First Survarium screenshots emerge from the wilderness

There's something in those trees.

It has been two months since we learned the sad news that Stalker 2 had been lost to the Zone of IP disputes and games development hell, no longer around to greet us at our local watering hole with a bottle of vodka and a hearty “sup bro”. It wasn’t all doom and funereal gloom though. The team that had been working on Stalker 2 split of from GSC Game Worlds to form a new studio, Vostok Games, and began working on an MMOFPS with the clunky moniker of Survarium. They even gave us a nice little developer diary video with bloody creepy background effects outlining their vision for the game. Things have been somewhat quiet on the Eastern front since then with nary a “bojemoi” or “perestroika” to be heard.

That is until Saturday when Vostok Games quietly put up the first four screenshots of their new post-apocalyptic baby on their official site, along with a new developer diary sporting more creepy background effects. The entire thing’s in Ukranian accompanied by somewhat rough English subtitles that make things a bit hard to follow, although the subtitles are coherent enough to give you the gist of things. After a brief introduction it opens with stock footage of natural disasters, wars and other horrible stuff as a breathless narrator describes how Mother Nature, sick of humanity’s petty bullshit, kicked our collective arse into the dirt. The few who survived her wrath now eke out a meagre existence in a gloriously grim world “without electricity, cars, air conditioners and supermarkets”, when they’re not envying the dead or drinking booze until their livers burst.

Interspersed with all the stock footage is some actual in-engine stuff that’ll give Stalker fans some warm and fuzzy feelings (in a non-radioactive sense) since it looks rather similar to the X-ray Engine used in all three Stalker games. Whereas the environments in Stalker stubbornly resisted the encroachment of nature however the ones in Survarium haven’t fared so well, with everything looking mostly reclaimed by nature. Even with all the extra lush greenery abounding hither and yon however it’s clear Survarium hasn’t strayed too far from its roots in a visual sense. No sign yet of any horribly mutated abominations or fellow Ecological Catastrophe Survivors but it’s still early days.

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In the meantime Vostok are content to whet our appetites with talk of levels, purchase, passive talents and other mechanical stuff.  Thanks to the clunky translation the impression I got from the developers’ talking heads sections is that progression in Survarium will be skill-based rather than class-based, which is one point in its favour already. Naturally people will still specialise as medics, sharp-shooters, technicians and other such meta-classes around the five skills available (firearms, physical training, medical skills, technical skills and, for want of a better word, “lore”) but at least you get a choice. How you level up to get all these skills as well as money for all important equipment is by performing missions for several as-yet undetailed factions, either alone or with chums, in one of Survarium’s game modes: currently team combat, co-op and free-roam.

If we ignore “free-to-play”, “MMO” and other such unsettling terms then Survarium still looks and sounds like it could be an interesting multiplayer experience in a gloomy, miserable, Day Z kind of way, though it’s far too early to say whether all this will translate into a great game or not. Initial concerns aside I’m intrigued by the idea of exploring a bleak post Gaian-rampage world with a couple of friends. I’m still not overly keen on the name but maybe it’ll grow on me, like some sort of bloodthirsty poison ivy seeking vengeance for Mother Earth.

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About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.