Is Metro Exodus Russophobic?

Russian TV – being, for the most part, sovok bilge – says that it is… because you get a “decommunization” award for sniping off the head of the Great Bald One.

But basically the entire ideological spectrum outside sovokland dismisses this.

The anti-svodomist Insomniac Resurrected:

It is an unfortunate state of affairs that Lenin is associated with Russianness. He was nothing but a ghoul, who killed many Russians. And while I am staunchly against the Maidan and against Ukrainian nazis, when the latter began toppling Lenin statues around Ukraine, I did not feel any regrets. It is not Russophobia to remove the statue of a rootless cosmopolitan, who hated the Russian people.

The arch-svidomist

Ironically, Lenin himself derided what he called “great Russian chauvinism,” leading to a policy of korenizatsiya (“putting down roots”) that sought to curtail Russian linguistic and cultural domination in other Soviet republics. In Ukraine, that policy included mandatory Ukrainian-language education.

In 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed Lenin for this policy, saying it “planted an atomic bomb under the building that is called Russia which later exploded.” Ironically, many of Lenin’s policies have made him a lighting road for Russia’s far right. Russian nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the misleadingly-named Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, decried Lenin in the State Duma as a “Russophobe,” as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev could be seen smirking behind him. Russian white nationalist blogger Anatoly Karlin derided Lenin as “a sadist, a Russophobe and a tyrant” in an extensive polemic echoing a commonly held view among similar ideologues. In this context, equating criticism of Lenin to Russophobia is inconsistent with fringe or even mainstream ideological discourse in Russia.

But in reality, there was no shortage of hidden and not so hidden anti-Russian content in this Ukrainian-made video game they could have focused on, had they so wished.

The game is based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s eponymous series, and the third game in particular is based on Glukhovsky’s third book, Metro 2035. Now the first book, Metro 2033, goes light on politics and constitutes standard (if rather well-written) post-apocalyptic doomporn. There has been a nuclear war and the last survivors eke out a desperate existence in the Moscow Metro, subsisting on mushrooms and dwindling fuel stocks. Heroic “stalkers” venture out onto the blasted and irradiated surface to scrounge for supplies and spare parts. The Metro government has itself collapsed into many different station-states, including “Hansea” on the Circle Line, the “Red Line”, and the “Fourth Reich” at Tverskaya. I assume you can figure out their respective ideologies yourself. The Hero needs to navigate through these various station-states in his quest to stop a mortal threat to his home station.

However, as the third book (Metro 2035) rolls around, it becomes increasingly evident that the cake is a lie. The war is long over, and in reality, it is not really all the radiation and mutants keeping Muscovites in their sordid bunker. If only they knew that NATO is now friends and they could all go out and sing kumbaya in a circle with the Dark Ones and rainbow-colored pterodactyls flying overhead! Unfortunately, a deep state – the “Hidden Watchers” – blocks radio transmissions to Moscow, preventing them from embracing that happy fate.

Now this is all fine, sci-fi writers have always made critical comments on their societies. The Strugatskys were brilliant at it (who could the “unknown fathers” have been referring to? hmmm…). But the problem is that by the third book it was an open polemic, not the grimdark post-apocalyptic adventure story it started out as. This resulted in a suspension of belief and low ratings, though Glukhovsky himself would probably ascribe it Putler’s brainwashing.

People in Russia say that they’re happy with Putin – but then they’re being brainwashed day and night by all channels of TV, and they’re asked about their love for Putin by state-controlled sociological services.

Anyhow, in the book itself, the deep state at least lets the Hero leave, one of them remarking, “Let him leave. Good riddance!” as he observes him through a binoculars (a German made binoculars, Glukhovsky points out). Now apparently, things don’t go as smoothly in the video game (Metro Exodus), where they set out to hunt for him and his merry band of emigre outlaws as they traverse the post-apocalyptic zoo that Russia has become.

Promotional poster: “Wildlife of post-apocalyptic russia” (Russia written in lower-case).

Enemies are parodies of Mordor Russia, many of them ironically from a sovok perspective (but Ukrainian svidomism is pretty sovok itself). These include a Baron, a representative of the aristocracy sucking out oil and refusing to share it, as well as a Priest leading some crazed religious cult, a satire on the Orthodox Church, whose followers wear vatniks and imprison unbelievers.

The Continuity of Government has become the Cannibalism of Government. In the post-nuclear apocalypse, the surviving members of the Russian state at the Yamantau mountain base habr degenerated into a pack of crazed man-eaters literally feeding on local Russians. Or maybe they were always such.

They chief says, “We are the government that you deserve.”

