Dead Air is S.T.A.L.K.E.R’s best standalone megamod yet

Dead Air

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is still years away so here’s a banquet of irradiated exploration and scavenging to tide you over. Dead Air is a standalone mega-mod (no purchase necessary) for bleak FPS sandbox series S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Built on top of the fan-upgraded OpenXRay engine and using Call of Chernobyl‘s massive world map, it offers an uncompromising but accessible survival sandbox that looks good and runs better than any similarly huge S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mod out there.

I could spend ages telling you about all the impressive things that Dead Air does, but YouTube channel Al’s Gaming already said nearly everything I’d want to. Give the mod-review below a peek and you’ll have a solid idea if Dead Air is up your alley. Don’t be too worried about difficulty, either; unlike the notoriously cruel MISERY, Dead Air starts off gentle. There are also options to improve rewards from missions, the quality of loot found and the state of scavenged guns if you want to bypass any resource grind.

Dead Air’s only real issue is that it just recently debuted in Russia, and while there is a very recent English translation patch for it, it’s not 100% complete. While I’ve had absolutely no problem playing, I do find the occasional item description still in Russian. Still, few seem dissuaded and Dead Air is already developing its own community, with a small mountain of mods from other S.T.A.L.K.E.R. projects being converted over by fans, some of which you can find here.

A few tips for beginners: Without armour, BULLETS HURT.  Wield a knife to harvest mutant meat/guts. You need to be standing by a lit campfire in order to cook food using a cooking set. Pick the Additional Weapon Set at character creation for an early assault rifle. Buy a camping backpack from the trader immediately or you won’t be able to haul loot. Oh, and don’t nervously fiddle with the fire select switch on your gun until you stupidly break it like I did. The fact that you can even do that makes me feel equally attacked by and catered to by Dead Air.

Dead Air

You can find Dead Air on Mod DB here – it’s a bit over 5gb of download, and unpacks to around 12gb. Note that you’ll need the English translation files, unless you speak fluent Russian. Just unpack the translation to your Dead Air folder, and make sure you select English in the language menu in-game.

29 Comments

  1. rockman29 says:

    How does it compare to Lost alpha or Stalker complete? Those are the only others mods of stalker og I’ve played.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      It shares some design elements from Lost Alpha (like putting ammo and stuff on your toolbelt), but it’s a less story-driven and far more open game overall. While each faction does have their own quest-line, there’s no ultimate goal beyond living in the Zone.

      It’s every bit as pretty as STALKER Complete though, just without the system-crushing performance issues.

      It’s also enormous. It spans every map from all three games, plus a few new and restored ones.

      It’s definitely more survival-focused. You’ve got to eat, drink and sleep (although with realistic timers, so you can go a day without a snack fairly easily), cook food to avoid poisoning, etc. And combat is very deadly.

      • popej says:

        It sounds great but I’m a bit hesitant about having no real end goal (the story).

        Is everything other than a main storyline included, from all 3 games?

        What do you do? Just wander around anomalies collecting artefacts and shooting stuff?

        • Dominic Tarason says:

          There’s no major story arc, but each faction does have scripted quests to do, plus NPCs generate a bunch more procedurally – assassinations, hostage situations, mutant raids, etc. When you’re high ranked with a faction I think you can recruit squadmates, too, although I’ve not survived that long yet.

  2. Abracadaniel says:

    So for someone who is a big fan of OGSE and Call of Misery – Last Day, is this worth a try or is it too easy?

    • DouglasRatt says:

      I’ve been playing a while and I will say one thing, its not easy. Its quite hard but I must admit the things that make it hard are the cheaper things, such as not noticeing your food bar, or the fact that your RADs taken is hidden (You have to get a geiger counter thing), or the sleeping problem (You have to own a sleeping bag but you don’t start out with one nor does the trader in your area, and you can’t sleep in the dorms like usual) and the gun sway is very random, which can make weapons hard to aim. Bullets hurt too, if your not wearing armor, medical stuff is hard to find, and your gonna be reloading your quicksave a lot.

  3. DouglasRatt says:

    I was so taken by the mod that I made this account to log in and comment… What does it take to download this thing? CoP? CoC? Clear Sky? Or is it really just a standalone? Im asking since its a 5.1 gb file downloading out of a google drive… Its gonna take a good while so might as well ask. It looks mad good and its a mod? These people need to make games…

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Entirely standalone. Don’t quote me on this, but I gather STALKER’s original devs were incredibly permissive with what fans could do with the game and its assets, so they’ve kinda adopted it now.

