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Clear Sky - Some thoughts

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  11:48:11  2 January 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
(Senior)
 
On forum: 10/27/2010
 

Message edited by:
StoleitfromKilgore
01/02/2015 11:49:47
Messages: 137
Clear Sky - Some thoughts

Hi, I'm currently replaying Clear Sky with the Complete-mod. Fittingly, I have played through it 1.5 times so far. Both my first complete playthrough and my second abortive playthrough happened some years ago, so I didn't remember too much. I also have been playing a lot of SoC since then and I also got through CoP for the first time. Memories of both are still rather fresh.

When changing from SoC to CS, some stuff is hard to overlook. Like the Dx10-features for instance. Volumetric light has always been quite impressive and impossible to not notice. Especially when the framerate was suddenly trying to strangle your system during sunrise Since I still have the same notebook with the same old GT240M (5 years now), I immediately ran into problems. I didn't remember that Clear Sky was so much more demanding than CoP. I still don't quite understand what makes the difference. Does anybody have information on the differences between X-Ray 1.5 and 1.6?

By the way this website should be useful for some people:
http://www.tweakguides.com/ClearSky_5.html
Especially the 5th and 6th pages should be quite useful. It sure made a huge difference for me. Apparently it doesn't cost a lot of graphical quality to lower some settings but it still improves performance quite a bit.

Some other stuff I have not yet encountered. Like Volumetric Smoke for example. I don't think I ever noticed it in my first playthroughs. Watching the Dx10-trailer I was quite impressed. I still often marvel at the dynamic interactions of light sources with static or moving objects, but I never knew that something similar for smoke was also in the game. I also don't think I ever payed much attention to wet surfaces. It's not that noticeable if one doesn't pay attention.

Other than technology, I have been trying to get to some artifacts, but so far with little success. I have ended up with two artifacts and other than that a lot of dying, either because of radiation, Psi-emissions or simply the inability to make something appear, no matter how close I got. Maybe it's just detector, but I wouldn't mind some pointers. Am I doing something wrong?

Also, so far I really like the idea, that one gets stash-info from other people. If I'm not mistaken, in SoC you got the info just through PDAs and in CoP stuff was basically always were it was supposed to be no matter if you had the info or not. I'm not sure so far, if the latter also applies to CS.

One thing that really surprised me was how the dialogue was handled. After playing SoC for a long time, and finishing a quick playthrough of CoP in between I got kind of used to the fact, that people don't have a lot to say (Comments on the zone and so on start repeating quickly). In CS so far, I have talked to people quite a bit and at least in the early stages (just entered the Garbage) I have not seen a lot of repetition. People have a lot to say and so far it's usually something new. I'm pretty sure I'm not just imagining this, but it seems they simply wrote a lot more text for Clear Sky than for the other games. So far, this is probably one of the most notable things I have discovered this playthrough.

Oh, also something old, which I already found to be a bit annoying the first playthrough. There are a lot of people. This was not a problem on such a big map as the Great Swamps, except during the faction war, but it's very noticeable in the Cordon. Personally I prefer the other games in this respect.

So, how about you? I mean, aside from obvious stuff, like Faction Wars. Which aspects of Clear Sky, which are less noticeable, but significantly different from the other two titles, have you noticed?
  16:38:27  2 January 2015
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Three Mile Island
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 11/04/2008
Messages: 2860

---QUOTATION---
StoleitfromKilgore:

I have been trying to get to some artifacts, but so far with little success. I have ended up with two artifacts and other than that a lot of dying, either because of radiation, Psi-emissions or simply the inability to make something appear, no matter how close I got. Maybe it's just detector, but I wouldn't mind some pointers. Am I doing something wrong?
---END QUOTATION---



Artifact hunting in CS is much harder than the other games. For example, in Red Forest you may need a fully upgraded high end suit, protective artifacts and careful navigation in order to succeed. In the Swamps I think the local suits should suffice if they're properly upgraded.

Sometimes artifacts move around underground, even if your detector shows them. If it's a gravitational anomaly you can sometimes trig it (and then quickly step back before you're sucked in), which often sends the artifact up in the air. Or you can simply quicksave and reload. If your detector isn't advanced enough it will not show the artifact at all.


