New STALKER 2 screenshots make The Zone look damn good

STALKER 2
(Image credit: GSC Game World)

What you need to know

  • STALKER 2 developer GSC Game World recently released four new in-game screenshots of the game.
  • The screenshots showcase impressive lighting, shadows, models, and textures in the Unreal Engine 5-powered title. 
  • The images also feature the Great Swamps and possibly the Bloodsucker Village from the original STALKER games, as well as a bandit enemy, a mutant boar, and "blind dogs."
  • STALKER 2 is expected to release on Xbox and Windows PCs at some point in 2023. Development of the game has been disrupted by Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine.

STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated singleplayer games coming in 2023. Set within the borders of a fictional, supernatural version of the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation, the game promises players a tense and atmospheric journey throughout a dynamic and detailed open world.

While developer GSC Game World hasn't shown much gameplay yet — the recent "Come to Me" trailer was our first real look at some, in fact — plenty of in-engine screenshots have been released, giving fans a close look at some of the game's jaw-dropping environments. Recently, four more of these images were revealed, which you can see below.

STALKER 2 is being built with the new and improved Unreal Engine 5, and you can absolutely tell in these screenshots. The environmental lighting and shadows are stunning, and the quality of the models and textures is phenomenal, too. What impresses me more than anything else, though, is how insanely detailed the foliage is. The patches of grass, clumps of moss, bushes, and trees are, hands down, some of the best I've ever seen in a video game. 

Interestingly, the first and last screenshot in the gallery above appear to be taken from the Great Swamps area, a returning level from STALKER: Clear Sky, which is one of the three original STALKER titles. The last screenshot in particular features a hooded bandit enemy and showcases the Pumps location, which players could fully explore. Meanwhile, the second screenshot with the windmill may have been taken in the Bloodsucker Village from STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl and STALKER: Clear Sky, named after the deadly mutants that often wander nearby. It's unclear where the third screenshot was taken, though a boar and "blind dog" mutants can be seen in the frame.

Notably, the four images also give fans their first look at STALKER 2's heads-up display (HUD), which appears to be fairly minimalist. It looks like the HUD will show the player character's health, stamina, current survival needs, and ammo count. A compass that shows quest objectives, similar to the minimap from the original games, can also be seen at the top of the screen.

STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl is expected to release for Xbox and PC at some point in 2023, with preorders available now. GSC Game World has been developing what could be one of the best Xbox games in the midst of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, as the studio is based out of Kyiv. According to a recent interview, 130 of the developer's employees are still in Ukraine, with several of them actively fighting Russian troops on the front lines. The remaining 200 have moved to safety in the city of Prague, which now serves as the studio's headquarters.

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STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl

STALKER 2 is the long-awaited sequel to GSC Game World's original three STALKER games, which were loved by many for their incredible atmosphere, tense gunfights, and unique setting. You can expect a large dynamic open world, plenty of dangerous supernatural phenomena, resource-driven survival gameplay, and more. 

Buy at: Amazon (Xbox) (opens in new tab) | GMG (Steam) (opens in new tab)

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.