Metro Exodus

Developer 4A Games' long-awaited post-apocalyptic sandbox shooter Metro Exodus is now just over a month away - and, as you'd expect, the studio's marketing efforts are rapidly gathering speed. And now, as part of its pre-release publicity pre-amble, 4A Games has unveiled Metro Exodus' lavish Artyom Custom Edition - it's so fancy, in fact, that only ten have been made.

Barren wastelands. Decrepit and abandoned towns. Desolate landscapes ravaged by time and trauma. Recognisable landmarks slowly but surely reclaimed by nature after our demise. Games have consistently embraced the post-apocalyptic setting. It invites excitement, apprehension and a deep curiosity, and plays on the thought-provoking hypothetical, the 'what if?'. And when these post-apocalyptic environments and landscapes are incredibly detailed, they can result in great efficacy and power.

Digital FoundryHow Metro Exodus uses Nvidia ray tracing to stunning effect

And the challenges facing developers using the cutting-edge RTX tech.

Nvidia showcased a number of ray tracing titles at its GeForce RTX launch and it was 4A Games' Metro Exodus - alongside DICE's Battlefield 5 - that impressed us most with its implementation of ray tracing technology. In fact, RTX on vs RTX off within the 4A title demonstrates the challenges and opportunities of the new hardware: right now, it seems we need to choose between remarkable realism and accuracy with a significant performance overhead, up against lighting based on established techniques - less accurate but still good-looking and much faster. Which will prevail?

In a restaurant somewhere in sunny Los Angeles County, 13 years ago, two old friends were having lunch. Wine and conversation were flowing. They remembered how they'd met at LucasArts in the 90s. They weren't there to talk business but they did because video games were their bread and butter. One of the men, Jack Sorensen, was reeling-off job opportunities he knew of - he being executive vice president of worldwide studios at games publisher THQ. "THQ Australia?" he enquired. But the other man, Dean Sharpe, didn't seem interested. He had closed his own studio Big Ape Productions a couple of years earlier, dropped off the radar and taken a break, and now he was ready for something new. But Sharpe wanted a challenge.

One of the most memorable reveals of the last year's Microsoft E3 media briefing, 4A Games' Metro Exodus seemed to offer a formula that looked too good to be true - a successful transition of an established linear shooter into a similarly well-crafted open world epic. One year on, having spent a few hours hands-on with the game, there's the sense that the promise suggested by that stunning demo has been fulfilled. Exodus is indeed Metro as we know it, but built within a more open-ended environment, with all the opportunities that offers.