After making its initial debut on Battlefield V, NVIDIA’s DLSS was heavily criticized by the PC gaming community for not delivering what as promised. Instead of getting both great performance and image quality in game, the initial release was deemed disastrous because of the blurry image quality even though there are noticeable improvement in performance with real-time ray tracing enabled. The newly released Metro Exodus too was affected by this as well, with visible detail loss when DLSS is enabled.

NVIDIA responded to the issue quickly, followed by a new update on the drivers and game patch from 4A Games. Out of curiosity, we’ve decided to retest the game with the new game update and driver to see if there’s any significant improvement.

Metro Exodus Featured

About Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus takes place after the event of Metro: Last Light on the post-apocalyptic earth after the devastating nuclear warfare. Player will once again play as Artyom, a Ranger and the protagonist of the past Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light to flee from Metro to search for a new life at the east after learning there are actually human survivors on the surface as well as the truth that Hansa has been hiding for all this while.

Unlike the rest of the previously announced RTX games, Metro Exodus is the first in the list to feature Ray Traced Global Illumination, for vastly-improved natural lighting, and Ray Traced Ambient Occlusion, for the addition of pixel-perfect contact shadows where objects occlude light. This enables a rich, realistic and immersive game play like never seen before, setting a new benchmark for gaming PC. Instead of asking the age old ‘But can it run Crysis?’ for a newly built gaming PC, you’ll soon be seeing a new phrase ‘But can it run Metro?’ in the near future.

ZOTAC RTX 2080 Ti AMP Edition (9)

Test System Setup

In this test, we’re using our updated setup for testing AAA titles just to see what kind of performance can we expect from Metro Exodus after the update.

CPUIntel Core i7 8700K @5.0GHz
MotherboardASUS ROG Maximus X Apex
MemoryG.Skill TridentZ RGB 16GB @3200MHz
Graphics CardZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Ti AMP Edition
Power SupplyEnermax MaxTytan 1250W
Primary StorageADATA SU800 256GB
Secondary StorageWD Black 6TB
CPU CoolerRaijintek Orcus 240
ChassisCooler Master Test Bench V1
Operating SystemWindows 10 64bit

As for Metro Exodus, we have the game running with the following settings which we think as the best to show you the difference in image quality without ended up with a totally unplayable frame rate:

  • Quality: High
  • VSYNC: Off
  • Motion Blur: High
  • DirectX: DX12
  • Ray Tracing: High
  • DLSS: On / Off
  • Hairworks: Off
  • Advanced PhysX: Off
  • Tessellation: On
  • Texture Filtering: AF 16X

Real-time Ray Tracing

Real-time ray tracing is one of the highlight for RTX games that brings a different level of realism to games like Metro Exodus, especially on light reflection on different type of objects and material, how shadows are casts and overlaps according to the light sources. The calculations required to achieve this are done in real-time with the help of the RT and Tensor cores on the Turing TU102, TU104 and TU106 GPUs.

Of course, you will need to have a system that runs on Windows 10 before you can enable the feature because DirectX 12 requires the WDDM 2.0 which is available only on Windows 10.

Enabling the ray tracing option results in incredibly realistic lighting by simulating the physical behavior of light, but you’ll have to select the settings according to the capability of your RTX 20 series graphics card for the best result – we’re using a RTX 2080 Ti to run the game on 4K resolution with ray tracing enabled.

Metro Exodus Dark Spot (1)

Here’s a scene while we’re on our way to the Metro, a dark area under ledge which most of us will just ignore and climb up.

In this scene, the lighter and torchlight is our extra source of light to further illuminate darker area like this. As we point our light source at the dark area, it will reveal what’s hidden in the dark. Based on the screenshots above, you can see that different type of light source will have its own properties – softer glow from the flame on the lighter, or the bright and focused light from the torchlight. You can even combine both to achieve a different effect based on the color of the light and how the shadow behaves according to it.

Moving in darker area becomes more difficult as well compared to the previous Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light. The torchlight and lighter that you’re carrying will help you to find your way through the dark paths.

Real-Time Ray-Traced Global Illumination

Apart from the real-time ray tracing feature that we’ve seen on Battlefield V, Metro Exodus is also the first RTX game to debut the real-time Ray-Traced Global Illumination. It enables realistic level of brightness and darkness where scenes are illuminated naturally by the sun or the moon, replicating how light actually behaves in the real world to deliver the next level of realism and immersion in-game to the player.

In one of the scene taken from Volga, we can see how the light from the sun are diffused by the fog and clouds, bounces around different areas and objects in the environment to create this scene. All these complex calculation are happening in real-time and handled by the RT and Tensor cores on a Turing TU102, TU104 and TU106 GPU.

