Stalker 2 looks great but, thanks to the situation in Ukraine, is delayed into early next year

Stalker 2 trailer still
(Image credit: GSC Game World)

Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine is ongoing, sadly with no end to the conflict in sight, and its impacts continue to be felt globally and most acutely in Ukraine itself. Developer GSC Game World was based in Kyiv and, since the war began, has been facing the direst of circumstances: development of Stalker 2 was temporarily paused while it helped some employees flee the conflict zone, while other staff are volunteering or have signed up for the Ukrainian armed forces.

This has inevitably led to Stalker 2 being delayed, first into 2023, as GSC grapples with not only the practicalities of developing an entertainment product amidst war but constant cyberattacks from Russian elements (the studio has taken a public pro-Ukraine stance that made it a target for both the Russian state, which has essentially banned the game, and Russian cyberattacks resulting in leaked builds).

Now there's good news and bad news. The good news is that our own Phil Savage went hands-on with Stalker 2 at Gamescom, and within three minutes had been chewed up by a dog, blasted by an anomaly, and irradiated. In other words, this sure sounds like the zone, and looks the part too. The bad news is that as part of the Gamescom appearance GSC has released a new fact sheet for the game, which pushes the release date back from late this year into Q1 2024: so anytime from January 1st to March 31st, 2024.

The various delays to Stalker 2 are probably the most understandable delays in our industry's history. This team is trying to produce a videogame of the highest calibre in an unimaginable context that has seen its staff's lives turned upside-down, some of them going off to fight for Ukraine, and the studio becoming a target itself merely for standing up for its country. GSC Game World has relocated to Prague, for now, and condemned the "inhuman cruelty" of the war. The Stalker 2 official account today posted a picture of a staff member holding the Ukrainian flag, saying:

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"On this Independence Day, we have a tremendous possibility to demonstrate our game to the world and move forward in its development," said GSC Game World. "And we don’t forget that this chance is granted by defenders of our homeland, its freedom, and its borders [...]

"Our gratitude to every Ukraine supporter! We thank every person who speaks and shares the truth about this war. And we kneel in honor to every defender of Ukrainian freedom.

"Congratulations on Independence Day, Ukrainians—the most important date for many years to come!"

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."