- The sheer scope of the mass grave you find in the early game. Made worse when you hear on the radio that survivors in Vyshny Voloychok sent an expedition to Moscow, who haven't returned. The implications are clear. Made worse when a radio personality from said city drives home how utterly crappy Moscow is even from an outside perspective.
- One of the most notable is during the Volga level, where you can, if you've done the right sidequests, enter a room filled with coffins, where the local fanatics have been laid to rest. Some of those coffins are very small...
- You can find a ledger in the room listing all the causes of death and their age, the majority is written as lack of faith (an anomaly or the Water Tsar killed them) with the second biggest cause being sickness as they have no proper doctor. And Silantius refused to let Katya treat them.
- Hearing Kirill try and contact his dad on the radio (listenable during the train level before Novosibrisk). It starts with what sounds like a more professional check in, with Kirill using codenames, stating that his father has missed 12 communication windows. Then Kirill calls him by rank, asking for a response and his voice starting to crack. Last he is full on sobbing, begging for his dad to respond and come back to him. When you meet him later, he states his dad had been out of contact for a month. You start to realize that Kirill knew full well that his father had most likely been eaten by mutants, but kept up the act of soldiering, radio contact, pretending that his father was just still on his mission, all as a coping mechanism.
- Both the endings, too. The bad for obvious reasons, the good for more subtle ones. Hearing Miller talk about his regrets and everything he forgot in his desire to keep his position is surprisingly affecting.
- The tribal slaves, they are so broken it hurts. Also worth remembering it has been only a generation top since the bombs fell and some are already indoctrinated into being slave forever. Sure the Church members, Children of Forest and Metro citizens all have their despairs and fanaticism in some way or other but the slaves gave up all their self esteem and are willing to die for their masters' amusement.
Tear Jerker / Metro Exodus