STALKER 2: Release Date, Gameplay, Pre-Order & More

Everything We Know So Far About Stalker 2

Stalker (S.T.A.L.K.E.R) is a gaming franchise that’s very near and dear to gamers around the world. It’s a first-person shooter game series with RPG mechanics and a touch of horror. The previous entry, STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl released back in 2007. Since then, there’s been no communication from GSC Game World, until 2020. At Xbox E3 Game Showcase, Fans all over the world were surprised to see Stalker 2 getting announced. This article is going to cover Stalker 2 story, gameplay, release date, trailer, NFT additions, multiplayer news, pre-orders, DLC plans, and much more. 

Stalker Game Backstory

First things first, the word “S.T.A.L.K.E.R” is actually an acronym for scavengers, trespassers, adventures, loners, killers, explorers, and robbers. It’s a brilliant way to squeeze in the game’s tone and setting into the name itself.

World of Stalker

Stalker series world is based in an alternate Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The story starts by explaining how there was a second nuclear explosion after the first (actual) one. According to Stalker’s lore, the 2nd exclusion zone is part of the U.S.S. and home to secret labs conducting shady psionic ability experiments. 

Origins of “The Zone”

So as we know from pop culture, shady Russian experiments tend to go haywire, and this particular one was no exception. In 2006, this scientific experimentation led to a catastrophe that caused a meteorological phenomenon. It also heavily mutated all life around the area i.e. plants, animals, and humans. This heavily radiated area around the explosion was known as “The Zone.” 

The Stalkers

Now The Zone is home to anomalies that create “Artifacts.” These are objects that have psionic powers that Stalkers search for themselves. Now stalkers are either lone wolves or members of a rival faction. Additionally, there’s a Duty Faction that wants to destroy the Zone and a Freedom Faction that wants the zone to be accessible to everyone. 

So, you are dropped into this power struggle in a mutant-filled world and scarce ammo and resources. Every corner has a new danger lurking so staying on your toes is mandatory.

All Stalker Games So Far

Even though the latest entry will be called Stalker 2, there have been multiple entries released before. Let’s discuss each one and see how they fit into the grand narrative of the Stalker universe. 

Please note that the following discussion of the previous games may contain spoilers. So if you’re looking to play the older Stalker entries before the new one comes out, I’d suggest skipping this section.

Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007)

Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl
Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl Cover Art

The first Stalker game in the series introduced us to the radiated and mutant infested area “The Zone”. It debuted back in 2007 for Windows PC. The book Roadside Picnic and the film Stalker were the inspiration behind the first game. 

You start in the shoes of The Marked One, an amnesiac man who wakes up in a desolated landscape filled with threats. He finds a PDA on him that displays the message “Kill Strelok.” However, here’s where things get mysterious, Stelok is his own name. But of course, he doesn’t remember it. neither the origin of this message. And so begins our journey into the world of Stalker.

Speaking of the world, the map in stalker one was huge for its time. It extended for 30 kilometers across Chernobyl and included Pripyat and the powerplant. The amazing thing about it is that it was all rendered according to the real-life Chernobyl and the area around it. 

Our player, The Marked One, has a handy anomaly detector that helps him stay clear of any dangers that lurk outside. The artifacts players find along the way help them buff or debuff their attributes. It was a unique open-world RPG that really established itself as a cult classic. 

Stalker: Clear Sky (2008)

Stalker: Clear Sky
Stalker: Clear Sky Cover Art

The Stalker Clear Sky Debuted in 2008 as a spiritual sequel to the Shadow of Chernobyl. The original publish THQ stepped down as Deep Silver took the reins of the series. For those who don’t know, Deep Silver is the publisher behind the highly acclaimed “Metro” game series.

Clear Sky introduces us to Scar, our new protagonist on a mission to stop a bunch of Stalkers from entering “The Zone’s Center”. And he has a good reason behind it as the center is home to the forbidden nuclear power plant. Strelok, the protagonist from the first game is also referenced here as he was the only one to come back alive from that place. 

Stalker Clear Sky also amped up the survival horror elements a bit as well. The resources were scarce as usual and mutants were more horrifying than ever. It used almost similar locations as the first installment but added new areas to freshen things up a bit.

Clear Sky also introduced the ability to customize weapons and armor while also letting players partake in Faction Wars. Players could also join particular factions for specific rewards and gears. But the biggest twist in Clear Sky was facing off against the final boss, Strelok himself. So the story comes full circle in this second entry. 

Stalker: Call of Pripyat (2009)

Stalker: Call of Pripyat
Stalker: Call of Pripyat Cover Art

The third installment in the Stalker series takes place right after the Clear sky and Shadow of Chernobyl. This entry debuted in 2009 and featured some of the most realistic game mechanics in the series. Factors like thirst, hunger, sleep, weapon wear, and repairing all heavily impacted the gameplay. Stalker Call of Pripyat was the most refined stalker to date as an RPG.

