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‘Hardcore Russophobia’ New first-person shooter gives players ‘Decommunization’ award for destroying Lenin monument

Source: Meduza

On February 15, the first-person shooter for PC, PS4, and Xbox One Metro Exodus went on the market. The game was developed by the Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver, a subsidiary of the German-Austrian company Koch Media. The game depicts fictional events that take place in Russia following a nuclear war, and its plot is based on the Metro fantasy series by the Russian writer Dmitry Glukhovsky. Glukhovsky worked with 4A Games developers to write the screenplay for Exodus.

Several days after the game’s release, players noticed an achievement titled “Decommunization.” Gamers can receive the achievement after destroying a monument to Vladimir Lenin by knocking off the statue’s arms, legs, or head. Dozens of videos soon appeared on social media that depicted players beating the monument or shooting at it.

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Some Russian-speaking Internet users found the game upsetting. Others praised the first-person shooter and compared it with the satirical comedy The Death of Stalin, which was banned from playing in Russia last year.

The game’s release was covered on the Vesti program broadcast by the state-owned Russia 24 TV channel. Host Alexey Kazakov mused that the shooter’s developers “Seem to have gotten carried away with their own impressions from the Maidan and decided to make fun of Muscovites. It’s like they don’t know that beyond the capital, among all the ruins and the mutants, there are human beings too. This is, as they say, absolute hogwash — with a dose of hardcore Russophobia.”

Kazakov said Exodus was a global bestseller (though its publisher has not yet released any data about its reception). He also noted that the shooter had frustrated a large number of Russian players even as it made critics abroad ecstatic. The television host explained that phenomenon by asserting that the game’s destruction of the monument to Lenin “fits perfectly” into the way Western journalists feel about Russia. As Kazakov opined about Exodus, a screen behind him displayed reviews from Metacritic, where Exodus has received 84 out of 100 possible points.

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Metro author Dmitry Glukhovsky responded to Vesti’s coverage in a comment to the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Glukhovsky said he found the attention accorded to him by Russia 24 flattering and said he was glad to have “poked their beehive a little bit.” The writer confirmed that he stands behind the developers at 4A Games, saying, “In the world of Metro, all external signals have died out. In that world, the episode with poor old Lenin… Well, just think about it! He’s an inhuman cannibal anyway. Why not destroy his monument?”

Representatives of the company Buka, which distributes Metro Exodus in Russia, told Meduza, “We did not work on the internal content of Exodus and had no influence on its development. Until the release, we had access to the same materials the fans did. As for Dmitry’s comments, that’s his personal opinion. For 25 years, Buka has successfully done business in video games, not in politics.” Dmitry Glukhovsky and representatives for 4A Games did not respond to Meduza’s requests for comment.

Developers for the Metro video game series have been accused of Russophobia before. The shooter game Metro 2033: Last Light, which was released in 2013, included a reference to a Russian-language meme of the time in which letters from patriotic slogans were scrambled digitally for humorous effect (e.g. “ROSSIYA, VPERDE!,” or “RUSSIA, NOWARD!”). That detail also sparked angry reviews on social media.

Maxim Ivanov

Translation by Hilah Kohen