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Why I’m excited (and worried) about Metro Exodus – Reader’s Feature

Metro Exodus – bigger and better?
A reader looks forward to next week’s release of the third Metro game but worries that in becoming bigger it also risks becoming blander.
Metro is one of those game series I’ve always enjoyed. I even wrote a feature about the two current games in the franchise, expressing what I enjoyed about them.
To me Metro has always seemed to be a well-kept secret, something I would recommend to gamers who want something different. Short, action-focused and linear, a perfect game to act as an amuse-bouche between larger more time-consuming games. Basically, after you finish Red Dead Redemption II but before you slot Assassin’s Creed Odyssey into the disc tray.
I must have been wrong, however. It seems that the buzz around the latest Metro game is much larger than I thought. The decision to give PC exclusivity to the Epic Games store has caused far more waves than I thought it would, which surprised me. And seeing the game on many people’s most-anticipated games of 2019 was heartening to see. I still have some nagging doubts though, which would make me wait for reviews before I end up (in the words of The Jam) going underground.
Just for reference, where is the needle in my hype-o-meter sitting at the minute? Well, on a scale of as uninterested as a three-toed sloth in breaking the 100 meters world record to a hyperventilating, hyperactive five-year-old in hyperspace, I’d say the needle is about a quart away from the five-year-old. I’m excited and having to persuade myself that this is not a day one purchase. But the reasons for not putting my money down are strong enough that I’ll probably wait for the reviews to roll in and gauge the consensus. So, what are the barriers to hype nirvana?
Well, Metro to me was a love letter to Half-Life and I fecking loved Half Life. It was an old-fashioned linear story driven shooter. Sure, it had a few bells and whistles to differentiate it from the herd. Survival horror elements, stealth gameplay, ammo, and resource conservation – and the Moscow underground setting – but this harkening back to Half-Life is what made me enjoy and immerse myself within its melodramatic narrative.
The information that’s emerging about the Metro Exodus seems to show that it has gone much bigger than its predecessors, introduced open world elements, taken the game out of the Moscow Metro and it seems to be a longer experience than the other games. It’s these changes that represent an each-way bet to me.
These additions to the Metro series strike me as a healthy person with a perfect BMI getting advised by a doctor to hit the local fast food takeaways hard and pound ales at the local tavern until they’ve gained five stone in weight. It’s not like Metro was perfect but the series was good for the things they left out rather than included. Metro was about narrative, tight corridors, claustrophobic stealth and horror.
The one thing that can drain the terror and narrative impetus out of this variety of game is making the corridors too wide, with large open spaces. This bloat may make the game look grander in screenshots, but it may make it play blander in person. Now this blade swings both ways. Maybe the introduction of additional mechanics and new environments can help the series avoid becoming stale and allow it to segue into something different, maybe it can reinvent itself like David Bowie wearing a new persona in a new genre.
There is a reason however that there are not too many David Bowies in the world, transitioning from one style to another. Keeping the core fans happy whilst gaining swathes of new ones is a neat but extremely difficult trick that only the most confident and very best can pull off. Will this be a case of better off staying in your lane or an example of a developer coming of age with a breakout entry in the franchise? Only time will tell.
When I see screenshots and gameplay footage I ache, I yearn, and I hope for it to be good. My Spidey sense is tingling on this one, the need to go big in this game may have made 4A Games take design choices that seem logical but these decisions can become millstones around the neck of a game and can end up choking the individuality out of a great mid-budget game. If I could point to a cautionary tale that would be an unwanted precedent it would be the Dead Space franchise.
Visceral’s Dead Space was a niche game which over its three mainline entries took a journey from having a small but devoted fanbase to becoming a bland action game with every populist, flavour of the month mechanic jammed into it to chase a mainstream audience that just wasn’t there for it. Maybe over time there could develop a Resident Evil style cult following, that grows and grows, but that takes time and investment to cultivate.
EA were not patient and pushed harder and harder for short term gains, eventually it broke and Visceral paid the ultimate price. I’m not saying 4A or Deep Silver are in the same league as EA for chasing the Yankee dollar but the sacrifice of core principles of a game is a risky business and if it’s done incorrectly the Metro series could find itself turning into a Dead Space… (sorry)(really sorry).
By reader Dieflemmy (gamertag/PSN ID/NN ID)

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter .

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