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The Real Reason S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Just Changed Its Name

The fourth entry into its series, "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl" has been through quite the difficult development. Originally announced in 2009 and intended for a 2012 release, the follow-up to "S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat" was eventually canceled ahead of its release and shelved indefinitely. Ultimately, the project would be revived in 2018 by developer GSC Game World and was then planned for a 2022 release. Unfortunately, real-life events have put a damper on those plans.

On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine after an extended period of escalation and tension between the two countries. The invasion has led to sanctions being placed on Russia from much of the Western world, some of which pertain to gaming and tech. In the wake of the invasion, GSC Game World — a Ukrainian company — has announced that the development of "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl" has been put on hold indefinitely to prioritize the safety of its employees in Ukraine. Furthermore, the game has received a subtle change when it comes to its name — here's why.

Why Chernobyl's spelling has been changed to "Chornobyl"

For the few that might be unaware, Chernobyl is quite the historical site. Located just outside of the now-abandoned Pripyat, Ukraine, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was home to one of the world's most deadly and notorious nuclear accidents in history in 1986. Because of the historical significance of the site, it has served as the inspiration for many artists and Hollywood productions, like HBO's miniseries based on the accident. The site has even been used as a setting in many popular video games, including "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" and previous "S.T.A.L.K.E.R." titles.

Because the Chernobyl disaster has often been attributed to the Soviet Union and, by proxy, Russia, the Russian spelling of the word "Chernobyl" is the one that has mostly permeated through Western culture. However, the site itself is located in Ukraine, some two hours away from its capital city of Kyiv. Despite sharing an alphabet with Russia, Ukraine has its own way of spelling the site's name: "Chornobyl".

This Ukrainian spelling is now reflected in the title "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl" on the game's Steam page. Though the name change wasn't formally announced and GSC Game World hasn't formally commented on the altered Steam listing, many have attributed this slight change as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine as it enters its another week of Russian occupation (per PC Gamer).