Courtesy of Al’s Gaming, I’ve recently gained enlightenment as to what I had missed when S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was cancelled back in 2012. The channel has made some excellent videos on the lore of the games that were released, such as the Factions, C-Conciousness and Strelok’s Group. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games really are of the sort that no matter how many times you play them, you always discover another layer to them you haven’t noticed before. As such, these videos are well worth a watch, as they really help you to appreciate the dedication and effort that went into them, even if the overall level of polish suggests otherwise:
There apparently was supposed to be 157 side-quests in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, and this reddit thread has links to descriptions of sixty of them. I’m going to open myself up to being psychoanalysed by the internet and give you my top three. To get an idea of how these quests would’ve played out, cast your mind back to Call of Pripyat and note how each quest appeared to be a mini-story within the main story, as opposed to the now infamous “Go here and shoot a thing until it falls over” side-quest that was common to the previous games:
- Voices of the Deceased – Essentially, you come across a village which a group of Stalkers wishes to turn into a base, a scenario common to the Zone. Your job is to persuade a rabble of zombies to find somewhere else to roam via one of three methods
- Tell the Stalkers about their positions, and wipe the floor with them (okay, let’s stretch it and say their souls found somewhere else to roam).
- Take them down yourself (the “I’ve just bought a Dragunov” approach).
- Talk to the zombies; apparently the way you get their attention is to slowly bump into them, although I thought the lore was that these brain-dead creatures had no cognizance whatsoever, so how the hell any “persuasion” was meant to happen is anyone’s guess.
- An Underground Laboratory – This one seems to be your standard romp into an underground lab in the Zone, apart from some juicy information on the origins to two of the game’s most feared mutants; the Controller and the Bloodsucker. Controllers were an attempt to create a universal soldier, while Bloodsuckers were an attempt to give humans active camouflage.
- The King needs his followers – A logical progression from the team-building found in Call of Pripyat, whereby the player has the option to begin and run their own faction. Interestingly, it seems there is a reputation system at play, with Stalkers under your command operating more efficiently for a faction leader they approve of. Setting up involves rounding up the usual suspects:
- Technician – Upgrades your shooters and suits, possibly faction-wide.
- Barman – Frontman for recruiting Stalkers, also provides you a cut from his business.
- Trader – Supplies your faction with gear, giving the boss a nice discount.
- Medic – Heals, and provides discounted medical gear.
- Manager – Executes the player’s orders when he’s not around, kind of like the ‘CEO’ to the Owner.
The Zone, Iteration Four
As anyone who is a veteran to the series should know, the Zone is the true main character, the axis of the story, not whoever the protagonist happens to be. The Zone is constantly being referred to as a living being, one that uses blowouts and anomalies as it’s immune system against human intrusion.
With this in mind, it should be noted that this idea of the zone being alive was greatly enhanced when Call of Pripyat based it’s maps around three massive areas instead of a Smörgåsbord of smaller territories; each area could function as a self-contained play area much of the time, cutting down on immersion-breaking loading screens and allowing the player to really ‘live’ a long journey. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was set to take this one step further by making the whole Zone a persistent map, with areas procedurally loaded as the player travelled. With a map like the one below, you can just imagine a single epic, seamless trip from the Cordon to the CNPP.
On a final note…
We will never know for sure of the extent of GSC Game World’s true vision for this game even if it had been released, given the alleged internal strife and looming bankruptcy issues plaguing the company prior to it’s dissolution. There is one thing I do know, however, and that is that the internet loves a mystery, and these recent results of
Western Spies dedicated fans sifting through the developer’s leaked materials written in Russian and translating it into English come as solid proof of this. And, I’ve got to admit, they’re not alone.
On a related note, for those who wonder what the original vision was for Shadow of Chernobyl, or as close as we’ll ever get, check out Lost Alpha mod, which had a development cycle almost as long as the original game!