So Survarium - the pre-apocalpytic project that's emerged from the ruins of STALKER 2 - is an MMOFPS. In spite of that, Vostok Games told us that it's the STALKER franchise's "next evolutionary step." The results of a recent Twitter Q&A session, however, have me wondering if fans will soon be cursing evolution in much the same way I do every time I remember that I don't have wings, eagle vision, or every power conferred to honey badgers. Don't get me wrong: a lot of this stuff sounds incredibly interesting and - at least, in my eyes - goes quite a way toward putting the ghost of STALKER at peace. There are, however, some major structural changes that you might find tough to swallow.
"We will not be providing a seamless big world," explains the Q&A. "Survarium is going to be a session-based game. Our plan is to constantly expand the number of new locations in the game."
Moreover, questions involving offline modes and single-player options both got a flat "No" in response. And, given that other information, it's not entirely surprising (though assuredly still disappointing) that this won't be a persistent world.
So that's the stuff that exposes my emotions to a potentially fatal dose of radiation and mutates them into a Sadness Monster, who rarely harms others because it's too busy beating up itself. Everything else, though? It sounds, well, kind of completely great. Like these things, for instance:
"Many of the game elements will be in common [with STALKER], such as survival, anomalies, factions, mutants etc. Of course, the post-apocalyptic atmosphere will influence the gameplay, in many different ways. We plan to impose a limited number of players on a map per one play-session. This will make sure the game is not overcrowded with players... Taking into account that the entire mother nature is now against you, it’s hard to believe that being 3 or 4 of you will make you feel crowded. Certain missions are designed for a squad to separate, so you’ll have to act alone quite often."
Emphasis is mine on the last bit, because that, I feel, is key. This isn't an MMOFPS in the traditional sense. Rather, it appears to be a hybrid of squad-based sensibilities and more traditional "oh god, oh god, oh god I'm all alone and the bushes just rustled and it's probably all my greatest fears dressed as a clown" feelings of STALKER isolation. I'm still wary about how it'll all come together, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for NPC-driven bars and disheveled hub towns to tie the world together, but there's plenty of promise here.
The rest of the rather lengthy Q&A's well worth a read if you're interested. The bits concerning business model - while still largely obscured by the dingy gray haze of early development - give me hope, as do the general winks and nods at STALKER fandom. In an ideal world, this could be a much-needed step off the beaten path for both online shooters and STALKER. Evolution, don't fail me now.