intro, they’ve taken a lot of good from the previous installments and improved on a few things as well.

By far, the best aspect they’ve improved upon is the capacity to customize your weapons on the fly. Every gun can be modded based on your needs, from sights to barrels, to magazine capacity; these are all ways you can reconfigure your arsenal on the fly.

When you only carry three guns at a time, this drastically increases your combat versatility.

For example, if a sniper bandit is giving you particular grief, crouch behind the cover and slap a 4X scope onto your rifle and scoop his brain out from afar.

Sneaking through a dangerous tunnel full of mutants? Put a silencer on your shotgun and commit wholesale murder in relative peace.

There are only 10 weapons in the game, and allowing the player to have agency over how best to use them is a huge check mark for me.

However, you have to find attachments and modded pieces for your kit, so this does represent a progression of your abilities, as there are no “skills” in this game besides your own ability to hit a target between the eyes.

They’ve done away with using military-grade rifle rounds as currency, as you will not be doing much trading while traversing the lands. This is a blessing because if you’re like me and hoard all the good shit until the game’s already over because you’re afraid of spending it prior to a boss fight, it’s nice not to pick up stuff I’ll never use.

Instead, your primary currency is the resources you can scrounge on the way. Scrap and chemicals can be snagged up all across the map, and these can be used to craft vital supplies like gas mask filters, medkits, and bullets.

A scene from Metro Exodus

The following icon represents scrap.

By far, the most cost-efficient transaction in my mind is making steel ball ammunition for your Tikhar pneumatic rifle. One of my absolute favorites, it makes a triumphant return and should never leave your backpack when exploring the world.

I have never in my life been described as silent but deadly, and I blame that solely on the fact that the Tikhar exists and takes over that particular epitaph.

By cranking on the level at the end of the weapon, Artyom is able to project ball bearings at speeds sufficient enough to take out almost anything with a headshot. It also makes minimal noise, and ammo comes at 1 scrap per round.

You will be finding a plethora of scrap as opposed to conventional ammunition, so with a little patience (and provided you don’t have your ass hanging out), this becomes a lifesaver.

The rest of the weapons are as you would expect. Notable ones are a standard 6-shot revolver that packs a wallop but takes a while to reload, a two-barrel crude shotgun that is dying for any increase in magazine capacity, and the good ol’ AK-47.

I read somewhere that those rifles, in particular, can survive almost anything, and this truly represents as such.

Your assortment of grab bag throwables also makes a return.

Throwing knives are great for taking out things on the down low, whereas molotovs are great for just about every other occasion. These can also be crafted as they are only found rarely in the world. It’s best to use them when you’re fighting something big, and by big, I mean BIG.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

Pictured: A Dead Man.

So let’s talk about what’s not big, generally characterized as human scum. Most of them will carry guns, and somehow, they’re absolute marksmen with them. More on that later.

By and large, they’re also much smarter than the wildlife, but I strangely felt more comforted fighting them than the beasts. A well-placed headshot will take out almost anyone without body armor, and body shots tend to stagger human enemies enough to get a brief breather in the gunfire.

All in all, as long as you have cover and a good eye, you should be fine.

Now, on the other hand, critters are back and in force.

A lot of the old monstrosities make a return, like the winged demons and the ugly as butt nosalis, but the marquee addition happens to be a particularly nasty breed of mutants called the “humanimal.”

For better or for worse, just consider them zombies.

They exist in large quantities and can hide under the ground to boot. Utterly mindless, they will soak up ammunition like nobody else unless you aim for their heads and aim true.

Ideally, you want to catch them when they are unaware because they can climb up after you as opposed to mewling around on the ground. They’re also never alone, so make sure your back is covered if you go in there blazing.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

Fighting 60 of them in the dark is 

Much like the previous games, the directional sound is great, even if you’re an idiot like me.

I played the first map with my speakers swapped left to right, so I was unjustifiably mad at the game’s sound mixing when I would hear a threat from the left that would bushwhack me from the other direction. However, I now realize that was entirely on me being a dingus.

Despite being on the surface, the game throws you into some very, very dark places where flicking on your flashlight paints a “dinner” sign on Artyom’s behind.

Listening intently can be the greatest tool in your box.

With some variants of enemies that can literally jump out of the walls when you’re not looking, every growl or snarl can buy you a second you need to eliminate the target.

Provided you can get the drop, most humanoid enemies can be stealth killed in one blow, and on higher difficulties, this is essential.

Ranger Hardcore mode makes a return, and this means Artyom will die from a single headshot, probably two gunshots, or two to three hits from beasts. If you play that mode, pretend you’re navigating a busy intersection on foot with your pants around your ankles. That’s how carefully you need to move.

