Dimitry Glukhowsky’s Metro series is, without a shadow of a doubt, a literary phenomenon. A trilogy of novels about the inhabitants of the metro tunnels under the Russian capital of Moscow captured the imaginations of thousands of readers across the globe, winning awards and spawning an entire literary universe.

Artyom’s story and his struggles in a post-apocalyptic world quickly drew the attention of various media producers, who saw an opportunity to turn the trilogy into a successful franchise. But it was the Ukrainian game studio 4A Games that seized the opportunity first. And while we’re still waiting for the movie or a TV show set in the Metro universe, we can bind our time with the trilogy of excellent FPS games based on Glukhovsky’s prose.

Metro 2033

Release year:March 16, 2010 (PC), August 26, 2014 (XONE, PS4)
Genre:FPS, survival-horror
Developer4A Games
Game modessingle-player

The first installment of the series based on the novel of the same name introduces the player to the world of Metro and its characters.

In the future, a nuclear war reduced the surface world to an irradiated wasteland. The survivors moved underground, making a living off what they could gather in the dark tunnels. One such survivor is Artyom, a young man living in a community that settled at one of the stations of Moscow metro. With the supplies dwindling by the day and enemy factions and other threats lurking in the shadows, Artyom will have to let go of his fear and stand up for the survivors of VDNKh station.

The gameplay of Metro 2033 focuses on first-person shooter action with elements of stealth and survival-horror. As Artyom, the player will traverse the metro, exploring the dark tunnels searching for supplies, and completing missions given to them by NPCs. One of the game’s key features are the moral points the player can acquire through making decisions, positive or negative, which unlock alternative endings.

The game also features mechanics related to its post-apocalyptic setting – pre-war ammunition serving as a tradeable commodity, areas where radiation makes it impossible to survive without a gas mask, etc. Throughout the game, the player will also face various enemies, human and mutant alike, which can be taken down with firearms or avoided through stealth.

An enhanced version of Metro 2033 was released within the Metro Redux bundle. The game features improved graphics, making the experience of stalking through the dark tunnels even more frightening. Other features, such as additional gameplay mechanics and audiovisual changes, were inspired by the series’ subsequent installments.

Metro 2033 was met with a highly positive critical reception. The reviewers noted the game’s setting and story as one of its standout features. The game’s first-person shooter mechanics were also praised.

Key features

Metro: Last Light

Release year:May 14, 2013 (PC), August 26, 2014 (XONE, PS4)
Genre:FPS, survival-horror
Developer4A Games
Game modessingle-player

The follow-up to Metro 2033, Last Light takes the player back to the darkness of the tunnels of the Moscow metro. The protagonist of the first game, Artyom, returns after successfully dealing with the Dark Ones, mutated monsters living in the metro’s depths.

Since making the critical decision of ordering the missile strike on the mutants, Artyom has been full of doubt about whether he made the right choice. Now, he must let go of his worries and focus on a new task – a bunker filled with pre-war goods has been discovered, and the factions race against each other to seize whatever is hidden inside. As a member of the Rangers, a neutral faction, Artyom heads out to explore this new location and find out what it contains.

In comparison to 2033, Last Light introduces quite a few gameplay changes. One o them is an expanded system of moral points, which unlocks different endings to the game. The player can accrue them through certain actions: indiscriminate violence and stealing gain the player bad karma; on the other hand, positive actions, such as helping other survivors, provide the player with a good one. Other new gameplay mechanics include purchasable weapon modifications, hit markers indicating where and how hard the player has hit the enemy, and improved stealth.

Like its predecessor, a remastered version of Metro: Last Light was released in the Metro Redux package, featuring improved graphics and gameplay, DLC content and difficulty modes, and a new list of trophies/achievements.

Metro: Last Light received positive reviews from the critics, who noted the improved gameplay mechanics as one of its strongest features.

