NOTE: This review is focused on the technical improvements in the game’s Xbox Series X/S and PS5 upgrade. For more detailed impressions on Metro Exodus, you can read our review of the original game through here. You can also read our reviews of the expansions, The Two Colonels and Sam’s Story.
The folks over at 4A Games love being on the cutting edge of technology. With the Metro series, time and again, they’ve brought a grim post-apocalyptic and heavily irradiated world to stark life in excellent ways with the help of some seriously impressive tech, and in 2019, Metro Exodus was by far their most visually impressive game- in fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call it one of the best looking games on the market back when it first came out. Predictably, 4A Games have released an upgraded version of the first person shooter as well, in order to leverage the more powerful hardware of the Xbox Series X/S and PS5, just as they did recently with Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition on PC– and the results are similarly impressive here.
4A Games have always been huge proponents of ray tracing, so it’s not exactly a shock to see that that’s perhaps the biggest improvement they’ve implemented here, now that hardware-based ray tracing is possible on consoles as well. And it does wonders for what was an already incredible looking game. This is a game that showcases its ray traced lighting, shadows, and reflections constantly in some pretty subtle ways, from the shimmering reflections in a sheet of ice to the flickering shadows being thrown by a fire in the dead of the night to the way your flashlight pierces through the deep darkness of an underground tunnel.
Metro Exodus already looked amazing in these moments (and others) when it first came out in 2019 and ran on significantly weaker hardware, and now, it looks absolutely stunning. More than a few times, I was taken aback by the sudden sharpness and clarity of the way light dynamically bounced off of the grimy gun in my hands, or the way light was shining against my face mask while I was slowly making my way through irradiated tunnels.
"4A Games have always been huge proponents of ray tracing, so it’s not exactly a shock to see that that’s perhaps the biggest improvement they’ve implemented here, now that hardware-based ray tracing is possible on consoles as well."
And as you’d expect, the implementation of ray tracing isn’t the only visual improvement made to Metro Exodus by the technical wizards at 4A Games (though it’s certainly the most prominent). By and large, the shooter looks much better and sharper all around- which is really saying something, because even on the PS4 and Xbox One, this was a gorgeous game. Now, on more powerful hardware, it has a knack for looking drop-dead amazing at times, with richly detailed environments and impressive animations. Walking through a desert while a storm rages in and the world goes dark and you move toward distant sources of flickering light is one of the most visually immersive moments I’ve had in a game in a long time. The fact that I had already experienced this moment two years ago and it still managed to hit as hard as it did this time should tell you something about how great it looks.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a night and day difference between how Metro Exodus looked on previous-gen consoles and how it looks on the Xbox Series X- you’re still in for a visual feast if you play it on the latter. But if you do play it on newer hardware, you’re in for a noticeably better looking game. Metro Exodus’ dynamic 4K resolution is consistently impressive, and enables it gorgeously bleak and devastated world to flourish on a visual level much better than what I remember of the game when I played it a couple years ago. Meanwhile, with the frame rate now at a steady 60 FPS, it’s also a significantly smoother and better playing experience. Combined with the improved visual quality and ray tracing, it makes for an impressive upgrade. Hell, there’s even an FoV slider in here, which is a great bonus for those who want to tinker with those settings.
That’s not to say there are no issues whatsoever there. Even on a technical level, Metro Exodus stumbles at times. For instance, the inconsistent audio quality was one of my biggest issues with the game in 2019, and that’s still true today. Particularly in scenes where characters are talking to you or each other, the audio mixing can be quite bad- the music might be blaring loudly, or the ambient noises could if there’s no music, but characters often sound like they’re distant and far away. This happens a lot, and often in crucial or intense narrative moments, and it’s really quite disappointing. It doesn’t help that English voice acting is quite inconsistent in the game anyway. Combined with the audio issues, it can hurt the storytelling in several ways- which is far from ideal, since storytelling is Metro Exodus’ biggest strength by far. Meanwhile, the load times can also still be a bit of a nuisance at times. They’re not nearly as long as they were on older consoles, but at times (especially when you’re loading in a new map for the first time), they can still be 20-30 seconds long, if not longer. Still, overall, load times have definitely improved, so at least the net result is positive.
"Metro Exodus’ dynamic 4K resolution is consistently impressive, and enables it gorgeously bleak and devastated world to flourish on a visual level much better than what I remember of the game when I played it a couple years ago. Meanwhile, with the frame rate now at a steady 60 FPS, it’s also a significantly smoother and better playing experience. Combined with the improved visual quality and ray tracing, it makes for an impressive upgrade."
4A Games has a knack for delivering visual and technical feasts. In 2019, that was exactly what they did with Metro Exodus, which was a game that pushed the current console hardware at the time to its absolute limits. The shooter’s Xbox Series X/S and PS5 upgrade doesn’t quite do that, of course, since it’s essentially a remaster, but even so, this is a far more impressive and significant update than I’d imagined it would be. The implementation of ray tracing is excellent, and the boost to dynamic 4K and a rock-solid 60 FPS makes for a game that is even better looking and better playing than the already excellent base release. Some issues not withstanding, Metro Exodus on new consoles is a visual and technical feast.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox Series X.
Excellent implementation of ray tracing; An already gorgeous-looking game now looks even better; Rock-solid performance at 60 FPS.
Audio issues; Load times are still occasionally too long.