Metro Exodus also features several iconic story moments that typically feature boss battles. With humans, this culminates in milling the grunts like chaff as they drop in on you from all over the place but with animals, those bitches get huge.

The best example is “the Bear,” and it’s exactly what it reads on the tin. A heavily irradiated bear that looks more like a semi-truck on steroids; this is the bane of everyone’s existence who lives in the Taiga forest.

The beast makes several appearances that Artyom narrowly escapes from while it proceeds to eviscerate literally anyone else in a two-block radius. It also has a tendency to find you in inopportune moments, such as when you’re trying to move past a chokepoint to meet with your main contact in the area.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

They did an excellent job of building up the mystique of this beast, and when you finally beat it, it feels more like a duel against two masters of the forest than a fight with a raggedy monster long past its expiration date.

On the subject of storytelling, and which may be a strange way to describe it but this game as a narrative is better than the sum of its interactions.

Arytom is a silent protagonist for most of the game, and you only hear him utter anything at all during the loading screens where he poetically discusses the Aurora’s journey and his own internal thoughts.

The rest is talked at you by the various other Non-Player Characters who can be politely described as verbose.

It’s almost like everyone knows that they may be dead soon, so they’re desperately trying to leave their mark on the world by boring everyone around them to absolute tears with a monologue.

However, as a story overall, I think they’ve got something strong there.

It’s a bleak world, no doubt, but you find little moments of companionship and sanctity amidst the storm. Traveling on the Aurora between biomes takes time, and you are often greeted with small “mini-levels” where you can interact with the squad, and it feels…nice?

Take your compatriot Stepan, for example. He’s a jovial guy, and upon rescuing a young woman (Katya) and her daughter from cultists in the Volga, the two adults quickly find love. You play guitar with him, you have drinks together, and this all culminates in you attending their wedding.

It’s cute, to say the least.

As a side note, it’s worth listening to the guitar riffs. They’re quite melodic, and I left the scene on in the background longer than I’d like to admit so I could hear the tune.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

Stepan is on the right.

However, the most touching scene of cathartic normality was saved for the final moments of the questline.

Yes, this is a spoiler, and I apologize (but I don’t really, you’ve been warned).

Colonel Miller has a contentious relationship with Arytom, being his father-in-law/commanding officer and all. He blames Artyom during most of the game for their current predicament and his squad being branded as traitors by the Moscow government.

Ana comes down with a lethal affliction that is deteriorating her lungs at a rapid rate due to toxic gas exposure, and that doesn’t help their bond at all. The final level of the game has you exploring the ruins of a highly radioactive city in the slim attempt that you’ll find an experimental medicine to cure her condition.

Artyom and Miller brave the sewers, leeches, and blind gorillas that can whisper to you telepathically (yes, that’s real), but both eventually succumb to the effects of the environment.

Miller injects Artyom with his last dose of anti-radiation serum to preserve not only the future of the order but the future of his grandchildren.

Still dying, Artyom drives back to the Aurora, and the compatriots who have survived rush out to save him.

Need I remind you that the radiation level is incredibly high, but they all immediately sprint out to collect you and bring you to safety? It actually made me smile, and that doesn’t happen often in games such as this.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

The lads.

While your squad donates their fresh blood to save Artyom as he fights the radiation, Miller speaks to him in a dream representing purgatory. He speaks of a place he discovered through a map found in the tunnels that is clean and untouched by the war.

That he had lost sight of his way and was blinded by his prominent role in a frankly corrupted society, and he forgot that his job as a Spartan is to look out for all humanity, not just the snobby leaders they left behind.

Most importantly, he tasks you with leading not only the Aurora crew to Lake Baikal but to protect all humanity and guide them to a better future.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

It’s cheesy for sure, but poetic nonetheless.

The tension between the two has been tangible for the entire series, and Miller blames Artyom just as much as himself for Ana’s predicament but in his final moments, he knows that Artyom will save them all and sacrifices himself so that the dream can live.

Catharissssssssssss, can you taste it?

Criticism: Why Metro Exodus Isn’t Amazing

So what intrigued me the most about Metro Exodus is that this is the first game in the series that throws you out of the linear progression we’ve come to enjoy and has moved us into a more open-world format.

What this means is that Artyom isn’t bound by the arteries of the Metro system and instead is able to wander around in reasonably large maps at his own leisure.

Despite all the good they’ve done, I will have to say that, unfortunately, these open-world areas were not that impactful to me and, in some cases, just plain did not provide that much enjoyment.

I’d say one of the largest reasons was that enemies consistently respawn upon taking a nap, and the real issue here is that in a survival game where resources are scarce, the beasts, in particular, take a lot of bullets unless you’re a marksman but also do NOT drop any salvage to loot.

