Posted August 25, 2018 by Adam Ghiggino in Feature

Gamescom 2018: Setting Giant Mutant Bears on Fire is Rewarding in Metro Exodus

Playing Metro Exodus is a slow, careful creep through the a harsh and unforgiving dystopian world. Careless actions are punished, whether it’s failing to capitalise on an opportunity to ambush foes, or getting too close to a hungry wolf. It’s tense, but there’s also great depth to experiment and try out new tactics. I had the chance at Gamescom to play Metro Exodus for 40 minutes, which was enough time to try its mission a couple of different ways.

The demo starts with the player character drowning, before being rescued by someone called ‘Olga’ who promptly leaves. From there, you’re able to start exploring the area, which is a forest in Russia with a nice river running through it. It’s quite a picturesque environment for a post-apocalyptic wasteland, although you soon find a cabin filled with a pretty macabre surprise – plenty of strung-up corpses and a warning to ‘Marauders’. However, there’s also plenty to collect inside, specifically components which can be used in the new crafting system in your ‘backpack’, which lets you make health kits, arrows for your crossbow and other useful items.

Pressing on, I came across a bandit tied to a tree, about to be devoured by wolves. You can rescue him if you wish, and he advises you against going ahead as the pirates are not to be trifled with. You can also just put an arrow in him if you’re sadistic like I was in my second playthrough, but it’s to no real advantage. If you ignore his advice, you’ll find their camp – although the guys there are actually quite reasonable once you find the entrance. Rather than open fire or start attacking, they just tell you to stay away and not cross them, before walking off. It’s actually kind of surprising things don’t instantly pop off into violence, and the pirates have a bit of personality, in fact it’s great, and it’s also seen later when a couple of factions of pirates start arguing with each other over who gets to keep a kill.

If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll know that the Metro Exodus demo looked amazing, especially on the tailored PC gaming rig I was on, and certainly better than any Metro game so far. The world feels lived in, like you can imagine the lives of the people who lived in the shacks and settlements you find, there are lots of little details in both the design and lore that make it pretty interesting to explore.

There was a heavy emphasis on stealth,  as while you can just open fire on the pirate settlement to progress, you don’t have a lot of ammunition. It’s easier to find paths through the camp, or quieter ways to take down enemies like using your crossbow. Going in trying to play the situation like a traditional FPS didn’t go well for me any of the times I tried it. You can also find modifications for your weapons to help you out, like a sniper scope with night vision for your crossbow.

Eventually as I made it through the camp and progressed through the story, you come across more and more mutated wildlife, like wolves which roam in packs that will come after you if you don’t keep your distance. The big boss of the demo is an enormous bear that’s horribly mutated. You see it wipe out two groups of pirates up-close before running off, but its presence is felt even when you can’t see it. Herds of animals run through the forest as you move forward, evidently trying to escape the bear’s path. Eventually you do find him at the edge of a graveyard, hanging out in a dilapidated chapel, which he’s more than happy to burst out of to try to make a meal out of you. It’s a tough fight, and he takes a lot of hits to go down, although using fire and Molotov cocktails especially seemed to work effectively, as the bear seemed to be coated in gasoline and goes up like a gigantic torch.  It’s a cool fight, but it does require paying attention to dialogue earlier on about its weaknesses and preparing and crafting resources for the fight before hand.

Metro Exodus is a tense journey through a unique and intricately detailed post-apocalyptic Russia, and I can’t wait to check it out on release on 22 February, 2019 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

Adam Ghiggino

Owner, Executive Editor of Rocket Chainsaw. I also edit TV, films and make average pancakes.