How To Make STALKER: Call of Pripyat A Survival Game

There are lots of survival games, but there are also lots of games which could be survival games with the right mods installed. Over the course of Survival Week we’ll highlight a few of those games and i) write a diary of our experience playing with it ii) explain how to do it yourself.

Evil is nothing if not thorough. Usually I prefer to hone my experience with a series of small mods – other entries in this week-long series will do just that – but no combo comes close to the scope of the most twisted survival retool yet hatched: MISERY.

What is it?

STALKER: Call of Pripyat is fun but muddled. As with all open-world epics it attempts to be a bit of everything – survival trappings exist but seem afraid of offending. To starve to death in Pripyat you need to put in the hours, stoutly ignoring flashing warnings and stacks of food until you drop dead of acute stupidity.

No more! MISERY gives you the irradiated hellscape you always dreamed of. Food is scarce, and tooltips report nutritional content in kcal. In addition to daily activities, anything which involves your metabolism (medicine, for instance) whittles away at your stamina regen, regen soft-capped at 33% of the norm.

Thirst is now a factor, as is sleep cycle. Power naps aren’t enough to stay alert; in the Zone you’ll need regular rest to remain on form. Don’t say MISERY doesn’t spoil us though – you come equipped with a free sleeping bag! Bear in mind that ‘sleeping rough’ and ‘human burrito’ are pretty much interchangeable.

How does it change the world?

Chernobyl is not the place to do your Duke of Edinburgh’s award. The environment is now incorrigibly hostile. The Zone’s Anomalies rock greater radii and eat flesh with gusto. These radioactive hotspots don’t feature in the tourist brochure.

Anything that moves, shoots or oozes is better equipped for combat. AI is sharper and more willing to cut you, and there are further changes which outdo your everyday evil: bloodsuckers and cat mutants.

Bloodsuckers are the base game’s betentacled stealth predators. You hear heavy breathing, you back the hell away. Except now they’re silent until they spring for your face with a scream. And there are frickin’ dozens of them. Bring your twitch reactions.

You think cats can be dicks? Imagine cat mutants. These are unique to MISERY, designed to keep you on edge while trekking. The bushes which obscure you from carnivores may also contain a feline who prefers his own company. It’s like a pick ‘n’ mix in which every fifth jelly bean is a really angry cat.

MISERY isn’t without mercy, and stealth has been reworked to compensate for the wildlife’s murderous tendencies. The emphasis is on careful movement and planning, not playing radioactive Rambo. It makes for a more tense time in the wasteland, shoving STALKER close to the border with survival horror.

We’d be raptured for real before I finished picking through this preposterous mod. If MISERY’s filthy sadism has caught your interest, its homepage gives the unabridged changes.

Call of Pripyat is £13 on Steam and a fiver on Amazon. MISERY transforms it into a misanthropic survival title better than many built for the purpose. Any fan of clinging to life by the fingernails ought to experience STALKER’s mutant strain.

Do I need anything special?

MISERY requires a clean Call of Pripyat installation. If you have history with the game, back up your saves. For Steam purchasers, they’re found here by default: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Stalker Call of Pripyat\_appdata_\savedgames

Clear all trace of STALKER from your drive, and install it afresh.

How do I set it up?

MISERY 2.1.1 is the latest iteration. Download it either from the official site or via ModDB . I prefer the second method – you’ll need an account, but the download will get done before the decade’s out.

If you can work a PC, you can install MISERY with ease. If you can’t work a PC, that raises awkward questions about RPS’ readership.

Extract the files you downloaded and run the .exe as an administrator. You’ll need to consider the experience you’re after, and the rig at your disposal. Call of Pripyat dates back to 2010, but MISERY can push any PC to its limits when prompted. Here are the key choices and my personal preferences:

USS Specialization
MISERY brings three classes of soldier to STALKER. Recon is a close-range fighter, Assaulter takes the middle ground, and the Sniper is in the next county. It’s worth reading up on their finer points, but your decision can be switched via the main menu.

I picked Sniper, because I am camping scum.

Field of View
Increase. Increase! Playing on default is a powerful emetic. For 16:9 monitors, the modders recommend an FOV of 83. I’ve found this agreeable. Ninety produces clipping issues.

Switch Distance
This setting can claim the soul of your processor. It’s the distance at which AI is fully simulated; the higher the number, the more alive the world will be and the more steam will issue from your rig. I decided that my i5-3570 and GTX 780 Ti warranted the ‘enhanced’ setting. So far no screaming circuit boards.

Difficulty
Rookie or MISERY. Do the right thing.

Dark Mode
For the daft. Why wait to be parboiled by Anomalies when the sun does it just as good? In Dark Mode, daytime play is lethal. I’m both pleased and surprised to report self-loathing below the threshold necessary to install this variant.

Last Words

To keep MISERY smiling, don’t launch it via Steam. Create a shortcut direct to the .exe and flag it to run as an admin each time.

Now to finish things off. Run the game, navigate to the options and then controls. Unbind quicksave. You heard me! Do it. What good is survival if you’ve got nothing to live for?

You can read more Survival Week articles over here.

20 Comments

  1. Hex says:

    Apropos of nothing, you know what someone should do? Make a fancy new King of Dragon Pass.

    • jnqvist says:

      Yes.
      On subject: still love and play STALKER. Gotta check this one out myself.

  2. TimePointFive says:

    I think, even though it may not fit in survival week, y’all should do a playthrough of the Lost Alpha standalone mod thingy for SHoC. It is superb.

