I've put off this news post for quite a while, since I wasn't quite sure what to write. When one of the team working on Radium said "What exactly is Radium about?" I figured I have some massive explaining to do.
So what is Radium, actually?
Well, initially it started off as Ultimate Weapon Renewal, a legacy still evident in our mod's URL. Since then it has somewhat evolved, to not just be about adding sexy means of hot lead injection, but also to be an overhaul of the Zone.
I've always loved the Stalker series. I think out of my entire steam library, all three games have had more combined time than every single other game I've played. That's quite a lot.
While I've always recognized that Call of Pripyat is by far the most polished and technically superior of all three games, I also believe it is the most sterile and least Zone-like of all three games. It lacks the mystery of Shadow of Chernobyl and the pure anarchy of Clear Sky, and I've always wondered why that was. In the grand scheme of things, Call of Pripyat is set in a very turbulent time of the Zone's history: The Scorcher, a long standing means of keeping stalkers away, is no more, and an entirely new area of the Zone has been opened for the plundering of stalkers. Some more adventerous, and foolhardy, even got a taste of Pripyat itself, before it was once again locked down by a massive emission.
Radium is, at its heart, an attempt to make Call of Pripyat into the game it always had the potential to be, but sadly never was. GSC did an admirable job, but like many others I looked to the many influences and past builds of Stalker and dreamed of what could have been.
The main influence on Radium has been Roadside Picnic (among others, to a lesser extent, such as the Stalker movie and the old Stalker builds). I do not believe many people will ever be able to fully fathom the mystery of the Zone, and I suspect many don't even want to. It is a pervasive, alien place that defies every single truth people hold to be self evident. Even the very laws of the universe, as we understand them, do not apply.
So given that the premise is "We don't understand what is going on" the focus then shifts onto the people who inhabit the Zone: What motivates them? What are their goals and what terrible things will they do to achieve them?
Many of the Zone's factions will be given a significant overhaul. The Bandits, for example, underwent a very violent change in management where Borov, their previous leader, was removed from the picture by Sultan, an old-school Thief in Law, who sees the Zone as a prime location to build an empire.
Likewise, the way you interact with the Zone will change. Degtyarev is an outsider, part of an organization that has little to no friends in the Zone (with the possible exception of Duty), who must balance the outcome of his mission with the responsibilities that will be required to see it through. The SBU has provided some help, mainly with basic integration, but securing resources and building confidence is entirely on your head. Thankfully the SBU's standard Military Stalker contract provides amnesty for actions in the Zone, provided the terms are upheld, and full disclosure given.
Over the next few weeks I'll be expanding on some of the new concepts Radium brings to the Zone.
(All the above screenshots were taken with the new DX11.3 renderer - how's that for content?!)