S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat

Key events

Few settings have captured the imaginations of game developers and players like Chernobyl, the site of a reactor explosion in 1986 that created one of the world's few actual nuclear wastelands. The legendary Exclusion Zone - now, would you believe, something of a tourist attraction - has provided the stage for countless virtual conflicts and survival stories. There are the indirect recreations, such as Big Robot's bleached starship graveyard The Signal From Tölva, or the Erangel island map from PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - an abandoned Soviet testing facilty in which the wanderer is forced towards rather than away from the centre by an ever-encroaching sea of blue energy. And there are truer-to-life portrayals like Call of Duty 4's "All Ghillied Up" mission or GSC World's STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, which gives you the run of an Exclusion Zone in which space-time is starting to fall apart like overcooked pasta.

Former STALKER team announces Chernobyl-set battle royale game

How about a STALKER battle royale game? There's one in development. It's called Fear the Wolves and it's made by Vostok Games, the studio formed from the ashes of STALKER developer GSC.

Fear the Wolves takes place, like STALKER, in the creepy radiation-blasted wasteland of Chernobyl. It's a 100-player deathmatch where you can play lone wolf or in squads - but players won't be the only enemy. Deadly anomalies constantly threaten your health, mitigated somewhat by protective gear found while exploring. Of more pressing danger, however, will be the mutated forms lurking in the shadows...

Fear the Wolves will be released at some point this year on PC and consoles - presumably much later this year. There'll be an early access phase on PC beforehand.

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How many games can claim to still have a dedicated following, 10 years after their release? That still have fans conjuring up new mods to alter and add to the game? S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is pretty much the definition of a video game cult classic. This strange Ukrainian survival shooter is for some the best the genre has ever seen. But its audience wasn't spurred into existence upon the game's release. Fans had followed the development of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. for years before it eventually came out in 2007. In that time they saw various versions of it, each containing numerous areas and mutants that never made it into the final game.

Dodgy crowdfunding project Areal returns as Stalker Apocalypse

It's a better pitch but still not convincing enough.

Controversy surrounded a Kickstarter project called Areal earlier this year. It was billed as the spiritual successor to the creepy, cult S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, made by some of the same people, and it had serious ambition - but also serious flaws.

Areal adds key S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Survarium designer

But serious questions about the Kickstarter still remain.

There's been a noteworthy update to the controversial Areal Kickstarter (beyond what I dug into last week): the full-time hiring of Alexey Sytyanov, the lead game designer of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and the lead game designer of Survarium.

Retrospective: S.T.A.L.K.E.R

Get out of here.

For an area that's been blasted by radiation for the past twenty years, the sloping hills of the countryside around Chernobyl are impressively virile. The grasses have shifted from soft greens to muted browns, admittedly, but there's still a lot of vegetation, and, more worryingly, a lot of wildlife.

GSC denies Stalker 2 cancelled rumour

GSC denies Stalker 2 cancelled rumour

UPDATE: GSC deletes Twitter denial.

UPDATE 1: GSC has deleted its Twitter denial of Stalker 2's cancellation.

ORIGINAL STORY: GSC Game World has denied a Ukrainian news report that claims Stalker 2 has been cancelled and the developer shut down.

Following the publication of a UkraNews.com report that claimed the promising open world shooter had been canned after GSC founder and CEO Sergei Grigorovich decided to close the company, the official Stalker Twitter page posted: "No we have not closed GSC or cancelled."

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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 creeping towards RPG?

Q&A notes greater focus on survival.

There's going to be a greater emphasis on survival within S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, developer GSC Game World has revealed - hinting at a shift towards being an RPG rather than a shooter.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat

Inner Pripyat content.

Crawling through a filthy, mutant-infested basement 20 metres below the surface of an irradiated Ukrainian wasteland, clutching a seen-better-days Kalashnikov while my Geiger counter rattles ominously, I stop to wonder why I actually enjoy STALKER so much.

Because, for one thing, it's hideously bleak. Playing more than an hour or so of any of the games in the series is like spending a month in Somerfield. Before long, murdering a total stranger with a hand grenade seems pragmatic rather than craven. He might have a bottle of vodka. Even the most picturesque of sunsets comes tainted with the knowledge that, shiveringly, they mostly come out at night. Mostly.

And that's where something else I don't usually really enjoy comes in: the unremitting terror. It's the noises. The skittering. The lowing. The moans. The snuffling growls which sound like an angry, adenoidal walrus mating at the bottom of a well (another familiar Somerfield experience). They're terrifying.

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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Pripyat gets release date

Publisher bitComposer has announced the February 2010 arrival of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. sequel Call of Pripyat.

The PC game will be among the first to support DirectX 11, which explains why these new screenshots look nice.

Call of Pripyat begins moments after the original Shadow of Chernobyl finished, sending you, a Ukranian special agent, into the heart of the disaster zone to investigate why a government-sanctioned mission to the area hasn't returned. Clue: nuclear zombies.

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Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl - let's drop all the dots - seemed to divide people. For every person I know who would enthuse and OMG about the atmospheric shooter, there would be another for whom the game had been a horrible mistake. This article, I suspect, isn't going to be for that second group of people. They've tasted this peculiar Ukrainian experience, and they won't be going back. For those who know the game, accept its foibles, and still find something worth spending time with, this will be a story they understand rather well. They'll probably be nodding along at the most salient points. Hopefully, however, we'll also have a third species of reader: the one who has yet to give it a try.

GSC confirms S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Prypiat

GSC confirms S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Prypiat

Plus: sequel and console P.O.R.T. promised.

GSC Game World has announced a second standalone expansion for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. called Call of Prypiat, which will be released on PC this autumn.

The developer also revealed to Russian magazine Igromania that a console port of the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game is under way. Plus, GSC president Sergei Grigorovich said during an online-conference that "we will certainly develop S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2". Both translations are courtesy of nV News, although there's no further detail offered for either project.

Call of Prypiat takes place in the faithfully-recreated eastern part of the eponymous city, which was abandoned after the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.

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