Find the latest breaking news and information on the top stories, science, business, entertainment, politics, and more.

STALKER 2 team says it was hacked by pro-Russian group, is being blackmailed

GSC Game World, the Ukraine-based developer of STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl, has been hacked, according to a statement from the studio on Sunday. An anonymous user on the Russian social media network UK has taken responsibility for the breach and is threatening to release art and story details for the upcoming game unless demands are not met by March 15. GSC confirmed the hack on social media and said it would not be intimidated.

“This is not the first attempt to hack and leak our data, including personal information,” the developer said on Twitter. “We have been through a lot. However, these challenges only encourage us to work even harder, because we believe that the truth is on our side. Evil will never win.”

Hackers claim to have gained access to some 30 gigabytes of information, including concept art, environmental art and maps, as well as in-game screenshots and cutscenes that reveal the game’s story. Demands include a softening of the company’s attitude towards Russian and Belarusian fans, the unbanning of a specific account on the game’s official Discord channel, and an official Russian-language localization for the game. game (STORER 2 shall function English and Ukrainian voice-over, and Russian subtitles). GSC Game World developers tell Polygon that none of these requirements will be met.

“Despite the attempts to break us, we remain strong and courageous,” GSC said in a statement. “In the event of any leaks, we ask you not to watch or spread information about it STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl. Outdated material and work in progress can dilute the impression of the final idea we put into the game.

Ukraine-based GSC released the original STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl in 2007 and quickly followed it up with STALKER: Clear sky in 2008 and STALKER: Call from Pripyat in 2009. The series was critically acclaimed for its open world, sandbox-style gameplay, and lively AI-controlled opponents. But the company ceased operations in 2011, throwing its many highly skilled developers against the wind. This diaspora led to the creation of several successful studios, including 4A Games, creators of the Metro series – including Subway: Last Light.

In 2014, GSC came back to life and soon released a sequel to the popular Cossacks series, Cossacks 3, in 2015. It then announced the next STALKER game in 2018, with an initial release date pegged at 2021. Development stalled initially and was further complicated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal and unprovoked large-scale invasion of Ukraine . The ongoing conflict has raged for more than a year and, according to the United Nations, has resulted in the deaths of more than 8,000 Ukrainian citizens and the displacement of some 14 million people.

As a result, the GSC has taken various measures. First, it moved part of the development team abroad. Later, it changed the name of the game so that it contained the Ukrainian spelling, not the Russian spelling, of the nuclear reactor of the same name that was central to his fiction. It has also made many posts on social media and YouTube celebrating the resilience of the Ukrainian people, and its own employees who have joined the army to fight Russian aggression.

After multiple delays, STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl is currently set for a December release. The game is available on PC via Steam and is part of the Xbox Game Pass subscription program.