This Metro Exodus article contains major spoilers. It comes from Den of Geek UK.
With the latest chapter of the Metro series having arrived in shops today, we thought it the perfect time to track 4A Games’ subterranean survival shooter franchise back to the very beginning.
Yes, author Dmitry Glukhovsky’s bleak (yet incredibly atmospheric) take on the post-apocalypse has been serving up scares since Metro 2033’s release back in 2010, but suddenly everything has changed thanks to Exodus, which lets players voyage above ground for the very first time. Before we come up for air, though, let’s get up to speed with how we got here…
Much like the original book series it’s based on, the story of Metro actually predates the events of Metro 2033.
In an alternate version of 2013, much of the world’s population is decimated by a large-scale nuclear attack. Extremely little is known about what caused this devastation except that it was the direct result of a disagreement between the earth’s various superpowers.
With most of the surface almost instantly rendered uninhabitable due to increasing amounts of radiation, survivors are forced to take refuge anywhere they can, and in Moscow – where the Metro story kicks off – this means fleeing to the apparent safety of the city’s underground Metro tunnels.
It goes without saying that life in the Metro isn’t great. The population finds itself divided across various hubs, as well as metaphorically in its beliefs. Salvaging parts is the only way to keep some kind of industry running, and food is reduced to whatever you can kill and cook.
As unideal as it is underneath, however, it isn’t as bad as above ground, where for 20 years a new mutant species known only as the Dark Ones have come to prowl the surface. What these creatures want and how they came to remain a mystery – for the time being, anyway.
Fast forward to Metro 2033, which takes place in the year 2033. Players take on the role of Artyom, a 20(ish)-year-old World War Three survivor who is quickly forced to leave his home hub of the Moscow underground, Exhibition, after the station is subject to an attack by the Dark Ones.
After successfully fending them off, Artyom is then persuaded by a legendary member of the Spartan Order to travel to the Metro capital of Polis in search of help against any future eruptions. The bulk of this journey is then relayed via diary interstitials laced before and after Metro 2033’s gameplay. The game itself is a blend of stealth-survival segments, with the diary entries smartly serving to document the struggle of Artyom’s near-impossible mission in between the action.
Throughout his quest, Artyom meets all manner of survivors that help him navigate the twisting arteries of the Metro. After all, with Metro 2033 marking our lowly protagonist’s first foray into a world outside of his home of Exhibition, he needs all the help he can get on the trip to Polis.
After numerous run-ins with his fair share of radicals, Nazis, and the odd winged Dark One while traversing briefly above ground, Artyom reaches Polis and informs Miller, leader of the Spartan Order, of the enemy’s increased activity. The ruling council refuses to send aid due to a lack of resources, leaving Artyom, Miller, and a few other rangers to continue onward to a facility with the apparent potential of wiping out the Dark Ones.
It’s worth noting that, up until this point, Artyom has been experiencing supernatural visions pertaining to the very creatures he’s been sent to eradicate. This all comes to a head when finally reaching the secret missile command center. Here, following a strange battle deep within his own subconscious, Artyom is given the choice to either allow the triggered missiles to fall or prevent the attack from happening outright. It’s then revealed that it was never the intention of the Dark Ones to destroy humanity, instead only hoping to reach out and make peace with what’s left of it. Metro’s canonical ending assumes you preferred to enjoy the fireworks, which leads us swiftly onto…
Metro: Last Light
Metro: Last Light picks up just a year after the events of the first game, in an original timeline envisioned by Dmitry Glukhovsky exclusively for the game series (sorry, Metro book devotees). In it, we find Artyom still holed up within the D6 military facility, which is now being occupied and developed as the Metro’s main base of operations by a peacekeeping outfit known as The Rangers. It’s a pre-war bunker that’s since been left unexplored, however, and as such, is attracting the attention of rival factions.
The Rangers soon hear word that a single Dark One survived Artyom’s devastating missile strike, and despite remaining skeptical about whether he made the right decision, our protagonist is encouraged to seek out the remaining creature and kill it. This quickly leads to familiar bouts of fighting as Artyom travels from station to station, only this time alongside Miller’s badass daughter and sniper extraordinaire, Anna.
They eventually find the Dark One survivor, who turns out to be only a child. Artyom shares a psychic link with the diminutive Dark One, which reveals how certain members of the Dark Ones saved Artyom as a child. It’s also soon revealed that a rival faction, Red Line, plans to use the D6 facility to exterminate all others taking refuge in the Metro.
Artyom, Anna, and the Dark One child make it back to D6 just in time to interrupt a peace conference being held between the various Metro communities, where Red Line’s true plan is made public knowledge. The Rangers then take up arms against General Korbut’s, the Red Line leader, last stand, during which Artyom is rammed off course by a rushing armored train.
Metro: Last Light, as with Metro 2033, features a “good” and “bad” ending, the former being considered canon this time. This depicts Artyom’s willingness to sacrifice the bunker to protect everyone else until he is stopped by the Dark One child who takes care of Korbut and dubs Artyom himself as the “last light” of humanity.
Metro Exodus Begins
All this smoothly leads into the opening of Metro Exodus, which sees Artyom venture out into the world once and for all with his merry band of Rangers.
No longer content with remaining in the dank bitterness of Moscow’s Metro tunnels, the survivors band together and hop aboard a reinforced locomotive called the Aurora, which they’ll use to travel across the Russian continent in search of safety.
It promises to be a multi-seasonal romp that showcases some new sides of Glukhovsky’s fleshed-out version of the post-apocalypse, complete with new environments, a larger emphasis on exploration, and a fresh chapter into Artyom’s personal story. And, as we found in our hands-on preview of the game, there are still claustrophobic scares to be found in this newly expanded world.
Metro Exodus is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.