4A On Making Metro Smarter – Not Dumbing It Down

Metro 2033 had its fair share of rough edges. Shooting was clunky, some systems felt overly complex, and others were so under-explained that many players didn’t even know they existed. Even so, a lot of love obviously went into the construction of its bombed-to-the-brink-of-extinction post-apocalyptic Russia. In smoothing out rough edges, however, many other game series have opted to lop off entire aspects of what made them so great – generally in the nebulous name of “accessibility.”

4A Games, though, doesn’t believe that’s necessary. In fact, according to communications lead Huw Beynon, Last Light‘s adding – not subtracting. So then, how exactly will that work? And, if this is something that’s in such high demand, why aren’t more developers trying it? Read on for answers to those questions and many more.

RPS: So, first off, what’s the deal with the bullet economy this time around? Is it in or out? I’ve heard mixed things.

Beynon: It’s in. I think we were still discussing exactly how we were going implement that last time and, you know, all options are still on the table. But there’s quite a vocal fan response, which may be guiding part of our thinking. It’s staying in, though.

The thing we’re already working on is how we communicate that system better to the player. Metro’s full of a lot of quite complex game mechanics, and I think if there’s one thing we didn’t do very well in the first game, it’s we didn’t actually introduce those mechanics or explain them particularly. It was kind of, concept, wall of text on the screen, this is how this works. Have you read it? Press H, continue. If you missed it, it could really color your impression of the whole game. We think we can introduce those mechanics, including the trading system, a little bit smarter this time.

But no, it’s really important, we can’t lose any of those mechanics. That’s kind of a philosophy that runs through the game. We have absolutely no intention of westernizing or dumbing down Metro whatsoever. As you saw from the demo, if anything we’re adding more stuff in there, whether it’s the mask wipe mechanic, which is a whole additional thing that the player has to be mindful of and consider when they’re playing. Or an expanded weapon set, secondary fire modes, or attachments you can put on your weapon, secondary weapons… We now have a new stealth melee from behind. We’re also experimenting with putting in the option to knock out rather than kill if you approach people from behind. Loads of extra stuff is going in there.

So yeah. A very long-winded way of saying that we’re keeping the bullet-trading in and it’s going to be much, much better this time around. We’re not cutting anything.

RPS: So you’re making things a lot more apparent and you’re definitely trying to avoid dumbing it down. Where’s the line between ease-of-use and “dumbed down,” though? Because that’s something that a billion different developers have said, and their games come out and people are like “No, I’m pretty sure this is actually dumbed down.”

Beynon: Yes, and dumbed down is when you say, “This mechanic or this feature is too hard for a player to figure out, so we’re going to simplify it, simplify the button press or simplify the mechanic or take it out of the player’s hands and do it for them.” We’re not doing that with any of our mechanics. There’s so much more stuff going in. So much more depth in pretty much every direction.

So when I say making something accessible, it’s introducing our complex mechanics in a narrative fashion rather than what we did with the first game, where you’d have a tooltip come up the first time you did something. Like “press X to put the mask on.” If we can blend an explanation of how these mechanics work into the storytelling a little better, then we’ll introduce them in a more elegant way to the player while keeping them intact within the game.

RPS: Which is really good to hear, since that was one of my favorite things about Metro 2033. Nearly every aspect of the interface was in-game. And now there are things like the water/monster blood/your blood-removing mask-wiping mechanic as well. It’s a small thing, but – at least for me – I could really see it making me feel like I am the character.

Beynon: You may have seen at the end where you’re fighting in really close quarters. The watchers are down, hammering on the door, and you’re forced into using the shotgun [in super close quarters]. You feel the effects at that range. You’re getting gore spattered all over your visor. To have that decision, like do I take the half moment to wipe my mask off and see a little better, or can I afford to do that? Do I need to fire off the next round or reload my shotgun? You could be fighting that battle with just gore dripping down your face, trying to decide when the moment is. It’s another feature that people need to consider, which I think is great.

RPS: So the one thing I did notice, though, that was sort of irking me, is that the companion who was with Artyom wouldn’t stop talking. It seems like almost every couple of steps, he would chime in with something new. And some of the lines are useful and helpful, but other times it’s like, can we actually have some silence to soak in the atmosphere?

