Get Ready for Metro Exodus with 5 Metro Tidbits You Probably Didn't Know
Author's note: Major spoilers ahead. Due to the nature of this article, they're pretty much unavoidable.
Like many franchises that span different kinds of media, Dmitry Glukhovsky's Metro series has had a pretty non-linear evolution. Various entries evolved alongside one another; Metro 2033 (the book) inspired the game of the same name, but the second game (Metro: Last Light) has nothing to do with Metro 2034, the second book. Furthermore, Glukhovsky actually drew heavily on the second game while writing the third book (Metro 2035), and the upcoming Exodus takes place after it.
If you're confused, have some vodka.
If you've only played the games, you only know part of the overall story; you're right if you've always thought that some things in the games don't make perfect sense when taken at face value. Here's some interesting trivia to help tie some of the missing pieces together.
1. The Entire Series Can Be Blamed on Some Hungry Rats and Artyom's Crappy Memory
Ok, not the entire series, but pretty much every significant event that happened after the bombs fell in 2013 is a result of either weird rodent-related coincidences or the fact that 24-year-old Artyom has the memory of someone six times his age.
When dear Artyom was a wee lad, his mother was eaten by rats. There's no poetic way to say that, so there it is. The two of them were taking shelter in a metro station with some other survivors when a giant horde of crazed, mildly irradiated rats showed up and started devouring people.
Moments before she met her end, Artyom's mom passed him off to a man named Sukhoi and begged him to save her child. Sukhoi fled the station with the boy, honoring her final request.
Fast forward several years. Preteen Artyom breaks several ridiculously important rules when he convinces a few other kids to sneak out of the metro with him to explore the surface. Their destination? The Botanical Gardens, which is the site of Artyom's last happy memory of his mother—they were there when the bombs fell, and were able to flee into the nearby metro station.
By breaking the seal on the Garden entry doors, Artyom unwittingly frees the Dark Ones, who until then had been semi-dormant inside. Artyom was rescued, but not before a Dark One "spoke" to him telepathically, telling him that the Dark Ones only wanted peaceful cooperation with humanity and that Artyom was to be the one to facilitate contact between the two species.
There's just one problem: Artyom straight up forgot that message. Not the event itself—he clearly remembers meeting the Dark One—he just forgot that it waved a giant white flag and said, "We come in peace," directly into his head. No explanation is ever given for Artyom's catastrophic brain fart; you'd think that a conversation like that would stick around in your memory for a good long while.
While some of this is vaguely hinted at in the games, Artyom's childhood encounter with the Dark One is described more explicitly in The Gospel According to Artyom, a limited-release comic that is now pretty hard to find. There's also an implied explanation for why adult Artyom can (sort of) communicate with Dark Ones without dying or losing his mind—he was psychically vaccinated as a kid.
Artyom grew up fighting the Dark Ones, assuming, like everyone else did, that they were hell-bent on destroying humans.
No wonder they seem to be so annoyed with him.
2. Any Random Child Could Have Delivered the Dark Ones' Message of Peace at Any Time
Ok, I might be reaching a little on this one, but only a little. Here's the thing: for reasons unknown, adult humans die or go insane anytime a Dark One tries to communicate, but kids can understand them just fine.
Something about a pre-pubescent brain makes it semi-compatible with Dark One telepathy. We know this not only because Artyom had a perfectly intelligible conversation with one when he was young, but because you can find children's drawings all over the games' various metro stations, and some of those drawings feature tall, skinny, pitch-black figures. Children can obviously tolerate a Dark One's presence without nasty side effects.
Granted, most adults wouldn't be likely to believe a child that claimed a Dark One had told them to ask mom and dad for a ceasefire, but there's at least some evidence that warrants further investigation. Kids from many different stations that have never met one another are drawing Dark Ones in basically the same way—how? As far as the adults know, Dark Ones have (almost) never been seen in metro stations, and no kid ever ventures outside.
The prevalence of the drawings would suggest (to any adult that could be bothered to ask) that kids are seeing Dark Ones and surviving unscathed. Wouldn't it be prudent to check into that? If Dark Ones are regularly infiltrating metro stations, but not hurting anyone or stealing anything, what might they want? Couple this troubling question with multiple reports from kids claiming that Dark Ones just want to talk, and you'd think somebody with some authority would have seriously considered the possibility by now.
3. Rats are Still Changing the Course of History 20 Years After World War III
There's an interesting, easily overlooked Easter egg in the first game. During the mission "Lost Tunnels," there are a few occasions where lone rats skitter across your path. If you shoot one while traveling with Bourbon, your companion will tease you for being afraid of rats, unaware that you have some legit reasons for that phobia.
But that's just a tiny, meaningless secret. What you may not know is that, in the novel, Artyom found himself resorting to betting on a literal rat race in an effort to secure a passport he needed in order to continue his journey. His rat lost the race, and as a result, Artyom was forced to clean the toilets in Tverskaya station every day for a year.
Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), Artyom escaped by covering himself head-to-toe in poop and just walking right out of the station, correctly assuming nobody wanted to keep him around badly enough to touch him.
I suppose if rats had eaten my mom and caused me to have to roll around in a latrine, I'd have some pretty strong negative feelings toward them too.
I can also totally see why that part of the book didn't make it into the game.
4. A Real Ukrainian Separatist Unit Straight Up Plagiarized Metro's Rangers
In real life, the political relationship between Russia and Ukraine is complicated, to say the least. There are about sixty kajillion terrorist groups, separatist factions, rebel armies, and regular armies over there; it's a right mess.
One of them, a group known as the Donetsk People's Republic, is officially listed as a terrorist organization by Ukraine's government. One of its members, a dude by the name of Arsen Pavlov, was an avid fan of the Metro series; he "created" the Sparta Battalion and "borrowed" the Ranger logo from the game (below right) to serve as his own unit's insignia (below left).
Given that Pavlov committed numerous war crimes and was killed in an elevator by neo-Nazis, I can understand why Dmitry Glukhovsky would try to distance himself and his work from that whole fiasco. Not all publicity is good publicity.
5. Dark Ones Give Live Birth... Somehow
Dark Ones have belly buttons, which form when an umbilical cord detaches from a newborn. Ergo, live birth, despite their apparent, uh... lack of visible hardware.
There. That's a thing you know now.
Are you excited for Metro Exodus? Replaying 2033 or Last Light to get back into the universe? If you know any other weird Metro trivia, share it with us in the comments, and stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Exodus news (and guides, as we get closer).