S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is in development, but not due until 2021

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Good news for fans of uncompromisingly bleak and incomparably atmospheric Eastern European sandbox shooters: an official S.T.A.L.K.E.R. sequel is on the way, original devs GSC Game World have confirmed.

The less-good news is that we’re all going to have to continue playing mods for the original games for a while yet. According to the announcement, the game isn’t due until 2021. And for those itching to pass the time with the similarly-themed Metro Exodus, that’s slipped to next year.

As for S.T.A.L.K.E.R, we don’t have much to go on just yet. There’s a rather minimalist teaser website, plus a short confirmation from original studio GSC Game World on Facebook. Whether this means the legendary sandbox shooter series is really back on track remains to be seen.

We first heard rumblings of an official sequel being in the works way back in 2010, with plans for the game to launch in 2012. Like all good plans, it imploded horribly, along with the studio. The company reconstituted themselves in late 2014, but they’ve been fairly quiet ever since. We did at least get a remade Cossacks game out of them, but historical strategy isn’t really what we’re here for, is it?

Quite how much of their original 2010 plans for the game have survived is unknown, as is how many of original developers are working on the project, but given that GSC have managed to deliver three separate packages of thematically thrilling radioactive hellscape, let’s hope they’re well-placed to pull off a fourth. While the number of imitators is steadily growing (such as the mostly arena-shooter focused Survarium recently adding co-op missions, and the less supernatural Escape From Tarkov on the horizon), there’s really only one S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

In the meantime, those wanting to take a trip down horribly haunted and intensely murderous memory lane might want to check out S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Chernobyl, a fan-assembled standalone sandbox containing almost all the environments from all three main-line games in the series to date, plus a few new bits. If nothing else, it’s a nice way to while away a weekend, hiding from screaming mutants in the night. What would you even call that? Horror-tourism? Either way, it’s fun.

44 Comments

  1. Don Reba says:

    Good to see them being more realistic about dates. Although, you can be sure they won’t make the one, either.

  2. DuncUK says:

    I’m cautiously optimistic for this… 2021 is a long way away and I still remember the development hell and severe delays of the original game. Not to mention that most of the stalker devs left to start Survarium and that the guy that own the IP seems to be an erratic control freak. So many things could derail this game.

    Assuming it gets made, I hope that it sticks to its roots and doesn’t get bogged down with crafting mechanics or RPG elements. I loved the way the originals gated progression by slowly yielding better weapons and ammo – even if you found an excellent sniper rifle early game, without a steady trickle of ammo for it it was useless.

    I also hope they keep the faction mechanics and tracking of every AI character in the game. I love the immersion of repeatedly meeting the same wandering bands of NPCs in different areas still yielding weapons I saw them loot from dead foes, as opposed to some AI director spawning and despawning stuff at the periphery. I want to feel incidental in a hostile world and not like I’m starring in the Truman show.

    • Chiron says:

      I want to feel incidental in a hostile world and not like I’m starring in the Truman show.

      From Morrowind to Fallout: NV thats always been the biggest reason I bounce off open world games.

      The increasing reliance on crafting and having to have your character “eat” is also another one, urgh.

      • njury says:

        The eating thing I sort of get, but when I played Metro many years ago the whole idea of preserving the filters for the mask was thrilling to me. The resource management was a huge part of the tension in that game for me. If food can have a similar role I think I’m up for it. As long as it’s not a crafting minigame it can be good. If it gives a valid reason to check for tin cans in deserted kitchens and stuff it could be awesome.

        • DuncUK says:

          Early versions of Stalker featured meters for eating, drinking and sleeping but I think they were ditched by the devs because they weren’t considered fun. I seem to remember they returned in some form in CoP although that might have been a mod I installed. Hunger, thirst and fatigue are hard mechanics to do in a way that is not just a chore.

