Sci-fi horror shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 won’t arrive in 2022 after all. During Xbox and Bethesda’s extended showcase livestream today, developer GSC Game World shared a new story trailer and confirmed the game was delayed until 2023. It also presented a video developer diary in which staff at the Ukrainian studio recounted the early days of Russia’s invasion of their country and what it’s been like making a game while literally under siege.
“The workday begins with a siren,” said lead concept artist Anton Kikhtytskyi in a video shared during the showcase. “During the bombing, we run to the bomb shelter,” said voice director Andrii Maksiuta. A third developer shared a brief video of a pink pet carrier. “This is my cat’s carrier bag,” they said. “My cat died in the shelling in the first week of the war.”
Much of development has been moved to new offices in Prague, Czech Republic. While many of GSC Game World’s staff have relocated since Russia’s invasion began back in late February, others remain in the capital Kyiv and elsewhere, working out of bathrooms, hallways, and other makeshift office spaces away from windows and other potential bombardment hazards. While continuing to work on the game, the video diary says developers have also been juggling volunteer work or active military service. Other staffers, the studio said, were unable to share their stories out of concern for their safety.
“Since the start of the war, I’ve had no contact with my parents,” said Alexandr Levchenko, an animator on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2. “It is an indescribable feeling, not knowing whether your loved ones are alive.”
The developer diary was accompanied by a new story trailer teasing the game’s Chernobyl Exclusion Zone where meteorological anomalies and mutant abilities collide in the wake of nuclear fallout. The first new S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in 13 years, the series was MIA for years following stalled funding and an errant Kickstarter. Due to the ongoing invasion, GSC Game World also said that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2’s release has been pushed back from December 2022 into next year with no firm new date.
Now into its fourth month, Russia’s invasion has displaced millions of people from Ukraine and reportedly killed thousands of civilians. According to Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, Russia now controls roughly a fifth of the nation’s territory. Said narrative designer Daria Tsepkova, “It’s not easy to write violent quests when there is a war outside your window.”