Yes, all this makes one really wonder why there are the complexities that
we find. Most people as we know, simply kill the trench coats based on
visual identification and PDA prompts and never give it any more thought.
Mention to them to go back and search the perma-body ( another mystery )
trench coats and tell them they're Loners, and they are in disbelief about that.
We find Snitch and another Loner wearing a trench coat inside the 100 Rads Bar
yet no backstory or explanation is given as to their choices of armor they wear.
I guess if it was more common, people would kill them out in the open from a
distance before realizing they weren't actually Bandits. I've been guilty of killing
a Loner in a simple leather jacket from a distance in bad weather, mistaking
them for a Bandit in their simple leather jacket in poor lighting conditions.
TS ---END QUOTATION---
I can usually tell bandit from Loner at long ranges in SoC simply by how they walk. Bandits have a certain swagger in their step, while Loners have a more stiff and upright sort of gait. The little audio cues that you often hear as they move along help as well.
The perma-bodies don't seem all that mysterious to me anymore. Some are decorative or serve to facilitate mission objectives. The early unique NPCs stick around post-mortem seemingly so that the player can find the bodies of dead recognizable NPCs later in the game. And the random NPCs that don't despawn after death appear to serve as placeholders in smart terrains so that other randoms don't join the camps that they're associated with. That's my take on them, anyway.
Taking enemies out at a distance, and knowing that they ARE enemies, is the purpose of the red change in the reticule. I really dislike 'accidents' and will reload an earlier save if I kill a friend or neutral. That's the 'time-travel' cure for such guilt. Another would be a modern SF device - the implant that holds a copy of your mind, is constantly updated, and can be extracted from an accidentally-made corpse and downloaded into a new body/drone/android - resurrection without the necessity of being the son of god. Sadly, GSC don't offer this option.
And the 'hoodies and sports trousers' bandits walk like they've recently discovered the 'delights' of diarrhoea at just the time they got a knot in the drawstring of their 'sports trousers'.
The bandits who hold Yurik up ARE loners, but are embarking on a new career. Until you've actually completed your first act of banditry you aren't a bandit - or I could claim to be the Prime Minister, I just haven't been elected yet.
It would appear to be the same way with the group in CoP. From what dialogue you get from the poison dwarf sitting next to Knuckles (Sultan) he's just starting out on his conquest of The Zone's criminal opportunities, so most if not all of his minions (or morons as Borov calls them in NS) are probably recent accomplices attracted from the pool of unluckier, bent and just plain psychopathic loners.
A preoccupation with the next world is a clear indication of an inability to cope credibly with this one.
For a more S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-y sort of solution, perhaps the consciousness of the deceased could be transferred to the Noosphere via some kind of special artifact and then be implanted into another body. Or something.
I see the Bandit faction as being a sort of loose confederation of the various criminal gangs within the Zone. They're united in the common goal of robbing, killing, and conning non-Bandits for profit while (mostly) not killing each other, and wear their Bandit "uniforms" mainly so that they can recognize fellow members. So it's possible for the less scrupulous Loners and members of other factions to be considered bandits, but they're only actual Bandits if they join that particular group.
Your theory behind why the Bandits walk as they do would explain Sultan's general choice of location in the current version Call of Chernobyl. He's more of a toilet dwarf now, handing out decrees of death from atop his porcelain throne: http://i.imgur.com/gaPsSQo.jpg