Why Metro Exodus is more than just another Metro game for Xbox One

After nine years of underground conflict, the Metro series takes to the surface for its third installment. Based on apocalyptic novels of the same name, the survival shooter has established a rich world of mystery. And with Metro Exodus, the series is set to explore a whole new civilization beyond imprisoning tunnels.

Here's why Metro Exodus is more than your standard successor.

See at Amazon

Four worlds in one

Metro Exodus kicks off a fresh take on the apocalypse, following a train-bound journey across the remnants of post-nuclear Russia. Adhering to Metro Last Light's high-morality "Redemption" finale, the third entry follows Artyom on a cross-continental trip in search of a new settlement.

The "Aurora" is the centerpiece of Metro Exodus, and it's an armored train headed eastward, packing a team of ex-metro rangers. Set over a calendar year, the narrative spans all four seasons, splitting the world into distinct corresponding locales. It's a significant departure from Moscow's confined tunnel network, exploring the war's broader effect on the nation. While built on familiar foundations, it aims to evolve the existing cast, world, and gameplay.

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

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus (Image credit: Deep Silver)

With each season positioned as a backdrop for four self-contained sandboxes, Exodus starts to shift from its linear roots. Framed as "mini open worlds" by its developer, 4A Games, it's no surprise there's a heightened sense of scale and freedom.

Although less linear, Exodus still strives to retain the sense of curated, sub-surface metro-crawling. While its open plains have taken the spotlight, veteran ranges will welcome frequent underground encounters. Crushing caves, shelters, and facilities still dominated some chapters, recollecting Moscow's horrors.

Adopting a blend of open world and linear design, Metro Exodus looks to avoid a common downfall of open-ended games. With tighter pathways and landmarks carved into a larger slate, it retains Metro's identity and continuity with various opportunities to venture off that track.

Into the desert

Each seasonal location in Metro Exodus is home to its own communities with varying struggles following the war. Exploring spring's Volga River unearths remnants of a piercing winter, lined with creatures and cultists distancing themselves from electricity. Autumnal forests are home to roaming tribes, deep in conflict with rival factions. And the latest reveal is summer's Caspian Sea, home to Mad Max-style goons, praising their leader among scorching sands.

With the Aurora locomotive low on water and gas, Artyom is sent in search of supplies, stumbling on an industrial settlement of hostile thugs and crooks. Surrounded by a traditional desert wasteland, littered with henchman and slaves, it's a considerable departure from the solitary confines of tunnels.

While a new palette, the desert maintains the familiar combat-driven survival and gunplay that's defined Metro since 2010. Infiltrating enemies lines and averting carnage is rewarded with an emphasis on limited resources. Though potentially Metro's largest area yet, there are more opportunities for long-distance encounters. And yes, this is paired with a personal fuel-guzzling minivan to travel those desert plains fast.

While Metro Exodus seemingly returns with the same core gameplay philosophies, its refreshed environments promise a fully revamped wasteland experience. The changes take an already-renowned franchise in a fresh direction, and I'm eager to see where the Aurora's journey is headed next.

Metro Exodus is expected to hit Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs on February 15, 2019, priced at $59.99.

See at Amazon

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.