In 2013, a nuclear war occurred. Russia was targeted with atomic bombs, causing severe radiation across Moscow. This forced the survivors to live underground in the metro stations away from the deadly effects of radiation. Many animals were heavily mutated into aggressive beasts, which make travel dangerous. Twenty years later in 2033, the northern Metro station of VDNKh (known in-game as "Exhibition") is under attack by a group of mysterious creatures referred to as the Dark Ones. Artyom (Russian: Артём), a 20-year-old male survivor born before the bombs fell, is persuaded to leave his home there and seek help from the rest of the Metro by Hunter, an elite soldier of the Polis Rangers.