Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl features enemies you can’t see | hands-on gameplay

Fans of the Stalker series of open-world horror survival games have been waiting a long time for the next game in the series. I’m happy to say I was able to play a part of the game at the Summer Game Fest Play Days event.

Microsoft also showed off a trailer with new gameplay for the title, which is on schedule for its previously announced September 5 launch.

The original game, Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl came out in 2007 from Ukrainian developer GSC Game World and then-publisher THQ Nordic. Two more games quickly followed, but the last game in the series, Stalker: Call of Pripyat, debuted way back in 2010.

Stalker 2 is coming in September 2024.

Stalker 2 was originally supposed to come out in 2012. But time passed and that game was canceled. GSC Game World announced Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl in 2018. That got fans excited about the series again.

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But the game saw a series of delays, and then Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, causing even more disruption and delays. When work resumed, the game’s name was changed to Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl (and they spell it S.T.A.L.K.E.R.), reflecting the Ukrainian spelling of the name, rather than the Russian.

Now Microsoft, the publisher of the game, has shown off new gameplay for the sequel, which is very loosely based on the novel Roadside Picnic, which my sci-fi book club is reading. The target date for release is September 5, 2024, on the Windows PC, Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Series X/S.

In Stalker 2, players will return once again to the post-apocalyptic Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, where radiation from the nuclear disaster has led to mutant monsters and conflict between surviving scavengers in the zone.

Hands-on gameplay

Stalker 2 New Title

In the latest build, I picked up a game controller and moved into the zone. I had to sneak through a big stone wall, armed with just a knife and a pistol. Some very British-sounding contacts were in touch with me via radio, talking about what I was supposed to pick up from a bunker.

Some monstrous beast with a round, ball-like body with arms and legs coming out of it started chasing me. I was able to outrun it, but it kept on pursuing me. So I finally shot it with my pistol while crossing narrow bridge.

Then I finally got to the bunker. It took a while to figure out how to go inside, but once I did, found dead bodies in a lab. These scientists were supposed to have my secret stuff. But the radio contact told me to search for a laptop and then find a location where there would be more secrets. Fortunately, I also found an assault rifle and a lot of ammo inside the bunker.

I stepped outside and used a scanner to locate an artifact amid the radioactive muck nearby. It was glowing green, and that could not have been a good thing. I picked it up.

As I did so, an unseen beast started stalking me. I could hear it, but I could not see it. I started running and shooting whenever I saw the outline of the invisible creature come near me. But it was impossible to hit it and bring it down. When it got near, it would fade into view and I could see it was a once-human creature that had morphed into a muscular monster.

Then it killed me. A couple of times. After that, I picked up the artifact and immediately ran inside the bunker. I found it would not follow me inside. So I stood by the doorway and tried to lure it to the narrow corridor leading to the door. I peeped out and it came running. I fired with the assault rifle and brought it down. It was pretty sweaty work.

It wasn’t a long demo, and I felt a bit woozy, as I sometimes do with shooter games. But I survived. It’s a very interesting demo, and a bit haunting given there is still fighting in the area between the Russians and the Ukrainians. I hope the devs can get out a game — even one with solid gameplay — despite the war.

The game details

GSC Game World presented a brand-new trailer, in partnership with the latest Xbox Showcase, for the highly anticipated survival shooter, Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl.

The trailer, voiced entirely in Ukrainian, presents many new details and insights into the experience of Stalker 2 in a way which many players of the franchise will be instantly familiar with. As players step into the shoes of a lone stalker named Skif, they must navigate a perilous and enigmatic environment teeming with dangerous mutants, hazardous radiation, and treacherous human factions.

This new trailer is packed with brand-new reveals, showcasing a variety of experiences from diverse locations to encounters with mutants and arch-anomalies. Players will also see hubs where they can rest and prepare for their next intense mission. The in-game footage is interspersed with narrative bits, highlighting the importance of the non-linear storyline in Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl. Aptly named “The Time of Opportunities,” the trailer reflects the boundless potential within this unforgiving landscape. How will you see the Zone? And how will She remember you?

“Since the very start of Russia’s full-fledged war against our country, GSC Game World has been supporting Ukraine in all the ways we could,” GSC Game World said.

For those willing to do the same, Microsoft and GSC Gameworld said they recommend following a link to the official charity fund of Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine himself –

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