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In March, Ukrainian developers GSC Game World halted production on survival-horror S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a statement, the team confirmed that their focus had turned to helping “our employees and their families to survive,” later adding that “game development [has] shifted to the sidelines. But we will definitely continue. After the victory. Glory to Ukraine.”
During the latest Xbox and Bethesda showcase, GSC Game World offered an update on the project, sharing a brand new trailer whilst also shining a light on the horrifying experiences of the creatives behind the game.
Check out the brand new trailer for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl below.
In a new Dev Diary, GSC chronicled the events in Ukraine as experienced by the team, beginning with air raid sirens sounding out across the capital city of Kyiv on 24 February, 2022. The video then showed GSC employees packing up and leaving the studio’s offices after a series of air strikes devastated the city of Irpin, some landing just 0.6 miles away from GSC Game World’s base.
Some employees were able to leave the city via coach, and others were shown dashing to bomb shelters as they stayed behind. Voice director Andrii Maksiuta explained how he tragically lost his pet cat in the first week of the shellings, whilst community director Taras Kukurian noted that they were experiencing “air raid sirens around the clock.” He added, “I work then I go for walks like this,” showing images of buildings devastated by bombs.
Narrative designer Dariia Tsepkova explained how she’s living in a single corridor with a dog she was able to rescue. Dariia said, “It’s not easy to write violent quests when there’s a war outside your window.”
Animator Oleksandr Levchenko shared a particularly chilling account. He said, “I am Oleksandr, I am an animator at GSC. I am from Mariupol. Since the start of the war, I’ve had no contact with my parents. It is an indescribable, horrible feeling - not knowing whether your loved ones are alive.” Mariupol has been a major target for Russian forces. On 11 April, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared that Mariupol had been "completely destroyed”.
The update went on to show that some developers had joined Ukrainian front-line forces. Dressed in tactical military gear and holding a rifle, narrative designer Maksym Hnatkov declared, “After our victory, I’ll return to the game.”
The update concluded with the words, “This is just a small fraction of our story. Many of our colleagues are currently unable to publicly share their experiences due to safety concerns.” When S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl does arrive, I’m sure fans will be thrilled but I think it goes without saying that our thoughts and concerns are wholeheartedly with the welfare of the GSC Game World team.
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