STALKER 2 Demo Delivers Intense Post-Apocalyptic Experience
The demo plunges me straight into peril; my health dips the moment Stalker 2 begins at Gamescom. GSC Game World’s much-anticipated sequel offers just a brief taste, but it’s loaded with the bleak dystopia fans crave.
Case in point: I awake in a radioactive field, only to realize a mutant dog is feasting on my leg. Drawing a weapon, it jams. In a tussle, I manage to hurl the dog into a gravity anomaly, sealing its fate. The brutal realities of the zone are evident.
Surveying my surroundings, I spot a silent observer who tosses me a bolt, the iconic tool from Stalker to detect and navigate anomalies. Radiation hazards make themselves known when I approach a lake, forcing a change in direction. The stranger suggests bartering medkits for shelter. Suddenly, I’m on my own.
To summarize: bitten, trapped in an anomaly, and radiation-poisoned – and I’m barely minutes into the demo.
Despite the onslaught, the Gamescom version seems forgiving. My inventory boasts ample supplies, letting me recuperate swiftly. The Zone, however, is far from hospitable. This becomes evident when a man shoots at me from atop a hill. Returning fire, I down him, only to learn he was aiming at incoming dogs. Another harsh lesson in the zone’s unforgiving terrain.
In this unmistakably Stalker game, the most notable difference is the quest system, especially the Skyrim-inspired compass marking quest locations. This suggests a more user-friendly approach than prior titles. While I lean towards more natural navigation in open-world games, my brief encounter prevents any definitive judgments. We’ll gauge its impact in the full version. Regardless, the game doesn’t lack intensity; I’ve come close to death multiple times.
This count soon increases. While exploring a structure, I ruffle the feathers of bandits who assume I’m reclaiming the territory for the Stalkers. They don’t hesitate to fire. Though armed, my ammunition is sparse and my weapons unwieldy. Their powerful recoil challenges my aim. I constantly seek cover, briefly emerging to grab ammo, then retreating. My medical supplies vanish quickly. But in the end, I prevail, reaping a rewarding cache of ammunition and weaponry.
My fifth brush with death comes as the demo concludes: the sky takes on a menacing red hue, and a broadcast signals an imminent emission—a lethal storm. Though the safehouse—and the demo’s endpoint—is close by, I pause to marvel at the sky’s apocalyptic transformation. In most parts, Stalker 2 presented a pragmatic post-apocalyptic design: gray-toned, concrete ruins. But this intense, otherworldly red shimmer truly showcases the power of Unreal Engine 5.
Reluctantly, I approach the safehouse. As I knock and begin to falter, a figure in a gas mask emerges. I sense their exhausted frustration as they haul me inside. Indeed, survival is a constant challenge in the zone.
Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl, initially set for a release this year, is now slated for Q1 2024. It’s available on familiar PC platforms, including Steam and GOG.