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Metro Exodus: a vision for the future of graphics technology

The PC version of Metro Exodus is a genuine game-changer for graphics technology – a vision of the way in which developers can take real-time rendering to the next level. In some respects, it is this generation’s Crysis moment – where the current state of the art is pushed to its limits, and where we see an aggressive push to deliver a taste – and maybe more – of next generation graphics.

We expected something like this simply because of the pedigree of the developer and its technology. Metro and the 4A engine command immense respect for many PC enthusiasts in terms of the way it pushes technology. Metro 2033 on PC punished the most powerful rigs and looked generally a generation apart from its console release on Xbox 360 – utilising technology in artful, non-tacked on ways above and beyond what consoles could deliver. I would know, it was the second game I played on my vintage 2010 Core i7 930 PC paired with two GTX 470s in SLI- and 2033 sure made a mess of that PC on ultra. I am not a complete masochist, but I do enjoy seeing even the best PC hardware punished.

This tradition is continued with Metro Exodus in a way that I am particularly excited about. As is, Metro Exodus’ PC version takes the cake as the thing to beat for me in the future. The 4A engine has seen a vast array of upgrades, and Metro Exodus runs the gamut of graphics effects and polish that I love from first-person games. And Metro does first-person so well, starting with that most essential of elements – inhabiting the view of a character. Metro makes you feel as if you are Artyom in several ways, many of which are down to the graphical techniques in place.

Just take it when you are walking around, how Artyom touches and interacts with the world and his equipment. Taking out his backpack, flipping levers and lights, clambering over things. Is your gas mask dirty? Wipe it off. Need to know the time? Check your watch. So many actions in Metro Exodus show direct smooth camera translations and active movement by Artyom’s body and hands with no telegraphing. You’re planted in the world more realistically than in most FPS titles: Artyom has real presence, he physically connects with the environments. Firing, reloading or swapping a weapon? Not only are the hand models and animation spot-on, but Artyom’s entire character model lives in the environment – as evidenced by unerringly accurate shadow rendering.