As STALKER games debut on console, leaks show Xbox 360 and PSP versions we never got

(Image credit: u/Reggash (leaked design documents))

What you need to know

  • Last week, STALKER developer GSC Game World shadow dropped ports of all three of the games in the original STALKER trilogy — 2007's Shadow of Chernobyl, 2008's Clear Sky, and 2010's Call of Pripyat — on Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
  • Shortly after the launch, a fan shared several leaked design documents on the STALKER subreddit that show how GSC, at one point, planned to release STALKER games on both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation Portable (PSP).
  • The former would have had STALKER's trademark non-linear FPS gameplay but would have had one of two stories centered around conflict with the Freedom faction, while the latter would have been a portable-friendly adaptation of Shadow of Chernobyl (or a game heavily inspired by it) with third-person shooting and linear levels.
  • Both projects were ultimately scrapped and never saw the light of day, though it's interesting to see the ideas GSC was considering 20 years ago for Xbox 360 and PSP titles.

Note: There are no story spoilers ahead for any of the official STALKER games.

Pretty much everyone was caught off-guard when developer GSC Game World shadow dropped ports of the original STALKER trilogy on Xbox and PlayStation consoles during last week's Xbox Partner Preview event, and as a longtime fan of the open world shooter RPGs, I've greatly enjoyed seeing all the new players talk about the games as they try them out for the first time. While browsing the franchise's subreddit to read discussions like these, though, I came across some fascinating leaks that show that, at one point, there were plans to bring STALKER to both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation Portable (PSP).

The leaks — which come in the form of design documents found and compiled by fans over time that look very, very real — were shared in a post by Reddit user Reggash that details how the idea to make a STALKER game for the Xbox 360 began in late 2003, well before the console (then codenamed "Xenon") or the first STALKER game, Shadow of Chernobyl, released in 2005 and 2007, respectively. The PSP concept, meanwhile, came later in 2005.

The STALKER Xbox 360 concept

Promotional artwork for STALKER 2, which is set to release on Xbox Series X|S and PC on September 5 later this year. (Image credit: GSC Game World)

Assuming the documents are legitimate, they reveal that the Xbox 360 pitch wasn't for a port of Shadow of Chernobyl like you might expect. Instead, it was actually going to be an entirely new game. And while it would've featured the same fundamental gameplay elements — first-person shooting, non-linear maps, free roaming — two different storylines were considered, both of which were wholly different than anything in any of the three STALKER games that released.

What is STALKER?

STALKER: Legends of the Zone Trilogy

(Image credit: GSC Game World)

STALKER is an open world first-person shooter series developed by GSC Game World. The games are set in a fictional version of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in which a mysterious second disaster at the nuclear power plant occurred in 2006, resulting in the creation of mutants, the formation of nature-defying anomalies, and artifacts with magic-like powers. Multiple factions and hundreds of explorers called stalkers have settled in The Zone's non-linear levels, and interact with the player and each other dynamically thanks to the series' ambitious A-Life AI system.

The first, detailed in this document, would have seen the player take control of a stalker in a fanatical Monolith faction and escape an underground maze they were locked in after stalkers from a group called Freedom wiped out their squad. "Strange events" like "mysterious deaths of stalkers" and "brutal murders" would occur around players as they travelled across The Zone to rejoin their comrades; once they did, they'd work with them to experiment on someone and turn them into a "Messiah," who would then become hostile and force the player to seek out a way to save themselves.

The second concept, on the other hand, would've had the same story as the first PC game — at the time, it was planned to have the player join one of four factions and fight the "Anarchists," or Freedom — but it would have been told from the perspective of a Freedom stalker, tying into the PC game's conflict and showing another side of it. Additionally, players would have been able to explore "a territory that was not available in the PC game," and also experience an "additional storyline, opponents, weapons, artifacts, etc."

What about the PSP game?

Details about the proposed PSP title are scarcer, though it's been pieced together that the idea behind it was to make a portable version of either Shadow of Chernobyl itself or something inspired by it. Like that game, this one would have the player take control of a stalker called the "Marked One," though it would have had linear levels, third-person shooting, and a shorter 10-15 hour playtime. 

The story was going to be split into three main sections; the first would be with a trader from a bunker (this would have most likely been Sidorovich, who you meet at the start of Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky), the second would be centered around the 100 Rads Bar location, and the third would involve scientists studying The Zone. 

Interestingly, gear upgrades were planned — these didn't come officially until 2008's Clear Sky — as were new mutants, including a controller subtype called the Controller Master, a "master of shadow" that was presumably similar to STALKER's existing poltergeists, and a "rush" monster that could discharge radioactive poison at stalkers. There were also conceptual artworks of a level between the Cordon and the Garbage called the Factory drawn up, too, and GSC even built 3D geometry for it that fans have since imported into Shadow of Chernobyl's engine with textures and lighting. You can see both the artworks and screenshots of the level in-game in the gallery above.

A fascinating look at STALKER history

A stalker takes cover, preparing to fire back at an enemy. (Image credit: GSC Game World)

While these games ultimately never saw the light of day, it's nevertheless incredibly fascinating to see what GSC Game World had in mind for STALKER releases on Xbox 360 and PSP 20 years ago (side note: I sure do feel old). It's also pretty interesting to see how much certain story elements of STALKER changed before the trilogy's games came out; Freedom, for example, is a neutral faction that's significantly less antagonistic than it was described to be in these design documents.

It should be noted that while there's no definitive and concrete proof that the contents of these leaked documents are legit, there's a ridiculous amount of material here, and all of it looks extremely real. I always encourage folks to take leaks with a grain of salt, but I mean...come on.

Anyway, I highly recommend checking out the STALKER trilogy now that it's on Xbox and PlayStation, especially if you found anything presented here interesting. All three games have been "refined for console" with gamepad-friendly controls, user interface tweaks, and stability improvements, and on Xbox Series X|S, there's even a "high-fidelity mode." They're some of the best PC games I've ever played, and with STALKER 2 scheduled to release in September later this year, there's never been a better time to check them out.

You can pick up the full trilogy on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, and PS4 by getting the $40 "Legends of the Zone" bundle, or you can buy Shadow of Chernobyl, Clear Sky, and Call of Pripyat individually for $20. Want some tips on the best ways to play? Check out my STALKER trilogy beginner's guide, as well as the STALKER play order I recommend for new players.

STALKER: Legends of the Zone Trilogy | $39.99 at Xbox (Digital)

STALKER: Legends of the Zone Trilogy | <a href="" data-link-merchant=""" target="_blank">$39.99 at Xbox (Digital)

One of the biggest open world shooter franchises in PC gaming history has shadow dropped on Xbox and PlayStation. Get all three of the amazing STALKER games for $40 and play through them ahead of STALKER 2's launch later this year.

Also see: <a href="" data-link-merchant=""" data-link-merchant=""" target="_blank">STALKER Trilogy Bundle (PC, Digital, $10)

STALKER 2: Heart of Chornobyl |&nbsp;$59.99 at Amazon (Xbox)

STALKER 2: Heart of Chornobyl | <a href="" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"" target="_blank">$59.99 at Amazon (Xbox)

Survive The Zone's glory and horror in the first new STALKER game since 2010's Call of Pripyat. Built using Unreal Engine 5, STALKER 2 taps into the series' classic gameplay elements and atmosphere using the latest and greatest tech available. It's scheduled to launch on September 5, but is available to preorder now.

Also at: <a href="" data-link-merchant=""" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"" target="_blank">GMG (Steam, PC, $59.99) | <a href="" data-link-merchant=""" data-link-merchant=""" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"" target="_blank">GOG (PC, $59.99)

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.