Factions are the political entities which compete for influence over the limited territory and resources of the post-apocalyptic Moscow Metropoliten in the world of Metro. United by a common ideology, interest, or the simple need to survive, most of them are the offspring of today's nation states. Though they bring a semblance of order and stability to a world continuing to degenerate from the fallout of the Great War, their interminable squabbles have only further threatened the future survival and rebirth of humanity.
It is important to remember the somewhat murky distinction between factions in the novel's canon and the video games. While they bear certain similarities, they are in the end different and thus some of the information about them applies exclusively to the books or to the games.
While varying greatly in form and philosophy, each of the organisations below has been identified as possessing an established power structure and (more importantly) communal self-awareness which qualifies it as a "faction" and a participant in the political life of the Metro.
Major Factions are those factions which play an essential role in the saga of the Metro. The giants of the new world, their struggles for control over humanity's future are a constant backdrop to Artyom's experiences, shaping the world of both the novels and the video games. Between each medium, differences in their internal politics, foreign affairs, and relation to Artyom are important to keep in mind.
- Fourth Reich - A fascist faction inspired by the ideas and policies of Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich. Led by the Führer and formed around a core of neo-Nazis and pre-war xenophobes, the Reich strives to build a new order, envisioning a Metro free of mutants and non-Russians. To this end, they employ special instruments and techniques (modeled upon those used in Hitler's Germany) to ensure that genetic "standards" are upheld by all inhabitants of and travelers to the Reich. Their home station is the triple station of Tverskaya-Chekhovskaya-Pushkinskaya, though they occupy many other stations and bases on the surface. In a state of perpetual war with their political enemies, the Marxist-Leninist Red Line, the Reich possesses an army of between 2000 and 3000 men. Preferring (partially as a result of their smaller population) quality to quantity, Reich soldiers are significantly better equipped and trained on a man-to-man basis than their more numerous red counterparts, a situation which clearly parallels the Eastern Front of World War II.
- The Commonwealth of the Stations of the Ring Line - Commonly shortened to "Hanza", this faction is a collection of stations led by President Pyotr Rusakov, occupying the vital Koltsevaya Ring Line. Its name is inspired by the Hanseatic League, a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Europe of the Late Middle Ages. Formed soon after the collapse of Central Metro Command, Hansa is the most influential faction in the Metro. Occupying what could be considered the "jugular" of the entire metro system, trade from every station and faction in the Metro passes through Hanza checkpoints. To protect its sovereignty, security, and trade revenues, Hanza possesses a potent force of 4000 to 5000 soldiers. Despite this impressive ensemble, Hanza remains something of an apathetic bystander to most forms of strife in the tunnels, preferring to use sanctions and threats when necessary to protect the Commonwealth's interests.
- Polis - Occupying the quadruple transfer point of the Arbatskaya, Alexandrovsky Sad, Biblioteka Imeni Lenina and Borovitskaya stations, if Hanza is the jugular of the Underground then Polis is its beating heart. A beacon of learning and pre-war civilisation in the darkness after doomsday, only in Polis have the many comforts of the old Russia, first among them near-total safety, been preserved. Formed by surviving members of the Russian government, military apparatus, and intelligentsia, Polis lacks a head of state, possessing a Council bringing together the various pre-war sects which birthed the faction. Although possessing a small military of around 500 men, sandbags and machine-gun posts are not Polis' main source of security. Instead, Polis is protected by the awe in which it is held by every metro citizen, with even some of the most despicable bandits respecting and honoring the position of the city as a repository of knowledge which would otherwise have been long lost. However, more pragmatic reasons exist as well - the strategic location of Polis at the heart of the Metro would lead to any Red Line or Fourth Reich attack receiving a severe response from the Hanza, and vice versa. Not to mention that the delicate flow of trade throughout the Metro (the main source of Hanza's power) would be severely threatened if Polis was to fall.
- Rangers of the Order - A paramilitary organisation considered the protectors of the Metro, the Rangers, also known as Spartans, venture the Metro and the surface, eliminating mutants and bandits who prey on the weak. Although apparently neutral, they maintain close ties with Polis (itself a self-proclaimed neutral power), with many members hailing from the city. They possess no home stations, instead occupying the surface base of Sparta, and the D6 bunker following the events of Metro 2033. Their leader, Miller, enforces a policy of "if it's hostile, you kill it", which has served the Rangers well so far. Many of the veteran members were previously Russian special forces or military, training which has helped the Rangers to gain a reputation as the most formidable fighters in the Metro. About 250 men and women can claim the honor of being Spartans, with 100 in the field at any time. This is also Artyom's faction.