You get a badge where the scepter and orb on the Russian coat of arms is replaced with a fork and a skull for dealing with them.


Now speaking of governments that one deserves… it is unsurprising that, as members of Kiev’s creative class, 4A Games heartily supported the “Revolution of Dignity”, including their co-founder and creative director:

I want during my time on Earth to live in a normal country – and if it could be the Ukraine, I can’t even imagine this… People gave their lives for this chance …

Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!

He wrote that in February 2014. Three months later, 4A Games relocated to Malta.

PS. As I don’t currently have a gaming PC, I haven’t played the game itself, and thus have only relied what other people have written about it. So I can’t comment on any of its actual gaming quality (but it seems to be respectable).

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Bardon Kaldian says

    Lenin is a great controversial historical figure & should be left to history. Frankly, I find it extremely weird to mentally associate him with computer games or anything futurist & fantasy, any form.

  2. Sadly I can’t comment about the game, but we know how the author combines very well being a talented and incredibly career successful person, with being very shallow politically.

    But the only product I would like to buy from him now, is a language learning course –

    How he speaks English



  3. I would hope that the ideology fueling Ukraine’s creative class including 4A Games that is evident in this game’s ‘hidden and not so hidden Russophobia’ could be more fully critiqued here. Since I’ve been banned at IR’s blog for the incredibly silly crime of posting a ‘whataboutism‘ comparing language policy in Russia with Ukraine’s, after the paranoid Insomniac’s post included references of Ukraine to fascist Italy (!), I limit my visits to his blog. His paranoia is limiting any intellectual discourse and is reminiscent of the vatnik mentality still rampant within Russian society, that he purports to be combating!

  4. Thanks, as expected. I had already read about that “state TV” (in contrast to the West and its anti-state main TV channels, I suppose…) report, and it sounded very Sovok indeed.

    So what about the devs of Escape from Tarkov? Not that I really care that much either way, as a console peasant I’m not going to play modern (exclusive) PC FPS games anytime soon. I remember you pointed out earlier that the majority of Russia’s “cultural elite” are actually like that. Although I still find that a little hard to believe lol. Many, sure, but most?

    His description of Russia is exactly what the supposed target audience of the game (?), i.e. Western “console peasant” millennials, wants to hear, so it makes sense from that perspective as well. (I know that the the franchise was originally very PC-centric, but they have certainly focused more and more on consoles since the second game. The main thing is that the third game is a comparatively high-profile, multiplatform AAA release.)

    I was also quite surprised by Glukhovsky’s (or should that be glukhovsky’s?) views at first, because I remember reading an article where he basically complained that the West doesn’t acknowledge Russia’s legitimate national interests. That was certainly before 2014, but it’s still odd…

    In any case: sad!

    So is he one of those liberals who atleast realizes that the whole Russiagate and meddling hysteria makes Russia and Putin look ridiculously strong or does he take that shit seriously? Probably pointing at the external enemy is fine when it’s done by the neoliberalism.txt?


    I think this is kind of on-topic, so i’ll post it here:

    Dmitry, so I bought a Nintendo Switch in January. I still haven’t played that much, but I have to say that it’s been a positive surprise. The handheld versions of games like Doom, Skyrim and Dark Souls are quite impressive.

    I’ve never been the biggest fan of Mario and Zelda (no nostalgia), but both Odyssey and Breath of the Wild are excellent. BotW especially is fantastic, and very different from the earlier games, the open-world aspect works great and it’s very open-ended pretty much from the beginning. There’s also no hand holding but at the same time the game’s not too cryptic. The overall design is quite exceptional, IMO. And you can play it on the go.

    So I would highly recommend the system, but with a few caveats/disclaimers. For one, I still think the system is overpriced, there’s no way around it. Secondly, I’ve always been a fan of dedicated portable consoles, and I even really like the Playstation Vita.

  5. Grandpa Barsoap says

    unfortunate state of affairs that [ ] is associated with [ ]

    Hey, it’s an unfortunate state of affairs that Abe Lincoln is associated with negroes running free and wild in the USA and that slavery is associated with the US “Civil War”, when it was made perfectly clear in Lincoln’s own words that he prosecuted the war to “preserve the union” and that, had he lived to complete his second term, most if not all of the negroes would have be expatriated to Africa. Lincoln was a bastard who oversaw the deaths of many thousands in order to make the railroads and textile mills of the northeast rich, and who fought the war primarily using scabs imported from overseas, signing them up as soon as they got off the boats.

