STALKER. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, the preview

STALKER. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, the preview


The Zone changed dramatically after the second explosion hit the Chernobyl reactor in 2006. Violent mutants, deadly anomalies, warring factions have made it a place where survival is very difficult. As if this weren't enough, it has been discovered that the center of the Zone hides the source of incredible power that poses a serious threat to the inhabitants.

So S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl unfolds, through our words in front of a bonfire where we are welcomed and invited to tell about our journey: in search of that phantom power? Maybe, or maybe not. Accompanied by the comments of our improvised companions - among whom there is also Sergiy Grygorovych, creator of the series - this apt narrative device has allowed us to take a look at the gameplay, much more fluid and refined than in the past.

We tell you about it in our preview of STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl.

Welcome back to the Zone

There seems to be nothing missing in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl. The desolate settings, whether outdoors or indoors, convey a sense of loneliness and danger like few others: the Zone is alive and more lethal than ever and what surprised us in particular was the fearful reverence with which the survivors speak of it. As if it were an entity in itself, to be compared to a divinity; it is not something that we can really face, at most we have to get used to living with it, aware that the veto on our life will always have it.

It is difficult to explain well the sensation that watching the video gave us, because the beauty of a fascinating environment, even in its desolation, and the dangers that can hide where we least expect it are opposed. Let's take anomalies, for example. An element that alone causes more anguish than any physical horror we will encounter, because it forces us to constant caution - one eye turned to the instrument to detect its presence and another in front of us, in the hope of catching a tear in reality, a jolt even very brief that it makes us understand where it is waiting to catch us in the wrong. Instead our survival depends on a handful of bolts, which we do not even know if they will be counted, thanks to which we can probe the surrounding area and activate for a few seconds that distortion ready to trap us and reduce us to bloody shreds.

Of the enemies we had just a taste, discovering not without too much surprise that humans are little more than a pebble in the shoe compared to everything else: annoying, certainly deadly if we are not careful, but nothing comparable to whatever was chasing us in the labs ( again, the narrative pretext with which they are shown is absolutely perfect). This is where perhaps the tangible horror of the mutations that inhabit the area is expressed at its best, within the limits of the video: whatever it was, the creature encountered exploits a sort of environmental mimicry to play with us, getting closer and closer. only to appear when we least expect it - we actually sensed that it would come behind us but this is precisely the beauty of it: the most terrible thing is to be aware of the danger and to be able to do very little to help it.

To hazard a guess, it was the first encounter with a particular enemy, built on purpose, but we have little doubt that a less studied clash can still happen in the same way. Remaining on the scene in question, the play of light and shadow gives us an incredibly convincing and immersive aesthetic, with an excellent quality level and able to drag us even deeper into its personal, spooky theater of horror. Impossible not to think about Metro, although S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl precedes it in time. This is not meant to be a negative comparison: it is as if the two worlds had merged together, taking the maximum and the best from both sides.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, face to face with a guest from the laboratories Based only on what we have seen, the gunplay seems just as satisfying, in sound as in effects (think of the splinters of wood after detonating the crates behind which some were hiding enemies), and it is also very interesting to be able to modify weapons on the spot according to what you find around - or you have, as you see before the assault. It's not the mechanics per se, weapon modding is an old story, but the fact that this happens physically; an aspect not to be taken too much for granted, considering that especially in first-person games the most basic interactions such as opening a door materially continue to be missing (in this regard, who knows how it will be handled here).

By paying attention, you can also see the difference in the noise produced by the first submachine gun compared to the second, an absolutely appreciable detail and which demonstrates the potential care infused by the developers in the handling of the weapons. Also in this regard, the section of the workshops offers a taste of the echo effect, perceptible both in the steps and in the moment in which you try to fire at the mysterious creature; the same goes towards the end of the video, when using a pulse weapon to take down a couple more threats. Sound design, an essential element in a game like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl which makes anguish and fear two of its main elements, seems to be really thick.

Included in the Game Pass catalog

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, the silent and lethal anomalies To give even more value to a production that promises to be the great return for a much loved series is the not insignificant detail that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl will be available from launch day, or April 28, 2022, on Game Pass: the Xbox and Bethesda conference showed Microsoft's effort to expand the XGP portfolio, ranging from smaller - but not negligible - productions - to others like this one or Starfield. Triple A that demonstrate with even more clarity the direction taken by Microsoft.

It would not be surprising if, in the future, the game edition were to expand and include, again free of charge, the two story expansions mentioned on the official website and which will be included for everyone will reserve the Ultimate Edition. Regardless of what the future plans may be and focusing on the present, we are faced with a respectable product, which players can enjoy "free of charge" and then decide whether to further support the developers by purchasing the game. As great as it is, the Xbox Game Pass, except for Xbox Game Studios games, is always a temporary rental of games, and some might like to have them by your side at all times.

Spooky environments, dangers everywhere , apparently refined gunplay, sound design of a certain level. All in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl seems to aim high, indeed, very high. In just five minutes we once again felt like we survived in an area that lives and breathes according to its own times, where we are only temporary guests ready to earn the right to live a day longer with tooth and nail. There are no friends in the Zone, nothing is too much when it comes to survival: a concept perfectly rooted in the franchise and that we are curious to understand when it will fully materialize in this new, highly anticipated chapter.


Visually spectacular Survival taken to the extreme Sound design and gunplay look great DOUBTS All impressions that will need to be checked pad in hand Have you noticed any errors?

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