On October 2nd, it’s going to have been eight years because the launch of STALKER: Call of Pripyat, the final of Ukrainian studio GSC Game World’s trilogy of bleak and atmospheric open-world survival shooters. It is memorable for being set in a fictionalised and extremely haunted imaginative and prescient of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, which isn’t solely irradiated however overrun with reality-warping anomalies and mutant monsters. The collection places you within the footwear of freelancing mercenaries – the titular STALKERs – wandering this horrific setting looking for fame, glory, or maybe only a huge payout.
STALKER has developed a robust modding scene with an appropriately devil-may-care perspective concerning the reuse of one another’s work, and even the authorized standing of the video games themselves. It can be silly to attempt to summarise even half of the mods produced, so as a substitute, let’s check out the three titanic tasks that outline the STALKER mod scene because it stands at this time, every one constructed on a basis of dozens of smaller tasks and two standalone releases.
Presenting, so as of their accessibility to newcomers, the Big Three:
1 – STALKER: Lost Alpha: Developer’s Cut
- By Dezowave
- ModDB page
- Standalone – absolutely self-contained, no buy required
The unique STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl was a little bit of a multitude. The results of years of protracted growth hell, it was buggy at launch, and had swathes of deliberate content material left on the slicing room flooring. Lost Alpha is a group ardour undertaking that picks up the items. It is the results of poring over particulars from leaked take a look at builds of the sport, design paperwork, and early journal previews, from which the fan crew then assembled their very own model of the sport. This is the sport STALKER might have been.
Despite retelling the story of the unique recreation, albeit with just a few extra cutscenes and quests to enhance coherence, Lost Alpha introduces a slew of recent options. The majority come from later video games within the collection – Call of Pripyat’s weapon improve system, for instance – however many are totally new. The most liberating is the flexibility to buy and preserve autos to drive across the drastically expanded world map, whereas the bigger environments permit extra room for the AI factions to reside and breathe, lending the Zone a brand new and unpredictable edge.
Lost Alpha additionally tries to extend immersion by primary survival simulation points. Food, water and sleep are necessary, though not as demanding or irritating as they initially sound. Inventory administration is a bit more complicated too, along with your backpack and combat-accessible toolbelt (be sure you put your bullets in there) turning into separate panels.
The finish result’s each nostalgic and thrilling for what it provides, whereas additionally turning into extra accessible for newcomers – a facet underscored by the inclusion of a slickly-produced PDF handbook. Lost Alpha is a visible deal with as long as you’ve acquired a PC able to operating it. Built on a a lot later launch of the unique’s X-Ray engine, you’ll want a beast of a rig to dial the sport as much as its increased settings, however it’s scaleable sufficient as to run decently on nearly any latest gaming PC. That stated, an SSD helps mitigate some lengthy load occasions enormously no matter your machine.
2 – STALKER: Call of Chernobyl
Call of Chernobyl is probably the most easy of the large three STALKER mods. As far as recreation mechanics go, it’s as plain as they arrive, and no extra superior within the graphics division than Call of Pripyat. But that’s not a mark in opposition to it provided that the primary attraction of this mod is discovered elsewhere: CoC is a big, non-linear sandbox. It is a perfect subsequent step for gamers who’ve accomplished at the very least one recreation within the trilogy and now need to discover.
Call of Chernobyl options an enormous non-linear world consisting of each map from all three unique video games, plus a number of all-new environments. While there’s an elective Story Mode providing some course, it’s simply eschewed in favour of extra free-form play. Pick a personality from any faction, full missions, discover, and scavenge. It is the core components of STALKER with none of the fluff, and lets the AI factions – human, monster, and animal alike – do their factor unrestricted, capturing places, stepping into fights, and usually making the world really feel alive.
Call of Chernobyl options just a few various play modes, together with a zombie survival situation, however one of the best of them is completely Azazel mode. It is an element roguelike and half quantum leap, by which dying instantly transplants you into the physique of your nearest squadmate – or a random NPC for those who haven’t picked up any mates. It is just not unusual to seek out your self on the other aspect of a battle after dying, and even within the footwear of the person who simply killed you. Dying in video games may be very not often this thrilling: one premature dying may lead right into a harmful (and doubtlessly satirically deadly) quest to seek out your earlier loot-laden corpse.
Rather pleasingly, Call of Chernobyl additionally has a burgeoning mod scene of its personal, with add-ons starting from weapon packs to AI overhauls, and fairly just a few rebalances. You are free to tweak, tinker, and tune till you get the STALKER sandbox you might be happiest with.
three – MISERY
- By Misery Development Ltd
- Requires Call of Pripyat, with plans to go standalone later
Billed as a ‘full-concept modification’, MISERY lives as much as its title. Picture it as a gruelling depiction of a life scavenging for cash, ammunition, and which means in a hellish wasteland that chews up and spits out human spirit. Get used to seeing the world by the dirty, damp visor of your helmet, with solely the barest hints of a HUD to orient you on the earth and aid you handle the trivialities of every day life within the Zone.
As miserable and bleak as MISERY is, it’s an usually gorgeous-looking mod, particularly by way of texture element and lighting. This comes at the price of increased element settings completely trashing even high-end gaming PCs – past even Lost Alpha’s efforts. But at the very least you’ll be able to watch the builders’ live-action intro video earlier than your rig crashes. The quick additional drives house the determined, lonely ambiance of MISERY, instilling a way that the devs have suffered to create this artwork, and wish you to undergo with them.
The STALKER video games had been by no means straightforward, however MISERY is positively merciless. For much less masochistic gamers, the mod does supply lowered problem with ‘Rookie’ mode, which you’ll be able to select throughout set up. Lower AI weapon accuracy, lowered injury taken, and a barely much less brutal economic system does drastically increase your survivability, however solely to the purpose of it taking two or three strong bursts of gunfire to kill you rather than only one.
To take pleasure in MISERY it’s essential to immerse your self completely within the harrowing state of affairs, each out and in of fight. Long-term survival requires you to strip previous weapons for components and use valuable glue and cloth to keep up your individual tools. There are a thousand fiddly items added right here and an absurd variety of new objects to make use of or promote. It is intense and demanding, however provided that it’s presently ranked as the one hottest mod on ModDB, there’s clearly a marketplace for this bleak survivalist simulation.
The MISERY crew’s ambitions don’t finish there, both – with the discharge of model 2.2, they now plan on formally porting their mod to assist Call of Chernobyl, in all its free, standalone enormity, successfully making a sprawling gestalt hybrid. A real standalone sandbox simulation of life in one of many worst locations on Earth conceivable. If nothing else, Azazel mode will assist the bitter tablet of sudden dying go down slightly simpler.
(Header picture by N. Aroe, for STALKER: MISERY 2.2)