    It’s also an unfortunate state of affairs that the people in the USA believe they “won two World Wars” when they only really fought in the last year of the first one, and when it was the USSR that beat Germany and it was China which beat Japan (based on casualty counts of German and Japanese troops by battle).

    Every people has their “useful myths” just as every movement has “useful idiots.” Some of them are small and of minor consequence, others are quite huge, like 6,000,000 huge, and affect most of the world.

    Personally, I view the “lionization” of various Soviet/Bolshevik figures in the same way that I view some of the kids’ embrace of 80’s nostalgia here in the US; it’s simply a yearning for more traditional times, and shouldn’t be taken literally, because having been an adult during the 80’s in the US, yes, it was better than now, but objectively in the light of history, it still sucked, compared to the 50’s or even the 30’s, culturally speaking.

    All that said, the symbolic destruction of Lenin’s statue would be comparable to the same being done to the Lincoln Memorial. To those who know history, it’s one thing, to those who only believe the “useful myths” which unite (somewhat) a nation, it’s another thing.

  6. Thorfinnsson says

    It’s also an unfortunate state of affairs that the people in the USA believe they “won two World Wars” when they only really fought in the last year of the first one, and when it was the USSR that beat Germany and it was China which beat Japan (based on casualty counts of German and Japanese troops by battle).

    The 1918 German Spring Offensive may have succeeded if not for the presence of the American Expeditionary Force. The follow on 100 Days Offensive would certainly not have happened without the American Expeditionary Force.

    Germany in advance of Operation Barbarossa devoted more resources to capital investments, the Luftwaffe, and the Kriegsmarine than strengthening the army owing to the fear of American war production plans. Then there’s the matter of Lend-Lease (most critically capital goods, intermediate industrial inputs, and foodstuffs rather than the actual weapons provided), the second front, and the air war itself.

    As for the Pacific War…lol.

    Of course it’s well known that Americans tend to totally devalue the vital role of the Red Army in defeating the Wehrmacht, but there’s also a cottage industry among Russians and Western leftists in devaluing the American role.

  7. Putin missed a opportunity by not burying Lenin on the 100th anniversary of the revolution. The big problem with some of the Russian elite is the seeming need to justify EVERYTHING about it’s past which leaves it a bit groundless.

  8. The 1918 German Spring Offensive failed because Germany was deprived of the troops meant to be transferred from Russia to the West. Germans had to keep more troops than calculated in Ukraine to secure the food desperately needed in Germany and Austro-Hungary. Germany was paying the price of dismissing the warnings of Bismarck that any victory against Russia would be a Pyrrhic victory.
    But it is doubtful even that the storm troops would have been able to break the Allies’ resistance and capable to stop the American ‘invasion’ (planned from at least the inception of the war). Germans were looking defeat in the face the moment they looked the first tanks in the face and when the U-boat campaign failed to stop the tsunami of American supplies reaching Britain and France. The Allies had an overwhelming superiority in tanks and retained air superiority.

  9. Russian TV – being, for the most part, sovok bilge

    WTF is this vermin-esque comment?

  10. Putin missed a opportunity by not burying Lenin on the 100th anniversary of the revolution. The big problem with some of the Russian elite is the seeming need to justify EVERYTHING about it’s past which leaves it a bit groundless.

    No. The ideology behind these morons removing Lenin statues..and them removing memorials/statues to red Army liberators or renaming streets that were named after greats like Zhukov…is one of the same. It is irrelevant that one could have valid reasons for removing Lenin but not the others…they are done for the same russophobic reasons.

    It’s also braindead because these statues, in the most corrupt country in the world (Ukraine) could generate several 100’000 to millions of dollars in places like China and so on with many wealthy willing buyers

    Karlin is basically a liberal-atlantacist posing as a “nationalist”. I reckon that the scumbag excrement from Azerbaijan who got drugged up on nitrous oxide and drove into a group of people in Saint Petersburg ( whilst he was still banned from driving, with no obvious source of income yet a nice BMW) …barely registered in annoying the pseudo-nationalist Karlin’s radar. It does for me – just general kavkaz lunatic driving, though by no means exclusive to them in Russia- is still dominated by them

  11. Glukhovsky’s (or should that be glukhovsky’s?) views

    His views seem quite typical view for an independent creative professional, in the place he lives.

    The problem is it all seems shallow and like observations of a clever teenager.

    So I would highly recommend the system,

    Thanks for the recommendation! That’s good to hear. Maybe in the summer I buy it too.

  12. Tyrion 2 says

    You’re a nerd beyond help. This is the silliest post ever. If you’re sometime in London you’re welcome to a place to stay.

    AK: Thanks, appreciated.