The Metro series is one of the finest examples of what happens when the chips are down, humanity is compromised, and our very way of living is pushed way more than just six feet deep.
So, here’s a quick retelling of the saga, the Metro games in order, so far.
Metro Games in Order
1. Metro 2033
- Release Date – March 16, 2010
- Platforms – PC, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Linux, Mac
- Publisher – THQ
- Developer – 4A Games
From the moment you stare down the rabbit hole that is Metro 2033 and the sequels that it had, it is apparent that this is more than another haphazard and poorly told story about the survival of the fittest. The Metro goes way deeper than that, both literally and figuratively.
Released as the first part in a deal that publisher THQ had made with Glukhovsky about a series of video games at the behest of the author himself, Metro 2033 was the beginning of a fascinating three-parter epic.
The first challenge that developer 4A faced was matching the tonality, visual appeal, and gameplay to satisfy both fans of the book and the genre of video games that Metro was meant for; survival shooters.
And looking back, we are glad that 4A repaid the faith that THQ and Glukhovsky put in them by accurately portraying the story present in the book.
The plot follows a young Russian named Artyom, who is writing his experiences down in a journal about the things that take place 20 years after the fictional global nuclear fallout of 2013.
A flourishing, bustling Russia is reduced to ashes, and what is left are animals radiated beyond recognizing and air radiated beyond breathing.
The survivors are forced into the underground Metro system of the country, and our youthful protagonist happens to be one of them.
Sprinkled with incredibly tasteful horror, relatable drama, and great action set pieces, 2033 was way more than your average late-2000s shooters.
Although it had to carry a greyed-out world ravaged by poor decisions, Metro’s world is very much living and breathing with its own trials and tribulations and frights around every corner.
Along with the standard but incredibly polished shooting, Metro allows you the challenge to manage your inventory wisely.
It also has some basic stealth mechanics to keep its pacing intact and relay the fears that Artyom has, whether immediate or philosophical, resonate with the player in a way that few games could at the time.
As we lock our eyes on this new world through Artyom, it is immediately apparent that scarcity is what drives this new, broken economy, with lines between wrong and right consistently blurred and fragile egos driving mindless factions.
The Hanza, Red Line, and Rangers of the Order are all different but feel like shades of the same façade.
Nevertheless, Artyom is an excellent protagonist, and even though he does not speak much while we are in control, it is his journals that advance and narrate the whole story.
However, since this was the first game from 4A, there were some growing pains that the game contained.
After all, a game cannot simply be carried on the merit of the story and pacing of said story.
Most important is the lack of an intelligent AI system, which even though understandable for the time the game was released, hurt the atmosphere that the game had fought tooth and nail to generate.
When enemies around you are comically incompetent, it is a nightmare for immersion.
My final perspective on this opening is no farther than that of another fan; Metro serves as an excellent barometer for establishing and setting expectations for the franchise.
Even more so, the real human connection with the protagonist, an investment in the plight that he and his fellow men were suffering, and the pain of livelihoods lost are what drives this game.
4A has since released a Redux Edition for this game with enhanced graphical fidelity and ported over animations and other gameplay elements such as takedowns and wiping your mask to 2033.
If this game was a wholehearted suggestion before, it is a no-brainer now.
2. Metro: Last Light
- Release Date – 14 May 2013
- Platforms – Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia
- Publisher – Deep Silver
- Developer – 4A Games
Following such a strange, enigmatic, and powerful opening to a franchise is never an easy task, which is why we’ve seen countless sequels fall flat over the years.
But on the flip side, when a game is so good that it gets opened up to and widely accepted by an entirely new market? That is when you know that the long crunch hours were totally worth it.
Metro: Last Light was not only a complete upgrade and overhaul on most of the first game’s system of gameplay mechanics, but it also went far and beyond what we expected from Eastern shooters at the time.
As the game’s official Wikipedia entry states, “The team revealed that they would not westernize the franchise to attract a larger audience.
Instead, they would overhaul the game’s controls to make it more accessible”, and that “The core philosophy in designing these sections was “fun”; players would not be punished too harshly if they made any mistakes.”
This stays very much in line relative to what my experience was when I went through the first few areas in the game.
In addition to a certain level of polish and accessibility, the developers’ focus on stealth and gunplay was commendable.
Metro’s classic duality was also explored further, with the tight, claustrophobic firefight existing in stark contrast to the more open sandbox that waited for you up on the surface.
As far as the story was concerned, 4A took what their initial vision for 2033 was, and cranked every single knob all the way up to 11.
