I was a big fan of STALKER: Call of Pripyat, third of the STALKER series, which knocked off the roughest edges of the earlier games without losing the charm, or perhaps more accurately lack-of-charm, of scrabbling around trying to survive in a grim post-Soviet wasteland. Development of a sequel was troubled with announcement of cancellation, un-cancellation, re-cancellation and un-re-cancellation, but as of a couple of days ago it seems to have finally succumbed to radiation poisoning and/or mutant attack.
In the light of the Syndicate and XCom reboots I would’ve suggested this is likely to mean news of STALKER being reborn as an FPS in four or five years, but of course it was an FPS to start with. Maybe instead they’ll try a tower defence game where you place Stalkers around the perimeter of a nuclear power station gunning down endless waves of mutants…
All is not lost, though, for the STALKER 2 team announced that they’re now working on Survarium, an MMOFPS that looks very much like a spiritual successor. PC Gamer expresses concern about how well STALKER’s values mesh with a massive playerbase, commenters on RPS have slightly more forthright opinions; for the most part “free-to-play MMO” goes down about as well there as “close links between cabinet ministers and News International” at the Levenson inquiry (ooh, little bit of politics).
It’s not hard to see why people would be trepidatious about a World of STALKERing, I mused about the possibilities and problems of an online version Fallout: New Vegas a while back, much of which could apply to STALKER, but it’ll be interesting to see what develops, and as per the post title I’d like to suggest an ideal theme tune.
This makes me sad! I may have to write more about the two I’ve played. My worry is that if we trace a line from SoC to CoP, I’m not sure that’s a line upward. Certainly the technical aspects such as bugs were greatly improved, but CoP just felt emptier. In SoC there was always something going on, some mission to do or bandits and mercs to fight. In CoP you clear an area and then that’s about it: bandits aren’t hostile and mutants are just bullet sinks.
Still, CoP was a good game. At the very least, it’s nice to have an FPS that isn’t stuck in hallways with Nazis at the other end.
I thought the early parts of CoP struck about the right balance between ambition and practicality, but certainly as it went on it felt like it got more linear and lost that ‘zone’ feeling, whereas SoC built towards a glorious, if slightly ramshackle and disjointed, finish. Fingers crossed they can preserve the feel into an online setting, if it becomes Just Another Shooter with some STALKER-y art it will be a real shame.