Everything you need to know about the Metro series

The Metro titles certainly don’t represent the average first-person shooter. Set in an alternate timeline, 4A Games’ series explores the ramifications of nuclear warfare on our world and the deep-seated values that humanity clings to even after the apocalypse. In many ways, the Metro franchise is perfect for fans looking for experiences that diverge from most shooters today. Here’s everything that you need to know before its latest entry, Metro Exodus, hits store shelves.

Everything you need to know about Metro | The setting

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As its name implies, the Metro series takes place mostly underground within the tunnels of the Moscow Metro and Metro-2 system. Players eventually have the freedom to explore the ruins of Russia’s capital on the surface, though these sections are fairly linear. Protagonist Artyom passes through a few inhabited stations in each title, including his hometown Exhibition, the communist Red Line, the Nazis Fourth Reich, and the Metro’s capital, Polis. Each area has its own distinct identity and personality type, as Red Line civilians are more aggressive and combative while Polis civilians are a bit more placid.

The sections between these stations are often infested with all manner of irradiated creatures including Lurkers, Demons, Shrimps, and Spiderbugs. That’s not to mention quasi-intelligent beasts like Librarians, which pose a great threat to players in confined spaces where everything is dark and there’s hardly any oxygen to breathe.

Fans tired of these locales should be pleased to learn that the upcoming Exodus will have Artyom travel on a locomotive to the far east in hopes of finding a new life for himself and his wife, Anna. A lot of the title seems to be set above ground, though there’s no way of knowing for sure until it’s released. A safe assumption is that they’ll be a lot of snow, especially since the game starts in the midst of a harsh nuclear winter.

Everything you need to know about Metro | The story so far

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Be warned that this section contains heavy spoilers.

The first title is set in 2033, 20 years after a nuclear war devastates most of Russia. Artyom is tasked with finding his way to Polis after a pack of psychic creatures called the Dark Ones attack his home station, Exhibition. A smuggler agrees to provide him passage, though the protagonist must venture through the communist territory controlled by the Red Line. Artyom does manage to sneak by unnoticed until the last second, when the Red Line’s rival, the Nazi Fourth Reich, intercepts him.

Luckily, he manages to escape and finally reaches Polis. The council at the capital refuses to provide any aid to Exhibition, but Artyom’s ally Miller comes up with a plan to exterminate the Dark Ones for good. From here, players can either choose to eradicate the species or spare them.

Last Light takes place one year later. As part of a peacekeeping force called the Rangers, Artyom is tasked with tracking down a single remaining Dark One while keeping a dangerous military facility safe from warring groups within the metro. Just as he finds the last of these psychic creatures, he’s captured by the Nazi Fourth Reich, then subsequently falls into the hands of the Red Line. Each faction seeks to know more about the facility the Rangers are guarding.

The metro’s capital, Polis, learns of these events and orders all the stations to come together for a peace conference. As this is happening, the Red Line sends its army to the facility in order to claim it for itself. The Rangers take on the communist soldiers and are nearly wiped out in the process. The Dark One that Artyom had spared in the beginning of the game, however, appears with other members of his species and dispatches out all of the Red Line’s forces in a jiffy. The mysterious beings disappear, promising to return one day in order to rebuild the planet.

Everything you need to know about Metro | Gameplay

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Each Metro game is a narrative-driven first-person shooter experience. As previously mentioned, some sections above ground do give players a bit of freedom to choose where they would like to go next, though the titles are linear for the most part. Horror elements are thrown into the mix, especially in Last Light, and it isn’t uncommon to be chased around by a pack of Lurkers or a lumbering Librarian. Survival and stealth are key concepts for the franchise, as ammo must constantly be conserved in order to save up for new weapons or attachments.

Guns can be modified with a variety of accessories including scopes, bayonets, suppressors, laser sights, extended barrels, and stocks to ensure one comes out on top during firefights. Enemies can equip their weapons with attachments too, leveling the playing field a bit and giving fans more incentive to loot corpses in hope of finding valuable items. Players need to carefully plan ahead when taking on higher difficulty levels, as upgrades are substantially more expensive.

Everything you need to know about Metro | Characters

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Aside from protagonist Artyom, key characters in the Metro universe include Anna, the Rangers’ best sniper (and Artyom’s wife in Exodus); her father, Miller the leader of the Rangers; Khan, a nomadic mystic; and Hunter, a strong Ranger that entrusts Artyom with finding aid for Exhibition. Lesnitsky and Pavel appear to be allies for some time, though each man eventually (spoilers follow) reveals their allegiance with the Red Line and ultimate goal of capturing the Rangers’ military facility for the station’s unscrupulous campaigns.

Everything you need to know about Metro | Development

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Metro 2033 is developer 4A Games’ first title. It was released for Xbox 360 and PC in 2010, though development began in 2006 when the studio announced its partnership with Metro book author Dmitry Glukhovsky. Every game in the franchise, including Last Light and the upcoming Exodus, utilizes some version of the 4A Engine. The follow-up to 2033 released in 2013 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC and doesn’t borrow as heavily from Glukhovsky’s literature, as the team thought it would be too hard to convert the novel 2034 into a video game.

Last Light is thus made up of many of 4A Games’ own ideas, though the famous author did offer some creative input. It’s unclear how much of a say he will have in Exodus, though fans do know that work on this sequel began in 2014. It’s being developed by 4A Games’ studios in Malta and Ukraine.

Curious video game fans who have yet to experience what the series has to offer can pick up Metro Redux on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC right now. Those people who’ve already played Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light will have to wait patiently for Exodus to arrive on each of these aforementioned systems on February 15. Here’s hoping this next entry is well-received by new and old players. If so, the horrors of the Russian underground may continue to haunt us for time to come.