Beynon: So, that level is being built expressly to demo the game in many ways. We built the dialogue for this demo. It’s going to be changed in the final one, because that isn’t your first time on the surface in the game. It’s not like a training level. But unlike yourself, there are plenty of people coming in and watching this who are not familiar with Metro. So rather than have someone like me stand up and give people a 10-minute lecture before the game starts about how this thing works, we wanted to include some of the kinds of explanation into the dialogue. So yeah. He is probably over-talkative in the demo compared to what you’d expect.

RPS: Right at the beginning of the demo, we saw the flashback with Artyom as a child on some sort of train. Was he with his family, or with his mother? What was that?

Beynon: With his mother at the time.

RPS: Is that sort of like a larger part of the story? Going into his past a little bit?

Beynon: Last Light a continuation of Artyom’s story. We think he’s a really interesting protagonist. When we approached the game and we looked into the source material for it, Dmitry obviously helped us with the first one. It was an adaptation of his book. Making the game is very different from making the book, so we kind of paraphrased it in many ways.

When we approached the sequel, he was the first to say that you can’t base it on Metro 2034, because it’s not suitable to a game. He came to us with essentially the continuation of Artyom’s story. He continues to work really closely with us on the story design and contributes a lot of dialogue for it. And we wanted to explore Artyom’s character a little bit more.

So if you think about 2033, it was kind of a combination of a coming of age story and almost like a road trip, where you start off as this relatively innocent, naive young man who’s never traveled more than 200 yards from the station all the time that he’s been down there. Entrusted with this mission and this philosophy, this indoctrination from Hunter. If it’s hostile you kill it, and that’s the voice ringing in his ear when he sets out. Obviously along the way he encounters Khan and this very different philosophy, this idea of, never act without thought or doubt. Encouraging him to question everything. These two philosophies kind of sit with the player throughout the game and then depending on what you do, it will give you the opportunity to actually deviate from the canon of the novel.

And so Last Light obviously picks up from the canon of the novel, if you follow the Hunter philosophy. Artyom has this realization at the end of the first game, just the enormity of what he’s actually done. That, for us, is a very interesting starting point for the character in the beginning of Last Light. And really, how Artyom both comes to terms with and atones for his actions in the first game, his character progression throughout this. We use a number of storytelling techniques within the game to help explain that progression.

RPS: So you’re fleshing him out a lot, but you’ve still gone with the decision to keep him silent as a character. Why did you feel like those two things would complement each other?

Beynon: You as the player, you’ve been asked to assume the role of this character. And you can tell a lot more in the way that others react to you than you can by hearing your character respond. Because you formulate the responses in your own head, you think about what you’re doing. Obviously, in Metro we give you the choice to make very real, impactful decisions that will fundamentally change the path of the game and the end of the game throughout. So having him come out and say something that maybe doesn’t sit quite right, it doesn’t really add anything to his character development.

You look back to something like a Half-Life 2. You understand, the minute when Gordon steps into a room and someone [simply reacts]. The reaction of the other people around him, the character is built up that way as they respond to him. You begin to piece it all together. I find that’s a far more interesting way of telling a character’s story than having him [talk a bunch].

RPS: Right. In a Eurogamer article, you compared Last Light to Half-Life 2 and also District 9. So basically, you’re shooting for “definitely a blockbuster, but a smarter one.”

Beynon: Yeah. And I think both Francis Ford Coppola and James Cameron probably can both look back on their careers and be very happy with what they’ve done. But I would rather be the first guy. I think the audience is there for a game like Metro. The only failings we had the first time around were, we did a terrible job of marketing the game. We came to it too late. We didn’t give it the support that it deserved.

The attitude this time is not, how do we make this more accessible? How do we reach this kind of mythical mass audience for it? It’s just actually… There’s an audience for this kind of game – that wants something a little bit smarter, something with maybe a little bit more soul. Something for people who are just tired of gunning down waves-upon-waves of people and not understanding even why they’re doing it. So, from a game perspective, it’s to realize the potential of the formula that I think we were very close to getting right the first time around. And then from a business perspective it’s like “How do we take that game and present it the best we can to that audience?” Which I sincerely hope is out there. There must be people out there that want something more than just pumping the trigger and shooting people in the head.

