What is the secret of the success of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series?

We go into the details of the ultra-popular shooter from GSC Game World

Prior to the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is still a few months away. An army of fans have been waiting for the continuation of the beloved shooter for over 10 years. Why has the interest to the project not faded during this time? Why enthusiasts on thematic forums are still parsing the first builds, looking for details, which the developers forgot to mention?

In this article I will explain what components make up the uniqueness of "Stalker", and tell you why this game is loved by many Russian-speaking gamers.

Setting

A small village, a rusty bus stop, cracked asphalt, power line pylons looming in the distance behind the forest. It seems that in a few minutes a small bus will appear from around the corner. This picture is tightly fixed in the mind of every gamer born in the 90's, early 2000's. Well, who among us was not sent to grandmother for the whole summer. Play area exactly reproduces those images from childhood. Except that instead of "Pazik" a pack of blind dogs ran out from behind the corner.

Cordon

In addition to recognizable landscapes in the game, there are objects from the real world, transferred to the virtual universe with preservation of maximum authenticity. The developers from GSC Game World have set themselves the task if not to recreate the Exclusion Zone in detail, then to bring recognizable monuments into the game.

"I marked on the map the most visually appealing architectural objects, trying to avoid those that have already been filmed by us before. As a result of a continuous 5-hour photo session, we filmed in detail the entire first microdistrict of Pripyat and the factory "Jupiter". We brought 17 gigabytes of photos back to Kiev. For example, more than three trips were required to create "The Shadow of Chernobyl. For "Call of Pripyat" - one, and for "Clear Sky" we didn't make a single trip. It all depends on the concept of each specific project," GSC Game World art director Ilya Tolmachev told in an interview.

Thanks to trips to Chernobyl, GSC was able to recreate a lot of things in the game. For example, the nuclear power plant, Yanov, house of life "Jubilee", the cinema "Prometheus", a secret factory "Jupiter" and much, much more.

Lore and

mythologyLore and mythology can be included in the concept of "Atmosphere", which is so fond of using by game journalists

.

Throughout the Zone "scattered" a lot of interesting places, a visit to which will find a rare artifact, a unique trunk or kpk with important information. The developers are not leading the player by the pen, noting on the map all the places, and allow you to find them yourself. You can do this through conversations with NPCs and in the notes scattered around the area. Yes, and trivial, exploring the location, you can absolutely accidentally come across a lair of mutants. Or the corpse of Gordon Freeman - here and more than that happens.

The stash

And the number of fan theories S.T.A.L.K.E.R. can be compared only with the GTA series. Fans are still wondering how the corpse of the Father Valerian was in the Red Forest, when the stalker himself is quite alive and living on Kordon. Is it really a mistake? Or in this way the creators of the game hint at the presence of Jackass? Did Scar manage to survive? How does the Monolith recruit new supporters? So many questions and so few answers. Nothing new, though.

Mystery and sound designDistant

peals of thunder, pops of anomalies, booming sounds of gunfire - it's hard to imagine "Stalker" without all of these elements. The entire Zone is a frightening place where some find fame and fortune, while others find death in the arms of a bloodsucker.

The grim, dark ambient soundtrack is perfectly suited to the gloomy autumn weather. This music, written by Russian composer Vladimir Frey, is as suitable for exploring underground laboratories as it is for traveling from Cordon to the Brain Burner.

Live WorldBut

for the player to believe in the reality of what is happening, you must convince him that the world can live without his direct involvement. This is exactly what the A-Life system is responsible for.

"We tried to create the impression that the player is not the most important character in the game. That is, you're not alone, not the center of the earth or a super-hero, but just one of many other Stalkers like you. How is this achieved? Everyone has their own things to do, their own interests. Everyone is busy, or doing what their heart desires. That's how this concept of life simulation came about," said programmer Dmitry Yasenev. Attack of the Snorks

Stalkers walk through the Zone, they are attacked by everything they can attack: monsters, bandits, and whatever else they can find. Stalkers don't give up: they climb for artifacts, make rest stops, communicate. It seems that the protagonist is just one of the many brave men trampling the dusty ground around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant with their boots. Of course, players can interfere with natural processes. For example, no one forbids helping stalkers repel monster attacks or, conversely, killing everyone to reap their loot. But if you remove the user from the equation, nothing crumbles. The zone and all its inhabitants will continue to exist.

CharactersAn equally

important part of any game are the characters that the gamer meets along the way. Sidorovich in Shadow of Chernobyl, Lebedev in Clear Skies, Beard in Zov Pripyat. Each of them is crazy in their own way. And that craziness makes them so unique that 10 years after the campaign you remember the name of each of the heroes you meet.

However, the folk flavor for which we all love the "Stalker" series so much, is not at all evident in the conversations with the key characters. A kind of "face" of the game, which is recognized even by foreign gamers are different criminal elements or just bandits. For the voice of these brave young men in leather jackets and tracksuits is worth saying thank you to one man - Grigory German. It was thanks to him that "Fuck, I caught an olive", "Eh, I wish I had a baba" and "Kandehay more fun" appeared ,

which went not only into people, but into memes as well.

A

Danish psychologist once said,

"A man is alive as long as he is remembered."

This saying can also be applied to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. Over the past 14 years since the release of the first part of the fans were able to release a huge number of different modifications. By the end of 2021, they number in the hundreds.

Addon "F.O.T.O.G.R.A.F."

First, folk craftsmen tried to fix the things that were most annoying in the original game. For example, the characteristics of weapons or the stamina of the protagonist. Later modifications began to appear, adding new content: guns, food and even characters. Finally mastered the engine, enthusiasts began riveting mods that allow players to go to a new location, to perform unique quests or even play for another character.

A prime example of the latter - addon "F.O.T.O.G.R.A.F.", wearing a cult status among fans of the series. Players will visit the Zone "before the times," where there is no familiar factions, and familiar characters are just beginning to make their first timid steps in the Zone.

If you go to a bookstore and come to the shelves with science fiction, you will probably notice the many novels with new stories about the Zone and its inhabitants. Their authors are Russian and foreign writers, sometimes in no way related to Chernobyl. In addition, YouTube is full of fan films on the game's universe. Some of these works are a head above half of Russian cinema and absolutely deserve your attention.

What do you like about the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series?

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