---QUOTATION---
Also, so far I really like the idea, that one gets stash-info from other people. If I'm not mistaken, in SoC you got the info just through PDAs and in CoP stuff was basically always were it was supposed to be no matter if you had the info or not. I'm not sure so far, if the latter also applies to CS.
---END QUOTATION---



There are a few items left in the open in CS (for example, in Swamps you can find a scope, a Veles artifact detector and Scar's old Vintar). But these items are like rare easter eggs compared with CoP, where you can pick up stash after stash like in a super market.

I don't think the stash mechanic in CoP works well, it's unrealistic that all stashes exist from the start. In "real life" other stalkers would constantly create and empty stashes, so only a few stashes would exist at a particular time.


---QUOTATION---
I'm pretty sure I'm not just imagining this, but it seems they simply wrote a lot more text for Clear Sky than for the other games. So far, this is probably one of the most notable things I have discovered this playthrough.
---END QUOTATION---


Yes, even if you don't speak to nearby NPCs they still have things to say: https://www.gsc-game.com/index.php?t=community&s=forums&s_game_type=xr2&sec_id=18
  16:55:34  2 January 2015
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Three Mile Island
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 11/04/2008
 

Message edited by:
Three Mile Island
01/02/2015 16:58:57
Messages: 2860

---QUOTATION---
StoleitfromKilgore:

Which aspects of Clear Sky, which are less noticeable, but significantly different from the other two titles, have you noticed?
---END QUOTATION---


In vanilla CS or the Complete-mod? I've only played vanilla CS.

Contrary to popular belief, CS is the least buggy Stalker game. Yes you heard that right.

* CS has no permanent radiation bug like SoC.

* CS has a little stuttering, but SoC freezes for 20 seconds or more, and the CoP freezes usually end with NPCs or mutants showing up from nowhere all around you.

* Both CS and SoC crash sometimes.

* Both CS and SoC have many exploitable small bugs. This is a Good Thing, since it adds replay value for years. CoP has no such bugs, which makes it a more boring game.

* Faction wars in CS are sometimes buggy, but just as often it's just the player that doesn't understand how they work. In any case faction wars are just an extra game feature, it doesn't break the storyline. CoP has no faction war at all, but that hardly makes it a better game.


Otherwise I think CS contains the best parts of both SoC and CoP (what's missing is underground levels):

* Migrating A-Life (not as much as SoC, but it's there).

* Better graphics than both SoC and CoP.

* Good music and atmosphere, just like SoC.

* Dangerous environment, like SoC. CoP might have more dangerous mutants, but anomalies are not dangerous enough.

* More mechanics than SoC (detectors, equipment upgrades), while CoP doesn't add anything really useful.

* Many things feel more unique in CS and SoC: there are just two controllers and two pseudogiants in the whole CS game, and most anomalies don't respawn artifacts. SoC contains lots of unique guns. But CoP just keeps spamming everything until it becomes a farce.
  18:27:38  2 January 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
(Senior)
 
On forum: 10/27/2010
 

Message edited by:
StoleitfromKilgore
01/02/2015 18:32:54
Messages: 137
In regards to artifacts: Thanks, at the moment I'm planning to simply get a better suit and detector and do whatever upgrades seem necessary.


---QUOTATION---
Contrary to popular belief, CS is the least buggy Stalker game. Yes you heard that right.
---END QUOTATION---



I'm not really knowledgeable about these things. Also, which version are we talking about? I can imagine that it was much worse before the first patches came along, no???

But I wouldn't be surprised. Far too many people just ape what other people say. For example, Dark Souls is apparently unplayable with keyboard and mouse. I once read a few threads which contained absolutely no info to the contrary. Then I read one f*****g comment on amazon that said KB and mouse was ok and then I knew where I stood. Maybe it's similar with the bad reputation of Clear Sky. The stupidity of the "Internet" is astounding sometimes.

In fact the only of the STALKER-titles that regularly crashed for me was actually CoP Vanilla, which was said to be the most stable of the three. The longer I played the shorter the interval in between crashes became.



---QUOTATION---
* Faction wars in CS are sometimes buggy, but just as often it's just the player that doesn't understand how they work. In any case faction wars are just an extra game feature, it doesn't break the storyline. CoP has no faction war at all, but that hardly makes it a better game.
---END QUOTATION---



Ha! I thought so The way people were and are commenting on the faction wars always seemed so vague. Something just working a certain way, even if the way it works is questionable doesn't mean it's bugged, or even broken.


