Earlier today we got the chance to see Metro: Last Light at a gameplay demonstration at E3. Mark Madsen, the global brand manager for Last Light, was excited to show us more of the game since it’s been a year since anything new has been shown to the media.
Madsen is confident that Last Light will be a superior experience, and said he believes the developer’s confidence is being equally matched by THQ’s marketing effort. He highlighted the live-action short film that was recently released as an example of this effort (you can watch the film over here), explaining how it really sets the stage for the world and the story that they want to tell us in a very big way, as well as being their bid to combat shooter fatigue.
4A Games intends to have a masterfully crafted first-person story driven singleplayer experience that you’re going to be able to remember and talk about for years to come. There were a lot of high action moments during last year’s demo (which you can read about over here) – this was done intentionally to showcase how the core combat and stealth systems have been overhauled. Fast forward to E3, and the developer now wanted to show us a more definitive and different-paced Metro experience.
Madsen wanted to highlight three key points in this demonstration. First was the world that 4A Games has created, which according to Madsen has been a labour of love for them. This time around every detail in the world has geometry, nothing has been faked, there’s even dynamic weather this time around to really bring this hostile world to life.
The second focal area was the survival horror elements, which are a staple to this franchise. Every resource is a commodity that is hard fought and scavenged for, and preciously guarded. Every bullet comes off dead bodies, you have to constantly change out the air filters in your gas mask and on top of this you also have to constantly crank your hand flashlight to keep it charged. Bearing in mind that the metro is a brutal and bloody affair, something new that we saw today was that you’re also going to have to wipe the blood and debris off your gas mask. This is not something that’s automatically generated, but must be manually done.
Lastly Madsen chatted briefly about how he believes we all know what the Western post-apocalypse looks like, but that this is an authentic Eastern-European perspective on the genre. He explained that we won’t have bandits from the desert, but rather we’d have ghosts and demons standing alongside crude handmade weaponry. Metro: Last Light is about themes of mysticism and paranormal activity, and we definitely got to see that in the gameplay demo. Madsen ended off by saying that he hopes we enjoy the demo and that he hopes it gives us nightmares tonight.
The level we saw today was from early on in the game –it shows Artyom with one of the new characters, Pavel, who is a Red Line Officer. The pair are forced to form an uneasy alliance in order to cross a hostile part of the Moscow wasteland as they try to reach a new station city known as the Theatre. We start in an abandoned shelter and quickly replenish ammo and gas mask supplies that rangers have left behind. As we leave the shelter you’ll notice a derelict square, strewn with wreckages but bathed in sunlight. This soon changes, loud thunderclaps are followed by heavy clouds and before long it starts to rain. Artyom charges up his light and wipes the rain off his mask. They enter a tunnel, and while he searches a body spiders emerge from the corpse…it catches you off guard as it jumps onto your mask, but is just the beginning to a terrifying chain of events.
Walking deeper into the dark tunnel, Artyom burns some spider webs in his path using his lighter. Moving on into a dark room (!), he’s caught off guard when a wolf-like enemy attacks him. Luckily he had just picked up a shotgun and leaves the room wiping blood from his mask. Exiting the tunnel now you see a pack of the beasts running away to escape the storm. Despite the beasts posing no immediate threat towards us, the demonstrator fires a couple of rounds after them, making me more than just a little nervous.
Pavel’s constant chatter about the state of affairs fills the air as we head towards the plane wreck in the centre of the square. After forcing the door open we enter the grisly grave of the unfortunate passengers on board the doomed flight. The scene flickers between the skeletons and the living, and this, combined with the sound effects of the flashbacks, is truly eerie.
A flying demon appears in the skies above, but that’s the least of your concerns as you’re soon facing another pack of the wolves. You fight a few off, but before long there’s just too many and the sense of urgency to escape and find cover becomes overwhelming. As their howling fills the air reinforcements with flamethrowers are a welcome sight as the door to the new station city safely closes the creatures out. Just like a stroll through the park.
I’m sleeping with the lights on tonight.