Check back tomorrow for part two, in which we discuss the rise of niche audiences, Last Light’s PC-specific bells and whistles, and a very, very silly anecdote from E3.


  1. Captain Hijinx says:

    “We have absolutely no intention of westernizing or dumbing down Metro whatsoever.”

    That’s all i needed to know!

    Can’t wait for this, Metro is one of my favourite shooters ever.

    • misterT0AST says:

      I like how they use “Westernizing” as a derogatory term.
      East is Beast!

      • rockman29 says:

        That was my favourite part of the article <3

        Well, aside from Metro being awesome.

      • lexoneir says:

        At one time I would have said westernizing could be a good thing. But with modern western games, I would have to agree – definitely derogatory.

        • Hoaxfish says:

          I think it’s within a certain context.

          Half-life 2 is western, but isn’t characteristic of the majority output (CoD & friends). Even something like Borderlands, or Fallout, aren’t too close to what people think of when you say “western”.

          Releasing a shooter that could fall under the “idea” of a western shooter would basically be consumed by bigger, stupider games.

          Other genres, like JRPGs, could probably benefit from a bit of cross-pollination.

          • grundus says:

            JRPGs and most Japanese games now, really. The Resident Evil and Sonic the Hedgehog franchises (frachisii?), for instance. I’ve just realised that the most recent RE game was western developed… But still, Japanese devs have even said that the Japanese games scene is old, dying and needs to be refreshed.

          • Mr. Mister says:

            Isn’t any game developed in Europe more “Central” than “Western”? You know, Greenwich and all that passes through Britain, France and Spain, so anything more to the East than that can’t be considered “western” technically…

          • rockman29 says:

            Well it depends from what angle we are looking at this… as a JRPG player (on hiatus I guess… haven’t played a JRPG in a while), ‘westernizing’ is the most feared word I can think of when it comes to games from Japan and especially for JRPGs.

          • jrodman says:

            The pluralization ending “i” is used in latin forms for certain words ending in “us”, for example the optional hippopotami. Note that in all cases this form involves a single ‘i’.

          • diestormlie says:

            Mr*2, ‘Western’, as I am sure you know, is a cold war term, where the line between of East and West ran through Berlin, although now Germany is now accepted as Western.

      • Shooop says:

        The more proper term in that context is “localizing”.

        Which is still a bad thing and it’s good they’re not doing it.

      • Mr. Mister says:

        North goes Forth!

        • misterT0AST says:

          West is Best, South is…
          Yeah South gets a bit screwed in the process.
          Sorry Africa, you’ve been left behind once more.

    • Metalhead9806 says:

      YES!!!! Can’t wait for this game.

  2. Mr. Mister says:

    Uh? What exactly wasn’t explained enough on 2033 to the point of entire portions of players not knowing of its existence?
    The book?
    Because I can only think of how the dude who told you how to face the Lybrarians got his subtitles taken over by another dude’s “Aahhh!” just one second after appearing… but, then again, that’s what happens when you set audio to Russian without understanding it and depending on the subtitles just because you’re cool.

    • MattM says:

      Yeah. I liked the game enough to play through it twice and I can’t think of any part that was particularly under explained or obtuse. I also though the gunplay was pretty solid. The only real issue I had was that stealth takedowns could be a bit a of a crapshoot.
      I hope they avoid the canned 3rd person take downs of Deus Ex:HR though. Those worked a little too well and the break from 1st person perspective and loss of control was annoying.

      • Mr. Mister says:

        I must admitt I kept trying until I got through every situation where stealth was a problem without being detected… and even if it was hard, it let me see some usually ignored level design paths and AI routines.

        It’s kinda funny how you can get through the whole bandit outpost without alarming a single guard, yet after entering the boss’ room, hell still be asking Bourbon “WHat’s happening?”/whatever nervyously.

      • max_1111 says:

        Wait… There was a take-down mechanic?
        Or do you just mean “killing dudes while being stealthy”?

