Metro Exodus was one of the best games of 2019, offering fans a fresh, open world-style take on the series. The first DLC, The Two Colonels, celebrated the Metro franchise's past by delivering a more claustrophobic and guided experience. The latest, Sam's Story, celebrates the success of Metro Exodus' new direction by returning the player to a nonlinear environment that's unique in atmosphere, but familiar in structure.
Filled with exciting locations, plenty of secrets to find, and a brand new story to tell, this expansion is a continuation of the Metro Exodus base game experience. And considering the base game was stellar, I have no complaints.
- Unique atmosphere compared to previous Metro locations
- Stellar gameplay experience
- Incredible graphics and sound
- Excellent story
- Voice acting is patchy
- Could use some more polish
What you'll love about the Sam's Story DLC
Overall, the thing I found the most striking about this DLC was just how uniquely designed the setting was. The DLC has us take control of Sam as he attempts to find a way to sail back to his home in the United States to try and find his father. To do that, he needs to head to the port city of Vladivostok. Vladivstok is a far cry from the icy wastelands and scorching deserts that Metro Exodus' base campaign took the player through. Instead, it's more of a swampy, waterlogged environment that feels more like Fallout 4's Far Harbor than any location we've been to in the Metro series. The unique setting does a lot to make this DLC feel separate from past Metro experiences, especially since developer 4A Games has once again demonstrated their masterful worldbuilding skills by filling the city with heaps of rich detail.
Of course, a new setting is nothing without the appropriate gameplay design to accompany it. Thankfully, the DLC also brings several fresh gameplay experiences to the table. Like the base game, the DLC is structured nonlinearly, with an emphasis on exploration and finding gear upgrades and lore. However, enemies will attack you in new ways that fit the setting. For example, the zombie-like Humanimals will hide underwater and camouflage themselves with moss to try and ambush you in waterlogged locations. There are new foes too, such as a massive giant bat that travels with a swarm of smaller ones. You'll also need to worry about mines loosed into the waters by attacks on the Russian stockpiles during the war. You can disarm these for crafting materials, but one wrong move and you're blown sky-high. To tackle challenges like these, you're given two new weapons: a burst-firing rifle dubbed the "Sammy," and a semi-automatic handgun, the "Stallion." On top of that, there's a new wrist gadget that can help detect the numerous traps found throughout Vladivostok.
All of this is tied together with a fantastic story and gorgeous visuals and sound design. The writing in this expansion is on-par with the rest of the Metro series, and both the graphics and the audio are equally stellar. Vladivostok's marshy, vegetation-ridden aesthetic is done supreme justice by 4A Games' phenomenal texture work, and the authentic quality of every sound effect drives the immersion factor up tenfold.
What you'll love less about the Sam's Story DLC
While the Sam's Story DLC is almost perfect, there are a couple of issues I have with it. The first is that, like with all of the Metro games and DLCs, the English voice acting is pretty spotty. Exodus, in general, is much better than Metro 2033 and Last Light, but it's still not on par with other AAA titles. It's not terrible, but it's far from excellent, either. I recommend playing with Russian voice acting and turning on subtitles if you want to hear better voice acting, even if you can't understand what's said.
Secondly, this DLC is noticeably less polished than the base game and The Two Colonels. While the game runs very smoothly in terms of framerate, I had several moments of texture pop-in and animation stuttering over my eight-hour playthrough. These last less than a second long when they happen, but they're still frequent enough that I feel it was worth noting.
Should you buy the Sam's Story DLC?
While the performance hiccups and spotty voice acting can be a little grating, they're only minor problems. The rest of the Sam's Story DLC offers so much to enjoy, including a unique setting, new locations to explore, new challenges to face, and an excellent story to experience.
If you hate dealing with any kind of performance bugs, I'd advise waiting until the developer releases a few fixes for the DLC. Aside from that, though, this expansion is worth picking up if you were a big fan of Metro Exodus, as it expands upon the vanilla experience in ways that are both familiar and fresh.
Metro Exodus: Sam's Story is available now for $18 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC through the Epic Games Store.
A new journey
Welcome to Vladivostok
The final DLC for Metro Exodus brings players a brand new open-world level to explore, filled with intense gameplay opportunities and stories to tell.
Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.
Played about an hour so far, and it's great. I feel like they've beefed up the character development and back stories a bit.
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