The Xbox Series X games showcase included a surprising new trailer for long-awaited sequel, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2.
The trailer itself doesn’t offer much to go on in terms of new details, as it primarily focuses on the hostile, nuclear wasteland world of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series (formally known as the Zone). According to a post on the Xbox blog written by Zakhar Bocharov (PR specialist for developer GSC Game World) that focus was very much intentional.
“The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise was always about the Zone,” Bocharov says. “We see it as a standalone — and hugely important — character of the series. In the world we created, the nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 wasn’t the only one to occur. The second explosion hit the reactor in 2006, creating The Zone as we know it. It’s a dangerous place, filled with mutated creatures, deadly radiation, and a strange, anomalous energy. However, it’s not just an isolated place that’s dangerous by itself, but rather a threat to all of mankind. Still, there is no stopping for the explorers.”
That last line is a reference to the titular S.T.A.L.K.E.R. characters in the series. An acronym for Scavengers, Trespassers, Adventurers, Loners, Killers, Explorers, and Robbers, these characters wander the wastelands in search of opportunities, resources, and even just trouble. According to Bocharov, the Zone is more dangerous than ever for these stalkers in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2.
Some of that increased danger can be attributed to the new A-Life 2.0 system. This expansion of the previous game’s A.I. program makes it so that life in the Zone is always occurring even if you’re not looking at it at that very moment. It also means that characters possess an increased will to survive and that your actions may have consequences beyond what you initially see.
Elements such as that help explain why developer GSC describes S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 as their “biggest game so far.” Bocharov also notes that the Xbox Series X is a “good match for these ambitions” as it offers a “no compromises needed” experience.
New features aside, the main draw of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 remains the legacy of the original game. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl caught many off-guard when it was released in 2007. Its unique take on the survival-horror genre helped shape the impending evolution of the survival game concept and stands as a unique gaming experience despite the presence of imitators that have come along since its release.
We’ll see if S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 lives up to that legacy when it’s released at a currently unknown date for Xbox Series X and PC (with support for other platforms possible yet to be revealed).