Update: Trailer and screens added.
Set to release early next year, Metro: Last Light is 4A Games’ “bid to combat shooter fatigue.” The developer’s global brand manager Mark Madsen stated that at the beginning of his presentation, and the demo I saw backed up his claim of presenting a different breed of FPS. With survival horror elements and a haunting post-apocalypse setting, this follow-up to Metro 2033 aims to affect gamers’ heartrates just as much as their trigger fingers.
Once again, players will assume the role of Artyom as he struggles to survive amongst the demons and destruction of eastern Europe. In this radioactive environment, he’s forced to don a mask and constantly replace its air filter. With the wealth of bodies lying around, it isn’t hard to find replacements. Artyom’s watch was always visible in the demo I saw, and it counts down the constantly-draining air supply.
Air filters aren’t the only thing you’ll need to keep tabs on. Your head-mounted light will need to be manually cranked on a regular basis. Your mask will frequently be covered with debris and blood, and you’ll need to wipe it off with a dedicated button. If your mask cracks too much, you’ll need to find another. Players will have to be mindful of all of these aspects if they hope to survive, as staying alive takes more than firepower.
The demo began with Artyom having flashbacks to riding the subway as a child. Once the scene shifts to the game’s present day, it’s clear he’s living in a vastly different world. He steps outside the subway station and into a thunderstorm, surveying dozens of destroyed buildings and a crashed airliner. Radioactive rain falls from the sky, and a fellow survivor mentions that it may be burning through his gloves.
As he steps into a bombed-out building, Artyom grabs an air filter from a decaying corpse. Startled by the movement, several large crab-like creatures burst from the body’s chest and scatter away. Immediately after picking up a crude shotgun, a werewolf-like demon pounces on the protagonist. Artyom blows its head off from point blank range, then notices blood dripping from the ceiling.
He leaves one gruesome scene to enter another, as he steps into the wreckage of the crashed plane. It’s completely filled with skeletons, and Artyom takes a lighter to cobwebs as he makes his way toward the cockpit. There, the game shifts to a flashback of the disaster. Two pilots are chatting when something suddenly shuts down the plane’s power. As the plane plummets through the clouds, the pilots panic in an attempt to figure out how to prevent the imminent crash. Breaking through the clouds, a red sky filled with mushroom clouds is revealed before the plane makes impact with the ground.
Artyom exits the plane, ending the flashback. A flying demon swoops down and picks him up, slashing at his face before losing its grip and dropping the player character to the ground. Before Artyom knows it, he’s assaulted by a pack of the werewolf-like creatures. In an attempt to find shelter from the attackers, he sprints down a set of stairs to a subway station. There, fellow survivors fire flamethrowers at the creatures as a giant metal door closes. Once the door closes, the survivors are temporarily safe as the demo comes to an end.
While this look at the game made the action appear very linear in nature, it was intense to watch even without having my hands on the controls. With Metro: Last Light’s genuinely creepy atmosphere, 4A Games may succeed in their attempt to make a different kind of shooter.