---QUOTATION---
* Migrating A-Life (not as much as SoC, but it's there).

* Better graphics than both SoC and CoP.
---END QUOTATION---



I can't really comment on the A-Life, since I'm not that far into the game. One herd of fleshes made it quite hard to save Wolf's brother, but other than that...

It's obvious that it looks better than SoC, but what about CoP. I haven't played the latter enough to be able to judge it as well as SoC, but at least Volumetric lighting and wet surfaces are in the game. What exactly is so much better about the graphics in CS?


---QUOTATION---
* Dangerous environment, like SoC. CoP might have more dangerous mutants, but anomalies are not dangerous enough.

* More mechanics than SoC (detectors, equipment upgrades), while CoP doesn't add anything really useful.
---END QUOTATION---



I have to agree on the first point. Anomalies have been a bit frustrating so far, but in CoP it was quite hard to die and it was very easy to get the artifacts. I guess as soon as I have better equipment, the artifact hunt might become less impossible for me.

No matter what one thinks about Clear Sky, there certainly was a lot of innovation and that needs to be commended. They really tried to push the franchise forward.


---QUOTATION---
* Many things feel more unique in CS and SoC: there are just two controllers and two pseudogiants in the whole CS game, and most anomalies don't respawn artifacts. SoC contains lots of unique guns. But CoP just keeps spamming everything until it becomes a farce.
---END QUOTATION---



As said, my only playthrough of CoP was a pretty quick one, so I don't really want to comment on that. But I have to say that both CS and CoP, in their own ways, seem a bit too random in terms of A-Life. In CS the faction wars kill off a lot of people, which makes it feel as if everyone mattered less. In CoP it was the way groups would meet up, often in random spots, for no good reason and murder each other off. CS at least has a good setup for the faction wars. Personally I don't like there being so many people on the map, but it fits the game. CoP has neither the attention to detail of SoC, nor the faction wars mechanic. So I guess, I kinda agree there.
  22:07:11  2 January 2015
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S3r1ous
Andres
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 04/29/2014
Messages: 1622
Shame the game turns linear after Red Forest and ending is meh. Other than that i agree, Faction Warfare is frigging amazing.

Complete mod for CS is the last good one. Call of Pripyat Complete is terrible in many ways.
  00:06:32  3 January 2015
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Three Mile Island
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 11/04/2008
Messages: 2860

---QUOTATION---
I can imagine that it was much worse before the first patches came along, no???

---END QUOTATION---


Yes the unpatched CS was probably quite buggy (ditto for SoC). I first played some intermediate patch of CS, and even that had some odd glitches. But it seems some people compare the unpatched CS with the patched SoC, which is grossly unfair.


---QUOTATION---
Ha! I thought so The way people were and are commenting on the faction wars always seemed so vague. Something just working a certain way, even if the way it works is questionable doesn't mean it's bugged, or even broken.
---END QUOTATION---


In fairness, the faction wars are pretty hard to figure out sometimes, and you don't get much help from the game. Then they're sometimes buggy on top of that, so it's understandable that people complain. Still that doesn't mean the FW is totally broken, it just makes it a bigger challenge than the main game.


---QUOTATION---
I can't really comment on the A-Life, since I'm not that far into the game. One herd of fleshes made it quite hard to save Wolf's brother, but other than that...
---END QUOTATION---


In CS and especially SoC random people and mutants often migrate across several levels, something which doesn't happen in CoP (except a few key NPCs that are scripted to show up in another level).

By the way, here's an old interview on A-Life development in general: http://aigamedev.com/open/interviews/stalker-alife/


---QUOTATION---
It's obvious that it looks better than SoC, but what about CoP. I haven't played the latter enough to be able to judge it as well as SoC, but at least Volumetric lighting and wet surfaces are in the game. What exactly is so much better about the graphics in CS?
---END QUOTATION---


Can't comment on the technical parts, but to me CS looks/feels more artistically pleasing than CoP's outside levels. Or maybe I'm just annoyed by the lime(?) rocks in CoP (that look like plastic). CoP's underground levels are very nice though.
  00:14:23  3 January 2015
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Three Mile Island
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 11/04/2008
Messages: 2860

---QUOTATION---
Shame the game turns linear after Red Forest
---END QUOTATION---


Yes. Same with SoC after Pripyat.


