Stalker 2 will use the Unreal Engine to make modding 'more easy and accessible'

(Image credit: GSC Game World)
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I was very excited when Stalker 2 (opens in new tab) was (re)announced in 2018, but also a wee bit dubious. The initial announcement came in 2010 (opens in new tab), but it quickly stalled out, as did the studio making it, GSC Game World—and when GSC made its triumphant return in 2015, it was not with Stalker but with Cossacks (opens in new tab). But then a Stalker 2 website sprung to life last year, and a few details slipped out of a Russian YouTube channel, and it started to look like this thing might actually be happening.

Today we got another reason to be hopeful—maybe even cautiously optimistic—as the official Stalker 2 Twitter feed revealed that the new game will use the Unreal Engine. 

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The original Stalker games were built on the proprietary X-Ray engine, which supported some amazing visual effects (being stuck outside at night was legitimately unpleasant) but was also janky as hell. The Unreal Engine should theoretically make for a smoother technical experience, and will also "make modding more easy and accessible."

"User modifications help the world of the Zone to live on while we are busy with making a sequel, and we can't be more grateful for that," GSC Game World said in the announcement.

As for whether Stalker 2 could end up as an Epic Games Store exclusive (Epic also makes the Unreal Engine), the studio said only that it "will talk about this later."

This isn't actually the first time that Stalker 2 has been connected to the Unreal Engine: Epic's director of publishing strategy Sergey Galyonkin dropped a not-too-subtle hint about it in 2018, when then the project was resurrected. The original tweet has since been deleted, but the internet doesn't forget.

(Image credit: Sergey Galyonkin (Twitter))

Stalker 2 was initially expected to be out in 2021, but that date has since been removed from stalker2.com (opens in new tab), so it's anybody's guess at this point. On the upside, the long-awaited Gunslinger mod for Stalker: Call of Pripyat, with overhauled weapons, new animations, and other enhanced features, is finally in open beta (opens in new tab).

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.