- Red Line - A Marxist-Leninist and neo-Stalinist faction, the Red Line is the haven of Soviet nostalgists and aging former members of the CPSU and Komsomol. Led by General Secretary Maxim Moskvin, the Communist Party maintains control much as in Stalin's time - through a program of censorship, political and social repression, and webs of spies and informants. The Reds occupy most of the Sokolnicheskaya Line (literally, "Red Line"; the oldest in the Metro and a constant reminder of the glories of Russia's pseudo-socialist past) minus the two stations of the Ring, and possess the largest population and greatest territory in the Metro. Much like the Soviet Army of the Second World War, the Red Line relies on a massive, but poorly trained and equipped, conscript army. Of the Line's 15,000 citizens, 6000-7000 serve in the Armed Forces, engaged in a constant struggle against the Neo-Nazis of the Fourth Reich.
- Invisible Watchers - In Metro 2035, Artyom learns that all four major factions in the Metro are controlled by the remnants of the Russian government, who did not flee to the Ural mountains as most assumed. Instead, they hid in a Soviet bunker turned Cold War museum near Taganskaya station. When World War III broke out, high ranking members of Russian society took refuge there. One of the Watchers' leaders, Bessolov (aka Aleksei Feliksovich), explains to Artyom that the leaders of all four factions are kept in line using threats, blackmail, and bribes. Wars between them are orchastrated by the Watchers as a form of "controlled conflict" and population control.
Minor Factions are those factions which play a smaller role in the saga of the Metro. While they cannot match the power or influence of their larger neighbors, they nevertheless form a vital part of the Metro's geopolitics and can greatly influence Artyom's path. This is more so true of the novels, where most minor factions (with the exception of the 1905 Confederation and the VDNKh Commonwealth) make an exclusive appearance.
- VDNKh Commonwealth - One of the youngest factions in the Metro, formed in the aftermath of 2033, the VDNKh Commonwealth is an alliance between VDNKh, Alexeyevskaya and Rizhskaya to monopolise the production of a mushroom-extract tea, and to ensure collective defense against Hanza, the Dark Ones, and common bandits. Though not extraordinarily wealthy, VDNKh's tea trade has given the faction enough resources to maintain a modicum of culture, further enhanced by strict laws in the station promoting literacy and pre-war learning. This is Artyom's home station, and it is here where the story of both the Metro novels and video games begin.
- 1905 Confederation - Occupying the Barrikadnaya, Ulitsa 1905 goda, and Begovaya stations, the 1905 Confederation is a small and little-known faction, likely a Hansa satellite. Its only known residents are Mikhail Porfirevich and Vanechka.
- Arbat Confederation - Occupying the three-pronged Kievskaya radial, the Confederation is distinguished by its ethnic diversity and hypercapitalist economic system, dominated by an unusually high number of stalkers. Formerly a powerful faction, Arbat was an ally of Hanza in the Hansa - Red Line War but was severely weakened by the war and forced permanently into Hanza's sphere of orbit.
- Baumansky Alliance - Occupying the stations of Baumanskaya, Elektrozavodskaya and Semyonovskaya, Baumansky is known throughout the subway for repairing pre-war machinery and selling it around the Metro.
- Armory - Occupying Kuznetsky Most (under which name it is known in the novel), Armory is renowned for the production of weapons and munitions, supplying the Red Line and the Greater Metro with huge numbers of pre-war and improvised arms and ammunition. Its strategic importance to the Red Line has led to the station's integrity being gradually undermined, as communist agents and informants have infiltrated all levels of the station's society and government. Armory's independence is now little more than nominal.
- Belorusskaya Trade Outpost - A collection of trading stations including Sokol, Aeroport, Dinamo and Belorusskaya. Belorusskaya is a leading producer of food in the Metro, particularly livestock. They maintain near total neutrality, even going so far as to buy slaves from the Reich. In the present time, Belorusskaya has suffered from a spate of unexplained kidnappings (rumored to be related to Satanists).
- Children of the Underground - Residing in the mutant stricken station of Paveletskaya, Children of the Underground is the name for the forces protecting the station. Also known as Hole Station, Paveletskaya, missing its hermetic door, is constantly under attack by mutants. Artyom aids the Children of the Underground in fighting off the invaders, but the station eventually falls, the Children of the Underground sacrificing themselves to cut off Paveletskaya and the mutants from the rest of the Metro.
