The first time we heard about a Stalker 2 delay, the game was pushed to December of this year. It won’t be hitting that release date, and the shooter is in fact now coming in 2023. It’s the latest in a long line of development hiccups for the game — and for good reason.
After the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase aired, an image of upcoming Pass Games titles was shared on Twitter. If you look at the 2023 bracket on the right, you’ll see Stalker 2 listed in the center of the second row. This was the first time a 2023 release window was attached to the game, but PC Gamer confirmed the news. It seems the graphic jumped the gun on developer GSC Game World’s own announcement. “We were actually planning to reveal it in the upcoming days,” GSC’s Zakhar Bocharov said in a statement to the website, “but yes, the game now releases in 2023.” It’s true then: Stalker 2 is coming next year. There’s no specific release date beyond that year-long window though.
Understandably, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the cause behind the game’s new scheduling. As a Ukrainian studio, GSC Game World was one of the first to urge the video game industry to help during the crisis. As a result of the invasion, development of the game was paused. The studio’s concern shifted to keeping its employees and their families safe over developing a product. Development did resume in May, despite the fact that the conflict continues in the region. That interruption understandably pushed back the game’s calendar as a whole.
During the interim, GSC Game World still made some deliberate choices with the game. It got a subtle, but important name change: Heart of Chernobyl became Heart of Chornobyl. The latter is the Ukrainian spelling for the region. In addition to the name change, the game was removed from sale in Russia. Pre-orders had been available up until that point.