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:
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.
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.
Rookie or MISERY. Do the right thing.
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.
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.