        • Mr. Mister says:

          There were two take-down mechanichs: by pressing or holding Q, you either knockdown up to two dudes or kill them with ELBOWBLAAAAADESSS!
          Oh and takedowns on unaware dudes are stealthy. Kills too, but more noisy (a shame, since the elbowblades are awesome yet very unused among the playerbase).

          • max_1111 says:

            HAHA no no, i meant in Metro 2033.
            In your first paragraph you refer to stealth take-downs as being a bit of a crapshoot.

            EDIT: Whups, that wasn’t you, it was MattM

        • grundus says:

          You never went up behind someone and pressed Q? I think it was Q. Tap for a stealth KO (usually involving headpunches), hold for a stealth kill (which usually involved elbowswords).

        • liquidsoap89 says:

          I think he’s talking about Metro, not DE:HR.

        • MattM says:

          In metro 2033 a knife or silenced shot to the head would usually be a stealth kill, but sometimes you wouldn’t quite hit them right and they would yell. It made stealth pretty unreliable, although it was probably more realistic than being able to kill people silently 100% of the time.

          • Mr. Mister says:

            I once killed a bandit by sticking a knife to the vodka bottle on his hand. Seriously, I laughed so hard before picking it up again. Guess russians really have their central nervous system connected to their vodka bottle.

    • Joshua says:

      Apperently, a lot of complaints were on the gunplay. Apperently, the guns felt rather weak. Which was exactly the point of the designers when you were using dirty bullets.

      That sort of stuff.

      • Mr. Mister says:

        Oh, really? Whenever I felt (and I didn’t) that my main weapon was ineffective, I attributed it to the bullets, and either reluctantly changed to military ammo (imprescindible for the slimes’ section on hard difficulty) or changed to a more appropiate weapon (I killed a lybrarian I accidentally sett off only with the stabby stabby shotgun).
        And may I say that I kept my bastard gun for the whole game, because I love its most unique design, and how you could tell which type and how many bullets you had on the magazine without checking the UI.

        So the Ranger difficulties were released on behalf of the weak gunplay demand?

      • oWn4g3 says:

        They added a “realism” mode after release which made guns feel a lot more powerful (your own ones as well as the ones your enemies were using). They combined it with less ammo to find and I found that game felt like 10 times better and merciless.

        Edit: Ranger Mode ofc! However you could play Ranger Mode (stronger weapons etc) + Realism which removed all onscreen HUD elements. Super creepy and tense atmosphere :)

        • max_1111 says:

          I played the game on Ranger Hardcore for my first go ’round and can’t really imagine playing it any other way.

          (EDIT: I had picked it up after said modes had been released.)

          • Mr. Mister says:

            I couldn’t go back to standarddifficulties after trying it either… but I decided to ignore the DLC-added guns. Fuck they are game-breakingly out of balance.

          • MattM says:

            @ Mr. Mister, esp when you pick all of them up and sell them. Its an easy way to get all the ammo you need for the rest of the game.

      • woodsey says:

        I had that complaint on my first playthrough – enemies were soaking up bullets to the face on normal.

        I tried it again when the Ranger difficulties came out, and the slight piece of balancing made the game infinitely more enjoyable. Bullets became rarer, but did more damage. Loved it ever since.

      • Stromko says:

        I saw a lot of complaints about how players would be unable to pick up new gas mask filters after a random point in the game. I ran into this issue myself which turned out to be game-breaking, and I played the game long after release when patches should have fixed things like this. I’m not buying the sequel when they never bothered fixing the first one.

        • DrGonzo says:

          I’ve read about this problem, but it’s also true that a lot of gas masks were static objects that you weren’t supposed to be able to pick up. I attribute it to that mostly.

      • DrGonzo says:

        My problem was the mouse control feeling, uhh, loose? Or unresponsive. And the character not feeling properly connected to the world. But still loved the game.

    • glix says:

      It might not have been what they were expressly talking about, but there is the alternate ‘good’ ending barely anybody got.

      • max_1111 says:

        I don’t think that’s ultimately what they’re referring to.
        They had said that they wanted to stay true to the book’s ending (the “bad” one) and that the happy ending was intentionally difficult to get.

