Like a brief flicker of life in a dead Bloodsucker’s eyes, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Twitter account popped up with an announcement this week. The sequel is still being developed, and it’s being made in the Unreal Engine, the pixel powerhouse behind such games as Fortnite and—uh—Bacon Man: An Adventure. Developers GSC Game World seem to be getting awfully cosy with Epic Games, name-dropping them in the announcement as “colleagues”. I can download the engine for free right now, but I wouldn’t dare to call Tim Sweeney a colleague if he hadn’t personally shown up at my house and helped to arrange my desk.
Here’s what they said about it.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is powered by Unreal Engine: pic.twitter.com/RdDWr4yYj3
— S.T.A.L.K.E.R. OFFICIAL (@stalker_thegame) January 2, 2020
Note that coy mention of “digital stores”, aligned with Epic’s recent largesse in tying up exclusives for their storefront. I could see further announcements cementing this relationship. You can't really namedrop like that without leading to speculation, and Epic’s Fortnite dollars could easily support another trip to the Zone. There, I have speculated. They got me.
Though they're claiming there will be modding support, I’ll miss the X-Ray Engine and what's been done with it. It has seen me through some cold, dark, lonely nights, largely by creating them for me. Even now, I know there’s a flavour of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. out there to match my mood. Just this week, the first playable beta of Gunslinger was released after a decade of development. It overhauls every aspect of the game’s weaponry and more.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was previously announced last year as having a 2021 release date, but any one of those numbers could increase at any time.