Gaming

“S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Legends of the Zone Trilogy” Announced During Xbox Partner Preview

Today, during the latest Xbox Partner Preview broadcast—as a surprise for Xbox gamers everywhere—GSC Game World launched the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Legends of the Zone Trilogy for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S (via backwards compatibility). That’s right – it’s available today! The Legends of the Zone Trilogy bundle—available on the Microsoft Store for $39.99 USD—includes all three iconic games that make up the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Trilogy: Shadow of Chernobyl, Clear Sky, and Call of Pripyat—or you can pick up each of the games individually for $19.99 USD each. Every element from the original games has been maintained and faithfully ported to console thanks to the hard work of GSC Game World and their partners at Mataboo. This all makes for a great opportunity for Xbox gamers everywhere to get some foundational knowledge of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s universe in the lead-up to the launch of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl, coming day one to Game Pass on September 5, 2024.

But translating these hardcore PC games to an Xbox controller has been no small feat. For a series that is known for blending a variety of genres like horror, first-person shooter, exploration, and immersive sim, it was important for the team to get it right. Speaking with GSC Game World PR Specialist Zakhar Bocharov, we wanted to learn more about what this process was like, bringing these cult-classic, hardcore PC titles to console, and some of the innovative design and UI adjustments the team had to make to bring all three games to Xbox.

“S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has been a PC franchise for a long time, so the key priorities were concentrated around adapting the experience for consoles as a whole (including, but not limited to, native controller support for console interfaces),” explains Bocharov. “We created everything from scratch, ensuring that the game was both easy to control and comfortable to play.”

For example, the team developed a weapon selection wheel and made changes to both the aiming system and the menu navigation so it could support an Xbox controller. The original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a complex game, so while optimizing the gaming experience, the development team made it an important goal to not lose that unique gameplay loop and the feeling of overcoming The Zone’s iconic and hostile environment. This has been a project a long time in the making, so there has been significant care and attention to detail to ensure this classic PC game can be enjoyed for a whole new console audience.

“We wanted to bring S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to consoles for quite some time, and we worked closely with our trusted partners at Mataboo to make that happen,” Bocharov shares. “Despite the new release date for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, we decided to keep S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Legends of the Zone Trilogy in early 2024 to give the players some time to complete the originals before hopping into the sequel. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is a direct continuation of the plot and a standalone title, but obviously knowing the previous events and characters would help you to enjoy certain story moments, nods, and Easter eggs better.”

The version available today for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S will be close to the original version of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. experience on PC. Xbox One players will finally be able to dive into the franchise, and those on Xbox Series X|S can enjoy the game in a high-fidelity mode via backward compatibility. Later this year, the team will release a patch for Xbox Series X|S version that will bring additional graphical enhancements and other features. The console versions will also have mod support via mod.io, but this too will be a feature to roll out later as the team continues to tweak things a bit, so keep an eye on GSC’s social media channels on when these features will roll out.

“Considering the cult status of the series and knowing that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is coming to Xbox, it was logical to let players experience the original games,” explains Bocharov. “We consider these releases as finally closing a long-existing gap; all the games from the series will finally be available on all intended platforms.”

Throughout all this hard work to finally bring these iconic PC games to console, the War in Ukraine has been ever present in the hearts and minds of this game development team. Revisiting a series that helped put GSC Game World on the map so many years ago has now ensured that its legacy will extend to consoles as well—in addition to being available for a whole new bunch of Stalkers to enjoy—helps preserve a truly unique creation from this team of artists and game developers.

“The war, relocation, cyberattacks, and working between several countries complicated basically all processes within the team—including the development of the games we’re talking about today,” Bocharov describes. “Again, huge kudos to Mataboo for making this happen even during the hardest of times. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s legacy is now as important as ever. Usually, we say that about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, but bringing the originals to the new platforms and letting more people experience them ensures that the truly Ukrainian franchise will go on and will be loved. It’s very important for GSC to secure this.”

As Bocharov has indicated, this will be a great primer for a new audience to become engaged in the world of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. before the arrival of Heart of Chornobyl later this year on Xbox Series X|S. Knowing that, we wanted to know if they had any advice for those of you who will be taking their first steps into The Zone.

“S.T.A.L.K.E.R. doesn’t own its cult status for nothing,” says Bocharov. “The blend of genres (FPS/horror/immersive sim), the highly engaging gameplay loop, the one-of-a-kind world of The Zone—all of these have been attracting new Stalkers over 16 years now. The word “unique” describes this experience perfectly. Being quite a hardcore experience, this may not be the type of game you play every day. But our super-dedicated lovely fan base proves one simple fact: if you’re into this world, you will find yourself attached to it for years ahead. Good hunting!”

You can pick up S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Legends of the Zone Trilogy today for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on the Xbox Store. Also available on the PlayStation Store for PS4.

Source: Xbox News

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