Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl has been in development for a long time, and that process continues into 2023. Fans of the original post-nuclear fallout survival-horror/shooter hybrid may be eagerly awaiting this gorgeous-looking sequel from GSC Game World, especially given that it was first announced (and even canceled) a decade ago. While we wait for the game’s launch, here’s everything we know so far about the once troubled, now promising genre-bender.
Stalker 2 release date
Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl was previously slated for a 2021 release, but obviously that’s come and gone. Stalker 2 was later dated for April 28, 2022, but that too has come to pass.
Since then, the development team has been directly affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and development persists, but understandably at a hampered pace. As a result, the game is currently without a release date. Given it once was scheduled for 2021, it’s possible that the team is not far off from completion, even amid a turbulent situation such as real-life war.
Following the breakout of the war, Xbox put out a trailer in support of development teams working in Ukraine and sometimes quite literally the line of fire. This video focused largely on the team at GSC Game World, as you can see for yourself below. As you might’ve noticed, the game’s title was also slightly changed to reflect the Ukrainian spelling of “Chornobyl.”
Stalker 2 platforms and Game Pass
Stalker 2 will launch on PC and Xbox Series X|S. It will also launch on Xbox Game Pass on day one for both console and PC subscribers. Currently, a PlayStation launch has not yet been announced, but a leak seems to suggest the game will be a timed-exclusive on Xbox consoles for three months. After that, we may see the game head to other console platforms, though a Switch version seems unlikely (unless by way of a cloud edition) due to the game’s demanding specs and it being a current-gen exclusive.
Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl has been in development for a long time, and that process continues into 2023. Fans of the original post-nuclear fallout survival-horror/shooter hybrid may be eagerly awaiting this gorgeous-looking sequel from GSC Game World, especially given that it was first announced (and even canceled) a decade ago. While we wait for the game’s launch, here’s everything we know so far about the once troubled, now promising genre-bender.
What is Stalker 2?
Stalker 2 is the long-awaited mainline sequel to the cult classic original Stalker: Shadow of Chornobyl from 2007. A PC exclusive back then, the game spawned two follow-ups in quick succession, first in 2008 and then 2009. A fourth game, set to revive the series’ use of numbered entries, was once planned for 2011 but was canceled in 2012 due to a lack of funding.
For years, the numbered mainline sequel seemed to have evaporated, but it made a resurgence in 2018 when Stalker 2 was re-announced. Following a small teaser by way of a single screenshot in the spring of 2020, the game got a full-fledged announcement during the Xbox Games Showcase that year, which took place as part of an elongated E3 replacement series of online presentations in the earlier months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stalker 2 will see players once again taking on the role of a gas mask-wearing, rat-munching survivor in and around the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, the site of the infamous 1986 catastrophe that has caused suffering for generations of people who were exposed to the nuclear reactor’s effects.
GSC Game World explained how you play as a titular Stalker–a bounty hunter who delves into the contaminated zone looking for treasure and secrets. The monsters and factions inside the zone will interact with each other in a simulated living world, and the studio claims events will be happening constantly, whether or not you’re there to witness them.
It also promises a branching story with loads of different endings based on your choices, and that its open-world will be one of the biggest to date. The story will be told in a non-linear fashion, which could potentially offer more insight into the game’s take on the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.
GSC Game World courted controversy when the team announced it would be incorporating NFTs into Stalker 2. Unique in-game items were revealed to be in the works, and were intended to be sold initially in an auction house whereby ownership would then be transferred to players. Those players would then be able to re-sell their items at a profit–if they could find buyers. This is the intention of NFTs in games, and GSC Game World was looking to be among the earliest adopters, but almost as soon as the team revealed its plans, it was met with blowback from critics who cited the pyramid scheme-like structure and environmentally catastrophic consequences of NFTs.
GSC Game World briefly put out a statement the following day on Twitter, which read like one part apology and one part doubling down on the plans, but it quickly deleted the statement within a few minutes. A few minutes after that, the team put out a new, much shorter statement revealing that all plans to incorporate NFTs into Stalker 2 had been canceled.
Stalker 2 trailers
To date, we’ve seen the game a handful of times, beginning with the above cinematic reveal trailer from the Xbox Games Showcase. More recently, we got our first glimpse at proper gameplay sequences via a developer diary, which you can see below.
It was in the summer of 2021 that we learned the game would be in Game Pass for Xbox and PC at launch, and that the game would be pushed back to April of 2022. It was later pushed to the end of the year, and then finally out of the year entirely following the Russia-Ukraine war.
Despite a chaotic work environment, the team put out its most recent trailer this past summer, highlighting the new 2023 release window and showing off more of the game, almost playing like an act of defiance aimed at their home country’s invaders.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl — Enter the Zone Trailer
PC system specs
GSC Game World has not yet revealed the specs to play the game on PC. We know the console version launching on Xbox Series X|S will be native to the platform and thus not running on an Xbox One build of the game.
Preorder Stalker 2
Stalker 2 was, for some time, available for preorder on both of its announced platforms, including Xbox and PC (via Steam). However, more recently, Xbox was reportedly offering refunds and shutting off preorders, likely because of the unclear situation as the game continues to be worked on under hazardous conditions. Preorders on Steam are still available as of December 2022, so it’s likely that Xbox’s decision comes down to a difference in how it prefers to operate as opposed to Valve when it comes to questionable preorders.
It’s expected that this pause on Stalker 2 preorders is merely that–a pause. Preordering the game should be available again on Xbox in time.
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors.
GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.