GSC Game World's long-awaited Stalker 2 has a new release date, and yes, it's another delay. Instead of arriving in the first quarter of 2024 as planned, the studio announced today that a "final release date" has been set for September 5.
GSC acknowledged that the latest delay is disappointing, but said the need to push it back became clear after a public reveal at Gamescom in 2023 and various subsequent events. Based on feedback, the studio said two "key points" became clear: "It absolutely felt and played like a Stalker game," which is good, but "on the technical side of things, the game apparently needed more time in the oven."
"Throughout the frankly challenging development process, time was of the team's main essence," GSC said. "Seeing the scope of polishing and understanding the limits of the players’ patience, GSC was absolutely dedicated to releasing the game in Q1 2024. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that at the beginning of this year, certain technical imperfections still hold Stalker 2 below the expected standards for the final experience the fans are waiting for."
It's been a long, rough road for Stalker 2, which was first announced all the way back in 2010 but then sidelined by difficulties including an apparent studio closure, which saw numerous GSC veterans launch a new studio, Vostok Games, and begin work on a very Stalker-like multiplayer FPS called Survarium. Development of Stalker 2 restarted in 2018, but was "paused" in 2022 following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Work resumed in May of that year but further delays understandably followed: Aside from the usual challenges of making a videogame, some members of the studio volunteered to fight for the Ukrainian military, and GSC suffered a cyber-attack linked to Russia in March 2023.
"The war in Ukraine continues. GSC Game World has been supporting our home country in all the ways we can," the studio wrote. "For those willing to do the same, we recommend following a link to [United24], the official charity fund of Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine."
It feels a bit hypocritical to get overly excited for the launch of a videogame when it comes amidst the horrors of a real war, but I do hope Stalker 2 is a major success—not just because I love the originals, but because I reckon GSC Game World, and the Ukrainian game industry as a whole, is long overdue for some good news. A big-hit videogame isn't going to change the daily reality for Ukrainians living under the oppression of war, but even a small win can sometimes go a long way.
GSC Game World said more information about Stalker 2 on "this extended journey to the release" will be shared later this year.