Artyom’s relationship with the Ranger brotherhood, his blossoming and strengthening relationship with Anna, and his companionship with the little Dark One are all story beats that are completely realized, and I would go as far as to say that this is the best Metro game, period.
Last Light has moments of relief wherein Artyom’s journey is significantly slowed down to make sure that you, the player, are truly invested in the story that the man is telling through his journal, which makes this more than worth the $60 it released for.
That said, my primary gripe with the game comes from the same place that drew praise for it. The AI is still bafflingly bad.
The layout of the maps causes you to be more of a participant than a catalyst or an instigator, and fights for survival lack the kind of stakes you would normally be working within a survival FPS.
Ammo is plentiful, you get a stealth indicator a la Sam Fisher, and enemies are dumber than bricks.
While the game struggles to establish a definitive identity for itself in terms of stealth or action, Metro is not trying too hard to veer completely in one direction. And for that, 4A deserves a lot of praise.
At the same time, had we seen this from a house like EA, we would be quick to just jump at the mechanics, all the while admittedly scraping for $10 just to get a few bullets. Ugh, just imagining that gave me shivers.
Metro: Last Light shines like pristine jewelry, and that is all thanks to the effort put in towards making it more accessible and enjoyable while keeping its story and narrative at the forefront. After all, the games exist because of the books, and not the other way around.
And despite a few issues here and there, Last Light was incredibly polished and is still one of the best games that I personally have ever played.
Thanks to its amazing storytelling, it takes little to no effort breaking in another playthrough to do all the secret actions and get the perfect ending. Masterpiece.
3. Metro: Exodus
- Release Date – 15 August 2019
- Platforms – Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Linux, PlayStation 5, Mac OS, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Google Stadia
- Publisher – Deep Silver
- Developer – 4A Games
Those who don’t learn from their history are bound to repeat it.
The release of the last two Metro PC games to such widespread fanfare meant only one thing for the studio behind it; the only way was up, and not just figuratively.
The next chapter of our battle-hardened hero’s story took him and his little corps d’elite of survivors was to go where not many had survived before; the surface.
During the last couple of Metro games, we had been told many stories through the eyes of Artyom (a set of which we even witnessed) about the surface.
More importantly, it was to be shown as the aspirational counterpart of us going to space. And while screaming on neither is of many benefits according to the Metaverse, the surface had lost most of its charm and fear factor by the time we got there.
Don’t get me wrong, there is still much to see, to experience, and to be afraid of on this nuclear war-ravaged wasteland.
But the fact that there are groups of survivors and inhabitants of old buildings just seems to disprove the logic behind getting shoved into an old rail tunnel system.
Regardless, the third installment in the metro series order is another brilliantly captivating story, this time veering away from what is unexplainable in a normal world, and focusing on the real, everyday challenges of the future human.
The game invites you to take things much slower than last time out, and really appreciate the haunting beauty of its surroundings while at the same time working to sufficiently turn the odds in favor of your survival.
Exodus feels like a balance in all the right ways; 4A has really taken the criticism of their previous games really well and sought to improve all aspects of the gameplay while keeping their storytelling at its brilliant best.
The game contains open sandboxes to navigate while providing enough tension to consistently keep you moving, as well as moments of peace and quiet where you can just stop and stare at the horizons like you are standing in an art gallery.
The variety of the landscapes you come across also come with their variety of challenges, but Artyom is now well-equipped to deal with anything, and you get a sense that you as a player have also grown alongside the hero of the Metro.
On the technical side of things, the graphics of the game are now a standard benchmark when considering investing in Nvidia’s new RTX technology, and are simply stunning no matter where you are and what you are doing.
Gunplay feels great with a good fire rate-to-recoil balance, inventory management is varied and new systems are introduced as you go through the surface.
New surroundings come with new surprises. And Exodus has a way of always keeping you on your toes with humans and mutated creatures alike.
There are factions of disgruntled and disillusioned survivors scattered across, friends and foes alike, and obviously a slew of ominous mutated creatures lurking around every corner and during every quiet boat ride.
Between the new backpack crafting and on-the-fly weapon customization, you might feel that the game has fairly balanced mechanics, but I didn’t feel that the game carried all the atmosphere and tension that Last Light had grasped while dealing with odds that are very much stacked against you.
Since the new mutants all have their own function, strengths, and weaknesses, it is here that you get the bulk of the challenge.
I think anyone taking a first look at all Metro games in order would agree with the general consensus of their overall quality and presentation.
But, rarely have I ever seen that the book is just as good as the cover.
Exodus is a fascinating and terrifying journey that adds to the Metro franchise, and if you have to go back to the last two games to understand the overarching narrative, this is one of the series that can justify such commitment.