Latest Survarium dev diary shows off some familiar territory

What's that? Part of Survarium is set around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant? Get out of here Stalke- I mean Scavenger!

Deep in the heart of Ukraine the bold ladies and gents at Vostok Games have been continuing work on Survarium, their free-to-play MMOFPS-type-thing born from the ashes of Stalker 2. The name still rolls off the tongue about as well as a brick soaked in glue, but the more Vostok reveal of their lovely irradiated mutant baby the more excited I find myself. Moreso in the wake of their third development diary showing off one of the in-game factions, along with the ruined village of Rudnya where they can have a post-apocalyptic tussle over penicillin.

Where’s Rudnya, you ask? Funnily enough it just happens to be a hop, skip and a jump away from the ruins of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation. Did I mention most of Vostok Games are ex-GSC Game Worlds people who worked on Stalker 2 – also set in the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation – prior to it’s unceremonious cancellation? What a coincidence! A beautiful desolate coincidence that…oh for pity’s sake, can’t we all just drop the pretence and start calling this Stalker 2 already?

The dev diary begins by introducing us to the Stalk- damn, I mean the Scavengers faction: a homeless rabble with a “make-do and mend” lifestyle who are lucky to have basic weapons, never mind luxuries like booze or a roof over their heads. They’re also the default starting faction for all new players in Survarium as you probably guessed already. It’s not all poverty and misery for Scavengers however. Being among the first to experience the dangers of life in Survarium’s post-apocalyptic world they’re pretty used to surviving it, being capable scouts, snipers and artefact hunters.

After that we’re introduced to Rudnya, an abandoned village investigated by Scavengers and found to contain a bunch of secret scientific testing facilities for strange medical experiments. Hmm, a bunch of secret labs hidden beneath the facade of an abandoned nuclear disaster area you say? Now where have I seen that before. Rudnya also happens to have massive stockpiles of the aforementioned penicillin, presumably for whenever one the secret labs’ ungodly chimeras got the sniffles or something. Still, as excuses for PVP tussles in a ruined village go, “basic medical supplies” is a pretty common sense one for videogames.

Rudnya also gives Vostok Games an excuse to show off their new Vostok engine at work and what they show looks pretty bloody nice and fancy, taking full advantage of DirectX 11, multi-core processors and all the other jazzy things PC owners take for granted. Vostok Games are also paying especially careful attention to lighting in a way that’ll also affect gameplay. For example, even if the building you’re in is dark you’re likely to get spotted (and shot) quite easily if you’re too close to the ambient light pouring in from an open window with a shiny new sniper rifle. Conversely if you’re tucked away in a corner with a dull old metal shotgun you practically blend in with your surroundings.

The last part of the video concerns some of the various anti-cheating measures Vostok plan to implement. A lot of it is very technical even for me but Vostok appear to understand all too well the sort of miscreants Survarium will attract, claiming wallhacks, aimbots and other cheats commonly used by such online vermin are already accounted for. No system is perfect of course and determined scum will find a way to break the system, but it’s refreshing to see a developer actually acknowledge this stuff rather than brush it off with a dismissive “oh OUR audience aren’t like that at all!”

From these dev diaries Survarium is looking to be everything Stalker fans had been hoping for with the ill-fated sequel, including the multiplayer aspect. And don’t give me any purist nonsense like “Stalker is strictly solo!” either. If no true Stalker fans wanted multiplayer then why are some people so determined to try and mod it in? Even for veterans, clomping around in armoured exoskeletons with fancy NATO weaponry, The Zone of the Stalker series could still fuck you up good and proper. If Survarium retains that sort of brutality and mercilessness then when the proverbial toxic faeces hits the rusted irradiated metal fan, it won’t matter how many so-called friends you have with you.

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