If you played Metro Exodus, you might remember Sam Taylor. He was a Spartan Ranger and a member of Artyom's crew on the Aurora, serving as Colonel Miller's personal bodyguard. It was a bit part really, but in the latest Metro Exodus DLC, Sam's Story, he gets to be the hero.
Following the events of the main game, Sam leaves the Aurora behind and heads for Vladivostok, looking for a ship to take him to San Diego. It's been decades since the nuclear war that destroyed the world as we know it, but Sam thinks his father might still be waiting for him back home.
Sam says his goodbyes and heads east towards Vladivostok, driving the creaky old van Artyom used to cross the Caspian Desert. When he reaches the port city he sees the famous Russky Bridge, rusted and falling apart, and finds himself a guest of Tom, a smooth-talking local warlord who was an arms dealer before the war—and who also happens to be an American.
Tom's heavily-armed and loyal crew operates out of a massive nuclear submarine, and if Sam can find some fuel rods to bring the reactor back to life, Tom says he'll take him to America. But can you trust this guy?
The best parts of Metro Exodus were those big, open, explorable spaces, which were almost STALKER-like, encouraging (and rewarding) thorough exploration. Sam's Story is based around a new one of these: specifically the harbour area of Vladivostok, which was pounded with tsunamis when the bombs fell, and has been left ruined, irradiated, and half-submerged in water.
As you might expect from a location in the Metro series, it's an evocative, detailed, and incredibly atmospheric place, with abandoned buildings to explore, gangs of bandits to fight, and lots of vivid post-apocalyptic world-building to discover. Tom gives you a couple of new weapons to help you on your quest: a powerful American-made pistol called a Stallion, and a Sammy, an assault rifle modified to fire incendiary rounds.
And so begins another very Metro mix of exploration, brutal, fast-paced combat, scavenging supplies, and meeting talkative oddballs out in the kipple. And because Vladivostok is slowly being reclaimed by the sea, you occasionally have to climb aboard a puttering little motorboat to navigate the region safely. If you played Exodus, you know exactly what to expect here.
Listen to Sam's harmonica skills in the video above.
But I do like how they've made sure that you feel like you're playing as a different person, rather than just Artyom with an American accent. Scattered around the world you'll find chairs that you can sit on, and Sam will pull out his harmonica and play a wistful tune. You can even find new songs to play in the form of collectable music sheets.
And I love the fact that people are constantly poking fun at him, in a mostly light-hearted way, for being an American. There's more humour in Sam's Story than the main game, largely due to the presence of the charismatic Tom. It's still as bleak as Metro always is, but there are a few more jokes.
Otherwise, Sam's Story is basically more of the same. But getting to see more of Metro's grim, wonderfully realised world makes it ground worth retreading. There are two very different endings here too, one of which gives you an exciting glimpse of a part of the wider Metro universe we haven't seen.