S.2.A.L.K.E.R: Back In The Zone

S.2.A.L.K.E.R: Back In The Zone

The first time I ever played Stalker, a friendly group of soldiers helpfully took the time to impart a great deal of advice about how to stay alive. They told me what to look out for, where to travel and how to stay safe in the Zone, Stalker’s terrifying and sinister take on Chernobyl and its surrounding area.

I thanked the men for their advice and watched them slowly walk up the distant hill, where they were immediately set upon and devoured by a pack of mutant dogs.

This memory of my first encounter with the Zone has stuck with me ever since – a powerful lesson in how unpredictable and dangerous the world of Stalker was. It’s also one of the reasons I’m so excited by today’s reveal of Stalker 2 during the Xbox Game Showcase.

It’s not game footage, but what it shows is everything I’ve been wanting from a follow-up. It’s creepy, it’s sinister, it’s atmospheric and in one shot a pack of mutant dogs sprints past, presumably chasing after some helpful soldiers.

As part of the announcement over at the official Xbox site, the developer promises a re-imagining of the unpredictable simulation behind the events you encountered across the Zone.

“The previous S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games introduced A-Life — a living world simulating system. The reimagined version of this system, which we call A-Life 2.0, will control the state of the world and the behavior of characters and mutants, making the Zone ever-changing and truly alive. Countless events and encounters will happen every moment — even if you are not around to witness them with your own eyes.”

It’s this that excites me most. You could never be certain what you would encounter in Stalker – areas you thought were safe could be infiltrated by terrifying invisible mutant beasts or roaming bandits. As a result, the Zone felt alien, unforeseeable and somewhere you could never feel safe.

I can’t wait to go back.

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