Our examiner, Ben Kendall, first checked S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl 13 months ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson and updated 5 weeks ago.
You play a lone STALKER (Scavengers, Trespassers, Adventurers, Loners, Killers, Explorers and Robbers), a treasure hunter who enters the deadly area of land devastated by numerous incidents and explosions, in search of fortune and glory. As you explore, you encounter various factions of troops who you can choose to befriend or destroy. Lurking in the shadows are horrific mutated beings who appear and disappear at will, guarding the hidden treasures. It's up to you where you go, how you play, and what risks you're willing to take.
Combat is fast-paced and requires precise timing and aiming. Different monsters have different behaviours and abilities, forcing you to prepare for encounters carefully. You learn how to use the environment to your advantage; by using the columns of old buildings for cover or avoiding a large group of hostiles in a wide open area. With over 30 different weapons to choose from, you have the freedom to experiment and find what selection of weapons works best for you.
Alongside the fighting, there are times when you can explore the vast, often strange, beauty of the 64kmÂ² map and can also interact with the characters you meet, sharing tales over campfires and guitar tunes, deepening the sense of immersion and the relationships you form.
The result is a game that offers a far greater degree of player freedom than other shooting games through a branching narrative that follows your actions, unique character interactions, and a vast and varied map. Created by a Ukrainian game studio, the game was initially slated to release in 2012 but was cancelled, reemerging years later before being delayed again due to Russia's invasion of the country, resulting in many of the developers fleeing or joining the armed forces.
It's the latest in the STALKER series, all of which have similar game mechanics but tell different stories.
- STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007) PC
- STALKER: Clear Sky (2008) PC
- STALKER: Call of Pripyat (2009) PC
- STALKER 2: Heart of Chornobyl (2023) PC, Xbox Series X|S
You can play this game in the following styles:
All previous games in the series have been rated PEGI 18 / ESRB MATURE 17+ / Mature Accompanied (MA 15+).
The developer gives the following Mature Content Warning: "This Game may contain content not appropriate for all ages, or may not be appropriate for viewing at work: Frequent Violence or Gore, General Mature Content"
15+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Still, it's important for parents and guardians to consider the maturity required to process the game content. You need a good sense of direction, quick wits and fast reactions. Understanding how best to achieve the missions also helps, as does having the resilience to not mind when you lose and keep pushing ahead even if you are behind.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
- In-Game Purchases: Additional in-game purchases are offered for items that enhance the experience.
You need a subscription to play online:
- You need to purchase a Xbox Live Gold subscription to play online with Xbox Series X|S.
There are three different editions of the game: Standard, Deluxe and Ultimate. The Standard Edition comes with only the game, while the Deluxe Edition comes with the game, an exclusive side-quest, some cosmetic items and the artbook and soundtrack of the game. The Ultimate Edition comes with access to all future extra content (that is planned to include 2 story expansions), the same content as the Deluxe Edition and even more exclusive cosmetics.
You can purchase any content you don't get with the edition you buy inside the game.
It's important to set up your accounts and devices appropriately. More information is on our Financial Resources page.
Release Date: 31/12/2023
Coming Soon: PC and Xbox Series X|S
Expected Content Rating: PEGI 18
Skill Rating: 15+ year-olds
Players: 1 (32 online)
Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Open World
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