The game takes place in the year 2033, in a post-apocalyptic Russia where a nuclear war has forced all remaining survivors to live underground in the decrepit metro tunnels, away from the fallout's harmful effects. The story follows a 20 year old male survivor named Artyom (Russian: Артём). When the game begins, Artyom learns from an elite soldier, or Ranger, named Hunter that a group of mysterious creatures referred to as the Dark Ones are threatening his station in the Metro. Hunter gives Artyom a Ranger token and tells him if he does not come back, he must go to Polis to see if they will help his station.
Artyom must travel through territory occupied by Soviets and Nazis, and infested with mutants as well as the much changed surface of Moscow. Once in Polis, he meets with a Ranger named Miller, who agrees to help him. Miller knows of a missile silo known as D6 that has the firepower necessary to destroy the Dark Ones. Artyom, Miller, and several other Rangers reactivate the command center for the missiles, and Artyom installs a laser guidance system on a nearby radio tower. After the laser system is installed, Artyom experiences a vivid hallucination induced by the Dark Ones.
After the hallucination, two endings are possible, depending on choices the player makes throughout the game. In the normal/bad ending, Artyom allows the missiles to fire, destroying the Dark Ones. The alternate/good ending gives Artyom the choice to destroy the laser guidance device, citing a last-minute realization that the Dark Ones were actually attempting to make peaceful contact through the hallucinations.
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