Thursday, August 2, 2012

STALKER, Bethsoft Style?

So, I know I'm not big on relating actual... y'know, news around here -- mostly opting instead to bore everyone with drivel about my silly little mods -- but this caught my attention enough that I had to comment.

Apparently, Bethesda just bought the rights to STALKER.

Theory is that it's likely to use the new(ish) Skyrim/"Creation" engine.

I'm torn on this. On the one hand, Bethsoft is... Bethsoft. If they do a STALKER title we can expect only a half dozen voice actors, huge plot holes, and horrific bugs that may or may not ever be fully fixed.

On the other hand, we also get the almost obscenely easy to mod Creation engine; which has the potential to make up for all that and more still.

I've always loved the idea of STALKER -- for those not familiar, the games follow the progress of different men sent into "the zone" (the off-limits irradiated zone around Chernobyl in the Ukraine) for various purposes. In the world of STALKER, radiation on that level is rather comic-book-y, creating horrible monsters and mutating people. However, the zone is also home to a treasure trove of "artifacts"; strange objects worth insane amounts of money in the outside world. Thus, a class of treasure hunters has moved into the zone to find the items. With the hunters came military forces, mercenaries, and scientists; all with their own plans and purposes.

The existing STALKER games are similar to our beloved/hated Gamebryo titles, in that there is not a fixed, rigidly adhered to quest chain. There are missions, but you can also bum around the zone doing as you please and just exploring, hunting phat lewtz, or what-have-you.

The problem I had with the games -- and what kept me from really getting into them -- was the solitary nature. By the time the STALKER games hit, I had been playing Oblivion and was used to sandboxing with companions. Call of Pripyat and Clear Skies both hit after FO3, and well... we don't need to go into detail about my FO3 games.

STALKER, conversely, is more akin to survival horror in that it's mostly solitary. You can, at times, hire a guide or mercenary; but aside from that your only interaction with NPCs is in camps/bases, or random patrols you run into. There's no one you can have as a member of your party; to give orders to, go where you go, et cetera. Combine that with the fact that inserting new characters into the games is an ordeal and a half, and you have a game that is not companion-monger friendly.

I've always thought that having the ability to add companions, even without the added functionality possible in FO3/NV; even if you could only have one at a time, would make the game so much better.

I dunno; I've been thinking about it a good ten minutes now, and I just can't decide whether this would be a good or bad thing.

Although, the idea of watching the Creation engine render the sunrise over the iconic Ferris wheel in Pripyat...

The idea of moving into that high-rise apartment complex overlooking said wheel and converting it into a base for my army of evil redheads...

In the thread where I saw the link, someone compared Bethsoft-made STALKER to a whole game akin to Dead Money from NV on hardcore mode. This idea... I am not as big on. I didn't much care for Dead Money; and can't say as I'd be keen on playing an entire game set in that type of area. Although I will grant that DM would have been much less annoying if not for that stupid LOLUCANTGOHERE collar; so I dunno, maybe it wouldn't suck.


  1. I have a bad feeling about this, like the more franchises ZeniMax/Bethsoft acquires the more any subsequent titles are going to suck. I'm still feeling cheated by RAGE and haven't bothered to play it in ages.

    1. Complete and utter failure is a possibility, as well; but I figured if it's on the Creation engine, at least we modders would have something to work from.

      As I recall, RAGE was a whole different engine, wasn't it?

    2. It was a different engine; I was just making a generalized speculization.

    3. It was id Tech 5 I believe.

      I have to admit, I wonder if we're going to get essentially Fallout 3 set in Chernobyl.

    4. FO3 in the Zone could actually work.

      I remember one of the big bitches from Fallout aficionados being that FO3 lacked the humor intrinsic to the series, and was instead a bleak and depressing wasteland where everyone had the same voice.

      Sounds like the FO3 crew would be one of the better choices in Beth's arsenal to recreate the cut-off-from-the-world feeling in the Zone; as well as the notion that you can be killed at any time and no one would notice -- just one more soul swallowed up by the Zone...

      Granted, their track record with bugs isn't the best; but the previous STALKER games weren't exactly bug free.

  2. This bit of acquisition will most likely have some legal repercussions down the road for the modding community as well. As it sits now, the resources from the various STALKER games are available for use in whatever game you feel like importing them into, something I was planning on doing with the Resident Evil mod, should I get back to work on it. With the rights to the game franchise going into Bethsoft's hands, I fully expect that freedom to be rescinded as soon as they can do it.

    1. I could be wrong (it would hardly be unprecedented) but the way I read it, they got the rights to all future games/merchandise/et cetera. Not retroactive rights to all previous games and media.

      Though yeah, I'm sure it will take at least one trip through court to be ruled on one way or the other.

    2. Ah, okay, that would be better, for the modding community at least. That said, we will have to wait and see how it actually turns out.