The story so far was about the path to “The Zone” was open and the government steps in by launching “Operation Fairway.” You take the role of Major Alexander Degtyarev, an ex-SBU agent who’s now a Stalker. You’re dropped into “The Zone” to search for the crash site of helicopters from the initial military operation.

The main focus is on the abandoned city of Pripyat which is unnerving on its own. It’s infested with mutants of all varieties with surprisingly better AI. They’re hard to kill, and harder to run away from. It makes every encounter a matter of life and death. But the biggest addition to the game is the “emissions.” These are random anomalies that cause earthquakes and the only way to survive them is by seeking refuge in a shelter. The two-minute timer before eventual emission sends a chill down players and creates tension unlike ever before.

Stalker 2 Release Date

Originally planned to release on April 28th, 2022, Stalker 2 was eventually delayed to December 8th, 2022.

However, this tweet was way before the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Fans were eager to step back into the world of Stalker since it’s been almost 13 years since the last installment. However, it seems fate has other plans and the game’s release date is the least of developers’ problems.

On February 28th, GSC Game World released a video in response to fans asking if the studio is doing well in current circumstances. Turns out, the situation is direr than fans could have anticipated.

The video displayed why GSC Game World was again forced to delay Stalker 2 by a massive 7 months period. Their home, the city of Kyiv was targeted by a Russian Invasion leading to the team’s major work being on hold until the conflict is resolved.

Stalker 2 Won’t Release in Russia

Now the bad news, GSC Game World has cut ties with its Russian audience. This means that Stalker 2 won’t be sold in Russia due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. 

According to a post from GSC Game World on Russian social media site VK (Post Taken Down), “The game will no longer launch later this year in Russia as initially planned, however, all digital pre-orders of Stalker 2 throughout the region will still be honored. 

Videos games have always been an escape for gamers around the world from the harsh times we live in today. It’s extremely sad to see the political climate affecting a globally beloved franchise to cut ties with its fanbase. I genuinely hope for a peaceful resolution of this conflict.

Platforms Stalker 2 Will Release On

Stalker 2: Shadow of Chornobyl is an Xbox console exclusive. The game will launch on Xbox Series X, Series S as well as PC. Xbox Game Pass owners will have access to Stalker 2 on day one which is fantastic news. On PC, the game will initially launch on Microsoft Store and Steam then later come on Epic Store.

So will Stalker 2 launch on PS4 or PS5? As far as PS4 is concerned, Stalker 2 won’t be coming to PS4 as the hardware isn’t capable enough to run the game properly. It’s a true next-gen game from GSC Game World and might come to PS5 after a few months or even a year. 

Stalker 2 Pre-Order

Stalker 2 Preorder Infographics
Preorder for Stalker 2 is Now Open

The Preorders for Stalker 2 are live on their site and from other digital retailers. Physical versions are also announced but for the time being, only digital preorders are live. All preorder versions come with exclusive goodies and content including extended campfire content, exclusive weapon, and armor skins, and an ‘early bird’ multiplayer badge. 

There are 3 main preorder bundles that you can get your hands on right now. 

Standard Edition

  1. Priced at $59.99 (Prices may vary region-wise)
  2. Access to complete game
  3. Preorder bonus content
  4. Dynamic Theme (Steam)
  5. Animated Avatar (Steam)
  6. Stalker Themed Frame (Steam)

Deluxe Edition

  1. Priced at $79.99 (Prices may vary region-wise)
  2. Access to complete game
  3. All Content from Standard Edition
  4. Exclusive Side Missions and In-Game Content
  5. Digital Artbook (Steam)
  6. Official Soundtrack (Steam)
  7. Exclusive Character
  8. 1 Costume and 3 Weapon Skins (For Single-Player Campaign)
  9.  2 Costumes and 3 Weapon Skins (For Multiplayer)

Ultimate Edition

  1. Priced at $109.99 (Prices may vary region-wise)
  2. All Content from Standard and Deluxe Editions
  3. 1 Costume and 3 Weapon Skins (For Single Player)
  4. 3 Costumes and 7 Weapon Skins (For Multiplayer)
  5. 2 Exclusive Story Expansions Post Launch
  6. Season Pass

Stalker 2 Gameplay

Microsoft Xbox released Stalker 2’s detailed gameplay video on 13th June 2021. The trailer shows Skif, our protagonist, enjoying a comfy campfire with his fellow Stalkers. The comfort of music and chatter soon transitions to showcasing brutal gameplay segments of the Stalker 2 world. 

We’re first introduced to the new and improved campfire mechanic in Stalker 2 that will act as a safe area between your travels. In the gameplay sequence, we get to see the dynamic gunplay of the game. Notice how Skif springs into action and just picks up an optic attachment for his assault rifle and uses it to make quick work of threats.

The trailer also highlights the survival RPG elements of the game with how you have to manage factors like radiation, hunger, and stamina to survive. These mechanics were also in the previous entries but have been improved upon in Stalker 2. 

