The old adage that bigger is better is being adopted at 4A Games in lavish style for Metro Exodus. The eagerly anticipated first-person shooter drops in February 2019, promising to be both a graphical and content-packed behemoth,

According to Huw Beynon, head of global brand management at publisher Deep Silver, Metro Exodus will be as long as both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light combined, as well as several orders of magnitude larger geographically.

“We’re looking at a total playtime of both previous games combined,” said Beynon to GamesTM. “In terms of geographical footprint, as we have moved to these more open areas, we can fit pretty much the entirety of the first two games into just one of our huge levels. The last two games came in at about 12GB each, and we’re struggling to fit Metro Exodus onto a single Blu-ray. This is a massive step up for the studio.”

It doesn’t sound as if 4A Games is going to fall into the usual bloat problems that can occur from shifting to a semi open-world though. There won’t be an endless checklist of collectibles or copy/paste quests to pad out the design. Instead, the larger levels will serve the survival gameplay, rather than forcing players to amble from quest giver to quest giver.

“It’s not like we have a sign up on the screen that says go here, do this, fetch that. We still try to integrate everything naturally,” he goes on to say. “There is all sorts of stuff that you can just come across naturally and explore for yourself rather than just being told to, like, go fetch ten of those things. We didn’t want to – and we don’t do – that kind of stuff.”

A lot of Metro Exodus’ design process has been based around this balance between these massive levels and the focused, tight levels that have informed the previous games in the series. Initially, 4A Games went all-in on completely open levels before realising they’d strayed a little too far from what made Metro the series it is. They then back the other way, finding a genuine middle-ground that is both linear and maintains an open feel. “With the formula that we have now, we found a way to contain a story arc and progression through these big open areas that are very well defined,” said Beynon.

The end result is hopefully a game that’s both tightly designed and expansive in scope. It’s certainly a necessary step after Metro: Last Light perhaps stuck a little too closely to the formula of Metro 2033. In terms of design, we’re expecting Metro Exodus to be somewhat along the lines of Dishonored. While vastly different games, Arkane’s stealth title features wide levels with very specific objectives and story beats, providing that tight narrative while giving the player the freedom to approach a situation however they want.

Metro Exodus is coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on February 22nd, 2019, for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.