If this post eventually descends into a stream of profanity or a black pit of despair, I apologize, but it is difficult to face such dire news: STALKER 2 is cancelled (opens in new tab) , and the team has moved on to another project the will let STALKER's "ideas and spirit live on." The new project is called Survarium, and it's a free-to-play MMOFPS and I'm just going to start drinking now.
Things have been murky for STALKER 2 since late last year (opens in new tab) , when GSC studio head Sergiy Grygorovych apparently surprised everyone by announcing he was shutting down the studio and the development of STALKER 2. In early January, the team announced (opens in new tab) they were continuing development, but that work now seems like it was done on a wing and a prayer that they could rescue the IP. They could not (opens in new tab) . Those rights remain with Grygorovych and for whatever reason, the former GSC team (now called Vostok Games) could not come to an agreement with him.
Vostok Games, however, was able to secure venture capital funding for a new game, however, which brings us to Survarium (opens in new tab) . The Vostok team explains a bit more about it in the video above, but the bottom line is that it is another post-apocalyptic shooter, one more about "technology versus natur, rational versus mystical" than STALKER was. From how it sounds, it's STALKER's Zone extended across most of the world.
With talk of mutants, factions, anomalies, and stalkers, it certainly sounds like Survarium has a lot in common with STALKER. But it's also very hard to see how the values that made STALKER so special could coexist with MMO gameplay. It's not the free-to-play part that has me worried, since that business model is repeatedly coming to rescue of the kinds of PC games that major publishers refuse to make. But STALKER was always about a sense of isolation in a convincing world, and I'm not sure that squares with a game packed with other player-characters.
However, I'd also caution against rushing to judgment. Development is still in an early stage, with the projected release date at the end of 2013. I want to hear more about how Vostok Games will make this work, and I would not at all be surprised if Survarium ultimately goes a different direction than "World of STALKERs". Many of these developers have made my one of my favorite shooter series of all time, and maybe the greatest setting of any PC game ever made. So they've earned the benefit of the doubt.