The map size is also the biggest ever in a Stalker game. It spans across a whopping 24 sq. miles area. It’s almost double the size of Skyrim and a little bigger than Zelda Breath of the Wild. 

From weapon mechanics to NPC’s tales and music to the map exploration, Stalker 2 is shaping up to be a promising sequel. 

Stalker 2 Multiplayer and Co-op

According to GSC Game World, Stalker 2 will have a multiplayer mode post-launch in a deleted Twitter post. The Twitter post highlighted the announcement of NFTs, however, they also unraveled their plans for Stalker 2 multiplayer in that post.

The multiplayer includes a range of cosmetics including gloves and tattoos for players that’ll act like emblems akin to Call of Duty. The multiplayer won’t only be Coop, it’ll also include modes like Team Deathmatch and a possible battle royale mode (rumor). 

Stalker 2 World and Lore

The general story of Stalker 2 is similar to the previous entries. You’re a Stalker and on the hunt for artifacts. These artifacts will grant our protagonist some useful abilities as well as help him seek out the truth behind anomalies.

The best aspect about Stalker 2’s world is that it’s non-linear. The campaign doesn’t follow a go-here and do-this formula. Instead, you’re free to explore the world at your own pace, discover activities and complete them to progress the story. 

Speaking of the story, Stalker 2 will also feature multiple endings depending on your choices in the playthrough. The choices could be of moral nature or based on your decision to join forces with a faction. The new and improved A-Life 2.0 will also evolve the world around your actions. So it’ll be a more lived-in world compared to previous entries.

What Game Engine Stalker 2 Will Run On?

Stalker 2 will use Unreal Engine 5 according to tweets from GSC Game World. It will be one of the first games to use Epic Game’s immersive engine as the backbone of their game. 

Unreal Engine 5 can really benefit Stalker 2 and add extreme immersion and realism to the game. From the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster and greenery found on the survive to the dark and dingy tunnels underground, they’ll feel real like never before. 

You can view some of the in-game screenshots posted by the Stalker community manager on Reddit here. 

How Long to Beat Stalker 2

Zakhar Bocharov, the PR manager for GSC Game World has revealed that exploring the world of Stalker 2 and doing every side-quest can take up to hundreds of hours. 

This piece of information comes from an interview conducted by Gaming Bolt. He was asked the question about the length of Stalker 2, to which he replied that the main quest-line is long enough. But players who dedicate themselves to exploring every nook and cranny of the world and focus on completing every side-mission can spend hundred of hours in a single playthrough. 

The hours can be doubled or even tripled if players decide to play another walkthrough and make different choices to get all the endings. So, similar to its predecessors, Stalker 2 will also be a very long game indeed which might be good or bad news for players.

Stalker 2 Mods Support

GSC Game World has announced that Mods’ support will come to Stalker 2 on day one. According to GSC Game World Statement on mods, ” We’re fully committed to making modding as simple as possible on day one.” So it couldn’t get more official than this. We can expect to see mod communities hard at work on day one of Stalker 2’s release.

Like FPS Shooters? Check out our best Warzone settings guide until you get your hands on Stalker 2.

Is Stalker 2 Going to Introduce NFT?

Now NFT is the new buzzword in the world, and the gaming industry is trying to find a way to implement it into their games. After failed attempts from a few publishers *Cough* Ubisoft *Cough*, GSC Game World wanted to have a crack at those nifty NFTs themselves. 

On 15th December 2021, GSC Game World announced that they’ll be including NFTs in Stalker 2. This was aimed at providing the players the opportunity to have their images captured and scanned onto NPC’s faces for unique items through a Blockchain Auction.

However, fans instantly backlashed at the slightest smell of including NFTs into Stalker 2 which instantly forced publishers to recoil from their plans. As a result, the Stalker 2 was never tainted by the craze of the non-fungible tokens.

Do I Have to Play Previous Entries in Order to Enjoy Stalker 2?

It’s a yes and a no. 

Stalker 2 itself is a standalone project according to GSC Game World that can be enjoyed on its own. That said…

From the look of the lore and trailers available online, Stalker 2 is a continuation of the previous entries. If you want to get fully immersed in the world of Stalker 2, we & GSC Game World recommend playing previous entries.

Takeaways

And that’s all we have for you today dear readers. We’ve compiled a massive amount of information on Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl in this article. But worry not, we’ll keep you posted as more information is available to us.

Considering the current climate of the Ukrain-Russia conflict, there’s a possibility that another delay might be heading our way. However, humanity has come together even after the toughest of crises and there’s still hope for peace to prevail in these challenging times. 

Sulaymaan Ahmad


A prospective engineer with a long-standing love for competitive multiplayer shooters and narrative-driven experiences. When not sharing his meme-filled thoughts on Facebook, he can be found rocking Buck or Smoke in Rainbow Six Siege.