          They even described an early system where NPCs could also take on missions that you’d been assigned and complete them ahead of you… as cool as that sounds, it was rather unsurprisingly dropped as it was not only not fun but removed the sandbox freedom as it became a race to do missions you’d received before the AI did.

          • Chromatose says:

            Nah, they made it into all three STALKER games at release, although they were far more on the side of building atmosphere rather than the usual chorelike rhythm you find in most ‘survival’ games. Stopping in a quiet spot or around a campfire to munch on a can of Tourists’ Breakfast after a long, dismal trek over the Chernobyl wasteland is still a strangely compelling addition to the games IMHO.

    • krikitarmy says:

      I also hope they keep the faction mechanics and tracking of every AI character in the game. I love the immersion of repeatedly meeting the same wandering bands of NPCs in different areas still yielding weapons I saw them loot from dead foes, as opposed to some AI director spawning and despawning stuff at the periphery.
      If it doesn’t have this, it’s not STALKER. Not to me, anyway. Factions of NPCs wandering the landscape who I can run into repeatedly, grow attached to because they helped me fight some bandits, then find dead in a swamp a few hours later, is what makes STALKER what it is. As far as I’m aware, no other game has replicated that.

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      I think you’ve covered some but not all of the basics of what makes S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Horror elements were pretty unique too.

  3. BlankedyBlank says:

    Well, looks like they’ve got all of their directory permissions set properly so there’s no further sleuthing that can be done that way (nor are there tasty titbits in the source).

    This is kind of neat, though: link to static.stalker-online.com

  4. MajorFordson says:

    No excitement to be had until the devs and game engine are confirmed, and I say that as a huge fan. With a time period this long who knows what will come of it.

  5. Ross Angus says:

    While S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Chernobyl did offer me a moment wonderfully close to the 1979 film (in an escort mission, of all things!) the impression I got online was that it’s more of a framework (albeit a fully playable one) for building other stuff onto. There is a plot, but it’s nowhere near as compelling as the original games or even other super-mods such as Lost Alpha.

  6. Artist says:

    S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is in development – again! It will offer gently balanced loot crates and a battle royale mode out of the box, for maximum franchise farming! And zombies… eh, mutants, ofc..
    Bet? =)

    • UnfriendlyDevice says:

      I get that these are go to obvious jokes for the terminally uninspired but why do you think this would be a thing for Stalker 2?

  7. Artist says:

    Oh, important question: Is Eugene Kim part of the “new” project? He was one of the original developers, right? RIGHT? Putin said so…

  8. Matys says:

    I want to believe this can be what it deserves to be, but with the past sequel’s controversial development and with most companies more interested in catering to mass consumers and trends I just don’t trust them to let this be the single player rough neck experience it’s always been. Ubi turned beyond good and evil into a space mmo, how much do you want to bet they’re thinking of turning this into a battle royale? Here’s to hoping that I’m wrong, I’d love a proper Stalker 2. But the timing feels very curious, why now?

  9. BobbyDylan says:

    I’m glad it’s coming. A new Stalker in the works, a System shock remake, and a system shock 3 in the works…. Star Control getting sequels and re-imaginings…. it’s like all my teenage year gaming obsessions are coming back. What a wonderfully exciting time!

  10. CaidKean says:

    I really don’t get why anyone think there’s any reason to be excited. Anyone who actually made meaningful contributions as leads on SoC, which in my opinion remains the strongest one, has moved on from GSC, with key people being split between 4A Games of Metro fame and Vostok Games, the makers of Survarium.

    Let’s also not forget that the main reason Shadow of Chernobyl even saw the light of day was THQ taking reins of the project and forcing them to set reasonable goals and deadlines after being stuck in development hell for a substantial amount of time.

    No, the only way I’d be even remotely optimistic for this project would have been if GSC sold the IP off to THQ Nordic and THQ Nordic gave 4A Games a chance to create STALKER 2.

