I tend to freak out when given too many options, so I find open world games a bit intimidating. If I do everything the game tells me I can do, it will take me a lot longer to progress through the campaign, but if I skip side missions and stick to the story, then part of me wonders what I’m missing out on. In Metro Exodus I felt that - hard. When the campaign map opened up for the first time (after being linear for the introduction) I was presented with some side missions, but I opted to follow the main objectives. Not long after that, I got stuck and looked up a playthrough video where they had done a couple of side missions and were rewarded with night vision goggles, amongst other nice loot that I could have used to craft more ammo and enhance my weaponry. To make matters worse, I’d made the rookie mistake of going into a mission without checking my ammo first, and realised you can only craft more at certain locations like workbenches. No wonder then that I found myself at the mercy of merciless mutants and turned to YouTube for guidance. This led me to my next lesson - knowing when to fight and when to run like hell! Don’t look back, just hold your breath and fucking run. I was also low on medpacks, which meant that when I subsequently came across a bandit compound, I had to be stealthy. I like to lay low when possible anyway, so I embraced the opportunity to sneak around taking bandits out one by one. I was disappointed though - the stealth mechanics in Exodus are bare bones. You have a light on your wrist which indicates when you are visible to enemies, but I didn’t find it very useful in practice. The enemy bandits would inexplicably spot me despite being nowhere near me, and times where I was sneaking behind cover they spotted me without having line-of-sight. They even bugged out - walking on air, clipping through walls, glitching to the bottom of ladders and sometimes appearing or disappearing from nowhere. I don’t mind that the game is hard - and it sure as hell is at times, but when trying to be stealthy it just doesn’t seem fair, which can be really frustrating. But these quirks can be forgiven though; when I step away out of frustration, it lures me back. The game gets more rewarding the more time you spend in it, and I’m regretting skipping the side-missions enough that I might play through it again more thoroughly after I get to the end. It’s a beautiful rendition of post-apocolyptica, and the atmosphere right from the beginning is intoxicating (despite being literally toxic, don’t forget to wear your gasmask).