This is one nuclear winter you won't forget.
Metro is one of those games that came out of nowhere but quickly cemented its place as a triple-A title that gamers all over owe it to themselves to check out. We're three games in now, and the team at 4A Games seems to be hitting their stride.
Their latest game - Metro Exodus - is due in early 2019, and if you're wondering what to expect, then wonder no more. Here's everything you need to know.
What is Metro Exodus?
As with the previous Metro titles, Metro is a first-person survival shooter set in a post-apocalyptic time. The series is based on novels by Dmitry Glukhovsky, who still has an active hand in writing the scripts for the games.
Metro Exodus exhibits elements of survival horror and action adventure. Highly-detailed environments and an impressive overall level of graphical fidelity are paired with a shooter that can be just as satisfying as Doom.
What's going on in the story?
Metro is your typical tale of a band of survivors trying to find their way in and around a dangerous world. Previous games have done well to set the stage, with the world having been ravaged by a devastating nuclear war. It takes place in Russia in the year 2036, which places it two years after the events of Metro: Last Light.
The fallout of the war is as you'd expect: towns and their buildings are destroyed and deserted, resources are scarce, and the lingering radiation from the nuclear bombs have caused humans and creatures to mutate into grotesque beings.
Much of the world has been forced to take shelter in underground metro tunnels, whether it be to limit their exposure to the radiation or the enemies thrashing about in the world above. There's no cozy vault or exhaustive disaster preparedness like Fallout, then: it's just you and your buddies trying to make your way.
Previous entries in this series follow the story of Artyom, and that won't change with Metro Exodus. Without spoiling much from the earlier games, the plot involves coming into contact with a mysterious group known as the Dark Ones, who seemingly have an interest in helping to rebuild the planet. No one is sure whether they're there for good or bad, but the Dark Ones' goal is to regroup and return to rebuild earth either way.
Having been forced to make a critical decision against the Dark Ones, Artyom found himself unsure of his stance and eventually learned that warring factions - not an alien race - were the biggest threat to society.
Instead of hunkering down with his old Ranger group in the tunnels, he wants to start a new life in the far east with his buddies Anna and Miller. Their goal is to leave the metro and take a ride on the Aurora to find a new home, and perhaps approach the issue of the Dark Ones based on their own ideals, morals, and beliefs, and not necessarily those of the peacekeeping group or other factions pulling at their strings.
4A Games hasn't given us much beyond that, but expect a far more expansive story than we're used to. It's said that Metro Exodus has a script that's twice the length of all the games before it and all their DLC combined. That sets the stage for an epic tale that should finally allow us to witness the height of this conflict.
And while this element hasn't been strictly confirmed, it's been hinted that the karma system from previous games will return. That means you can approach certain decisions from a stance of either good or bad, and your choice will ultimately affect the ending. Product pages for Metro Exodus even suggest that some of your companions can die in the game, and their fate is ultimately in your hands.
What do you do in Metro Exodus?
Those hoping for a fully open-world Metro game will be disappointed, but Metro Exodus should strike a delicate balance. There will be both linear areas and open-world segments, depending on which mission you're in. 4A Games has preferred this approach as it allows them to keep the player engaged with a mix of exploration in the open areas and more detailed set pieces in the tight ones. Previous Metro games were completely linear.
All throughout, you'll generally be fighting off the nuclear winter and everything that comes with it. That includes a wealth of mutated creatures, as well as hostile humans from rival factions or those acting as bandits in the wind who are desperate enough for resources that they'll kill you for them.
What little resources you do find will be quickly consumed through crafting. You'll need guns, medical kits, radiation filters, and all sorts of other things to keep you going in your journey.
Some of the weapons you can create in the game include shotguns, revolvers, crossbows, and a combat knife for those times when you need to approach a situation with a degree of stealth. Guns can wear down over time, making them unreliable if they go long periods of time without you cleaning and repairing them. There's also a wide range of accessories you can use to customize those guns, including sights, stocks, barrels, magazine types, lasers and more.
As many guns as you can create, the ammunition for those guns must be found within the game world, and that will prove difficult. Ammo scarcity has been a staple of Metro games, and that won't change in Exodus.
Artyom also has access to a Geiger counter, which can eventually be customized to add bits like a compass for navigation. The counter shows how much time you have on your gas mask filter, which can last for as long as a minute each. You won't need to use the filters in every single area of the game, but there will be pockets of intense radiation where you can't survive without them.
Your map and objectives exist as an item on some sort of futuristic MacGyver-esque journal. Metro is all about eliminating the HUD wherever it can, so you can expect more crucial character information - such as the status of your gas mask filter or the wear and tear on your weapons - to be communicated in visual and audible ways.
Immersive world features such as a day and night cycle and a dynamic weather system return for Metro Exodus, but there's something else cool being added to the mix. As this game takes place over the course of a full year, you'll see the world change appropriately as each season passes. Winter will have snow, summer will be hot, and while we find it hard to imagine spring will allow vegetation to flourish in nuclear conditions, that will be represented in some form, too.
Where to pre-order
Pre-sales for Metro Exodus are now available. While there are no advertised pre-order bonuses just yet, Amazon is the best place to order the game for Prime customers, as they'll get $12 off at checkout.
When can you play it?
Metro Exodus was initially supposed to launch in 2018, but delays have set it back to February 22nd, 2019. You'll be able to play the game on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.