  4. King_Rocket says:

    > Oh, and don’t nervously fiddle with the fire select switch on your gun until you stupidly break it like I did.

    I love this, this is my favourite game feature of 2018, pack up the internet, we are done.

    • KastaRules says:

      Nice touch but that’s NOT realistic at all though. You could pick any real gun and fiddle with the fire select switch switch all day long and nothing would happen.

      • Dominic Tarason says:

        It’s an apocalyptic hellscape full of reality-warping anomalies, dotted with rusted over tank hulls and ravaged by psionic storms. It’s a minor miracle anything works there, given that entropy is working crunch-time shifts.

      • airmikee99 says:

        In what world do you live where metal never fatigues?

        • Raoul Duke says:

          You would have to do this 100,000 times on a real gun to maybe damage it somehow. That’s kinda why we make stuff out of metal.

          • Imperialist says:

            Maybe off a factory line. But from what i remember the weapons in STALKER are scavenged and generally at best, in fair condition.

        • KastaRules says:

          airmikee99 in the world of Military shooting ranges, while this won’t make me a metallurgist expert I know which components are more likely to fail in badly kept guns and which components can go on without ever needing to be replaced. Metal DOES fatigue, never said it doesn’t.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      It was a magical moment. I was walking through a dense forest, crackling anomalies in the distance. There was a storm rolling in, and I was sure there must be something out there wanting to kill me. So I do what I do and started clicking it on and off.

      Click, click, click click click click click…

      No click?

      I check my inventory and examine the gun, and sure as can be, I’ve gone and broken the sodding switch. Had to pay the next engineer I bumped into to fix it.

  5. Pharaoh Nanjulian says:

    Great. There’s me just reached the Army Warehouses with a new LURK installation.

    I have never completed Shadow of Chernobyl. I ‘lurked’ on the GSC fora for a couple of years before it was released and ended up trying so many mods to try to get what we were discussing the game should be like back then, that I never progressed through it!

    Ten years on…

    • Dorga says:

      I’ve been hearing about how the game was originally supposed to be a very different thing ever since I started looking up mods for it, but I never looked into what actually changed between the two versions; what was it that made so many people try and recreate that original design?

  6. szellarpi says:

    Right now it’s a huge disappointment for me, way too easy compared to Last Day, the music feels really off, the new features are cool but the whole thing summarizes the stalker mod-scene very good: new features without actual meaning instead of polishing the overall experience. Nikolai (YT) summed it up great: it’s pretty dead. Meanwhile there is Anomaly evolving rapidly on a real 64-bit engine but I guess the shiny helmet-wiping effect was worth a coverage.

  7. thomas16632 says:

    i played and really liked Oblivion lost (a full mod) a long time ago, really more scary. I don’t know now, will i have and take the time to replay these games with other full mod ?

  8. Muzman says:

    These mega Stalkers come out and they sit there in my play queue with me too daunted and time poor to get into them and then another one comes out…

  9. moreyummystuff says:

    I think it’s worth mentioning that an equally excellent mod exists called Anomaly:

    link to moddb.com

    This uses a 64bit version of the game engine allowing for more memory usage and the mod creator actively updates the mod and game engine pretty often.

    Can’t comment on “which is best” as I like and play both mods for different reasons even though they sort of accomplish similar goals.

  10. Mikemcn says:

    I like the half hour i played so far but am getting a hard crash to black screen that I can’t exit out of =( i’ll wait on a patch I guess.

  11. Just_cut_it_out says:

    Dead Air is, in my opinion, meh. It’s got some bloated features that are super neato, and the graphics are truly amazing, but it ultimately pales in playableness (?) to Anomaly.

    Anomaly is built on an upgraded version of the engine so it’s now a 64bit engine instead of 32. It’s jaw dropping to look at, and has all the features of Last Day with some balance tweaks.

    Anomaly author SeargeDP was a minecraft dev (still is?), and is constantly updating it, and is considering adding a more hardcore mode like Dead Air.

    TL:DR: If you want to run around the zone nearly naked with a crowbar and find zilch in those stashes, then Dead Air may be for you. I can’t ever imagine being at a place where it’s my preferred type of experience.

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>