(Pocket-lint) - The first Stalker game was a cult success, a bizarre and often prickly shooter that took players into the heart of the Chornobyl radiation zone to uncover horrendous secrets and anomalies.
It got sort of sequels in the form of Call of Pripyat and Clear Sky, but dedicated fans have had to wait well over a decade for an actual full-on second game. Now it's on the way - find out all the key details, right here.
Stalker 2 release date
Stalker 2 was initially scheduled to launch in August 2022, but its Ukrainian developer GSC Game World has had to push the game back as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, unsurprisingly.
It's been 111 days since the war broke into our home, changing everything and everyone around. GSC Game World is a Ukrainian company, so our story is alike.https://t.co/jeNu3TLRs7#GoodHuntingStalker #CheckPDA #GSC #stalker2 #devhighlight— S.T.A.L.K.E.R. OFFICIAL (@stalker_thegame) June 14, 2022
This means that at present there's simply a 2023 release window slated for the game, which is apparently back in active production, although real-world events mean that the date could slip further.
Stalker 2 platforms
The first Stalker games were classic for pushing your PC hard - they didn't run very well, but could look bleakly impressive if you could manage to turn on all their settings (and grab some key mods).
That will hopefully not be a problem this time around, but Stalker 2 is indeed confirmed for Windows PCs. It will also be coming to Xbox Series X/S, and will be part of Xbox Game Pass so that you can play it at no extra cost if you're a subscriber.
There's no word on whether the game will come to PlayStation 5 right now, but we'd anticipate that it might hit Sony's platform eventually.
Stalker 2 story
The reality is that we don't know too much about the story that Stalker 2 will tell yet - its developers have talked about principles rather than the minutiae of what you'll be getting up to and who you'll meet.
That does leave us some concepts that should be reliable, though, in particular that the game will again be set in the vast contamination zone around Chernobyl, and that you'll have to venture into zones that are filled with anomalies that can change the world around them in powerful ways.
There will be other scavengers and factions to navigate around and fight, and we'd anticipate plenty of non-player characters that you'll be able to help if you can. If it's like previous games, you'll also have to keep them alive to meet the requirements for different endings.
From the gameplay trailer below, it looks like we'll be playing as a male character called Skif, but we don't have confirmation on whether this is subject to customisation.
Stalker 2 gameplay
We got a full look at gameplay from Stalker 2 back in 2021, with a five-minute gameplay demo that cuts between a group chatting about the Zone around a campfire, and excerpts of the player fighting and exploring.
As you might expect, this is a first-person shooter that will focus on combat and survival elements, forcing you to scrounge weapons and ammunition in order to stay protected enough to survive.
There are a few clips of combat scenarios that show what looks like pretty punchy gunplay with a range of weapons. Scopes look realistic and have limited and specific uses, unlike in something pulpier like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
However, there will also be some hugely powerful experimental weaponry to find and use if you can, like the railgun-looking electric rifle we see in the gameplay trailer.
You can also see a few different examples of anomalies, including anti-gravitational puddles hanging in the sky that can explode living things without a moment's notice. You'll have to rely on technology to help you navigate these.
As well as human enemies there will be plenty of monstrous mutants to avoid or confront, and we see both small and large examples, including a terrifying humanoid that can phase in and out of our world to avoid our bullets.
The game looks like a visual powerhouse, just like its predecessors were for the time, and it's got lighting to die for, with stormy nights and creepy laboratories lit by eerie green glows. We would assume that it'll make good use of ray-tracing, and will be interested to see if it can manage this on consoles.