Fans of the Stalker franchise (stylized S.T.A.L.K.E.R.) have been waiting about a decade for a real-deal numbered sequel, and yesterday's Xbox Games Showcase gifted them with a first trailer for Stalker 2's open-world, first person horror experience. Unfortunately, as some FAQ answers from developers GSC Game World clarify, the Stalker 2 trailer wasn't captured in-game, and it seems like its launch for PC and Xbox Series X may be a long ways off.
As spotted by our friends at Eurogamer, GSC Game World shared some more details on Stalker 2 through its website and Twitter after the trailer's premiere. Near the top of the FAQ list, GSC confirms that Stalker 2 is launching simultaneously for PC and Series X, and like all the games shown by Microsoft yesterday, will hit Game Pass day one.
So far, so good for word on this next-gen Stalker experience, which GSC also confirms is using Unreal Engine. As for whether what we saw was representative of the actual game and when we can expect to play it, folks itching to get back to the Zone should temper their expectations. After previously announcing a target of 2021, GSC now says it is "not ready to disclose the release date just yet." On top of that, GSC confirms that the trailer was made in-engine ("actual game models were used to create it"), but also says that it only "demonstrates the level of graphics and atmosphere we are aiming to achieve on release."
Neither the shifting release window nor the clarifications about the trailer make it seem like we'll be returning to Chernobyl soon. As with some of Xbox's first-party titles seen yesterday that appear to be Series X console exclusives, a lack of gameplay footage and a next-gen and PC-only commitment may indicate that Stalker 2 is still quite a ways out from release.
That said, there is some additional good news for dedicated fans of the franchise on PC. The older Stalker games have been buoyed for years by an intense modding scene, and GSC says it is "fully committed to make modding as simple as possible on day one."
All in all, yesterday's Stalker surprise is mixed. Yes, it's still in development, and from all GSC's talk of its open world, anomalies, and player choice it sounds like the sequel's staying true to what built Stalker's cult fanbase in the first place. Plus, mods are a go. It just seems like it might be a while before the Zone pulls folks back in.