When 4A Games came out with Metro Exodus in February 2019 I was extremely excited, I have always loved these post-apocalyptical FPS games, and have played more than 1300 hours of Fallout 4. I was therefore really annoyed when Metro Exodus did not agree with my hardware, with random crashes and poor performance causing frustration, even when running 3000 Euro graphics cards, a situation made even worse considering I had played the previous games.
So, when the Enhanced version was announced, I was excited to see how the increase in visual fidelity and performance changed the game. But, before we get to that, it is worth being aware, this version of the game will not share save files in all cases as its treated as an independent game by Steam, and due to Ray Tracing, does not support live streaming services. Most importantly, it does not run at all if your GPU is not Ray Tracing enabled. A Console update will come later with almost all the same upgrades.
So, what has been changed to charge gamers the 40 Euros the games costs - including the free upgrade? A lot. But not without problems.
First off, I find it reasonable that 4A Games is treating it as a separate game. The visual change is significant. The game has been built from scratch with the global illumination of Ray Tracing, and to my knowledge, is the first of its kind. This is multiplatform, and has options aimed at AMD GPUs, but shines the best with DLSS 2.0, which requires an RTX card, alongside variable rate shading, which also works with GTX 16 cards and not just RTX.
Every single source of light in the game, and the DLC's, comes with full Ray Traced-per-pixel for global illumination, this includes upgrading the shadows in all areas, but more importantly, surface reflection. This is felt even in the first minute of the game, where you notice that even slight reflections in the metal of your weapon is vastly different, even ice has actual reflections.
Areas that were dark before, are now shadowed, with full reflection illumination, and darkness level scaling with the intensity of the light source. The quality of most light/dark effects on every surface has also been improved, and for me personally, I did not experience artefacts, and the game no longer crashed at random intervals when doing simple things such as changing the options.
Most textures seem to have slight upgrades as well, most clearly displayed when playing in 4K where the difference from the original game is very impressive, and especially in faces and clothing due to the new assets and the added reflection giving more realism. If the angle is right, some faces will for a brief second even look photorealistic.
The quality of shadows is breath-taking. I am deeply impressed with what is possible, but it comes at a price. The lacklustre performance. We got a review-build to play, but the specs listed on 4A Games website do not at all work with the version we tried. We used a Ryzen 9 5900X CPU, X570 motherboard, 32GB of DDR4-3600 RAM, NVMe 4.0 drive and Gigabyte was kind enough to loan us both AMD's RX6900XT as well as an RTX3090 form their Gaming OC series of graphics cards. These cost locally 2500-3000 Euro, the 3090 even up to and beyond 4000 Euro when a shop has one in stock, and with this hardware, 4A says this should be able to do 4K 30 FPS at max setting, and the original game should do 4K 60 FPS.
Even with this gear, we did run into a few problems. The original game still has artefacts and random crashes, and the in 1440p Ultra, the RTX3090 only did 120-130 FPS, even with DLSS, the game never went above 135 FPS, and average above surface levels did 105 FPS, it even had dips all the way down to 71 FPS. This is totally unacceptable from a modern Triple-A title. In Extreme 4K I got 68-85 FPS, with an average of 74. And, to make matters worse, the game still crashed when doing something as mundane as changing resolution. So, I went back to the Enhanced version, and 4A Games is right, the original game does do 60+ FPS in 4K.
But having this kind of hardware and having drops down to 71 FPS in 1440p - with DLSS on, seems like a problem that should have been addressed from the start, especially considering that most users do not have an RTX3090 (they make up 0.36% of the users According to a Steam Survey, with RTX3080 owners making up 0.82%). I am not asking that all games can do 60FPS in 4K, but 1440p 60+ FPS on ultra-settings should be something to expect, even if it was 2019 when the game was released.
And Here the Enhanced edition does shine. It does come with performance upgrades. Mostly. The RX6900XT - which even outperforms the RTX3090 in a few games, didn't even manage 60+ FPS in 1440p (it didn't even manage 55+ FPS). Yes, it was in the Extreme setting and not ultra, but it still should be able to pull it off, you are basically forcing the users to go Nvidia. The RTX3090 did perform great, 147 FPS without DLSS in 1440p Extreme, and 195 with DLSS. Hell, I even hit 235 FPS in a few places, but I also hit 100 FPS other times, with an average of 125 for surface levels. 4K should yield 60 FPS in Extreme with no DLSS according to 4A Games, however, it only reaches 41-52 FPS on Ultra performance, 141-154 FPS with DLSS active.
I would like to point out that 4A Games does talk a lot about Nvidia and DLSS, but when they mention it in their specs that an RX6800XT can do 60+ FPS in 1440p on Ultra, I expect a 6900XT to do the same with Extreme. I get disappointed when the most optimal cards, the RTX3090, also drops down to a mere 100-120 FPS in 1440p Extreme with DLSS, and without DLSS 81-91 FPS. In fairness, most people still haven't migrated to 1440p+ resolution, about 15% of gamers in total, but if you buy hardware to power your Metro game, you most likely have a high resolution, high refresh rate monitor as well.
This is a great update, it is extremely well done, and a clear visual upgrade. The performance of the hardware has also been improved, no doubt about it. But I still consider it a serious technical problem that you - due to the forced Ray Tracing and reliance on DLSS - are forced to use a specific brand of graphics card that needs to be the newest and highest SKU's to be able to play the game with all the visual improvements that are given to the player. I find it even more problematic that the game performs even worse than even the specs provided by the developer, and yes, this is perhaps one of, if not the prettiest games on the market currently, but I still must insist that 4K 60FPS should be doable with a 3500 Euro graphics card, even without DLSS.
It's a fantastic demonstration of what 4A Games can do, and what a computer game can do - but Metro Exodus remains even more for those few percentages of gamers that can afford, and get their hands on, only the very best RTX cards available. And that is not ok.