Key features
  • Return to the dark tunnels of Moscow metro and face the terrors within
  • Explore new locations and make new allies or enemies
  • Play through the game’s story campaign and discover the contents of the D6 bunker
  • Improved gameplay mechanics await in Metro: Last Light Redux

Metro Exodus

Release year:February 15, 2019
Genre:FPS, survival-horror
Developer4A Games
Game modessingle-player

Metro Exodus is the latest installment of the series.

The player once again takes control of Artyom, who lost hope in humanity after the brutal fights over the D6 bunker revealed the corruption and combative nature of the metro factions. The protagonist becomes obsessed with locating the survivors living on the surface and embarks on a mission to prove their existence.

The gameplay mechanics of Metro Exodus follow the same pattern as the ones of the previous installments – a combination of first-person shooter and stealth. The new mechanics involves the changing seasons throughout the game, which affects the world around the player. Each season brings new threats to be wary of but also new opportunities. Another new feature are the open-world areas that the player can explore in between traversing closed maps.  As in the previous titles in the series, the player can customize their weapon with different modifications and scavenge for materials to craft various resources.

Thanks to its visuals, open-world environments, and intriguing story, Metro Exodus received many positive reviews from the critics.

Key features
  • Explore the world above the tunnels
  • Witness the changing seasons and face the dangers each of them brings
  • Craft materials and apply modifications to your gear
  • Experience the climax of Artyom’s story

The history of Metro

Written by a first-time Russian author, Dimitry Glukhovsky, the Metro trilogy told the story of Artyom, a survivor living in a post-apocalyptic Russia. After the nuclear holocaust left the surface uninhabitable, the people moved to the underground tunnels of the Moscow Metro. In the dark, they struggle to survive with dwindling resources and constant threats from the Dark Ones, dangerous mutants living in the darkness. The inhabitants of Metro are divided into several factions, including Artyom’s VDNKh station, independent Rangers of the Order, and various other groups struggling to survive in the darkness.

Glukhovsky began writing Metro 2033 as an eighteen-year-old and first published it in 2002 on his website. The novel became available in print in 2005 and quickly became a literary success, gaining Glukhokvsky recognition among the sci-fi genre fans. The following novels of the trilogy, Metro 2034 and Metro 2035, were released in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The popularity of the core trilogy led to the birth of the Metro Universe – a franchise spanning multiple novels set to win the world of Metro, comic books based on Glukhovsky’s novels, and finally, a video game series.

From paper to pixels

Between the release of the first and second novels, the rights for the video game adaptation of Metro 2033 were picked up by 4A Games development studio. Glukhovsky partnered with 4A Games’ founders and was heavily involved in the production process. The games turned out to be massive critical and commercial successes, boosting the novels’ popularity in the West. The reviews were full of praise for the games’ setting, gameplay mechanics, and visuals, bringing the books’ despondent atmosphere to life on the screen.

Three games of the Metro series have been released: Metro 2033, Metro: Last Light, Metro Exodus. The first two titles were re-released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One under the name Metro Redux. Each of them introduced something new to the franchise, bringing Glukhovsky’s literary vision closer and closer to the players. Let’s take a look at each of them and see what they have to offer to the fans of the novel series and casual players alike.

Difficult times, difficult choices

It’s hard to decide on the single best game in the Metro series. Each of the titles improved on its predecessors, ironing out the bugs and glitches and adding new features. Judging only by that, the title of the best game in the series should go to Mero Exodus, its most polished and gameplay sound installment. However, we shouldn’t forget that in games based on literary works, the story is just as important as gameplay features. Each of the titles’ plot had its strong beats, filled with moral choices that left the player wondering if they made the right call. That’s why categorizing any of the Metro games as THE best is so difficult. The best we can advise you, the player, is to go through all of them. Experiencing the full story of Artyom and the crew of VDNKH station will allow you to decide which one you think is best. Also, make sure to play the Redux versions of the first two installments. The originals are OK, but improved graphics make the whole experience even better.