---QUOTATION---
and ending is meh.
---END QUOTATION---


I think the last level is terrible actually. Forgot about it, since I almost never play it.


---QUOTATION---
Other than that i agree, Faction Warfare is frigging amazing.
---END QUOTATION---

If only the game didn't start crashing after a month(?) or so. In my last long game I was soo close to make the Bandits capture both the Rookie Village, Duty and Freedom bases at the same time.
  01:28:19  3 January 2015
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SetaKat
Ex modder, Zones only ferret and will someday release a game
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 02/20/2010
Messages: 6340
Another big problem with the FW is actually the Stalker faction, believe it or not. If you play neutral, and Stalkers manage to get a solid leg up into Garbage, they can effective bring the whole war to a grinding halt, preventing Duty and Freedom from beating up each other and the bandits.

The whole FW isn't that bad, its just that a single faction, neutral to the 2 biggest factions, can bring the whole war to a standstill.
The whole Bandit/Stalker aspect of the FW needs a proper rebalance.
  16:30:22  3 January 2015
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Roadkilll
Merc
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On forum: 05/27/2011
Messages: 1307
I really enjoy playing CS it's is different than other two, shame about FW. They should have done it better but still it won't prevent you from finishing storyline.
I wish some levels could be like Soc where Stalkers do what they do, exploring making camps along the way instead of just guarding positions...
  16:20:44  4 January 2015
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Tejas Stalker
Official Stalker on Facebook
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On forum: 05/12/2007
 

Message edited by:
Tejas Stalker
01/04/2015 16:21:58
Messages: 27324
Clear Sky - Some thoughts

StoleitfromKilgore:

---QUOTATION---

Hi, I'm currently replaying Clear Sky with the Complete-mod.
Fittingly, I have played through it 1.5 times so far. Both my first
complete playthrough and my second abortive playthrough happened
some years ago, so I didn't remember too much. I also have been
playing a lot of SoC since then and I also got through CoP for
the first time. Memories of both are still rather fresh.

When changing from SoC to CS, some stuff is hard to overlook.
Like the Dx10-features for instance. Volumetric light has always
been quite impressive and impossible to not notice. Especially when
the framerate was suddenly trying to strangle your system during
sunrise Since I still have the same notebook with the same old
GT240M (5 years now), I immediately ran into problems. I didn't
remember that Clear Sky was so much more demanding than CoP.
I still don't quite understand what makes the difference. Does anybody
have information on the differences between X-Ray 1.5 and 1.6?

By the way this website should be useful for some people:
http://www.tweakguides.com/ClearSky_5.html Especially the 5th
and 6th pages should be quite useful. It sure made a huge difference
for me. Apparently it doesn't cost a lot of graphical quality to lower
some settings but it still improves performance quite a bit.

Some other stuff I have not yet encountered. Like Volumetric Smoke
for example. I don't think I ever noticed it in my first playthroughs.
Watching the Dx10-trailer I was quite impressed. I still often marvel
at the dynamic interactions of light sources with static or moving objects,
but I never knew that something similar for smoke was also in the game.
I also don't think I ever payed much attention to wet surfaces.
It's not that noticeable if one doesn't pay attention.

---END QUOTATION---



There's not much to really say that you haven't already noticed.
GSC spent a lot of time and work to create improved graphical effects
that use DX10. This caused a lot of people to upgrade both their video
cards and Operating systems to be able to play the Game and see them.
Needless to say, Call of Pripyat was dumbed down graphically and made
easier for more people to enjoy. I'm not sure of the major differences
between X-Ray 1.5 and 1.6 anymore as it's been almost 6 years since
the news came out about what changes that GSC was involved with.

StoleitfromKilgore:

---QUOTATION---

Other than technology, I have been trying to get to some artifacts,
but so far with little success. I have ended up with two artifacts and
other than that a lot of dying, either because of radiation, Psi-emissions
or simply the inability to make something appear, no matter how close
I got. Maybe it's just detector, but I wouldn't mind some pointers.
Am I doing something wrong?