That means no additional health kits, no additional bullets, and no additional help. In fact, you’re almost better just not engaging animals at all costs.

This would be fine if they weren’t always up in your business at every possible opportunity.

Sure, the game has a day and night cycle, and enemy visibility drops at night, but most of them have really good perceptions when it comes to noticing Artyom trudging along. Plus, there’s always a bunch of them, meaning more drain on your supplies.

Crouching and sneaking about takes time, as you’d imagine, and this artificially prolonged gameplay so that you could save your precious bullets for later. This isn’t as much of a problem on normal difficulty, but as you increase the rank, resources and ammunition become even scarcer.

I understand the need for realism but at some point, there needs to be a balance. Could the humanimals not have an organ that could be turned into a chemical? Could a nosalies not have eaten a piece of rebar? This flat restriction on your ability to recoup valuable resources made it a pain more than an enjoyment to explore anything at all.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

Looks satisfying, though.

Compounding this, (and what may be my biggest annoyance) the various points of interest scattered around the map aren’t that interesting.

Artyom can use his binoculars to look for things like bandit camps, monster dens, or various other hot spots. However, you won’t know exactly what they are until you go exploring and, subsequently, clear them out.

With the exception of mods for your weapons (which, once you have the one you want, why would you need another?), there is almost nothing worth getting from these encampments or dens.

You’ll get some scrap and chemicals for sure, maybe a mod, but unless you’re sneaky as sin, you’re probably gonna run dead even in terms of resource expenditure. I’m a pretty patient guy and enjoy stealthy assassination gameplay, but that can’t be said for a lot of people, especially enjoyers of modern shooting games who may run into a lurker nest guns blazing.

It can be summed up like this and I’ve asked this question before: “what’s the point of designing a huge open world and bragging about it if there is little or no incentive to do so?”

The ONLY thing that I can see as worthwhile getting after a while are various upgrades to Artyom’s body armor, and even these aren’t that incredible, to be honest. I used one that improved my flashlight battery and gave me more ammunition storage, but everything else was pointless except for a Steam achievement.

If I didn’t have the compulsion to clean out the entirety of a map, I wouldn’t have damn bothered.

I’d have loved to have tangible rewards such as a unique gun or maybe even a reduction in wandering beast enemies if you cleared out a den, but alas, all you get is some marginal scrap that you’ll probably use to repair your gun and refill your Tikhar ammo anyway.

Another annoyance is that enemies with guns are incredibly accurate. I totally understand that some of the enemies are going to be elite, but I didn’t buy that every one of them would be able to hit Artyom from 300 meters with a busted ass pistol.

It’s a weird dichotomy that suspends belief, to say the least. They obviously want to hang their hat on creating a tough world within a set of rules and as mentioned at the beginning of this section, seemingly enforce restrictions on the player’s economy just because it’s “realistic”.  But the fact that some syphilitic  cultist can compete in the Olympic Skeet Shooting event directly contradicts that sense of realism in my opinion. Most of these guys are probably malnourished and/or drunk anyway, so the fact all of them shoot like green berets seemed weird.

My advice to new players is to use your melee attacks to sneak up on people as often as you can, use silent weapons, and DO NOT get caught out of cover, or you will quickly find out that your armor is worthless against these Delta Force motherf*ckers.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

One of my other issues is that they make you jump through a lot of hoops as a player to get the “best ending.”

This is a much smaller one than the others where I felt they just rope-a-doped you for longer than necessary, but I hand to the lord have no idea how on earth you would stumble into the good and canonical ending of the game unless you looked at a guide.

This is a world where everything wants to kill you, but not all targets are created equal. The world of Metro Exodus is run by a series of background “moral points” that dictate how much of a scumbag you are to the people who (like I said) may be actively trying to put you in the ground.

Amassing a certain amount of positive morale at the end of a game section allows you to retain a crew member who would otherwise have died at the hands of the residents in that particular section of the map.

To achieve these points, you can either fulfill side quests (simple), spare anyone surrendering to you (easy), avoid pointing your gun at certain entities (confusing), and in other cases, avoid being seen at all (wtf).

Finding a little girl’s teddy bear and returning it to her is pretty easy to understand, but the subtler ones only have minor narrative hints as an indicator.

For example, at the Caspian Sea level, where oil bandits have taken the locals and brainwashed them into serfs, Artyom CANNOT kill a single one of the captive servants through the entire level.

While I totally understand why this would be a good idea, in certain missions, you cannot even be spotted sneaking through fortified camps filled to the gills with enemies because being spotted will bring hell itself down on your head and, subsequently, make you look bad to the poor souls held in captivity.

They will, in some cases, even be armed and dressed very similarly to a regular bandit, making it very difficult to identify who can be shot at and who cannot be.

