Metro story recap: Everything you need to know before Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus should be released February 15, and it's looking to be one of 2019's most anticipated titles. Players will get to play as Artyom, a survivor of a nuclear war that left Earth irradiated and full of hideous mutant creatures. Artyom, along with several of his comrades, will traverse the Russian wastelands in order to try and find a new home for the inhabitants of what used to be Moscow.

However, there are two entire games' worth of story — Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light — that predate the events of Exodus, and it's important that newcomers to the series understand the narrative thus far. This article serves as a comprehensive recap of the last two games, so spoilers for both of them lie ahead.

This is a spoiler warning!

Introduction: The arrival of the apocalypse

In 2013, nuclear war erupted. As international superpowers threw everything they had at each other, our planet was reduced to cinder and ashes in a matter of hours. The vast majority of the human race was wiped out, but some did survive. Among the survivors were people of Russia who had taken shelter within Moscow's underground Metro system. Over time, they figured out how to grow mushrooms and managed to raise pigs for meat. They boiled water to clear it of toxins, used bullets for currency, and even formed a type of government in which Metro stations acted as city-states, and all of them were united by a council. Though the future looked bleak, a society was forming.

Metro 2033: Artyom saves the Metro

Metro 2033 takes place in 2033, twenty years after the bombs fell. The story begins with a 24-year-old survivor named Artyom who lives in a station called Exhibition. The station is attacked by terrifying creatures called the Dark Ones, which are resistant to firearms and capable of damaging one's psyche with seemingly-supernatural abilities. After they are fended off, Artyom is approached by Hunter, a member of an elite group called Spartans that voluntarily protect the Metro. Hunter persuades Artyom to leave Exhibition and head to Polis, the station where the governing council is located, and ask for help against the Dark Ones. Hunter gives Artyom his dog tags so he can prove to the people of Polis that Hunter sent him. Then, Hunter leaves in order to look for the Dark Ones. Artyom leaves Exhibition the next day.

Hunter believed the Dark Ones were capable of wiping out the people of the Metro.

Artyom heads to a neighboring station on a caravan, and after he arrives, he meets a man called Bourbon that offers to assist him in reaching Polis. The two traverse numerous tunnels and even briefly visit the surface, battling vicious mutants along the way. Unfortunately, Bourbon is killed when the pair are attacked by bandits, but Artyom is saved by Bourbon's friend, Khan. Khan then guides Artyom to his next destination, which is a station controlled by the Communists, a group of people following the beliefs of the old USSR. The Communists are hostile, so Khan's contact there smuggles Artyom through the station quietly. Artyom arrives on the Frontline, which is where the Communists are fighting the Nazis, a group that embraces the ideology of killing anyone with genetic deformities caused by radiation.

Artyom is able to kill or sneak past the troops of both factions, but not before being stopped by a pair of Nazis that catch him by surprise. As they're deciding what to do with him, two Spartan rangers sneak up on them and kill them. One of them, named Ulman, watches Artyom's back, while the other, called Pavel, sticks with Artyom and vows to protect him. Sadly, Pavel dies as the two of them fight through Nazi territory, but Artyom eventually makes it through. Ulman is able to meet up with him, and together they finally reach Polis and talk to the governing council. However, the council deems the idea of sending extra troops to fight the Dark Ones too risky. Miller, the leader of the Spartans, comes up with a backup plan: there's a missile silo located on the surface near Polis, and if the Spartans can take it, they can use the missiles to wipe out the Dark Ones' nests.

Artyom then is inducted into the Spartan order, and he, along with Miller and other elite soldiers, heads to the surface to reactivate the silo's power and enter it. Then, Artyom and Miller climb to the top of a nearby tower in order to install a laser guidance system. After the missiles fire and wipe out the Dark Ones, Artyom experiences a hallucination from them that makes him realize they were trying to be peaceful the entire time, and they only killed out of self-defense when the people of the Metro fired at them.

Metro Last Light: Making amends

The story continues with Metro: Last Light, which takes place in 2034, a year after Metro 2033. The Spartans have evolved into a full-fledged peacekeeping force for the people of the Metro thanks to the military equipment from the missile silo base, and Artyom has served admirably in his position as a Spartan since the end of Metro 2033. However, the knowledge that the Dark Ones intended to be peaceful constantly gnaws at his conscience. Khan visits the Spartans and informs him that miraculously, a single Dark One survived the missile attack. Khan wants Artyom to try and save it because he believes it's important to humanity's future, but Miller thinks it should be hunted down and killed due to the potential threat it poses. Miller orders his daughter Anna and Artyom to go to the surface and hunt for the creature. Since he's under orders, Artyom is forced to reluctantly comply.

The two go topside and engage mutants, eventually finding the Dark One. However, there's a twist — it's just a child. Before they can kill it, Nazi soldiers ambush and capture them, and in the confusion, the Dark One escapes. Artyom and Anna are then separated and taken to different locations. In captivity, Artyom meets a captured Communist soldier named Pavel. Together they devise an escape plan and execute it, fending off Nazi guards and fleeing through the Metro tunnels and across the surface. Pavel promises to broker a truce between Artyom and the Communists, but once the two reach Communist territory, Pavel reveals that he's a high-ranking officer and has Artyom captured so that he can interrogate him for information.

Artyom once again manages to escape activity, and hurries to find Anna and the Dark One, who was captured by a Communist spy called Lesnitsky. As Pavel and his men follow close behind, Artyom arrives and frees Anna, then kills both Lesnitsky and Pavel. Following this, Artyom decides to protect the Dark One instead of kill it in order to redeem himself for killing its kind in 2033. Artyom, Anna, and the Dark One then travel to Polis. Once there, they learn that a peace conference is taking place between the Communists, the Nazis, and the Rangers. Additionally, the Dark One senses that more of its kind managed to survive, and are in hiding nearby. Artyom manages to convince Miller and the Rangers to allow the Dark One into Polis, and the Dark One is able to sense that the leader of the Communists, Chairman Moskvin, is simply stalling at the conference in order to distract the Spartans from defending the silo. Miller, Artyom, and the rest of the Spartans rush to the silo to make a final stand to try and prevent the Communists from getting the weaponry within.

For every Communist soldier killed, two more took their place.

The Spartans' elite skills and military hardware were sufficient enough to hold off hordes of Communist troops for a time, but eventually, they couldn't hold out anymore and were overrun. However, Miller reveals to Artyom that he had the silo rigged with explosives, and as General Korbut, the military strategist of the Communists, is about to execute Artyom, Artyom moves to activate the bombs. However, in a massive twist, the little Dark One arrives with the other Dark Ones and kills the rest of Korbut's army, effectively routing the Communists, eliminating the need for the bomb, and saving what remained of the Spartans. As the game ends, the Dark Ones depart, but promise that they'll return one day in order to help the people of the Metro rebuild.

Your thoughts

What's your opinion of the Metro universe? Do you like the story so far? Personally, I love these two games, and I'm incredibly excited to see what Metro Exodus brings to the table when it's released February 15. It should be available on Xbox One, Steam, and PlayStation 4 for $59.99. I highly recommend picking up the Metro Redux Bundle too, which allows you to play remastered versions of both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light for $29.99.

Brendan Lowry

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.