---END QUOTATION---



Clear Sky introduced separate artifact/anomaly detectors. They are the
Echo, Bear and Veles. You have to place them in your hand to open them
to utilize all their functions. The Echo detector is very basic and crude. It
will only reveal low-end artifacts. You must have a better Detector to find
and reveal high-end artifacts. You start off with an Echo and will usually
not get a Bear until the Cordon or Garbage. However there is a Veles
Detector that is hidden in the Marshes as an Easter Egg. Find it, open it
up and it will reveal a high-end Gravi artifact that will allow you to carry
more weight ( if you get 2 Jellyfish to counter it's radiation ) in the Marshes.
My screenshot of leaving the Marshes should show you what you can find:
http://i.imgur.com/tS1h5fH.jpg

StoleitfromKilgore:

---QUOTATION---

Also, so far I really like the idea, that one gets stash-info from
other people. If I'm not mistaken, in SoC you got the info just
through PDAs and in CoP stuff was basically always were it was
supposed to be no matter if you had the info or not. I'm not
sure so far, if the latter also applies to CS.

---END QUOTATION---



You get stash information from 3 sources. From looting as is the norm,
from performing tasks where the reward may be the stash location and
lastly you can buy the information from NPCs that sell it. This makes
Clear Sky the most complicated to get all the stashes. My advice is
to make every effort to quickly buy that information. This means that
you should never leave ANY level unless you have at least 10,000 to
20,000 rubles on you to immediately buy the stash information upon
arrival to a new level. Additionally there seems to be a time limit on
activating stashes. If you do not do them fairly quickly they will cease
to be activated. For example, the Marshes has at least 60 purple-icon
stashes you activate, are given or you buy. There are also about 40
out-in-the-open capsules full of basic supplies like medkits, bandages
and stuff. The capsules look like the white suitcase items you saw in
SoC ( think of the one on top of the Mill in the Cordon with the silencer )
and are somewhat hidden behind things, under wooden walkways or
behind bushes and boulders. The biggest mistake people make in
Clear Sky is rushing out of the Marshes without finding all the available
stuff there is. No other level has as many stashes or capsules. The CS-1
armor suit you can get there and upgrade is one of the best in the entire
game. I prefer to earn the Expert rank in the Marshes before I leave it.

Another new thing to Clear Sky are what I like to call Quest Items. They
are items that an NPC will ask you to find and then return to them for a
reward. For example, there are 5 in the Marshes. This is about average
all the way up to the Army Warehouses. You must be very careful who
you take that task from. If they are mobile, you run the risk of them
being killed and you fail the task since there is no one to return to for
the reward. It is important to understand that failure to return the item
to the person that gives the reward ( while they are alive ) means that
you will NOT get the next sequence task. Even if you have neutral or
friendly relations with the Bandits in Garbage, do NOT take any Quest
Item jobs from any Bandits guarding a barrier ( level changer ) as they
may freely give one but most likely will turn hostile to you when you
return. However some people ( like myself ) enjoy recovering the
Quest Items AFTER you return them to the NPC for your reward. If
they are killed later, the Quest Item will be in their inventory as you
loot them. Failure to recover it before their body disappears means
that the Quest item will disappear too. While some of the Quest Items
are unique, they cannot be upgraded like most other items in the Game.

StoleitfromKilgore:

---QUOTATION---

One thing that really surprised me was how the dialogue was handled.
After playing SoC for a long time, and finishing a quick playthrough of
CoP in between I got kind of used to the fact, that people don't have a
lot to say (Comments on the zone and so on start repeating quickly).
In CS so far, I have talked to people quite a bit and at least in the early
stages (just entered the Garbage) I have not seen a lot of repetition.
People have a lot to say and so far it's usually something new. I'm
pretty sure I'm not just imagining this, but it seems they simply
wrote a lot more text for Clear Sky than for the other games.
So far, this is probably one of the most notable things I
have discovered this playthrough.

---END QUOTATION---



Yes, there is a lot of background information and stories in Clear Sky.
With so many people of different Factions and experiences, it is rich
in history and insight into the events of 2011 that lead us to the Zone
we see in SoC of 2012. Your PDA in SoC has only 3 entries about 2011.
One of the most fascinating and interesting things to see in Clear Sky is
how the Zone has physically changed. Factions control different areas,
building and structures are less decayed or destroyed and the access to
other areas are different due to changing anomalies and geography.

