GSC Game World’s S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is a game that’s been over a decade in the making and scrapped more than once. But following restructuring at GSC, we got the first glimmers of something concrete a year ago. Today, GSC released the first in-engine footage of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, showcasing familiar Zone environments, though with a radically higher level of detail than we’ve seen in early iterations of the game.
The original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games were built on GSC’s in-house X-ray engine. X-ray went through multiple iterations and even supports a DirectX 8 mode, as development on Shadow of Chernobyl started in the early 2000s. Although X-ray was one of the first games to implement DirectX 11 features like tessellation in Call of Pripyat, the codebase was long in the tooth a decade ago.
The original canceled S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 project was built on X-ray, with the seventh-gen consoles in mind. 8 years down the road, however, the new S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 project is built on Unreal 4. The gameplay segment we got to see today is a very brief slice, coming in at less than one minute. Nevertheless, it showcases a number of high-end visual features GSC’s implemented. It’s interesting to note the similarities in design and visuals to Metro Exodus. In many ways, this is S.T.A.L.K.E.R. coming full circle, since 4A games was made up of GSC vet.
We see great use of Unreal 4’s dynamic volumetric lights – the haze and smog in the Zone make for a great use case. Elsewhere, we see high-quality shader effects, from motion blur and depth of field to wetness shaders. We also see Unreal 4’s excellent temporal anti-aliasing in place.
More than Metro Exodus, though, it’ll be interesting to see how S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 holds up compared to Chernobylite, another zone-hunting survival FPS built on UE4. We’re excited to see more from GSC this year!