        • Mr. Mister says:

          I got it unintentionally on my first run, and after checking out the conditions, there were some obvious “comprehension” points that I didn’t miss, but skipped: liberating the red prisioners (I passed stealthly with as few kills as possible), walking to my human mates instead of the dark one on one hallucination, and taking my well-earned reward for rescuing that annoying kid.
          I must say, though, that the bad/standard credits scene is ay more badass.

          • Balm says:

            I thought kid was endearing.
            The manner you carry him, with weight affecting your speed and balance made me care in an odd way.
            It’s a great alternative to usual escort.
            Makes this one curious what would “Lone wolf and cub” game be like.

  3. Anthile says:

    I really don’t like the “dumbing down” phrase. While it’s not always an invalid criticism, it’s incredibly difficult to quantify and thus almost impossible to refute when used as an argument. More often than not it seems like a more mean-spirited “I didn’t like that game”.
    Also, I don’t think that just adding features to your game makes it any “smarter”. It is how the different systems of the game interact with each other that decide how smart a game is.

    • Stochastic says:

      I agree with your second point, but I don’t see the phrase “dumbing down” as problematic. It’s not a very descriptive criticism admittedly, but there are enough games that simplify game mechanics in the name of accessibility that I think it’s a useful term to have.

    • Maldomel says:

      Apparently they have decided to blend those features in a better way with the background and the narrative, so hopefully it will be smart, and well designed. The wiping seems to be that way, a logical little thing that adds to immersion.

      But yeah, “dumb down” is a big term that can hold a lot of meanings. I think he just wants to say that they are not going the easy way with their features, they want to keep them as they were (or maybe make them better) without over simplifying stuff or having something to dull for players. But recalling how Metro 2033 was, this ought to be a smart game with features “above” what you can expect from a shooter.

    • FlowState says:

      I see it as fairly simple to quantify:

      How “dumbed-down” a system is has an inverse relationship to one’s difficulty in completing the challenges in the game without being an expert in those systems.

      For example (please don’t start a flame war!): I didn’t buy Diablo 3 because my extensive time spent with Diablo 2 (and some of the bigger mods) allowed me to become an expert in the ‘character build’ system. Becoming such is part of the enjoyment I get out of games. Diablo 3 “dumbed down” the leveling and skills systems so much that there would be no need (I felt) to become an expert to succeed.

      Does that make any sense at all? Being at work on a Saturday does my mind no good.

      • nearly says:

        makes perfect sense. a system is “dumbed down” when advanced users see minimal or no reward for their expertise.

  4. DOLBYdigital says:

    Sounds fantastic and I really liked this interview. It’s great to hear these discussions happening since they address some important topics for gaming imo… Look forward to this game and best of luck to the devs for a success!

  5. max_1111 says:

    I am so fucking excited for this now.

  6. Shooop says:

    I really, really like what he’s saying here.

    In-story explanations is the way to go for explaining game controls. It gives you the information you need while not turning into the infamous Mario telling you “If you need instructions, read the game’s instruction manual!” It keeps you in character. Context actions are OK, but not when they pop up every 20 goddamn seconds.

    Some of us westerners don’t want you to change any of the names/places/slang because we’re big boys and girls and we can use the internet to look it up in between porn searching sessions. The ones who do are idiots who’d have trouble reading Hardy Boys books, do not listen to them please. For our sakes’ and yours.

    This game is 2 for 2 right now. Keep it up!

    • Mr. Mister says:

      I always liked reading the manuals… *sniff*

      • max_1111 says:

        1000x this…
        Seriously… i miss the days of getting brand new games and cracking open the manual for the first time…

        Aaah.. that brand new manual smell…

        …now i’m sad.

      • Shooop says:

        Manuals are fine, I liked them too.

        But when this happens… link to youtube.com

        No. Just no.

    • FlowState says:

      Just out of curiosity, and I’m not trying to start any kind of flames wars, but why did you use Mario as an example there? I mean, if you think about the very first level of Super Mario Brothers, it’s actually quite genius when it comes to helping you discover and intuit all the controls of the game.

