After over a decade, Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl will finally release next year and so far, it’s shaping up to be a wild ride. The Stalker series has been around since 2007 courtesy of Ukrainian developer GSC Game World, giving fans a mature first-person shooter franchise with survival mechanics.
Although Stalker has generated a dedicated fan base, the forthcoming sequel will likely be a first for many, particularly because it marks the first time the series will appear on a console. Part FPS, part survival, and part horror, Stalker 2 has garnered the attention of longtime fans and newcomers.
In anticipation of its launch next year, here’s everything we know about Stalker 2 including its release date, trailers, new features, and more.
Stalker 2 release date
Stalker 2 is gearing up to launch on April 28, 2022. The last installment, Stalker: Call of Pripyat launched in 2009, so you can see why the fans have been eagerly awaiting the next entry in the series.
It was first revealed in 2010, but underwent development turmoil, leading to a 12-year production cycle. The initial game was actually canceled in 2012 before being re-revealed in 2018 as the version we know today.
Thankfully, it’s available to preorder now and if you do, you get the following items:
- Extended campfire content
- Exclusive weapon skin
- Exclusive armor skin
- 'Early bird' multiplayer badge
There are also multiple purchasing options including the Deluxe Edition, which comes with in-game cosmetics, along with an Ultimate Edition featuring the story expansions and season pass.
Though it’s been known simply as Stalker 2 for quite a while, developer GSC Game World has slightly renamed the forthcoming sequel. It’s now called Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl, as revealed during Microsoft’s E3 2021 showcase. It will once again send players to the Chernobyl Anomalous Exclusion Zone, with one goal: Survival.
Stalker series explained
The Stalker series takes place around the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, with each entry focusing on various characters trying to survive after the catastrophe. Due to the destructive events caused by the nuclear reactor disaster, mutated humans and animals began springing up -- along with artifacts, which are known for giving special powers like stamina regeneration or radiation reduction.
Those who enter the Zone specifically in search of these artifacts are known as stalkers, hence the name of the series. As you play, you come across many of these artifacts.
Stalker will send you back to the Zone once again, as you attempt to survive. "The Exclusion Zone has changed dramatically after the second explosion hit the reactor in the year 2006," an excerpt from the game’s website reads.
“Violent mutants, deadly anomalies, warring factions have made the Zone a very tough place to survive. It turned out that the center of the Zone hides the source of incredible power representing a serious threat to the inhabitants of the Zone.”
Stalker 2 gameplay
We’ve gotten a couple looks at Stalker 2, but the most recent trailer was shown off at Microsoft’s E3 showcase. It was a fairly lengthy trailer, featuring a first look at gameplay and many of the characters and areas.
The E3 trailer switches between brutal gameplay segments and a group of survivors at a campfire, which will serve as your sanctuary when you’re not out in the open world. During the action-packed moments, we get to see how the main character Skif uses a weapon and its attachments.
For instance, Skif begins by firing an automatic weapon while using its iron sights before picking up an optic with more precise crosshairs. Take note of the deliberate animation of Skif picking up and equipping the attachment. You can then see how the weapon becomes much more effective during battle.
The trailer features more action than fans might be used to, but that doesn’t mean the survival elements are going away. You’ll need to balance stamina and hunger while maintaining your radiation meter. Think Fallout mixed with Metro.
As for its size, it will be "one of the biggest ones yet," allowing full exploration of its open world. In previous entries, the stages were large, but never truly felt open world -- but instead were designed as stages connected to one another.
But above all else, first-person shooting will be at the forefront as you defend yourself against mutated enemies, along with other humans.
Stalker 2 story
As with the previous entries, STALKER 2 will lean into player choice, not just in the short term, but in the long term as well.
"Discover the vast Chernobyl Exclusion Zone full of dangerous enemies, deadly anomalies, and powerful artifacts," GSC Game World says. "Unveil your own epic story as you make your way to the Heart of Chernobyl. Choose your paths wisely, as they will determine your fate and shape the future of the Zone in the end."
If this installment is anything like the last, there will be various endings depending on choices you make throughout your play through. For example, if you let certain NPCs die, you might not get the best ending. The endings can also differ based on how much cash you have in-game, or which factions you choose to join. Ultimately, this encourages replayability since there are so many possible outcomes.
In previous installments, the one thing that always remained constant despite the different endings was the expansion of the Zone.
The Zone will be ever-present in Stalker 2.
Of course, developer GSC Game World hasn’t revealed much about Stalker 2’s story at this point, but we’ll likely find out more as we get closer to release in 2022.
Will Stalker 2 be on PS5?
The release of Stalker 2 is momentous for many reasons. Aside from its lengthy development cycle, this also marks the first time the series will appear on consoles. It’s coming to Xbox Series X and S, as well as PC.
It will make full use of the newest hardware, with ray tracing and beautiful visuals being a main focus. Thanks to the power of Microsoft’s new systems, Stalker 2 seems like it will be a gorgeous-looking game. Stalker 2 is also launching on Xbox Game Pass on day one, so more players will get their hands on it upon release.
But, unfortunately for PlayStation owners, they’ll have to wait for the game to come to PS5. The Verge recently reported on documents that show Stalker 2 has only signed a three-month exclusivity deal, so perhaps the wait won't be too long.