Not saying Metro series is a bad game – quite the contrary, they are one of the most refined, polished, and well-executed survival horrors out there.
The issue here might actually be the refinement. The trailers of STALKER 2 which we have seen so far, are very refined. Of course we don't know anything about game's mechanics, but based on the photo-realistic graphics, I have a feeling that the new STALKER is looking to achieve a level of refinement like Metro.
So what's the problem with refinement? It limits your options. From my experience developing Tunguska: The Visitation, which I took inspiration heavily from STALKER, I realized that a game dev has the tendency to look for and fix loopholes, glitches, or imbalances in the game, so that the player can't find little tricks here and there to take advantage of and beat the game easily. But if he does too much of this, then the game becomes refined – and not fun to play.
This is especially true for a survival horror, where the beauty is to meet very tough challenges and find innovative ways to beat them, which from time to time, does involve finding loopholes and imbalances that the game dev didn't fix. So occasionally when I work on Tunguska and find some loopholes, I intentionally leave it be. The charm of the STALKER series is its "rawness" – you always see things happening that weren't meant to, giving it a sense of unpredictability, which is how the Zone should feel. Finding those loopholes also greatly enhances the joy of playing the game, because you are rewarded for trying out different techniques and finding the "overpowered" one. A true STALKER game can be very hard, but also allows you to be creative and find OP ways to play it.
Now, what's wrong with refined graphics, then? First of all, due to the limit of resources, you can only put out so much content. When you have photo-realistic graphics, more and more time must be put into each object – the level of detail, texture, collision box, shader, material adjustment, lighting, game performance… and it means you'll have to compromise on the amount of objects, which translates to smaller playable areas and over-all, less content. Making matters worse photo-realistic environment requires a lot of "clutter" to look real and not empty, which adds even more to the already heavy workload.
Secondly, a realistically looking environment allows much less forgiveness for unrealistic interactions. Remember those Sidorovich jobs where a "salesperson" spawns randomly on the map for you to kill? Can you imagine such things happening in a game like Chernobylite? That would feel too unrealistic, right? In other words, having a less realistically looking environment encourages players to put up with more "willing suspension of disbelief".
So, if GSC thinks the success of Metro is the key to their own success, we will most likely see STALKER 2 turning out to be something with similar (refined) feel as Metro, with painful survival mechanics, obstructive scopes, small enclosed environments, and problem-solving being limited to a couple of predictable paths designed by devs. If that's the case, STALKER 2 would lose the appeal and charm of the STALKER series.
I hope not.
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