Metro Exodus – Enhanced Edition, the review

The saga of Metro from the very first installation, it has proved to be one of the most demanding test benches for hardware. The last episode, Exodus (here the review of the PC version), is no exception: it was in fact one of the few titles to take advantage of the newborn GeForce RTX for ray tracing lighting.

Almost two years later 4A Games has returned to retrace the Muscovite lands with the specific intent of making history: goal achieved, as Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition is the first title to require, as a minimum requirement, a video card capable of supporting ray tracing. This drastically reduces the number of players it is aimed at, considering the costs and scarce availability of Big Navi and Ampere chips; on the other hand, even the old NVIDIA 20 series (Turing) can venture into this challenge which, as we will see in Metro Exodus review – Enhanced Edition, it will be unlikely for most systems currently on the market.

Too heavy an update

As it was conceived, Enhanced Edition comes sold as a separate product, even if the owners of the original title will still be able to download the client for free: in the library they will find both versions, bearing in mind that in the latter it is not possible to disable the effetti ray tracing. Metro Exodus used a version that we could define as “embryonic”: in practice, the game was designed with traditional rasterization, to which individual lighting sources governed by the ray tracing technique were added later.

The result, although effective, could not be defined as optimal due to the coexistence of the two working methods. In this edition, the lights placed artificially by the designers have been completely eliminated to make room for those calculated in real time by the GPU (here is the exclusion of older cards). This not only allowed the beams to intersect each other giving greater realism and depth to the scene, but also led to a further interaction of the lights with the surfaces they radiate. For example, a sunlit yellow building causes its reflection to “bounce” inside a window, coloring the room with a yellowish hue. Without going into too in-depth technical examination, we can say that the graphic quality that brings the Enhanced Edition as a dowry is truly phenomenal and represents a true taste of the next-generation. Although the optimization work has been considerable, such a graphic level pays off heavily in terms of absorption of the hardware resources. Therefore, what you are reading, more than a tout-court review, is an analysis on the performance impact of the graphic update: for this reason we used the useful integrated benchmark.

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • Operating system: Windows 10 Pro
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
  • Memory: 32GB of RAM
  • Scheda video: AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

Minimum requirements

  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4770
  • Memoria: 8GB in RAM
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
  • Disk space: 72 GB (+ 8 for the two DLCs)

Recommended requirements

  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X o Intel Core i7-10700
  • Memoria: 16GB in RAM
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090

Solo ray tracing

First we start from the menu of graphics settings, where of course the API entry is missing, since the technologies used are only available with the latest version of DirectX. The section dedicated to the NVIDIA RTX also disappears, which now leaves room for three levels of ray tracing: Normal, High and Ultra with a specific menu for reflections, which can be hybrid or “raytraced”. The difference lies in the resolution in which the global lighting is rendered: in the highest the native one the title is running is used; in the intermediate one the resolution is halved, while at the normal level the ratio drops to a quarter. Obviously this produces “noise” which becomes more evident the lower the initial resolution; in 4K the differences, although appreciable even with the naked eye, can be more tolerated during the excitement of the game sessions.

Needless to say, these are the options that weigh the most on the counter frames per second. By setting the native resolution of the monitor used for the tests (an excellent LG 27GN950), i.e. 4K, and setting all values ​​to the maximum, our reference system scored a score of 23 frames per second. We gained 3 frames by setting the “hybrid” reflections: an appreciable increase more in the ideal situation of the benchmark than in the in-game sessions, as this option mainly concerns the reflections that hit the ponds. A “bump“More concrete performance is obtained with the second level of ray tracing, High instead of Ultra: in this case the fps rise to 35. We reach the acceptable limits with the lowest level (Normal), where we finally reach 40 fps .

