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STALKER 2 headed to Xbox Series X and Xbox Game Pass

GSC Game World also showed off the game’s first proper trailer

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The sequel to STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, the legendary open-world first-person shooter set around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, is coming to Xbox Series X as a “console launch exclusive” and will be part of Xbox Game Pass program. The announcement was made Thursday during the Xbox Games Showcase, and was accompanied by the game’s first trailer — also available on YouTube.

The cinematic opens on a grimy door, then pans to birds in flight around the iconic Ferris wheel inside the Pripyat exclusion zone. Later, it shows off some of STALKER’s trademark anomalies, including a red, glowing rock floating in the middle of a park; a cloud of static electricity filling a schoolroom; and a gravitational orb that crushed nearby cars.

STALKER 2 is being made by the original developer, Ukrainian studio GSC Game World. It was first announced in 2018 with the numerals “2021” listed below the title of the game. GSC said on Facebook that it’s not yet ready to disclose a specific release date.

According to a statement on Facebook, the trailer does not use in-game graphics. Instead, developers say it represents a target of “graphics and atmosphere we are aiming to achieve on release.” GSC also released a series of screenshots from the trailer, which we’ve included below.

It’s unknown how much, if any, of the game’s original development team remains. GSC was unceremoniously shuttered in 2011 by CEO Sergei Grigorovich. Its best and brightest developers left to found studios like 4A Games (Metro Exodus) and Vostok Games (Survarium).

According to a press release, STALKER 2 is being built using the latest version of the powerful A-Life simulation system that drove the other titles in the franchise.

“With different behavior of characters and mutants,” GSC Game World said in the news release, “the Zone changes constantly. Every playthrough will be unique with lots of things happening every moment, even if the player doesn’t witness them directly.”

An underground tunnel lit with red light. Image: GSC Game World
Vats filled with strange creatures, backlit. Image: GSC Game World
A forest outside Chernobyl Image: GSC Game World
A Ferris wheel shrouded in fog. Image: GSC Game World

Update: Reached for clarification, a representative from GSC Game World denies that the numerals “2021” listed on the STALKER 2 website when it launched in 2018 were indicative of a release window. Instead, they maintain the numerals were part of an alternate reality game that has since concluded. We’ve adjusted our article to reflect that.

The image reads “STALKER 2 2021”
The STALKER 2 website captured on June 1, 2018 by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
Image: GSC Game World

“I see people posting 2021 as a release date on the Internet, and I totally understand that,” said Zakhar Bocharov, public relations and business development at GSC. “But all I can say for now is STALKER 2 doesn’t have an official release date.”

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