    Edit: And completely free, even if you don’t own any STALKER games.

    link to moddb.com

  3. jnqvist says:

    Why isn’t there such a mod for Fallout 3? While I was still at it I remember thinking that there was no way anybody could ever have 50+ stimpacks on them in such a…well,nuclear fallout.

    • TimePointFive says:

      Ahhh, I miss the old Fallout 3/STALKER flamewars.

    • gmillar says:

      There is for New Vegas. JCSawyer’s mod I think it’s called, look it up.

    • Antistar says:

      The standard recommendation along these lines for FO3 is Fallout Wanderer’s Edition (FWE). It’s in the top ten FO3 mods on the Nexus (so just the top ten in general, in other words).

      I have often wished for a game with FO3’s size and open world structure, but with STALKER’s… basically everything else. I love both games, so the best of both worlds would be great.

      • jnqvist says:

        Gosh,that sounds like my cup of tea. How sad STALKER 2 got cancelled. Thank god for mods,tho.

  4. Antistar says:

    Misery? The best STALKER mod? Hnngh.

    In the interests of not launching into a tirade, I’ll just say that I strongly disagree, and that I found the mod’s ‘balance’ to be akin to those old Doom .wads where the author thought it would be Pretty Funny to, when you spawned in, drop you in a room containing twenty cyberdemons and nothing else.

    Also the mutated cat isn’t unique to Misery; it’s cut content dating back to the original Shadows of Chernobyl. Lots of mods add it back in.

    • Bassem says:

      What are some of the best STALKER mods that come to mind? (and for which of the 3 games?)

      • rabbit says:

        SHOC — LURK mod.
        LURK is absolutely essential in my opinion. turns the first STALKER game into a very fun, very difficult, very believable survival experience. still to this date my best STALKER experience.

        i wish there were similar for clear sky. it never (last time i checked at least) seemed to get pulled out of its slump.
        will check out MISERY.

      • jnqvist says:

        If you liked the vanilla experience,Complete mode is great,as it keeps the original’s essence,just tweaks it a bit and comes with better graphics and some add-ons (weapons etc.). Personal favourite. But yeah,other than that one,rabbit and Antistar’s comments.

    • Antistar says:

      My long-time favourite for SOC is Oblivion Lost, which restores a ton of cut content along with improving balance and expanding things generally. More recently I tried Autumn Aurora 2 – also for SOC – and was very impressed. It doesn’t have quite as many features as Oblivion Lost, but it’s extremely well polished and makes the game look gorgeous, too.

      With Clear Sky – I dunno. I think I’ve only played it twice (not counting the times I had to restart due to how buggy it is). That’s compared to the other two games where I’ve lost count of how many play-throughs I’ve had. Hopefully there’s some mod out there that fixes all that game’s problems; I’d be interested to hear about that, actually.

      With Call of Pripyat, I haven’t actually liked any of the major gameplay-altering mods I’ve tried. I thought they actually made the game worse. COP is actually really good all on its own! Mods that improve the visuals are a good fit though; e.g. Atmosfear or COP Complete.

  5. internisus says:

    Back when Shadow of Chernobyl was the only STALKER game, I spent a lot of time learning how to modify the game’s files to change equipment values. I wanted to balance the game better and make it feel like more of a survival experience. IIRC, the various armor suits were the most important thing that I wanted to change; I wanted to both feel more vulnerable in general and ensure that each armor upgrade felt like a huge occasion.

    Always felt like these games had more potential than they met, if only they had their game design tweaked just a little…

  6. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    Well-deserved recognition for MISERY and the STALKER mod scene.

  7. Premium User Badge

    serioussgtstu says:

    Playing a sniper is a bad idea. Due to the way the X-ray engine works, long range shots are incredibly inaccurate. I’ve sat playing Misery and watched in horror as bullets aimed at targets 100 feet away zoomed wildly over or around my targets heads, resulting in immediate death. It was very frustrating and I would recommend playing with a scoped assault rifle instead.

  8. Golden Pantaloons says:

    I’ve been tempted by CoP (it’s those uniforms), but I own both Stalker and Metro 2033, and I never managed to finish either of them. Metro bugged out on me completely, the fourth or fifth level turning into an unplayable lagfest every time I reach it. I enjoyed Stalker immensely, but eventually got fed up with the bugs, crashes, lack of direction and poorly translated dialgoue (and this was the enhanced version, mind you).
    I want to give CoP a chance, but I feel like the studio hasn’t really delivered with its other titles, even if they are full of fascinating ideas.

    • Antorus says:

      Call of Pripyat is easily the most “polished” of the three, and definitely my favourite of the series. Some people prefer the original, but I enjoyed the artifact hunting, the maps and the different missions much more in CoP.

      Its a cheap game nowadays, and its probably one of my favourite games of all time; even if it lacks the more “horror” qualities that Shadow of Chernobyl had.

      You’ll still shit your pants with the Bloodsuckers.

  9. Bodylotion says:

    Stalker Call of Pripyat is one of these games I started to play one day, really liked it (even more than STALKER) but somehow quit before I got far into the game. I’m not sure installing a mod that makes the game more difficult is going to help but this sure makes me want to play the game again.

  10. Haborym says:

    I really liked this game. Some of the elements feel unnecessarily tacked on, like eating, but yeah. I modded it a bit to suit my tastes and had quite a lot of fun with it.