Technologies that help

To ease the work of the GPU, the developers have implemented three algorithms: the most important is undoubtedly the DLSS, owned by NVIDIA, which was already present in the first release but which has been updated to version 2.1 with excellent results both from the performance point of view and, above all, from that of image quality, whose loss of definition is decidedly less marked compared to the first and rudimentary iteration. The new release has allowed, in the worst case, an identical execution speed (with the same video card) compared to the original Metro Exodus, but in some scenarios even increases in frame rate can be recorded, despite the greater amount of sources. of light to be managed in real time.

Then there is the VRS, acronym for Variable Rate Shading, initially always introduced by NVIDIA with the Turing GPUs and subsequently implemented by Microsoft in its API. This is a similar technique which, in a nutshell, allows you to concentrate the computational power where the eyes “fall”, leaving the peripheral areas of the screen slightly less defined. In Metro Exodus the grids of the VRS can be more or less wide (4X or 2X); also in this case it can be said that the loss of image quality is hardly noticeable in in-game sessions, but its contribution to the cause of performance is absolutely marginal, since it allows you to earn just under one frame per second (concerns only transparencies).

For owners of AMD video cards there is temporal anti-aliasing (TAA), on whose level it is possible to act in a very precise way, determining in decimal points how much the image should be reduced with respect to the native resolution. Unfortunately, the integrated benchmark does not allow to act on this algorithm (which therefore remains disabled), but from internal tests we were able to appreciate a discrete increase in performance in the face of an acceptable loss of definition with a value of 0.7.

AMD FidelityFX

Support for FidelityFX Super Resolution technology (AMD’s answer to DLSS) will not only not be contemplated at the time of release, but not even in the future as programmers claim that it is not compatible with their engine. After all, NVIDIA has historically used the 4A Games franchise as a “showcase” for proprietary technologies (just think that Metro Exodus is the only game, in the last four years, to use GPU acceleration for the PhysX engine), to whose ostracism towards Lisa Su’s company is quite understandable.

Minimum and recommended requirements

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Let’s now pass to the examination of the minimum requirements, the table of which shows some configurations that may arouse some perplexity. According to the programmers, an RTX 2070 is required to play at 60fps in FullHD; for 2K you have to switch to an RTX 2080 or a Radeon 6800 XT (protagonist of our test); for 4K at 30 frames per second you need an RTX 3080 or a 6900 XT, while to enjoy all the technical wonders at 60 frames you must necessarily equip yourself with the very expensive RTX 3090. These indications confirm the difficulties of Big Navi with Ray Tracing technology: broadly, AMD’s video cards pay a heavy price in direct comparison with NVIDIA’s, since in 2K the GeForce RTX 3080 achieves an average 25% higher performance than the Radeon RX 6800 XT. Our PowerColor Red Devil, at 2560×1440, recorded a score of 71 fps, while the NVIDIA reference is quietly over 82. However, some perplexities remain in the comparison between the two top of the green range. In fact, we know that the performance delta between the 3080 and the 3090 is on average about ten percentage points, so it is not explained how the latter, according to the table published by the developers, can guarantee a double frame rate compared to its younger sister: unfortunately , we have not been able to field test the two Amps.

Comment

Tested version
PC Windows

Digital Delivery

Steam,

Epic Games Store,

GoG,

Humble Store,

Windows Store

Metro Exodus – Enhanced Edition, in addition to being a taste of the future, is a kind of tech-demo made to play that exploits the full potential of NVIDIA’s latest RTX graphics cards. Owners of 3080 and 3090 will be able to enjoy the maximum potential expressible to date by ray tracing technology, while AMD GPUs have to make compromises that are difficult to digest especially in 4K. Graphic improvements aside, the title of 4A Games confirms itself as the excellent shooter that we had praised a couple of years ago, while maintaining some defects such as that of the lack of artificial intelligence and an atmosphere distant from the canons to which they had accustomed the first two episodes.

PRO

  • The new version is graphically stunning
  • Maximum optimization for NVIDIA video cards
  • Free client for owners of the original title

VERSUS

  • The requirements for 4K are prohibitive
  • AMD video cards pay a heavy duty
  • The structural flaws of the 2019 title remained unchanged

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