Metro Exodus is a post-apocalypse survival-based first-person shooter and is the third entry in the Metro series. Unlike the two games before it, Metro Exodus features more of an open-world structure across several different areas.
Following the events of Metro: Last Light, Artyom becomes disillusioned with the political and social structures in the metro system and beings making regular excursions to the surface with a radio to search for outside broadcasts from other survivors. He begins hearing faint signals, but is unable to clearly receive the messages.
On one such excursion, Artyom and his wife Anna witness a train traveling along a railway and are apprehended by soldiers from Hansa, one of the major metro civilizations and an adversary of the Spartan Order to which the two belong. During their escape, the two accidentally disable a radio jammer that had secretly been blocking outside broadcasts from reaching Moscow, causing a flood of messages from around the world to pour in.
With the help of Yermak, himself a disillusioned Hansa resident, Artyom and Anna escape aboard the train and are nearly captured again when Colonel Miller and his Spartans intercept and save them. Miller reveals he knew about the radio jammers. According to Miller, the war that destroyed the world is still ongoing, justifying the jammers as a way to isolate and protect Moscow. The Spartans discuss returning to the metro to reveal this truth to its residents, but believing that Hansa will have them executed for what they've done, decide the only course of action is to proceed towards the Ark, where the last remnants of Russia's government is believed to be holed up.
Much like the previous two games, Metro Exodus has a strong emphasis on survival mechanics. While exploring, players must be mindful of their supply of ammunition, healing supplies, and other items like air filters and throwables.
In his travels, Artyom encounters human and mutant enemies that can be engaged loudly or stealthily. Artyom carries with him a backpack that is used to change weapon attachments and to craft simple items. Every weapon in the game can be outfitted with a variety of barrels, stocks, optics, magazines, and laser sights. These are acquired by dismantling weapons found in the environment or on dead enemies. Every weapon the player picks up is permanently added to Artyom's collection back at the train. The train is the only location where the player can change their equipped weapons aside from swapping them in the field.
As a weapon is used, it will begin to accumulate dirt that will eventually cause it to start jamming. Weapons can be cleaned at workbenches found throughout each region. These workbenches also allow the player to craft ammunition and are often accompanied by a bed that allows the player to sleep till day or night.
Radiation is less of an issue in Metro Exodus due to it taking place outside of Moscow, but there are still areas that necessitate the use of a gas mask. The air filter on the mask must be swapped every few minutes while in use. As the player takes damage, the mask may become damaged to the point where Artyom begins to suffocate. Holes in the mask can be quick-fixed in the field using tape, limiting the player's vision. Repairing the mask proper requires a workbench.
Each region of Metro Exodus is a self-contained open world environment with locations to explore. The player can use binoculars to identify locations to be marked on the map, such as bandit camps, ruined structures for looting, and safe houses. Some of the game's regions have vehicles to facilitate travel, such as a row boat or a van, as well as ziplines to allow for a quick and safe descent from tall structures. There is a day/night cycle that affects ease of stealth and in some cases the type of enemies in the environment, as well as a dynamic weather system.