      Now, if we’re talking post-SNES Nintendo, then I completely understand.


      • Shooop says:

        I mean the infamously terrible Hotel Mario for CD-i.

      • Mr. Mister says:

        The Super Mario 64 in-game help (in the form of signs and billboards) was quite complete and extended through the whole game, but since all the movements were avaliable from the very beggining, reading the pages of the manual with nice drawings and explanations of all the possible movements was a much better option. It even explained some techniques not learnt anywhere in-game, like the rotating and sliding kick.

  7. Gonefornow says:

    “If we can blend an explanation of how these mechanics work into the storytelling a little better, then we’ll introduce them in a more elegant way to the player while keeping them intact within the game.”

    That might not bode well with the “not dumbing down” and “complex systems” matras.

    In ye’ olden times a few console games did this successfully.
    Marios ,megamen, metroid all had levels where you’d try things to make progress and learn new mechanics because they were designed to force you to try out things. And that worked, but only because there was no way to progress any further, if you didn’t grasp what was going on, and the controller only has/had so many buttons you can mash concurrently.

    Consider this. In some(all) modern/new FPS games there is a section where you’ll need to crouch under a tree or fence or equal and there will be a “press c to crouch” pop up, because there are so many buttons on a keyboard a genuine newbie couldn’t tell. Trying them all out would be nonsense.
    (This type of keyprompting does originate from the modern consoles though, but their controllers have at least 20 soming buttons so… that’s more than on NES’ 2+dpad).

    Also npcs telling you important info in game, so not to break the “flow” or “immersion” (using the GUI/menus doesn’t break immersion, everyone knows that, there is even a fancy word for it, can’t remember.),
    is rather lousy as the info has to be condensed enough to pass as dialogue and, yes, it’s a whole lotta easier to miss that a menu screen shouting “This is important read me now, or atleast remember I exist so if you skip me you’ll come back and read me up when you’re lost.”

    Yes, when used well that kind of stuff makes the player feel “smart” or at least competent, but it can only convays minimal information about how complex systems work and are used (you’ll need helptexts for the different keybinds alone) and they can be easilly missed, if the game doesn’t come to a halt and force the player to do just that thing the npc can’t stop nagging about.

    Half Life 2, for one, is full of this stuff and look how well that worked out.
    -Allways on rails. Linearity is a must otherwise the player might miss one of these info tidbits.
    -Very little meaningful interaction with the world or the characters. Because this way of teaching simple stuff on the fly doesn’t allow complex interactions to happen.

    Take Deus Ex then. If you jumped in the first level, skipping the tutorial, you’d be lost. There are so many interactional interconnected systems at play that there just has to be a lengthy tutorial explaining the nuts and bolts and ins and outs of the gameplay.
    Deus ex had luck as the tutorial could be disquised as an agent training exercise, but there is no shame in creating just a tutorial with no connection to the story or the world of the game itself.

    So that’s my suggestion.
    Make a proper tutorial, that is not the first level of the campaign, but a standalone training level.
    Simple and effective I say.

    • Mr. Mister says:

      Sometimes I wonder, what happened to manuals? Usually quite an amount of work (recently less) amount of work goes behind them. I can remember always reading them prior to first trying the game, from my N64 (I’m just 18, so no more retro than that for me) to any game I aquire digitally now (ALWAYS comes, usually in PDF form).

      I guess nowadays it’s connotatively evil to encourage your privilegiated mind to bother with reading a piece of paper (or a piece of paper presented on your screeen), but still… you wouldn’t just go with an in-device tutorial offered by a washing machine without first reading the manual, right?

      • Gonefornow says:

        I personally prefer a proper in-game tutorial over manuals.
        Strategy games on the other hand require a manual, especially the old ones with no tooltips or tutorials.

        In-game tutorials like that aren’t the proper ones.

        First off. Tutorials can exist outside the game world (like I said in the OP). So the lore can be dropped.

        And secondly tutorials can be divided into many reasonably named parts: Basic /Advanced Systems (replace systems with gamemechanics like movement, stealth, tactics, baking, pony riding etc.).

        A proper tutorial system can be a good way to overcome the problem manuals pose, lack of hands on experience.

        Manual is like a schoolbook teaching you the theory of a subject (say, carpentry), but to put that knowledge into practice (making a fancy chair) takes time in the craft itself.

        So in game terms, with a manual you’ll end up jumping into the game, back to the manual, into the game, back to manual and so forth until you’re good enough to play the darn thing. With a proper tutorial that won’t happen.

        • Balm says:

          I hate in-game tutorials. Usually 90% of tutorial’s time is wasted on learning to pan camera and explaing if game uses left or right mouse button as main context-sencitive command, all that voiced and further paded with lore-bits and in-character “jokes”.
          With written manuals (paper or in-game ‘Help’ section) I can skip to explanation of game-unique features.

  8. Highstorm says:

    Voiceless protagonist is fine and all, but it seemed to me like the first game couldn’t decide which way it wanted to go. Between chapters you very clearly hear Artyom describing his ongoing journey in his own, distinct voice. But then out in the field, you’re completely mute.

    I think there was some part where you get injured or barely make an escape or something and two guys are asking if you’re okay, and you just sit there silently. I think they even comment on the silence. It kind of pulled me out of the game at that point.

    • grundus says:

      Maybe he’s just seriously awkward?

    • Mr. Mister says:

      I remember clearly a part where you have a minecart crash and, while flying through the air, you can hear a noise-dumpened “…fuck!” from yourself… so yeah, if brought to court, Arytom cannot be considered a silent protagonist.

  9. Blackcompany says:

    Westernizing/Dumbing down. Kind of…harsh…how they are used pretty much synonymously here.

    Worse yet, as an American familiar with current trends in video games…I can say with all fairness that we pretty much deserve this treatment. Not all of us, granted. But the enormous demand from the West for games – coupled with the usual tastes in gaming – has lead to things like the need for “broad appeal” in games to make a buck. (See EA and Dead Space needing 5 million copies to sell.) Western tastes have also lead to the land of instant gratification in gaming, regenerating health, removing the R from RPG…and of course the utter obsession with the MMO (though Korea isn’t helping there, either.)

    So yeah…dumbing down. Westernizing. See also: Synonym.

    • Shooop says:

      I’m fairly sure he means “localizing”.

      As in changing names/places/Russian text/etc.

  10. Dozer says:

    That first image…

    Teal and orange. Teal and orange! TEAL AND ORANGE! TEAL AND ORANGE!!!

    link to theabyssgazes.blogspot.co.uk

    • Arathain says:

      After checking out the first image to note your correctness I glanced to one side to look at the Krater ad in the border.

    • Shazbut says:

      It is, indeed, awful, but it’s so common you could post it about almost every new release. Why won’t they stop?

  11. MrEvilGuy says:

    I loved some parts of Metro 2033 but hated others (especially the last 30 minutes of the game) precisely because I frequently felt like I had lost control of the character. During these low-points, it turned into a sort of Modern-Warfare-like cinematic gameplay which totally sucked the life out of the role-playing. Alec Meer made this point in his excellent review: “structurally it’s just too much of an A-B slog of killing everything that moves until you reach the next door”.

    Really hope they don’t go that route again.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Yeah, I don’t get the slavish adoration of the Metro games. The first had issues that, if they were in some CoDish game, would have gotten them raked over the coals. It might just not be my type of game, but I thought it had some serious flaws, as you pointed out.

      As I said earlier, ‘Great ambience, great atmosphere, but it was a rails shooter with despicable quick timey BS. Loads of scenery I wanted to look at, but scripted action took precedence.’

      ‘Not convinced this new stuff won’t be just another impediment to gameplay under the guise of cleverness. If the offset of the irritating game parts rankles more the cool of the good stuff, out it goes.’

  12. Monkeh says:

    This interview made me drool.. sooo good. :D

    Can’t wait for Last Light to release!

  13. gwathdring says:

    Huh. That’s an interesting take on the voiceless protagonist as helping character building. I’ll have to ponder that a bit. At the very least, it usually is implemented in a way harmful to characterization.

  14. Almond Milk says:

    Just want to add that I’m loving these interviews. Keep ’em long, and keep ’em frequent!

