Developed for the Microsoft Windows platform by GSC Game World, a video game developer from Ukraine, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a series of first-person shooter games.
The games are based on an alternative history of events set in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, area surrounding the Chernobyl disaster site, in which a second nuclear explosion occurs two decades after the first one triggering a selection of changes in various elements of the surrounding environment.
The changes in the environment lead to the development of objects with special characteristics, such as radiation absorption and anti-gravity, referred to as artifacts.
Various characters, referred to as stalkers, enter the Zone with the goal of finding these artifacts. These stalkers may be seen working alone or in groups/factions, each driven by their own unique goals.
The Zone (as it is referred to in the games) is populated by both humans and a host of other creatures that have mutations associated with the previous nuclear disasters.
Ukrainian Armed forces secure the perimeter of the entire area, preventing unauthorized access. Furthermore, Ukrainian Special Forces regularly make routine entries into the Zone to conduct various missions.
Each game’s main character has their own unique mission objectives separate from those of other factions in the games. However, they can choose to help some factions at specific junctures along their quest to the center of the Zone – which is the ultimate objective of the games.
Now that you have an overview of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series of games is all about, here’s a nordered list of the games, each accompanied by a brief description.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007)
Introduced back in March 20th 2007 for Microsoft Windows, Shadow of Chernobyl is arguably the most iconic entry of the entire series up to now.
in this installment of the game, the player assumes the identity of an unnamed character simply referred to as the “Marked One”. The character is rescued from a death truck by another stalker who eventually delivers him Sidorovich, a trader in the game.
The Marked One suffers from amnesia, and only has the message “Kill Sterlock” in his PDA guiding him. Players have to embark on a suspenseful adventure in which they discover various bits and pieces of the Marked One’s lost memory. The journey to track down Sterlock leads the “Marked One” deeper and deeper into the Zone.
During gameplay, players can interact with a variety of non-player characters (NPCs). Furthermore, the game uses an inventory system, and players also have to keep track of a number of stats when it comes to managing their equipment and weapons. To ensure survival, players need to take cover whenever firefights breakout.
Most interestingly, the game features seven different endings! Each one dependent on how much of the main character’s memory the player is able to piece together, money earned during gameplay and supporting factions among other factors.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky (2008)
Released a year and a half later, Clear Sky is a prequel to Shadow of Chernobyl.
In the second installment of the series, the game puts the player in the shoes of a mercenary named Scar. The mercenary is capable of surviving the random emissions of radioactive energy that occur within the Zone, as a result of having been exposed to a huge emission during on one of his previous missions into the Zone with a group of scientists.
Scar now works with one of the factions within the Zone – Clear Sky – whose aim is to research and understand the Zone, and its emissions which seem to be occurring more frequently with the passage of time. During the game, the player has the freedom to align Scar with or against other factions, in furtherance of Clear Sky’s objectives.
While most of the game’s features remain the same as those seen in the Shadow of Chernobyl, the Clear Sky iteration did introduce a few distinct changes.
For starters, the factions were expanded, and players could now take part in faction wars, by supporting one side to achieve its objectives.
A selection new gear and weapons were also added in this game. Players could also upgrade and repair their protective suits and weapons. To aid in the discovery of artifacts, a new feature was introduced into the game, in the way of detectors.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (2009)
In the third installment of the series, the player takes the character of Major Alexander Degtyarev. The main objective of the Major is to investigate the reason behind the mysterious crash of five helicopters previously sent on a reconnaissance mission into the Zone by the Ukrainian military.
Call of Pripyat is quite similar to the previous installments of the game in many respects – many of the fundamental mechanics of the game mostly remain the same.
However, some important improvements to the game were also made in this installment. In addition to the introduction of new and wider areas within the playing environment, the upgrade system was also refined.
All these improvements worked to make the Call of Pripyat the most refined and bug free installment of the entire series up to that point.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl (2022)
While the release of the first three installments of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series were made in quick succession, all released with a short period of about four years, the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2 has been somewhat delayed.
The title was initially scheduled to be released in 2012 but was later cancelled, before development efforts were re-launched in 2018.
The game was expected to have been released in 2021 but seems to have been pushed back to 2022 – with an April 28th 2022 released date confirmed on 13th June 2021.
Unlike its predecessors, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 will be developed using Unreal Engine 4. Judging by this and other indications, it is highly likely that the new game will be available on PC and also consoles.
With the above information about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games in mind, including the order in which they were released in, you can brush up on your playing skills; especially in readiness for the release of the latest upcoming installment from this interesting series.