Once upon a time, a long time ago indeed, VRFocus had a series called Mod of the Week. This was back when it was more common for people to develop mods and apps to crowbar in basic virtual realtiy (VR) support to existing titles. One of those we featured back in the early days of the website was Metro 2033. However, four years later we still don’t have any official support for the title. In today’s Make It A (Virtual) Reality, Nikholai makes the case why that should definitely be the case.
If there is one series of videogames that has been able to immerse players with the world and story that it is telling, it is none other than the Metro series. based on the popular novels by Dmitry Glukhovsky, they follow the tale of the post-apocalyptic Moscow metro system and the people, factions and monsters that live in and above it. The titles mixed first-person shooter (FPS) and survival horror gameplay in a way that lead to some of the more compelling moments in gaming. Now, with the upcoming release of the third title in the series Metro Exodus early next year I think it is time we talk about another destination for the series, virtual reality (VR).
At its core, the Metro series is about moving through a rich and detailed world full of dangers making use of the equipment you have to survive. Players have options on how to approach most situations be it shooting everything that moves or trying to sneak around unseen. There are even non-lethal take-downs and a karma system within the titles which impact the ending of the story and some scenes as players progress. One top of this there are systems in place that see ammo used for buying goods, monsters to deal with and a supernatural horror element that needs to be confronted as well. All of this in an immersive VR experience could easily result in a title that would set a new standard for VR videogames.
You see, the metro system is a series of tunnels and stations all connected deep underground. As the first entry in the series, Metro 2033 explores, people have had to make these their homes and find ways to survival with the limited resources they have. Venturing outside in the post nuclear war environment is possible but risky business, requiring a gas mask and plenty of gear in order to make it back alive. This means that players could experience not just a thrilling, tense journey through dark tunnels full of danger but have these heart racing moments on the surface. With limited air and ammo, the need to find a way back underground would offer such an adrenaline rush as you carefully proceed forward while watching your back.
Mentioning the gas mask, that is another elements of the Metro series that would work well in VR. You see, the gas mask is a vital piece of equipment that without will lead you dying in this dangerous world. It can be damaged, filters need to be swapped out and you need to clean it to be able to see. All of these actions are usually performed by a button press but actually having to do the motions would offer a truly immersive experience. Picture it, you’re in a fight and once the battle ends you not only need to restock and reload but also wipe the blood and mud off your mask only to find it is cracked and needs replacing. All of which is a psychical movement that requires you to duck, look, reach and explore the environment in full 360-degrees of freedom. It would be amazing.
One of the other elements that really help make the Metro videogames interesting is the limited use of a HUD. Key information that the player needs is presented to them in unique ways that would transition to VR fairly well. For example, any time limits such as oxygen remaining are displays on the players wrist which is also in view. Ammo in a magazine can be checked by actually looking at the weapon and magazine and health is shown through the colour of the screen. The audio plays an equally part with small sounds giving the player clues as to what is or is about to happen.
On top of all that, exploring a post-apocalyptic Moscow metro system while a war better the Communists and the Nazis raging on with mutated bears running around above ground just sounds amazing. The Metro series of videogames are unique in many ways and explore systems and ideas that other FPS titles don’t, allowing for a great opportunity for the series to bring those to VR. Metro Exodus, the latest entry in the series which is releasing next year, will see players leaving the etro behind following the events of the last title and exploring the world in search of a new life. Beyond all the shooting and monsters, Metro is a story about human lives trying to find peace in a worlds torn apart by nuclear war and experiencing that first hand in VR would be amazing regardless of the setting.
At the end of the day, Metro could come to VR in many ways. All of them would work so long as the core gameplay systems of the videogames remain the same if not similar. I want to wipe blood of my gas mask, manually reload my weapons and immerse myself in a world that is trying to kill me all while exploring the beautiful – if somewhat ruined – world. If this ever happens, VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest.