Nuclear war has inspired countless works of fiction over the years, from the likes of the ever-touted Fallout series to films like Mad Max. Much like the decaying world portrayed, however, the genre has become just as necrotic. It’s here Metro Exodus finds a way to breathe new life to the all too often drab experience of wandering the irradiated wastelands of Earth.

Metro’s world and design is comparable in many ways to the Fallout series and the similarities don’t stop there. While Fallout has a lot more charm to it, Metro is leaps and abounds ahead in terms of story and the presentation of their harrowingly authentic world.

The first-person shooter drops players right back into the story-driven narrative the series is known for, continuing the adventures of protagonist Artyom from the past two games. Although it falls short in its unresponsive and clunky controls and at times exploration, it’s certainly what the genre has been crying out for.

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Based off the novels of the same name penned by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, Exodus is the third game in the Metro series. As Artyom, you’re acutely aware the world was annihilated by nuclear war in 2013 and everyone who managed to survive only did so because they took refuge underground, in this case in Moscow’s underground metro system.

The nuclear fallout begat tumultuous and destructive weather which ravaged the world above and, of course, became a festering spawning ground for an un-healthy supply of, you guessed it, ghoulish mutants.

(Metro Exodus/Koch Media)

While the past two entries take place almost exclusively underground in the claustrophobic metro, the aptly named Exodus delivers you a new perspective, seldom touched in the game’s history: you’re outside of Moscow’s confounding maze of underground tunnels.

After being wholly unimpressed with the game’s excruciatingly tedious introduction that encompasses winter, you’re rewarded with spring. This is where the game finally opens and serves as your first foray into these gorgeously forlorn biomes.

Each chapter is a season and with each season comes a different, sprawling area for you to explore. These new environments are a far cry from the claustrophobic and stifling tunnels of the previous games. Littered with stylish Russian décor, signs and architecture, all help give the different areas an extremely authentic, yet by all accounts, terrifying impression.

As soon as you’re able to explore the world, you’re steeped in an oppressive atmosphere. Torn and bloody signs, a smattering of decayed corpses in a ruined home and the sound of snarling beasts around you all cultivate a burgeoning dread in your surroundings, making you shiver in trepidation at the malformed landscape stretching out before you.

Staying true to the franchise’s survival horror roots, you’ll be painfully aware of your limited supplies and ammo as you tentatively traverse the monster-infested wasteland. It is here stealth plays a big part in the gameplay, and while you can entirely ignore it, in most cases this will be the best course of action as you proceed through the game.

(Metro Exodus/Koch Media)

Exodus brings a level of realism which is almost non-existent in post-apocalypse games. Your guns will jam and degrade if you use them too much and don’t clean them regularly. Your gasmask can break, or their air filters can run out. This initially feels harsh to new players, especially with no clear instruction. But if you take the time to explore and collect supplies, you can craft and repair as you go or heavily customise your weapons at workbenches.

Despite these graphical improvements and the wondrously macabre world, Metro Exodus feels unintuitive in its controls. Throughout the game, you character movements feel delayed and sluggish, even as much as opening a doors or crawling through a gap takes a good five or more seconds to complete and it begins to make exploration more of a labour than anything.

There’s an obvious lack of clarity as to how you progress the story. Sure, you have a map with markers on it, but you must plan your journey. This lack of hand holding is going to make or break the experience for more casual players.

While this isn’t a problem in most games, it becomes a bit too frustrating in Exodus when you consider the scale of the game. At times, this wholly detracts from the overall experience when you must backtrack to and forth from points of interest and your hub; a banged up old locomotive affectionately named Aurora.

As a third game in the series, aided by the grunt of powerful consoles, Metro Exodus is a triumphant entry. With its twisted scenery and compelling story, it does a fantastic job of making you feel like you actually have to survive the wasteland instead of just live in it. It’s these little aspects of the game play which make it all the more immersive and rewarding overall and, despite the steep learning curve, old and new players alike will find a lot to love.

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