Released in 2019, Metro Exodus was, and still is, one of the best-looking games available.
Whack the settings up to ultra, and thanks to its sublime textures and wealth of effects, you’re immersed in a world that’s as beautiful as it is hostile. And that’s without even enabling ray tracing. Implemented in Metro Exodus via global illumination, turning on ray tracing was a true game changer – it was perhaps the first time that there was clear improvement other than more accurate reflections. It’s just shame that it came with such a big performance hit.
Things are different with Metro Exodus – Enhanced Edition, however. Available now on PC and coming to consoles later this year, Metro Exodus is set to be the first fully ray traced game. That means every single light source is fully ray traced, and there’s even the option to enable ray traced reflections or opt for a mix of ray tracing and screen space reflections. The result is a game that looks more lifelike than ever before – which is saying something.
Flicking a light on and off when underground, you’ll be impressed at how nearby objects realistically cast shadows. You’ll also appreciate the extra detail afforded by natural lighting in the darker corners. It’s when you’re above ground that the improved ray traced lighting really wows you though, giving every scene an astonishing level of additional flourish. While there are certain elements of Metro Exodus‘ presentation that aren’t quite so stellar even in the Enhanced Edition, it’s hard not to be blown away at times by how real the improved lighting makes everything look.
The addition of ray traced reflections adds upon that. More accurate reflections can now be seen in nearly every reflective object in Metro Exodus‘ world, tricking your mind that you’re not just playing a game. They’re not perfect though; some finer detail is lost along the way. Still, with all of Metro Exodus – Enhanced Edition‘s ray tracing features turned on, it’s easier than ever to become immersed in the action and forget that what’s happening on-screen isn’t real. It’s just the loading screens that pull you out, which are hard to get rid of due to how they are used to push the story forward.
The most impressive thing about Metro Exodus – Enhanced Edition, however, is how it manages to implement so many ray tracing features while also allowing for improved performance. The removal of some graphical effects that are no longer required is one of the ways it manages to do this. And then you have the implementation of VRS and an improved version of NVIDIA DLSS. I’ve been playing Metro Exodus – Enhanced Edition at ultra settings and ray tracing set to high. In DLSS performance mode, it allows for pretty much a constant 60fps at 4K resolution on my RTX 3070 paired with a Ryzen 5 3600.
The only problem is, as good as Metro Exodus – Enhanced Edition looks, unless you’re playing it side-by-side with the original version you’re not likely to notice many of the improvements – at least when you’re in the thick of the action. Ray tracing is obviously the future when it comes to games, but many of the benefits it brings are subtle most of the time. Some games will greatly benefit from it, but others won’t. A strong visual style will always win out.
Available for free for those who already own Metro Exodus or purchase it in the future, however, there’s no reason for those who own graphics cards capable of ray tracing to not play this Enhanced Edition. It looks better and plays better than ever – what more could you want? Metro Exodus is a great game, a first-person shooter that has a nice mix of exploration, stealth, all-out action, and even horror. It’s only really let down by its lead character being particularly dull – mainly because he’s silent during gameplay.
So, if you’ve been considering playing Metro Exodus for a while and your PC is up to the task, there’s never been a better time to jump in. The enhancements found in Metro Exodus – Enhanced Edition apply to the game’s DLC, too, so the fun doesn’t have to end once you’ve finished the main story. Those who own next-gen consoles have Metro Exodus – Enhanced Edition to look forward to later this year, and once again it will be free for those who already own the standard version of the game. Until then though, it’s a PC exclusive showcase for the future of ray tracing in games.