    I think GSC has demonstrated repeatedly that they’re not currently a competent and talented game development house, hell their only title since the last STALKER game was Cossacks 3, which whilst enjoyable if you were a fan of the franchise, was also a buggy mess that didn’t really innovate much on the previous titles.

    The fact that they’re willing to announce the game, set a year-specific release date but release no information whatsoever about the actual development team or demonstrate the game at all to me shows a lack of confidence in their own product.

    To me, STALKER is still dead and unless GSC sells off the rights the most I can hope for is for future Metro titles to inch ever closer to STALKERs best aspects.

    • Chromatose says:

      4A are really, really good at polished linear corridor shooters, which is about the complete antithesis of what I want from a new STALKER game. I agree with you that it’s unlikely whatever STALKER 2 ends up being will in any way recapture the magic of the original, but I kind of feel like if anybody takes over the reins, it would need to be something like GSC commissioning a plucky band of modders, or hell, give it to Pirhana Bytes or Warhorse. STALKER ain’t STALKER to me without being so janky it just about falls apart!

      • CaidKean says:

        In case you aren’t aware, Andrew Prokhorov and Yuriy Negrobov, the lead designers of Shadow of Chernobyl, both work at 4A Games now, Prokhorov being a founding member of 4A Games and having the creative lead for the titles and Negrobov having joined the team after GSC’s dissolution in 2012.

        It’s also worth noting that after Prokhorov left GSC, Negrobov was the sole lead designer for both Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat. So 4A Games employs both of the lead designers for the entire STALKER franchise.

        My understanding is that the decision to make Metro titles the way they have has been a conscious decision due to lessons learned from the development hell that STALKER wound up in. I also speculate that it might have been very hard for them to pitch a similarly ambitious title to STALKER to publishers given the issues surrounding its development.

        • Chromatose says:

          Oh yeah, I mean I completely understand *why* they pivoted towards more focused, linear experiences and I absolutely do not grudge them doing so. The Metro games were absolutely excellent.

          But that’s exactly the reason why I don’t think that 4A would be the right candidates to develop a STALKER sequel – their aims, ambitions and core competencies would mean what they ended up producing could very well be excellent, but it wouldn’t be STALKER.

          • MrEvilGuy says:

            Perhaps times are changing, and they’ll see the light in returning back to Stalker style.

  11. SaintAn says:

    Now that Bethesda is running Fallout into the ground, I hope this is good enough to replace it.

    • kament says:

      I had to log in and ask: wait, what?

      • krikitarmy says:

        A lot of people really who loved Fallout 3 or New Vegas didn’t like Fallout 4. Is this really the first you’re hearing about that?

        • BobbyDylan says:

          TBH, as a die hard Fallout 1 and 2 and Tactics fan, Fallout 3 and 4 were both pretty substandard Fallout games.

          • CaidKean says:

            Agreed, but Fallout 3, to me at least, held more Fallout vibes than 4 did. Still, I guess at least so far Bethesda hasn’t managed to trump the turd that was Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel. What a rancid piece of fecal matter that game was.

        • kament says:

          No, it’s not that. The issue of nu-Fallout (that of oblivion-with-guns variety) notwithstanding, how can Stalker replace it? Granted, it does have guns, but…

  12. Jalan says:

    The good news is: this is happening. The bad news is: until it isn’t… again.

    It’s also great news in that now we can all experience the “I don’t get why people liked Shadow of Chernobyl so much, it was pretty average”/etc. outside the likes of nostalgia-fueled articles about what the writer(s) think made the game so memorable/great/so on.

  13. dungeoncrawl says:

    I have all the prior games from Steam sales and have tried a few times to get into this but lose interest quickly. I don’t get it either….this is the kind of game I SHOULD like. Post apocalyptic, open world exploration, etc. Somebody give me a hint on what I’m doing wrong to lose interest so quickly. I WANT to love these games. Is it mods? Is it a certain “best” game to start with? Is it a “invest 4 hours and THEN it gets awesome”? Help.

