What you need to know
- STALKER 2 developer GSC Game World has shared several new screenshots and gameplay details for the upcoming Xbox and PC exclusive.
- The screenshots show a version of The Zone that has partially been reclaimed by nature, yet still suffers from the devay and devastation brought about by dangerous mutants and warring factions.
- The game will have new mutants and anomalies, including a mutated deer that uses its bones as both armor and as a weapon.
- A new faction called Ward has risen in The Zone since the events of STALKER: Call of Pripyat, acting as a police-style force that aims to control The Zone's dangers.
- STALKER 2's survival mechanics will be more important, as not properly taking care of your character will result in stamina loss, visual hallucinations, difficulty aiming your weapons, and more.
In the PC Gamer UK January issue, GSC Game World, the developer of STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl, has shared several brand new screenshots of the game as well as new details about the title's gameplay systems and world design. Compared to previous STALKER games like Shadow of Chernobyl, fans can expect parts of The Zone to be more modernized and driven by technology, while other areas will have fallen even further into decay and disrepair. Nature has also begun to flourish since the events of the last STALKER game, Call of Pripyat, resulting in some locations that are surprisingly colorful and filled with life.
STALKER 2 will also add new mutants, such as irradiated deer that are unusually aggressive and use their horribly-mutated for armor and as weapons. These deer will also be able to summon nearby mutants for assistance and can even use psionic energy to create illusory copies of itself.
Anomalies — supernatural energy fields that spawn throughout The Zone and can burn you, electrocute you, violently spin you around, and more — are also being reworked, with the developers focusing on making them "more dangerous and more varied." Unlike previous games, rushing through anomalies in STALKER 2 will seriously hurt you and damage your gear, encouraging you to pay attention to your surroundings. However, like in the older STALKER games, brave and smart players will often be able to retrieve rare gameplay-altering items from anomalies called artefacts if they tread carefully.
STALKER 2 will also introduce a brand new faction to the franchise's iconic list of groups: Ward, a paramilitary faction that aims to control the dangers of The Zone — bandits, mutants, and anomalies alike — so that scientific research that has the potential to help all of humankind can be done on The Zone's many supernatural oddities. They are similar to Duty in that they want to stop The Zone from hurting others, but while Duty wants to destroy The Zone, Ward wants to harness and control it. Ward is led by Colonel Alexander Korshunov, a decorated soldier that created the faction by rallying experienced mercenaries under one banner.
Players can also expect the survival mechanics in STALKER 2 to be more present and important than they were in previous games. Going too long without water, food, or sleep won't just reduce your health; you'll have to deal with stamina loss, difficulty aiming your weapons, and audible stomach rumblings that have the potential to alert nearby enemies. Going too long without sleep specifically will impact your character's vision and may even cause visual hallucinations. You can prevent debuffs like these temporarily by consuming items like energy drinks, but eventually, ignoring the needs of your character will catch up with you.
Overall, it sounds like STALKER 2 is going to be a fantastic successor to the original series, and may even end up being one of the best Xbox games available if you're a fan of survival horror. STALKER 2 is expected to release on April 28, 2022 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One consoles, and Windows PCs for $60 (the Ultimate Edition costs $110).
Welcome to the Zone
Good hunting, stalker...
STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl will be full of dangerous threats, both human and supernatural. Additionally, there will be several factions to consider joining and there's also going to be a sprawling non-linear story to enjoy. Are you ready to enter the Zone?
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.
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