For many gaming franchises, there comes a time when a breakthrough title for the series elevates it beyond what the rest of the games have been able to accomplish. The God of War reboot did this in several ways for Kratos's story, and Red Dead Redemption did this after beginning its journey with Red Dead Revolver. After several releases that forced its players to scurry around in the underground tunnels of Moscow, Russia, the Metro series has escaped the tunnels for a wide-open look at the nuclear apocalypse.
Metro Exodus tackles the disastrous future after the world is riddled with nuclear arms in ways that games like Fallout 76 just haven't been able to. Post-apocalyptic Russia is nowhere near as barren or bombed-out as you might think, and in many ways, it's actually quite beautiful. The events that lead the world there certainly weren't, but in survival situations like these it's certainly important to make the best of what you've been given, and Metro Exodus drives this message home.This follow-up takes place two years after Metro: Last Light ended and follows a 23-year-old protagonist named Artyom. He's always fantasized about leaving the Russian subway tunnels he's known his whole life, and one day upon detecting a peculiar radio signal, he sets out on a journey with his family that changes life as they know it. Upon escaping to the surface, they board a train from the underground Metro and travel across Russia to uncover the secrets behind a conspiracy that's apparently been building up under their noses over the years.
From there, it's your responsibility to take care of Artyom and his cause, or at least as much as you can. Metro Exodus is an extremely challenging game, and it really drives home how austere the post-apocalyptic environment really is. It's not your typical first-person shooter like you might be expecting. It's built more on crafting your own weapons, keeping Artyom and company safe, and exploring what Russia has to offer, all the while eliminating threats as needed, not just gunning them down because they happen to appear in front of you.
Because it's about far more than just scavenging, shooting the bad guys, and crafting. You also have to make several important decisions as part of the game's morality system, which will make sure you're always kept abreast of how your actions are affecting others in the game. This will greatly determine how you're treated in some areas, and you'll want to keep track of this because it's important that you can get people to cooperate whenever possible. You never know how it'll improve your experience in the next area going forward.
But even when others are on your side, navigating the apocalypse is still no walk in the park. There's plenty to do, though, with a wide variety of quests and a single-player story that unfolds as you do so. You never know what's lurking around the next corner, and being prepared for any calamity that may befall you is obviously a good idea, but you can't ready yourself for everything. That's part of Metro's biggest charm, and one of the biggest reasons you'll want to keep playing to see it all through to the end.
If you've been looking for a more intriguing and visually arresting version of the landscape post-nuclear war, Metro Exodus is a fantastic choice. Whether you're in it for its austere nature, its gorgeous graphics, or its all-encompassing narrative, you'll find something here to enjoy. And you'll also find an unintended side effect: You won't want to return to Fallout 76.