What is STALKER? If you are here, I'm assuming you know. But to those who don't, it's a first person shooter/survival-horror/rpg, that takes place in a wasteland called the Zone.
Anyways, I'll leave a synopsis if I ever get around to reviewing the game, but this is a guide so you have the basic idea down. I'm also going to be gearing this for Call of Pripyat, the 2009 release, since it's got the most confusing introduction of all 3 games.
So you are dropped face-first into the zone as Major Degtyarev, with nothing but your wits and an Akm 74/2U.
What you need to do from here is go into your menu, then options, gameplay options, find the difficulty slider, and crank that bitch all the way up.
"But Ninjamoose, my tender anus can't take the blows!"
Look, the game has little to no challenge below Master. It's just boring unless it's that high, and even then it's not bad once you figure out the world. You get bonus points for turning off the reticle. You will be considered the biggest of the Big Dick Ballers (or BDB for short) if you completely turn off the HUD.
Second, once you are out of the menu, you will need to figure out where to go. If you look on your minimap, you'll see a star and a dot. Those are other people, and they are STALKERS. You then need to talk to the leader of the duo, and ask him where the nearest settlement is. He'll then point you to the Skadovsk.
The link above shows you what the minimap looks like if there are friendlies, and hostiles around.
The Skadovsk acts as a home base for all walks of life, and there's never any violence onboard. Actually, if you shoot at it, whether by accident or on purpose, it will go into "lockdown mode," where nobody can get in or out. I discovered that after having the shit scared out of me by two bloodsuckers right outside, pissing me off immensely since I had to reload save and wait for them to leave.
From here you'll hear a modern rendition of Jabba the Hutt calling you over. What I find weird is you never interact with this NPC again. Anyways, Sultan will ask you to help him with a job, sticking up a bunch of STALKERS.
I didn't discover this next part until really recently, since I usually just went along with it. But, since you are new, I'd highly recommend against this, since it puts you in a lot of danger sometimes.
Instead of going right to Sultans thug, you can go over and talk to Beard, the only guy to have a beard onboard. You can tell him about the raid tonight, and he'll let the STALKERs you are attacking know whats going down.
What this means, is that the bandits are going to lose the fight, and you get a shitload of loot right off the bat. The downside, is that you are immediately kill-on-sight by bandits.
Anyways, you maneuver your way back to the Skadovsk, and tell Beard what's up. He'll thank you, you can sell off excess loot, and be on your way to the next quest he gives you, which is to interrupt a trade between some Mercenaries and Bandits at the Ranger Station.
This I consider one of the toughest fights in the game, since you have trash gear and they have some not-so-trash gear.
So you rendezvous with the STALKERs outside the wall, and you follow them into the little guard shack. You'll be found out no matter what, and promptly shot at.
Any place to your left from the shack is death. Any place just to the right is death. The shack is death. You need to run, as soon as the cutscene is over, to the warehouse to your direct right. Not the one the bandits are in, the abandoned one. This will give you loads of cover, and the AI is impatient enough to wander out into the open for you to pick off. This spot here is a test of your patience, since you will instantly die if you set foot outside. Once all the mercs are dead, it's a loot festival. I'll commend you if you can snatch it all up before the rest of the STALKERs do.
After that, it's up to you what you want to do. You can hunt bandits for more ammo and food, you can artifact hunt for lots of money quick, you can just wander the Zone, you can rigidly follow the storyline. That's what is cool about STALKER, there's no single way to play it.
Some tips and tricks:
- The Akm74/2, not the Akm 74/2U, is not a bad weapon for a beginning STALKER. It's got good enough accuracy, good enough reload, good enough reliability, but horrible upgradability. If you really get a hankering to upgrade a gun, do it to an IL86 or Obokan.
- I'd always recommend taking a shotgun as your secondary, don't bother with pistols until they are upgraded, and have custom ammo.
- With human targets, including Zombies and excluding Snorks, always aim for the head. Always. It's going to be a one-shot-kill no matter what.
- Always have your shotgun out when roaming the wilds, you will almost never know when a pack of dogs will be right on top of you, when a boar will be rushing you, when this that or the other. It's the best insurance plan against Mutants.
- Against any mutant besides snorks, and chimeras, try to find something about chest height to get onto. This keeps you ever so slightly out of range. Fair warning though, sometimes a Blind Dog will knock you off of it with a running jump, but it's easy to read and fill it with buckshot.
- Learn what STALKERs look like. Shoot anyone else. Bandits, especially if you did the first quest the way I do, are basically useless, except for some nearly-free ammo and bandages.
- 5 is your binocluars, learn to love them.
- 6 is your bolts, learn to love these more. They are super handy while artifact hunting, since if you throw them into an anomaly they will set it off. Plus, it's fun to peg unsuspecting STALKERs with them.
- For quick cash, hit the Claw anomaly for some easy artifacts. Unless you did the car-cache quest. Then don't, since you'll probably shit your pants.
- Toss in some nice headphones, and turn off the ingame music. You won't be missing much, and it really helps with the immersion, since it's such an atmospheric game.
- Learn the noises of the Mutants. A bloodsucker will sound different from a Snork, and a snork different from a Chimera. It'll help you prepare for the fight and figure out how you can use the surrounding area to your advantage.
- Try to keep googling to a minimum. Learning the game yourself is one of the biggest parts of it.
- DON'T DO THE CHIMERA QUEST UNTIL YOU HAVE A DECENT SHOTGUN. You will get reamed with the fury of a thousand suns.
- The reason I say bandits suck so much, is that they will have stupidly high prices for trading, and give you little to nothing for your stuff. They don't help you with fast traveling. They don't do anything for you, except act like douchebags and call you mean names. So I shoot them. Doesn't mean you have to, but I'll look down on you if you don't.
Well guys, I'm all STALKER'd out for now. If you have anything else to contribute, just PM me or post in the comments. Happy Stalking.