It can also simulate a realistic scene where environment gets darker as the sunlight is blocked by dense clouds during a cloudy day or rainy day. Such event will result in lower visibility as thick fog and clouds covers the area, which makes your exploration more challenging than usual. You can always find a place to have a rest until the rain and fog subsides if you don’t feel like exploring the area in a bad weather day like this.

Metro Exodus Ray Tracing (8)

This goes the same for night scene as well, which the moon will act as the main light source. Dimmer environment are to be expected as compare to daytime due to the softer light from the moon. Other light sources such as flames, the torchlight you’ve been carrying around or even the small LED indicator on your wrist will illuminate some of the darker areas that is hidden from view of direct light sources.

For underground paths that is isolated from any source of light from the outside world, it’s a true pitch black environment for real. Unlike the previous Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, smaller light source from your lighter, torchlight or a fireplace will only illuminate a small portion of the whole environment that is within the proximity of the light source.

Aside from the increased difficulty in exploring dark places with limited light source, spotting enemies in the dark can be fairly difficult as well, especially the monsters.

Image quality comparison: DLSS ON / OFF

As mentioned during the RTX 2080 launch at Gamescom 2018, DLSS is one of the proprietary feature for the RTX 20 series cards that utilizes the Turing GPU TU106’s Tensor cores to deliver high quality image using pre-trained AI model. The only issue here is that the AI model training will take quite a while, which explains why the initial release was heavily criticized as it’s not quite ready yet during the release.

Those who actually tried training their own AI model with similar method would know the potential of this technology, but that’s just for those who have the knowledge and access to it.

Metro Exodus DLSS Comparison

After the new driver and February 21 game update patch is applied, things are actually looking pretty good for Metro Exodus. Here’s a few screenshots from we’ve taken for comparison, one with DLSS enabled and with DLSS disabled:

Metro Exodus DLSS OFF (1)Metro Exodus DLSS ON (1)

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Metro Exodus DLSS OFF (2)Metro Exodus DLSS ON (2)

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Metro Exodus DLSS OFF (3)Metro Exodus DLSS ON (3)

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Metro Exodus DLSS OFF (4)Metro Exodus DLSS ON (4)

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Metro Exodus DLSS OFF (5)Metro Exodus DLSS ON (5)

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Metro Exodus DLSS OFF (6)Metro Exodus DLSS ON (6)

Full size preview (Click here)

The images with DLSS enabled might not be as sharp as the one without DLSS, but the vast improvement in image quality is immediately noticeable if you have previously seen the blurry image from the initial release.

NVIDIA did mentioned that there are improved version DLSS update for the game that didn’t manage to make it into the launch day of Metro Exodus in one of the response regarding to the issue with DLSS. If the update that we’ve applied for this retest is the one that didn’t make it to the launch, there’s a high chance that NVIDIA and 4A Games are working on a new set of update which hopefully, will give us an even better image quality in the next update.


After going through the graphics of the game, here comes the numbers that we’re all waiting for. The following graph represents the combined the data collected from multiple runs for each settings (RT off, RT on, RT On with DLSS), so you can have an idea of how our RTX 2080 Ti test system performs.

Metro Exodus Benchmark

Since the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the current highest-end consumer card that comes close to a pair of GTX 1080 Ti in SLI, running Metro Exodus on 4K with high preset is easy as breeze. The game still looks really even without ray tracing enabled and it runs at an average 71 fps without any issue. Enabling the ray tracing feature gives your a more realistic image in game but at the cost of 34% reduction in performance which gives you an average 47 fps.

When both ray tracing and DLSS is enabled, we can see a pretty significant gain in performance from average 47 fps to 66 fps. It’s not exactly that ‘same as RTX off performance’, but it’s definitely better to play on 66 fps than 47 fps throughout the entire game.


Based on our experience with the initial DLSS release and new update on Metro Exodus, we can say that DLSS isn’t just a hype that got derailed after not being able to deliver a promising result. DLSS isn’t something that can make the impossible possible within just one night of training. The entire process of creating the true perfect image through prediction by the AI would take months or more and what we’re seeing here with the current DLSS update is just a small fraction of that.

Instead of dying out just like the rest of the derailed hype we’ve seen in the past, NVIDIA did well with the respond to the situation and quickly turn things around with a new update. Despite controversy surrounding the horrible graphics on the initial release, we find this a really good example to let everyone know how DLSS really works. For RTX games that only allows DLSS on certain resolution and selected graphics card, this is probably because NVIDIA and get game developers are still working on the DLSS for that resolution which will be released once it’s really ready to be implemented.

With that being said, we would recommend you to give Metro Exodus a try again if you have already purchased the game on Steam or Epic Games Store. As for those of you who are still holding back purchase the game after reading the negative feedback from the community, now is the time for you to reconsider again.


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