This is all really tough to navigate as you can imagine, and all you really have to go off is a local NPC quest giver basically going , “don’t hurt my people, they don’t know what they’re doing”.

Further along in the Caspian Sea, you are being escorted to meet the warlord of the area as he wants to make a deal with you to stop the squad from turning his men into corpses.

You are advised to keep your weapons holstered so as to avoid a fashion faux pas when a bandit pushes one of the enslaved people into a room and proceeds to beat the shit out of him.

To get the moral point in this case, you have to sneak in behind him, knock him out, and snuff out a candle so no one passing by on patrol sees the body. How would I have known this?

I shudder to think about all the miserable saps before me who trial and error their way through that particular conundrum.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series

If you thought that was a piece of cake, it gets worse in the next map area called the Taiga. Continuing with the theme of not being spotted and not killing anyone, you have to sneak through entire villages of settlers with nary a soul getting a whiff of Artyom’s Geiger counter clicking along.

If someone spots you, you’d best have quick saved and loaded because otherwise, you’re toast.

This is the most difficult part of the game, and you may be asking yourself, why would you even bother putting yourself through this torture?

There is literally no reason if you don’t care about what’s canonical or not. Should you fail to acquire enough moral points in each biome, a crew member of the Aurora will die.

Should enough of them die, Artyom will pass away from radiation poisoning at the game’s conclusion due to not having ample amounts of uncontaminated blood to transfuse.

That’s it, “bad ending” unlocked.

The other games in the series have a similar system, but this is the only one in the trilogy that I found to be the most difficult and convoluted to achieve.

I feel the point of a game such as this IS to achieve the “proper” ending, and they definitely made you run through the gauntlet for this one.

It’s even harder when you consider that you never really can upgrade your health so you’re always a few moments away from death, and a “proactive” approach upon sighting potential enemies can be an optimal strategy to survival.

I suppose there’s an intrinsic lesson in here somewhere.

Taking a look at character growth based on Artyom’s canonical endings throughout the series, in Metro 2033 he blows up the botanical gardens of Moscow with a nuke to wipe out a new breed of mutants called “The Dark Ones” (bad ending). In Metro Last Light, he learns to trust a Dark One child who is the only survivor of his previous actions, and in the end; the Dark Ones save him and his squad from being wiped out by invaders (good ending).

Given this progression of Artyom’s character, it does make sense from a narrative standpoint that he has learned empathy and operates more as a gallant saviour as opposed to a cold elite soldier. I guess it kind of makes sense narrative wise why he would be less carnage-prone as he gets further along.

Anyway, this isn’t THAT big a deal because this game should be hard, but in my opinion, sneaking through an entire map undiscovered is rough and defeats the purpose of all the gear you’ve collected designed for killing things. Seemed odd and was definitely frustrating at times; that’s all I’m saying.

Metro Exodus Review: An Ambitious Ending to a Classic Series


Metro Exodus is a solid end to a strong trilogy. It doesn’t have the charm of the first game, nor the fine-tuned world/mechanics of the second, BUT it’s still worthy of a play, especially if you’ve taken the time to struggle through the previous ones.

I applaud the ambitious choice to radically shake up the formula and the story team weaving a narrative I found to be engaging, even if it’s told by people blathering at you.

Metro Exodus has a few DLCs that are their own mini-stories added on, but I have yet to play them. After beating the main campaign, I felt like I deserved a break.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t due to a feeling of accomplishment as much as feeling exhausted with the endeavor. Maybe I’ll come back and do a follow-up short review of both of these content packs at some point in the future.

Nonetheless, this a 3.5/5 game because they tried something new, and it mostly worked…but it could have been a lot better.

Buy this game when it’s on sale (which it often is) if you’re unsure, but if you like wandering around big maps while constantly being behind the barrel, Metro Exodus is a decent experience. If you’ve played the first two in the series, you probably should give it a whirl to get some closure on the saga of Artyom.

Metro Exodus sells for $29.99 (though it is often on sale for substantially less); it is available from Steam, Epic, Xbox, and Amazon.

Developer: 4A Games

Publisher: Deep Silver

Source: Personal Purchase

What I Like: Great use of sound; Modifying your weapons unlocks a tactical level that is well-received; Strong story arc amidst the monologuing

What Needs Improvement: Engaging with the Open World doesn’t provide much benefit; Resource burn when fighting half the creatures is annoying

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About the Author

Flint Pickleback
Just some guy who plays video games to disconnect from the world. Wine is often involved, which thoroughly enhances the experience. I'm playing these games on an custom build, with 32GB RAM, 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700KF, and a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Ti 12GB Graphics Card. Please send pitches to "[email protected]" with "[email protected]" cced.

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