During the PC Gaming Show: Most Wanted, we ran through the 25 most exciting upcoming PC games, as voted for by The Council—a collection of 70 industry professionals, critics and influencers, including Sid Meier, Tim Schafer and Brenda Romero. The Council’s top pick this year—the most wanted of the Most Wanted—is Stalker 2, GSC Game World’s hotly anticipated follow-up to the cult classic FPS series.
“Recording this video feels almost surreal,” says Evgeniy Grygorovych, CEO of GSC Game World and game director of Stalker 2, in his acceptance speech for the award. “Being here proves that several elements much larger than myself aligned for this moment to happen.
Above: See Evgeniy Grygorovych’s PCGS Most Wanted acceptance speech.
It’s easy to see just why it’s so hotly anticipated. The last game in the series, Stalker: Call of Pripyat, released back in 2009, but still remains an all time classic for PC gaming fans. In this year’s PC Gamer Top 100, it placed at number 76. “It captures the experience of being a scavenger and treasure-seeker in a world that fundamentally does not want you there better than anything else I’ve played,” said PCG’s Josh Wolens at the time. As a series, Stalker has always been uncompromising in its design—an uncompromising shooter where you’re forced to respect the mercy of the strange, irradiated world you’re battling to survive in.
“Many years ago, when the journey we had planned concluded, you refused to leave The Zone,” says Grygorovych, thanking the fans who kept Stalker in their hearts for over a decade. “You enriched it with stories, love and life, ensuring the legacy continues through the years. You’ve shown us that there are still goals to achieve and stories to tell. Your passion has guided us throughout the journey, and I can never express enough gratitude for that. I consider this award a symbol of your unbreakable trust.”
At this year’s Gamescom, I had the chance to play a short, 15 minute demo of Stalker 2. Within just a couple of minutes, I was attacked by a mutant dog, torn apart by an invisible anomaly and irradiated after standing too close to an irradiated lake. The Zone is as hostile as ever, protecting its treasures with deadly threats and harsh, uninhabitable conditions. It’s irresistibly dark and foreboding, more so than previous games thanks to the much better graphics and moody, atmospheric lightning.
(Image credit: GSC Game World)
“Stalker 2 stands as the biggest and most complex game in our lives,” continues Grygorovych. “It was ambitious from the beginning, but evolved into an ultimate challenge. It holds extreme significance, and a deeply personal connection for us, crafted amidst the most stressful conditions imaginable, including the pandemic, war, relocation, cyberattacks, life threats and more.”
As hyped as we are for Stalker 2, it’s also important to recognise the circumstances of its creation. In February last year, Russia launched an illegal invasion of Ukraine. For months after it began, the city of Kyiv—where GSC Game World was based—was a major target of Russian forces, sustaining artillery fire and repeated incursions. “The work day begins with a siren,” said GSC’s Anton Kukhtytski in a video shown during this Summer’s Xbox Showcase. “During the bombing, we run to the bomb shelter.”
Development of the game was paused while GSC evacuated employees and relocated the studio to Prague. It’s in part due to these hardships that, for the team, Stalker 2 has taken on even more significance. “The war still goes on in Ukraine,” says Grygorovych. “Those currently fighting on the front lines, including GSC employees, are real heroes. Not all of them were trained for this. They simply couldn’t turn away.
“Stalker 2 was important for us even before the war, but now it stands as a national product aiming to convey Ukraine’s unbreakable spirit to the world. Today we celebrate our victory here, while simultaneously striving for our homeland’s ultimate triumph in the future. I am overwhelmed with the joy to recognise that Stalker 2 enters the final phase of development. Fellow Stalkers will soon reunite in The Zone once again. Thank you all for this award.”
Despite everything the team has been through, Stalker 2 is set to release in the first quarter of next year. We can’t wait to return to The Zone—to go face-to-face with the horrors and mysteries of one of the most original and distinctive settings in PC gaming.