Though familiar (mask-obscured) faces return from prior games, Exodus is bringing sweeping changes to Metro's claustrophobic brand of action-horror. We recently went to 4A Games' studio in Malta and took a sneak peek at the latest entry. We came away with a sense of great ambition and boldness on behalf of 4A's attempt to make the best Metro game. The team is completely redefining certain features long-time fans consider tenets of the series.

These are the 10 biggest changes we saw.

1. Say Goodbye To The Metro
Both Metro 2033 and Last Light took place in and under the Moscow metro. As trailers suggest, this is no longer the case. After an introductory sequence in Metro, Exodus finds Artyom, his wife Anna, and the rest of the crew cutting through the Russian wilderness in search of hope. This means bigger spaces, dangerous new factions, and a new world of trouble for our survivors.

2. Exodus Is Bigger...But It's Not Open World.
During our studio visit, 4A Games pressed upon us repeatedly the importance of realizing that Exodus is not an open-world game. Instead, Exodus is comprised of several huge sandbox levels that funnel in and out of the linear path of story missions, as well as side activities for you to find. Once you finish an area, you move on to the next one, without any way to return to it. Still, the flythroughs of the sandbox regions were impressive and diverse. The largest area in Last Light, according to 4A, was 200x100 meters and Exodus' sandboxes stretch to two square kilometers.

3. The Ammo Economy Is Gone
In the previous Metro titles, you used military-grade ammunition to purchase weapons, upgrades for said weapons, and various tools like medkits. This made combat encounters tense and tactical, forcing you to decide if sacrificing bullets to mow down the guards in your way was worth it, or if you should instead take a longer route and bypass your foes with stealth. Since you're not in the metro anymore, the ammo economy is no longer a concern. Instead, that economy has been replaced by a scavenging system that seems more in line with recent Fallout entries, turning junk and valuables you find in the open world into two resources: chemicals and materials. These can then be used to craft tools and other valuable items.

Prepare to seek out workstations littered around each map to craft precious ammo, though.

4. Combat Has Been Enhanced
With Metro increasing its size, it makes sense for the game to expand its combat and stealth gameplay as well. While the classic flexible gameplay of Metro remains steadfast, letting players choose between stealth and guns-blazing action, 4A has complicated things in pleasing ways. You now have the option between lethal and non-lethal takedowns for foes, giving you a happy pacifistic medium between violent killing and completely bypassing enemies. The takedown animations are also now varied, with each animation depending on what weapon you're using, the speed of your approach, and where you are adjacent to the enemy.

Beyond this expansion, the game also keeps tabs on your actions. Mowing down members of one faction can result in them meeting you with open hostility should you run into them down the road. However, treating them with relative gentleness could make for friendlier run-ins. 

5. Your Hub World Is On The Move
With the Metro gone, so are the various stations that would act as your hub worlds, letting you restock ammo and talk to inhabitants for bits of story building. This time they've been replaced with a train called The Aurora. While we weren't told too much about the specifics of the locomotive, creative director Andriy Prokhorov did say, "the Aurora will be constantly changing along the journey with more cars, different types of cars, and people that join you."

6. You Use Vehicles
4A Games told us there would be vehicles for the player to commandeer during their journey, through the studio was tight-lipped when it came to saying what kind of vehicles. Outside of The Aurora, we saw Artyom row a boat across a lake, but that was the only player-controlled vehicle we witnessed during the gameplay demonstration.

7. The Game Takes Place Over A Year
2033 and Last Light took place over the course of a few days. Exodus's journey instead occurs over the course of a year, with each sandbox encompassing a season. The "fall level" takes place in a gorgeous mountain setting filled with mutant bears while summer takes place in a deserty environment with burning oil platforms on the coast that gives off a bit of a Mad Max vibe. 

8. Weapon Upgrades Are Different Now
Whereas previous games had you buying upgrades or discovering weapons in the field with unremovable attachments, Exodus makes things a little more relaxed and stressful at the same time. If you come across a weapon in the world that has a scope or clip extender you want but you don't want the weapon it's attached to, good news, you can remove it and use it with a compatible gun in your inventory. A lot of attachments are available for your guns: scopes, barrels, stocks, magazines, and attachments.

However, weapon upkeep is now something to be concerned about. If you don't visit your workstation enough to perform maintenance on your gun, it can become unclean. They never stop working completely, but when guns get dirty, they eject literal dirt from the barrel and suffer a stats hit to damage and accuracy.

9. There Are Side Excursions
While lacking the typical quest-giver interaction that defines "sidequests," 4A says it's creating a wealth of activities for each area for players to find as they explore. Players can learn about these quests by reading notes found in the world, talking to characters, or overhearing conversations. Going off the beaten path could lead to a firefight with bandits in a farm, or a house filled with supplies, as well as some corpses that appear to have betrayed one another shortly before they drew their last breaths.

10. The Factions Are More Self-Contained
Whereas the factions in 2033 and Last Light formed a tightly interconnected (and often hostile) community, Exodus has factions that live in isolation from one another that you encounter. During our gameplay demo, we ran into a group of religious fanatics that worshiped a massive fish living in a nearby lake. Artyom's actions toward each faction, namely whether he responds with violence or pacifism in their initial meeting, will define his relationship to each.

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