- Savage Cannibals of the Great Worm Cult - A technophobic, xenophobic primitive faction, residing in Park Pobedy, the Great Worm Cult have descended into a state of primeaval living. They worship an entity known as the 'Great Worm', the being that created the entire world (i.e. The Metro), and frequently cannibalise those who use technology. Their leader is actually an old man who hated how technology destroyed the world. The Great Worm Cult's primary enemies are the Arbat Confederation, whose children they frequently steal.
- Revolutionaries - A military branch of the Red Line, though not directly affiliated anymore, the Revolutionaries travel the Metro attacking Reich territory and patrols, supplied by the Red Line. Following the ideals of Trotsky and Che Guevara, they save Artyom from certain death from a Reich noose.
- Satanists- A myth amongst the Metro, the Satanists are said to occupy the stations from Dubrovka to Lyublino. Driven mad by the apocalypse, the Satanists kidnap Metro dwellers and force them to dig a huge hole in Lyublino station, which they believe is the portal to Hell itself. Given that there is only one known witness of this, whether or not the Satanists truly exist is questionable.
- The Watchtower - The Watchtower are a religious faction occupying the tunnels south of Serpukhhovskaya. Composing mainly of Jehova's Witnesses, their brothers travel the Metro, taking in waifs and strays to indoctrinate into their order. One, Brother Timothy, rescues Artyom, but Artyom soon grows bored of the hypocritical ramblings of the priest.
- Huliaipole Republic - An anarcho-communist faction consisting of 3 stations at the northwest end of the Zamoskvoretskaya line, in conflict with Hanza and the Red Line. The protagonist of Dark Tunnels comes from this faction.
Less important and factions that simply make up the setting for the Metro, included in both the novels and the games.
- Bandits - The catchall term for loosely organised gangs and thugs. Controlling certain stations throughout the Metro system, though rarely more than one, bandits are known to rob and murder defenceless travellers in the tunnels, taking their goods to sell on. However, some 'bandits' are simply lawless factions, such as those ruling Venice or Kitai-Gorod, and are not as extreme as other bandits. Although their businesses may be lucrative, and they are not afraid to kill to get what they want, they are not openly hostile. Many bandit factions are also rumoured to create and sell poor quality or fake merchandise to gullible travellers, often for the same price as a genuine copy.
- Central Metro Command - A shortlived faction created in the months following the Great War. Many members of the Russian government fled directly into the Metro from their buildings when the air raid sirens sounded. Being natural authority figures, they took control of the thousands of refugees in an attempt to keep order. Claiming to be in contact with the President and his cabinet, who were sheltering in bunkers behind the Urals, they kept the peace as best as they could. However, law quickly broke down and the Command fell, stations becoming individual states. It is also possible that Metro Command governed from D6 before it shut down, either as direct rulers or just unseen observers.
- Dark Ones - The Dark Ones are a new species created shortly before or during the nuclear war. Standing well above a human male, they were first discovered when in their childhod Artyom and his friends opened the hermetic door to Botanicheskiy Sad. The Dark Ones, having a Hive there, entered the Metro soon after. Able to live in the extreme conditions on the surface, they are also known as the sucessors of humanity and considered by some to be the next step in human evolution, the so-called 'Homo Novus'.
- Mutants - A generalised term used to describe the many non-human creatures living in the Metro tunnels and on the surface in the Moscow ruins. Most mutants do not have organisation, as they are mainly considered animals. However, they commonly do have pack structures and are known to attack other mutant species and any humans they come across. This 'faction' is hostile to almost everyone, except stronger mutants or during times of extreme peril, such as when Artyom and a Watchman pack worked together to defeat the mutant Bear. One of the few mutant species that could be sentient are the Librarians, who are known to set traps for stalkers, and even grow plants.
- Polis Kshatriya - The military branch of Polis, the Kshatriya are the closest thing Polis has to a military. As they are not ever involved in conflict, the Kshatriya are utilised by the Brahmin as stalkers who hunt for artifacts, books, knowledge and culture of the old world. They are an intergral part of the Metro, as most of it recieves books and other pre-war materials from Polis - without them, much of the old world would be lost forever. One known Kshatriya group, led by Kuzmich, explored the Great Library hunting for artifacts.
- Stalkers - A stalker is anyone who ventures to the surface looking for anything useful. Generally allied to their stations only, or fully neutral and functioning as mercenaries for the highest bidder, stalkers serve an incredibly dangerous but key role in supplying the Metro with things they cannot create, such as fuel. Battling bandits, mutants and the hostile environment, the life expectancy of stalkers is very low, so veterans with greater knowledge of life on the surface are valued and respected by those who cannot leave the metro on their own.