World destruction comes in small shrink-wrapped packages...

2009/04/27

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat Preview- Translated

Exclusive preview from Gameplay magazine (5.2009) – translated on the GSC Forums, featured on TTLG Forums, and finally translated by Apocalypso (me).

"The plot starts a few days after the final events in SoC - Strelok has turned the psy-antennas off, but has been knocked out for few days. In the meantime, all the stalkers realize the possibilities of the pass opening, and rush there. Of course, the way is too thin for all, so factional conflicts arise again and the whole place begins to fill with corpses.

Unexpectedly, the military forces become more active too. News about the psy-emission source liquidation reaches military headquarters, and so, the development of Operation "Fairway" starts. The whole point of Fairway is to search for a safe way deep into the Zone for sending heavily-armed troops there and to establish full control over the place. But something goes terribly wrong, and all the helicopters sent for reconnaissance vanish.

As it was once said, probably the one scout can make it where the big group failed. So the HQ sends one operative to the place to inquire about facts of the case, while undercover as a stalker. But, well - why "undercover"? He's actually a stalker, just having an eye on Ministry of Defense pays, so - on the military side. His name is Alexander Degtyarev, and he will be the protagonist.

The main task will be to find and investigate what happened to those five helicopters. You'll find some info while searching for each of them, and of course in result, reveal the inconceivable mystery. But, of course, the developers won't say anything about it before release.

Alex arrives at the place a bit late - stalkers have already settled there, opened the small Bar in the old rusty ship, occupied the houses, discovered the nearest anomalies etc.

Only two small groups of Duty and Freedom reached the Backwater, so they accomplished a temporary truce and organized a base in the old suiting building. It is divided in two parts – one for each faction. Everyone agreed that this will be neutral territory where no one will open fire.

Of course, bandits appeared there too, searching for easy money. One of them, Sultan, a smart bastard, started a mess trying to gain control over the place. But he's not going to kill everyone in sight, so it's possible to work for him.

So, we have 3 factions available for interaction, working, etc. It won't be possible to join one of them (because it'll ruin the possibility of visiting lots of places and bring way too much conflict against the aggressive faction stalkers in the game. But you can change the force balance, do various tasks, and help the faction you sympathize with to dominate.

Of course, there won't be infinite wars for control points! Everything is a lot more interesting. For example the scientific camp in Yantar guarded by stalkers. You can give them advice like "I know some guys from Freedom, they'll help you- no problem". For factions it'll be the new earning source, and you will receive respect from faction members, good equipment, etc. 

Duty members usually prefer heavy armour, assault rifles and machineguns, Freedom - sniper rifles and light armour, but protected against the Zone’s dangers with equipment suited for those who like to explore the Zone. Developers didn't reveal anything about bandits’ propensity, but we think it'll be shotguns. And, of course, all the dark side adepts will choose that faction.

Weapon assortment will grow a bit. By the way, developers decided to give more attention on smooth-bore weapons, so, for example, you can find and use automatic barreled-magazine shotguns (model prototype is DOA-12). The whole weapon balance will be reworked for higher damage and longer distances.

For players unable to choose between sniper rifles and machineguns, the devs made two weapon slots – so now you can put anything you want into them. Of course, if you want to be armed while using the detector, you'll need a one-handed weapon like a pistol, but their role in the late stages of the game will probably decrease - everyone will prefer more powerful weapons.

Suits will be divided into torso parts and helmet parts, both with separate stats. There will be 4 quick-use slots for items like bandages, medkits, antirads, etc. Also, the new medical item class will appear - boosters. These are the preparations allowing the user to temporary raise some organism functions - for example, some of them will allow you to sprint longer, some will speed up the blood coagulation, and so on.

Blowouts can happen at any time, so you'd better keep in mind the ways to the closest hideouts. You'll have about a minute to hide, and, which is most interesting, the hideout can be already taken by aggressive stalkers. For example, you could see the members of Duty and Freedom in a gunfight for the hideout. It's possible to help one of the sides, or just wait and collect their loot later.

Stalkers will act with the correct day/night behavior cycle - at night they're mostly sleeping, in the morning they wake up, prepare their equipment and leave the camp to search for artifacts – individually, or in groups. As evening comes, they'll start to return to the camp with loot (or without it). Developers are going to rework the behavior and trade system, so you won't see the 5000 rubles and vodka in the backpacks of stalkers - they'll carry what they actually bought or collected. It allows some interesting schemes for dark side adepts - for example, you can wait for a stalker to collect the artifacts and kill him returning to the camp, and get your hands on the loot.

Monsters will increase in activity at night. By the way, yes - there will be Burer and Chimera. Those models were already in the SoC resources, but weren’t used in game due to various reasons. The developers said that they wanted unique enemies, so another dog-like close combat mutant is not needed. So, in the sequel, they gave the Burer and Chimera unique abilities and behaviors. Chimera will use swift and deadly leaps from the dark while staying unnoticed and hidden, and try to avoid the player before attacking. The Burer will widely use his telekinetic abilities - for example, for disarming characters, or at least to make a concrete block fall on your head.

The stats balance for other monsters will be reworked. For example, a Bloodsucker will be a bit weaker, but more dangerous, his invisibility won't make him immortal, and he will act slightly different.

The attention to detail in Call of Pripyat is really surprising. For example, after the blowouts, anomalies will change their position and the artifacts will appear in completely different places, making it almost impossible to memorize safe routes and run without a detector like in Shadow of Chernobyl. By the way, it'll be possible to sleep! You won't be able to sleep in the woods, but on every base you'll find suitable places to sleep at night; much better than waiting for the morning in SoC while having time for tea, ten cups of tea, or even more.

But maybe you won't want to sleep at night. There are a lot tactical possibilities and also many quests are available only at night.

There will be about 70 new unique quests. Small corridor-like locations are in the past - prepare to explore three gigantic territories:

Darkwater - marshy territory, heavy populated with anomalies and various agricultural structures.

"Jupiter" - industrial territory around and in the huge abandoned factory (by the way, the "Jupiter” exists in the real Zone of Alienation).

Pripyat – a 100% precise recreation of east Pripyat, with the central post office, school and other famous places. By the way, the city will be properly placed on the global map - north-west from the Chernobyl NPP, not south, as in the previous games. The most important thing is that this level won't be corridor-like, like Limansk in CS or Pripyat in SoC - no, it'll be a huge territory with lots of various quests and non-linear exploration possibilities.

To sum up, Call of Pripyat looks like a wise, massive overhaul of mistakes done in previous games. There won't be helicopter bosses, infinite faction wars and other elements that are theoretically interesting, but don't fit in S.T.A.L.K.E.R at all. Well liked features like new detection system or weapon upgrading will be there too, but the overall look of Call of Pripyat is closer to the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R concept with a dangerous, desolated and silent Zone where stalkers are rare and gloomy loners, where there’s no place for huge groups and tons of gunfights. We really hope that the developers will follow this line, because this time they've chosen a really proper direction. 

We're looking forward to meeting the dark and cloudy world of eternal autumn where it's not possible to live, but where you still want to return- again and again." 

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