What's better than the metro

Metro Exodus PC Enhanced in the test: impressive lighting exclusively for ray tracing GPUs

The Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition supports significantly more ray tracing effects and is free for owners of the original. In the test, the update, which only runs on ray tracing GPUs, was appealing. The lighting is actually a real eye-catcher. Benchmarks show that the version runs surprisingly well.

Ray tracing in Metro Exodus should get even better

Metro Exodus (technology test) was a real eye-catcher when it was released in early 2019. The optics could be improved again with ray tracing, which the title supported at the time as the second ever and very much to the optical advantage. Even today, many games still use real-time ray tracing less well than they did in Metro Exodus.

That was apparently not enough for the developer 4A Games and is bringing a variant with improved graphics to the market with Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition for PC, while the game itself, including the DLCs, has remained the same. The extended version only runs on GPUs that support ray tracing (GeForce RTX and Radeon RX 6000). Many old graphics cards are inevitably left out.

Anyone who owns the original receives the upgrade for free, which deserves extra praise so long after the release.

How well the undertaking worked and how much better the redesigned Metro Exodus actually looks is clarified by ComputerBase including numerous benchmarks in this test.

DirectX 12 Ultimate, a lot more ray tracing, FP16 and more

The Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition feature list is long and impressive. DirectX 12 Ultimate is now supported and the game's ray tracing properties have been significantly expanded. Raytracing now relies on the DXR 1.1 API.

In the Enhanced Edition, however, ray tracing is no longer available as an alternative calculation method for various effects, but as an exclusive one. This means that the developers have removed all classic rasterizer tricks for effects that were also implemented with ray tracing. As a result, the graphics card must inevitably support ray tracing, which is only the case with AMD's RDNA 2 (Radeon RX 6000) and Nvidia's Turing (GeForce RTX 2000) and Ampere (GeForce RTX 3000). 4A Games emphasizes that some of the deleted tricks were very complex to calculate in their own right, in some cases the RT approach can even be faster with better image quality.

Ray traced global illumination in a much more complex form

4A Games opted for RTGI ("Ray Traced Global Illumination") for Metro Exodus and thus for the same technology that Resident Evil Village (technology test) uses. However, there was only a relatively simple implementation at the time. Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition goes several steps further. Every single light source, be it direct or indirect, is calculated using ray tracing. In addition, the RT rays can now, if necessary, "bounce", ie be reflected, infinitely often. This ensures that a light source can spread much better in a room and does not stop immediately after it hits a surface for the first time. In addition, luminous objects can now transmit their outgoing light to nearby objects. Glowing green mushrooms, which are often found in Metro Exodus, now also illuminate other surfaces, which then take on their color.

Reflections on water with ray tracing influence

Completely new in Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition are reflections optimized by ray tracing, which in the original version are only displayed by screen space reflections (SSR). However, this only seems to affect reflections on water. And there, too, SSRs still form the basis, only objects are fetched via RT that SSR would not have taken into account, although that should be the case. The Denoiser has also been revised and should now work much faster and more effectively than before.

FP16 shader for everyone, DLSS 2.0 only with Nvidia

In order to improve the performance of the game, some FP32 shaders have been replaced by an FP16 variant with half accuracy, which can be calculated much faster by the graphics cards. If the performance is still insufficient, variable rate shading is also supported.

While all of the mentioned features work on all raytracing graphics cards up to now, this does not apply to DLSS, which has been updated from the not working original version in Metro Exodus to the much better version 2.0. DLSS 2.0 requires a GeForce RTX graphics card. On the other hand, a new temporal reconstruction developed by 4A Games itself can run anywhere.Like DLSS, it reduces the internal resolution to increase performance and then tries again to restore lost details by mixing information from different frames.

In terms of content, the same Metro Exodus

Despite the many changes to the graphics engine, Metro Exodus is still exactly the same game apart from that, there are no game changes. In terms of content, the game is the same, the same applies to the controls and the available options.

Small technical problems

The PC Enhanced Edition showed small technical problems in the test. For example, the game never started in the set resolution, but always in a significantly lower one. The graphics menu showed the desired resolution, but it was simply not implemented. The solution after every start: Change the resolution to any other and then reset it to the desired one.

In addition, saved games showed the phenomenon of not wanting to load correctly the first time. Instead, you ended up in the main menu without comment. A second attempt to charge was then always successful.

VRS has virtually no effect

Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition offers variable rate shading. Previous games usually show a small performance boost with this feature, but the graphics quality is visibly reduced - so recently with Resident Evil Village. None of that is the case with Metro Exodus.

Both VRS 2X and VRS 4X visually provide virtually the same image quality as with deactivated variable rate shading. You have to look very carefully to see a difference with VRS 4X. However, this also applies to the performance, which simply remains the same. Neither the GeForce RTX 3080 nor the Radeon RX 6800 XT gain in FPS. So the feature is simply pointless.

Variable rate shading - 2,560 × 1,440

    On the next page: Graphics quality and performance costs of ray tracing

    • Wolfgang Andermahr email
      ... has accompanied every graphics card launch since 2005 - regardless of whether it is AMD or Nvidia - with news, benchmarks and technical analyzes.
    • Max DollEmail
      ... writes tests and reports with a focus on input devices, PC games and next-gen consoles on ComputerBase.