A few weeks ago 4A Games and Deep Silver released a free ‘next-gen’ edition of Metro Exodus, an upgrade that takes advantage of the new consoles in order to deliver the game that the developers envisioned without last-gen hardware holding it back (visually). We were lucky enough to get a review code to take a look at the enhancements and see just how much it changes the look and feel of the immersive open-world FPS. Let me start by saying that this is a review of the improvements made in the Enhanced Edition of Metro Exodus, rather than a review of the game itself.
Also, as I reviewed the PlayStation 5 version of the game, this platform and its features will be the focus of this review. However, the free upgrade is out now on PC, Xbox Series S and X, with the PC offering more in terms of ray tracing features, the Xbox Series X being very similar to the PS5 edition, and the Series S version trailing behind whilst still delivering a great looking game.
Firstly, the most in-your-face improvement you’ll notice within Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition comes has to be the graphical overhaul. The Enhanced Edition delivers a 4K image (~1512p with Temporal upscaling) at 60fps with ray tracing which leads to some of the best visuals I have seen on the, admittedly, very new consoles. From the open area sections, that show off amazingly rendered landscapes, to the enclosed sections benefiting from the improved lighting effects, this game is gorgeous… in an isolated post-apocalyptic way.
The effects are most noticeable when paired with the stealth mechanics the game encourages you to use. One key mechanic is extinguishing lights in order to hide your presence from enemies; Turning them off leaves you in near-complete darkness with only a small amount of light coming from other sources, giving you patchy visibility at best. Then, when you relight the fires/lights, you watch as the light spreads from the source to fill all of that area surround it naturally.
This may not sound like much, but in a game based around stealth, hiding in the dark, and travelling through dimly-lit areas, it really adds an extra level of immersion to the already tense sections.
While on the subject of how the Enhanced Edition improves your immersion, there is no better time to talk about the DualSense integration. I have to say that I found the haptic and adaptive trigger use frustratingly fantastic. When the haptics and trigger feedback line up perfectly with the actions within the game, the result is a removal of the barriers between you and your character, real-life and the virtual world. Examples of the haptic feature include a pulsing sensation when you’ve taken serious damage and when you have to force yourself through small gaps, feeling much more than a simple ‘rumble’.
As for the adaptive triggers, some personal highlights include the feeling of pumping up the pressure of the pneumatic rifle, using the crank to recharge your torch battery, and the feeling of resistance while you have to row a boat.
However, with all these positives in mind, it should be noted that there are some drawbacks to these unique features. As I said, when they are present they work incredibly well, which leads to the issue that their absence is extremely noticeable. As stated, at some points in the game when you take a lot of damage, the controller reflects this via haptic motion, however, this isn’t always the case. There was no rhyme or reason as to why there were moments when the added features worked in one area yet not in others. Honestly, I’d say this is a compliment for how well the DualSense features are being used, it’s just quite jarring when they’re absent.
Another strange issue with the vibration happened in a section where you’re crawling through some debris. At this point, the controller was heavily vibrating to indicate you are struggling (which is great). But, when I stopped moving, the controller continued to shake – as if the game was predicting I’d be continuously moving and not taking a breather. Then, when I carried on moving, the vibration ran out before I made it to the end of the tunnel, leaving me feeling no feedback for the final stretch. It was strange, maybe the game simply had a set ‘time’ for the vibration rather than actually watching what I was doing?
Moving on to a more consistent positive of this free upgrade, the loading times – or almost lack thereof – has to be discussed. While I don’t have the exact loading time figures for the base version, anecdotal experience suggests that the loading in the Enhanced Edition never exceeded 10 seconds, with an average of around 5 to revive you after death. This again highlights how Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition is optimised to remove any barriers between the player and the game.
A further PS5 specific feature of Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition is the activity cards that accompany the game. Having played a number of games that utilise this feature, experience suggests that some developers barely incorporate these, whilst others put more effort into them. It is pleasing to say that 4A Games have put a lot of effort into making the tip cards useful and detailed, whilst at the same time not giving every aspect of the game away.
A final area of the game worth discussing is the sound design. At this point, it is worth noting that I played the game whilst wearing the official PS5 Pulse 3D headset. The result of this being that I am unsure exactly whether the praise should lie with the game or the technology. With this in mind, the combination of the headset and the new hardware resulted in some of the best sound effects and design I have experienced in a game in recent times.
The tension that builds when you turn out the lights and can hear the enemies approaching in the dark is a perfect partnering of the visual and sound effects. Other examples of this fantastic sound design include when you are in enclosed spaces, such as tunnels or dilapidated buildings, and you can hear the irradiated creatures moving all around you on other floors or in adjacent rooms. Put it this way, the sound is that good it had me looking over my own shoulder thinking there was someone or something behind me, even in a locked room.
Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition has to be one of the best Next-Gen (Current-Gen?) upgrades to date. It takes full advantage of the newer technology in order to improve visuals, load times and the general game experience. If it weren’t for the inconsistent use of the haptics and adaptive triggers, I would have said it should be the new bar for PS5/Xbox Series upgrades.
Here are a few details about the New-Gen upgrade.
• If you own the game on the PS4 or Xbox One (physically or digitally) then you get the PS5 or Xbox Series upgrade for free.
• If you’re buying the game physically, the PS5 physical copy (the ‘Gold Edition’) only contains the base game on the disc and the two DLC campaigns are download codes (due to how Sony only lets you mirror the digital version on physical media). I’m unsure about the Xbox version.
• You can’t import your PS4 save into Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition on the PS5, but you can unlock a chapter select without playing the game. The issue with that is, if you choose to unlock it then all trophies are disabled on that save slot.
• There is no higher quality 30fps or lower quality 120fps mode, just a 60fps mode that has a 4K output (which is done via Temporal upscale from around 1512p).