While on the subject, the Flea Market has some NPCs that do not say
much, are not available or tell you to talk to them later. This is why:

Flea Market operating hours:

Night Trader hours: 2300-0300 ( 11pm to 3am )
Repair Tech hours: 2100-0500 ( 9pm to 5am )
Guide: sometimes leaves 2nd floor position to
join evening party around bonfire on the 1st floor.
Party usually breaks up at 3am and then he returns.

StoleitfromKilgore:

---QUOTATION---

Oh, also something old, which I already found to be a bit
annoying the first playthrough. There are a lot of people.
This was not a problem on such a big map as the Great Swamps,
except during the faction war, but it's very noticeable in the Cordon.
Personally I prefer the other games in this respect.

---END QUOTATION---



This is the great Faction Wars. There were over 1,000 NPCs of various
Factions that fought for control of the Zone. In SoC we see the aftermath
of that. SoC contains the decimated and small handful of survivors after
the events of 2011. Control of the Zone was imperative to many outside
forces that had knowledge of places and events prior to 2011 that the
Player in Clear Sky does not know about or get to see until SoC in 2012.

StoleitfromKilgore:

---QUOTATION---

So, how about you? I mean, aside from obvious stuff, like
Faction Wars. Which aspects of Clear Sky, which are less
noticeable, but significantly different from the other two titles,
have you noticed?

---END QUOTATION---



The biggest misconception about the CS Faction Wars is that it is like
"Capture the Flag" where you win by gaining control of another Faction's
Main Base or Headquarters. The Faction Wars are not equal in actions or
goals. Each Faction has different goals and will behave very differently to
achieve those goals. Once you understand what those goals are, you will
see why some Factions appear to lose initiative or focus. There are two
levels the Player can participate in. You can stay outside the Faction Wars
by NOT joining a Faction after leaving the Marshes. Your involvement
can be initiating movement making a Faction go towards a position for
battle ( capturing positions ) or you can choose to lead the Faction in
the same movement. Going with a squad can greatly increase their
chances of success. The other option is to join a Faction. This can result
in immediate hostilities or changes of allegiances. Rewards unique to a
Faction are then available as a member. Some people are able to change
their Faction by additional actions and then manipulate the Faction Wars.

To me it makes more sense as a Mercenary to not join any Factions after
leaving Clear Sky. This way you can travel everywhere, visit all of the
Faction bases and utilize all the Faction Traders, Repair Techs, Barmen,
Guides and other resources. For example, only the Bandit Repair Tech
can upgrade the SEVA suit to both the 3rd tier options. Just because
the Bandits are your enemy in SoC does not mean they are your enemy
in Clear Sky or Call of Pripyat. I can play complete Games of Clear Sky
& Call of Pripyat from start to end without having to kill a single Bandit:
http://i.imgur.com/KvMB8c9.jpg

Briefly this is my take on the Faction Wars. Garbage is the center of
the Faction Wars. The Bandits control Garbage. It is unbalanced in that
the Loner ( Stalker ) Faction, the Duty Faction and the Freedom Faction
are all against the Bandits. The Bandit's Faction goal is to prevent those
3 Factions from gaining control of the access points ( level changers ) into
Garbage. Anything beyond that is just extra. The Loner Faction only
cares about getting access to Garbage and those level changers leading
to the Agroprom where their other base is other than the Cordon. Once
they do this and get some men there, they may lose initiative to keep
those positions in their control without the Player's help. The Duty Faction
will enter Garbage and battle the Bandits for the sole reason to gain the
control of the two access points to the Dark Valley. Their primary goal
is to contain and isolate the Freedom Faction. Actually going into the
Dark Valley to fight Freedom is not as important as containment. The
Freedom Faction has the simplest goal. They want out of the Dark Valley
and they want to gain the single access point to the Army Warehouses
where they want to move. Nothing else is as important. They could really
care less about what the Bandits or Duty control. The Bandits and Duty
can control all of Garbage and they don't care as long as they can get to
the Army Warehouses. Once you understand these goals then you have
a better feel and insight into what the Faction Wars are to each Faction.

TS
 
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