  15. TrueBlueGamer says:

    I don’t know about you guys, and I’m probably gonna get a bunch of hate mail for this, but saying that “Shooting was clunky” is stupid, the fuck RPS, if anything it was slow yes, you weren’t running around like a maniac, you were actually carefully advancing and picking yours shots momentarily, even the feel of the weapons was excellent with a precise ballistic system, even for the infamous bastard gun, the first submachine you get which actually isn’t that bad as the first game keeps telling you.

    And “some systems felt overly complex, and others were so under-explained that many players didn’t even know they existed”, again the fuck, I mean that’s the stuff usually gamers like right, they like to be treated like adults, and if by change a guy doesn’t pays attention to those and then goes so far to say the game is crap then that’s simply his fault for being “easily distracted”, hell games like Minecraft, Terraria, Dark/Demons Souls have un obvious gameplay elements in them but they are there to give more incentive for players to discover them and enjoy them even further, so much so there are even wikias about them, made and constantly used for the community alone.

    But no, instead lets give them a button the showcase graphic…oops, I’m sorry, for wiping the screen, for survival horror purposes…….please guys.

    • diestormlie says:

      No, No, NO! The Bastard gun is NOT AN SMG! A SMG fires pistols rounds. The Bastard gun uses Assault Rifle rounds.

      • TrueBlueGamer says:

        Well Yeah you are right, but they said it in the game, that it’s a submachine gun, maybe it’s a new type of machine gun for the new world, which uses both types of ammo. XD

  16. Hardmood says:

    guy sounds straight. straightness is what turns good games into brilliant ones.

    • Grargh says:

      Isn’t that what those right-wing christians were talking about with Mass Effect 3?

  17. TheApologist says:

    Consider this audient reached. I haven’t been interested in playing an FPS for a long time, but this sounds great.

  18. Palindrome says:

    Given how hard it is to get the ‘enlightenment’ ending I’m a little dissapointed that it has been ignored. Its not that suprising though given how the book ended plus most people would have gone for the standard ending. I liked Metro 2033 even if the AI was a bit basic (those damn librarians also took vast quantities of ammo to kill).

    I am quietly confident that this will be a good game, quite possibly the FPS of the year.

    Is Metro 2034 any good? I wasn’t impressed with Metro 2033 book (the ending in particular was just daft).

    • MattK says:

      Metro 2033 (the book) felt less like a story (particularly after the first half) and more like someone using narrative to explore this really cool world that he’s thought up (and it is such an awesome idea). The game did a better job of tightening up the story so that we don’t find Artyom going to every different station of the Metro in increasingly unrealistic circumstances.

      However, I’ve never read Metro 2034, so I have no idea if the author has decided to focus more on the narrative and less on the world.

      Much as I loved Metro 2033, it completely went off the rails after the Nazi station. It focused less on the humans living in the tunnels, and more and more on fighting crazy mutants. It lost a lot of tension and atmosphere. Its a world that is so bloody fantastic, that it can carry the story without needing constant violence (case in point is the level where Khan leads you through the ghosts and anomalies). More of that please! And less exploding brain creatures in a place that apparently is radiation free!

    • nearly says:

      my wikipedia granted understanding is that 2033 was published serially online with reader input. 2034 was written more traditionally, I think.

      that said, I’ve read neither but have heard good things and was looking into it

  19. RegisteredUser says:

    So if they are trying to continue from last time, how do they account for the different endings?

    Also the way it ended felt a lot like it would actually impact/change/do something. Is anything at all going to come from this?

    Quite honestly, it sounds like hollow talk as there does not seem to be a way to import the old decision, so the only “continuation” is likely to be, er, that its still this dude in the apocalyptic setting? Disregarding the major events and changes you elicit at the end?

  20. GameCat says:

    They should rename this game to Metro: First Light (Of Game Who Doesn’t Think You’re Stupid)

  21. jezcentral says:

    What is he talking about, saying “we did a terrible job of marketing the game”?

    Isn’t he supposed to say that it was the gamers’ fault for not getting what they were trying to do? Next, he’ll be saying that we were probably playing it correctly, as well.