Gaming

Citizen Sleeper 2’s 2025 Release Date Looks Too Far Away, After Promising Previews

Citizen Sleeper 2 heads further into the unknown.

screenshot from Citizen Sleeper 2 trailer
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It’s been a great week for sci-fi fans with impeccable taste. First, we got our first look at Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector’s gameplay along with an early 2025 release window at the weekend’s PC Gaming Show. Now previews for the game have emerged, showing that the sequel to what I consider the best RPG of 2022 (sorry not sorry) could actually stand a chance at surpassing its predecessor. The only downside: that 2025 release date is looking a little too far away given how exciting Citizen Sleeper 2 is shaping up to be.

If you were a fan of the original Citizen Sleeper, you probably noticed things look a bit different in its sequel’s new gameplay trailer. Not too different, but enough to make this second voyage clearly more than a rehash. The game’s main mechanic — rolling dice to determine your chance of succeeding at everything from hacking computers to making small talk — remains intact, but with lots of new additions. There’s a lot of talk of contracts, a screen for selecting crew members, and mysterious indicators on the UI marked “supplies,” “glitch,” and “push.”

Citizen Sleeper 2 makes you a robot on the run with a ragtag crew to manage.

Developer Gareth Damian Martin’s previous comments dispel some of the mystery, for anyone paying enough attention. Damian Martin has spoken before about how Citizen Sleeper 2 would take players away from the space station where they spent the entire first game to build a crew and explore the galaxy in their own ship. They’ve also cited the tabletop RPG Blades in the Dark as an inspiration, a game where you can choose to “push” a dice roll to essentially increase your chance of success but risk greater consequences if you fail.

So if you’re like me and spent the past few days speculating about all the new systems in the Citizen Sleeper 2, you may be relieved to have more solid answers as previews of the game have also started being published, along with interviews of Damian Martin.

Citizen Sleeper 2 refines the original’s RPG mechanics for more challenge and tougher choices.

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As it turns out, my tabletop nerd instincts were right, and a lot of what’s new in Citizen Sleeper 2 comes from the game leaning harder into its TTRPG roots. The push system is in fact what it looked like, allowing you to reroll dice for a better outcome on any action at the cost of Stress, a new resource that makes everything harder when you’ve collected too much. Let that happen and your dice can break, meaning they’re more likely to fail. One of my biggest critiques of Citizen Sleeper on release was that its resource management lacked teeth, never really punishing you for failure. Stress seems to solve this problem for the sequel.

Then there’s the new glitch system, which causes dice to sometimes misbehave, giving you a large chance of failure but a small shot at spectacular success. In narrative terms, glitching is a consequence of being a Sleeper — a kind of sentient robot — and having to interrupt system maintenance to escape a pursuer at the start of the game. When I spoke to Damian Martin two years ago, they made clear that bodily autonomy and frailty are major themes of Citizen Sleeper, and that’s clearly been carried over into the sequel. Even the dice breaking mechanic is about more than just changing the odds.

"If parts of you are breaking, that means one of your dice is broken, and so you can look at the dice and see, oh, this is where I'm at right now,” Damian Martin told Eurogamer this month. “This is what my body looks like."

Citizen Sleeper 2 will put you in closer contact with other characters.

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Another way Citizen Sleeper 2 ties its new mechanics to its narrative heart is with crewmates. Where the original game cast you as a lone wanderer, now you’re in charge of your own ship and everyone aboard it. Having the right crew members can make the difference between failing a job and succeeding, but they complicate things at the same time. A Kotaku preview walks through multiple playthroughs, first trying to tackle a job alone and having it literally fall apart beneath the Sleeper’s feet, then recruiting a crewmate who makes the run a success but in the process, raises a gut-wrenching moral dilemma.

“When I play Mass Effect, Commander Shepard reminds me of bosses I’ve had,” Damian Martin told me when we spoke. But while the original put you on the lowest rung of the social ladder, this time around, you’re the boss, making tough calls that will inevitably hurt members of your crew.

Citizen Sleeper 2 may still be up to a year away, but I couldn’t be more excited about where the series is heading. The new round of information suggests it folds in more complex tabletop systems while keeping the empathetic heart that made the original brilliant. We have next to no idea about what games are coming out in 2025, but if Citizen Sleeper 2 is as good as it already looks, I already have a strong hunch about what the year’s best RPG will be.

Citizen Sleeper 2 launches in 2025 on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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