Two years after being announced, GSC Game World's S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 has returned to headlines following Microsoft's reveal that the game will be an Xbox console exclusive. During the Xbox Games Showcase, Microsoft celebrated the announcement by unveiling S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2's first official trailer.

A beloved cult series, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (commonly called STALKER) is based upon 1979 film Stalker as well as the novel Roadside Picnic, upon which the film is based. The series is famous for its gritty, realistic approach to the post-apocalyptic FPS genre.

STALKER 2 marks the first time console gamers will have access to this unique series. While not much footage has been shown, the numerous details provided during the showcase as well as the promised likeness to previous titles, means there is already plenty to unpack. Here is everything we know about STALKER 2.

STALKER 2'S Story And Setting

Coinciding with the reveal during the Xbox Games Showcase, GSC Game World PR Specialist Zakhar Bocharov wrote a short article on Xbox Wire where he provided some more details on the game. STALKER 2, like its predecessors, will take place in the Zone, an irradiated wasteland near Chernobyl that formed following multiple nuclear meltdowns. The radiation has caused numerous alterations to the environment with mutated people and animals in abundance. The most deadly threats in the Zone, however, are the anomalies. Anomalies are aberrations that defy the laws of nature. Formed following the nuclear meltdowns, these anomalies take on various forms but almost all are fatal to organic life. Some anomalies distort objects while others destroy though corrosion, electrocution, or incineration. An electric anomaly, as well as a distortion type, both made appearances in the new trailer.

No details on the actual plot have been provided but Bocharov did confirm a few things about the general context. First, players will once again take on the role of a S.T.A.L.K.E.R: a bounty hunter who explores the zone in search of valuable information and loot. Second, the narrative will be a branching story with moral choices and multiple endings. Bocharov claims the decisions players make will affect the world as a whole and not just the immediate story.

STALKER 2'S Gameplay

No gameplay footage has been shown, nor has there been any particular details about the gameplay of STALKER 2, but Bocharov made it clear that this new game will have deep roots in the vision shared by past titles, saying “With S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, we are finally creating the thing we’ve wanted to make since the very beginning.” Thus, looking at the past games will provide at least a general sense of how gameplay in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 will operate.

Previous STALKER titles are FPS games with an emphasis on survival and horror. Players need to actively monitor their well-being paying attention to radiation sickness and hunger while also taking care to upgrade their gear. Many other games, especially shooters set in the post-apocalypse, have similar systems but they stand out in STALKER because of the player's frailty. Finding improvements to armor and guns is vital to survival as enemies kill the player quickly and poor quality guns are both weak and highly inaccurate.

Aside from the expected bandits and mutants common to the genre, players also have to deal with the aforementioned anomalies. In prior games, players are equipped with a detector that beeps when anomalies are close. Players could then use metal bolts to asses the exact boundaries of the anomaly. Touching an anomly means death, but navigating them is important since some hold artifacts which are special items that provide special perks like increased health.

One area where STALKER 2 will expand on its predecessors is with its world. Whereas prior games in the series were interconnected levels separated by loading screen, STALKER 2 will be a fully-explorable open world boasting advanced AI. The previous STALKER games were well known for their dynamic AI, as they included a “living world simulating system” called A-Life. STALKER 2 looks to expand on this system with A-Life 2.0. According to Bocharov, the game world will exist and evolve outside of the players input.

STALKER 2'S Release Date

No official release date has been unveiled for STALKER 2, but the game is still planned to meet the previously announced 2021 release window. When STALKER 2 launches it will release on the PC and Xbox Series X and be available free to those with Xbox Game Pass.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 has had a long, complex history, with plans for it being discussed as early as 2010. Now, the game is not just officially coming but its coming with the backing of Xbox and the advanced technology offered by the Unreal Engine. Fans have waited a long time, and will have to wait a little longer, but it might actually be worth it.