The PC version of Metro Exodus is a true game changer for graphics technology – a vision of how developers can make real-time rendering at a higher level. In some ways, this is the Crysis moment of this generation – where the current state of the art is stretched to its limits and where we are witnessing an aggressive push to give a taste – and perhaps even more – of next generation graphics.
We were expecting something like this simply because of the developer's pedigree and its technology. Metro and the 4A engine impose a huge respect on many PC enthusiasts in terms of technology. Metro 2033 on PC punished the most powerful platforms and generally looked like a generation outside of the console's output on Xbox 360 – using clever, no-frills technology on ways far beyond what consoles could to offer. I would know it was the second game I played on my 2010 vintage Core i7 930 PC paired with two GTX 470s in SLI and 2033 mode that ruined everything to make this PC ultra. I am not a complete masochist, but I like to see punished even the best computer equipment.
This tradition continues with Metro Exodus in a way that fascinates me. In the state, the PC version of Metro Exodus considers the cake as the thing to beat for me in the future. The 4A engine has seen a wide range of upgrades and Metro Exodus offers a whole range of graphic effects and touch-ups that I love a lot in the first person games. And Metro does the first person so well, starting with the most essential elements – inhabiting the view of a character. Metro makes you feel as if you are Artyom in many ways, many of which are due to the graphic techniques in place.
Take it simply as you walk, how Artyom touches and interacts with the world and its equipment. Pulling out his backpack, swinging the levers and lights, escalating things. Is your gas mask dirty? The windshield. Need to know the time? Check your watch. Many actions in Metro Exodus show smooth camera conversions and active movements of the body and hands of Artyom without telegraphy. You are planted in the world more realistically than in most FPS titles: Artyom has a real presence, it physically connects to environments. Shoot, reload or exchange a weapon? Not only are the hand models and animations at the rendezvous, but the entire Artyom character model lives in the environment, as evidenced by the shade rendering. an infallible precision.
In motion, you have quite another thing – in a series, motion blur by object is rendered on the resources of the first person, which gives them an ultra-smooth live sensation. It's so satisfying to see the weapons contract, Artyom knowingly tinkering, slapping in a new magazine, pumping a supply of air, snatching mutant paws and throwing them to the wall. water. This game has everything. All of this goes hand in hand with the barking of weapons and the way they drive and impact the environment – I did not know that the guns in this game needed care and maintenance for dirt and the dirt. In Metro Exodus – crossing the mud and dust stains your kit gradually over time, with a particular impact on the reliability of the weapon.
Of course, all these beautiful rifles, hand animations and this general violence would not matter if the enemies and environments were not up to par, but apart from a few flaws, everything stands out dramatically. As a FPS, the bestiary is extremely important – fortunately the Metro series has never really encountered a problem here – monsters and unique armor designs in detail being a basic element of the series at this time. stage.
This time, however, they show an even greater level of detail after careful inspection – where almost every monster and animal has detailed undulating muscles, nerve appendages and a thin fur layer in motion exclusive to the PC version through the integration of the HairWorks library. Even character clothes, dogs, etc., are equipped with HairWorks splines – not in enough density to explode your PC, but dense enough to be convincing.
Character clothing, helmets, weapons, anything that touches the characters in general is the area where, in my opinion, this game is one of the greatest advances over its predecessors. The armor tended to look good in previous games, but the faces and clothes of the characters were missing. Metro Exodus seems to have taken direct scans with performance capture, with a particularly impressive work on Anna and Miller. There are a lot of little details about the characters that make them really alive, like Miller's artificial appendages with a visibly functioning gyro mechanism, for example.
However, the Metro Exodus environments are particularly spectacular, especially since they are seen through the lens of Nvidia's RTX hardware. In general, however, we are looking at fantastic materials and PC lighting – with denser vegetation, flat expanses filled with water with a deformation shader for projections, and SSR. Looks like everything has been done through hell and back – a highlight I love is how 4A uses a shader in a mixture of materials to add dust, dust, snow, mud or even things like dust.
Like the previous games, there is an important use of tessellation to round the bricks and add additional height movement on many surfaces. A negative thing here that has caught my attention has been occasionally surprisingly low resolution textures on some objects, almost giving the impression that they have never been loaded correctly. Perhaps the push towards more open levels with a greater diversity of assets in production, the requirements of texture cache and texture cache required some cuts, but this looks weird sometimes.