    • faircall says:

      It took me a few times until the experience clicked for me, but they’re now some of my favourite games. Shadow of Chernobyl is the one to start with in my opinion. If you have lost interest in the past then I think you should try out some mods, at least visual ones, because for me the main attraction of the game is the atmosphere. With Shadow of Chernobyl the first couple of missions are a bit dry, but the game definitely picks up a sort of momentum and doesn’t let up. I would not bother too much in taking on quests about ‘find X’s stash’ as they can get tedious and aren’t always worth the effort. I probably got really engrossed in the game after maybe 3 hours or so, once I had a decent arsenal and was constantly exploring new and horrific environments. And then I was deeply hooked, and played through the entire series over 2 weeks of very late nights. And that’s perhaps important too- allowing a decent chunk of time to play in a single sitting so that you can have a sense of progress.

      • dungeoncrawl says:

        Thanks. I’ll give that a try. To add to my confusion, I loved the Metro games. I love all the fallout games. Maybe it’s the learning curve. I’ll be giving it another shot.

    • kament says:

      I don’t know. I mean, I really should hate the game (I never cared to try the sequels), and with good reason. On some level, I guess I still do.

      They squandered the idea of the zone. They’ve turned it into a shooter of all things; oh, how I loathed that incessant manshooting made even worse with godawful barks of which there were precisely two.

      Still I kept on playing, because if the game was good at something, it was good at promising to get better. To suddenly open up, get depth and nuance.

      I guess it boils down to ambience. And suspense; in those rare moments between bouts of violence, I mean.

  14. Replikant says:

    This what I would want:
    – A bit more of “Roadside Picknick” with respect to anomalies (weirder/stranger, less easily spotted),
    – a bit less scattering with starting weapons,
    – less and/or adjustable respawns,
    – maybe adjustable amount of enemies.
    – Keep the world open
    – keep rewarding exploration
    Thank you.

  15. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Metro is delayed ’till next year?
    You’ve put me in a right grump. Not happy at all.

  16. Peppergomez says:

    get out of here, stalker

  17. fish99 says:

    I didn’t even know GSC existed anymore. Didn’t it close and everyone left, with most of the staff going off to make Survarium? So who is making this and what funding do they have?

    I’ll be keeping my hype levels extremely low for this.

  18. DirtyDivinity says:

    So, an old dream comes true?
    6 years ago when S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was canceled it had been bitter for me.
    So right now I absolutly have to point the nose to the moonlight through the branches of radioactive poplars and state that aaaaawuuuuuuuuuu !
    (sorry)
    And…2021, it’s reasonable. 2021 is OK for me.
    GSC needs time.
    They are experienced, they have learned from their successes and failures.
    They know they need time
    Drinking vodka.
    Recover.
    Drinking more vodka.
    Add bugs.
    Enhance the bugs.
    It’s a process that requires time.
    Joking aside, I trust them. Their broken side is fitting with STALKER’s broken world. It’s a whole. This imperfection is part of perfection. In any case, CoP was an improvement in terms of production (and it was wonderful to, although for some people not as striking as SoC). They will do the job.
    And for the work already done, for these experiences that I owe them, I want to express my gratitude and respect.

  19. KastaRules says:

    So Marked One I saved you and I’m not gonna pretend I did it to win favors upstairs, you do some jobs for me and we’re even. Besides, keeping you busy might be a good way to deal with your amnesia.
    – Sidorovich

    • DirtyDivinity says:

      Huh, OK. Here is already the tail of the pseudodog. And… ? A Jellyfish, you said? Do you have any job that leads me to the north?

  20. Ham Solo says:

    I am cautiosly looking forward to this one. But I hope they give themselves time to fix bugs before release so it doesn’t come out as a defacto alpha version.

  21. caff says:

    I want this. I want it to be good. Call of Pripyat was superb (yes, I am going to try that Call of Chernobyl mod).

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>