Beyond this nitpick, the series is known for a multitude of trees, like the effects of fuzzy particles that hang lazily in the air, punctuated this time by a new lighting system and shading of particles similar to that of games like Star Citizen, Doom 2016 or Alien Isolation, where any light can color, shade or cast shadow on particles, thus giving them the impression of being part of the game. environment. And as the veterans of the series should expect, the game also intensely uses the effects of accelerated particles exclusive to PC via PhysX, which allow to project tons of collateral damage in the form of shrapnel. shells or smoke in and around the surrounding structures.
These particle effects integrate perfectly with what is presumably the now ubiquitous trunk-aligned volumetric fog, found in almost every scene of the game, unfolding in the open in valleys or valleys. in the wet and dirty metro of Moscow. The density of this fog is distributed between several volumes and a global map adapted to the changes of the hour and to the meteorological conditions. The game can also bring out more fog for rain and snow, combining screen-space and particle effects for sandstorms, giving an amazing appearance. The only thing that is really missing from this sim world we've seen elsewhere are the big, fluffy volumetric heavens in motion as seen in Horizon and Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Metro Exodus uses an old school but visually competent rotating skybox sphere. A dynamic hour of the day is essential to the design and appearance of the game: every mission you undertake will likely be different from someone else because of the weather and the weather. Time of day, which will significantly affect the game (when there is literally a difference between day and night).
All of this brings us to the topic of ray tracing, where I would recommend watching the video at the top of this page to see how it really changes the game. Metro Exodus uses DXR 's DirectX 12 extension to use ray tracing to accelerate an indirect lighting pattern, namely a global illumination. Global enlightenment is essentially about making every point in the game world capable of reflecting light and thus becoming a source of light. In the case of Metro, this means a single, diffuse global illumination emitted by the sun, so that any region of global reach where the sun hits or is not hit is affected. The false light and the shadows are gone, everything looks rightbut more than that, combined with the artistic talent of visuals and technology, the ray tracing offers simply spectacular moments of "higher level".
No more inaccurate compromises, sometimes unsightly, operated for performance and scalability reasons, because the sun-rayed GI offers a holistic solution instead of "fictitious" effects such as occlusion ambient of the screen. Ray tracing in Metro Exodus is effective simulating the light, instead of trying to imitate how it works. This extends to almost every scene in the game that indirectly interacts with the sun or sky – adding indirect shadows and lights everywhere and recolouring the scene according to local and global conditions in a blink of an eye. Eye, because in real time. The comparison between traditional halftone lighting and ray tracing shows a generational leap that reminds me of the games before and after the shadows, or like turning on and off the shadows in Doom 3.
In Metro Exodus, we are dealing with a PC version that clearly stands out from its console consoles, in terms of performance as well as visual features, but that does not mean that the Sony and Microsoft boxes do not provide decent quality. experience – although the quality varies depending on the capabilities of the equipment. Xbox One X is the choice of culture, offering native 4K visuals and, overall, a similar PC version running at high settings with HairWorks, PhysX, DXR and Tessellation disabled. The PlayStation 4 Pro is visually similar, but the resolution drops to 1440p and suffers from lower frame rates in stress scenes. Both versions max out at 30 frames per second and have a tear in the screen when they do not reach their performance goals, which PS4 Pro does more often.
4A has made some interesting technical decisions on basic consoles, apparently locking in 1080p resolution on PlayStation 4, with big performance issues in some areas, associated with an intrusive screen tear. However, for the basic Xbox One, the frame rate is much more consistent. In fact, it's the most powerful of the four console versions. 4A deploys several techniques to keep performance closer to the target, including dynamic scaling of resolution and lower resolution alpha buffers. The approach clearly pays off and I wonder what could be gained by offering these features as selectable options on other platforms. Other differences in terms of NdD,
On the computer side, the performance will of course affect your hardware, which brings us to the cost of tracing. At Gamescom, a high-end RTX 2080 Ti struggled to maintain a resolution of 1080p60, which is obviously worrying. However, 4A has significantly redesigned its RT techniques, which means the 2080 Ti can now offer 1440p at 60fps with some tweaking, and 4K60 is therefore possible with Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology. . Unfortunately, this is the weakest DLSS implementation we've seen – it seems actually fuzzier (though more stable over time) than the native 1440p. This is one of the elements of the RTX feature set that we hope will dramatically improve on the PC side.
But Metro Exodus is a truly exciting title and a remarkable technological statement. Everything you need from the game is available on the consoles and still looks great – especially on the Xbox One X – but if you're looking for 60fps performance, dramatically improved graphics and the best implementation that we've seen real-time tracing, the PC version running on an RTX card is nothing short of a truly phenomenal and breathtaking achievement.