S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Dead Air


#1

I could extol the virtues of S.T.A.L.K.E.R longer than any of you would be willing to listen to me and I could go on and on about how cheap the games are and how worth playing they are (with certain basic mods only, no one is sadistic enough to play them vanilla any more) and how extensive the mods are and how there are multiple free standalone releases and how many of these projects are done with the blessing of the original team (WHO ARE WORK ON S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2!!!)…and I have, I am and I will and here is some more for ya face:

Original article.

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.

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.

Tl;dr:

  • Standalone and free - you just download the mod files and the translation patch
  • Maps out of the yazoo: All areas from all three games plus ‘recovered’ areas that were cut from the original releases
  • Story arch removed - made open world survival with factions and faction quests
  • Hardcore like a really hard thing
  • Performance improved - Smooths down the engines rough edges
  • Mods in your mods: Lots of the best mods and features from many other games (Perk system, build your own camp, weapon and item modding, etc)
  • Balance: You can’t go and do what I do and get an early start by hitting the first military checkpoint with a makarov and grenades and end up with more AKs than a Cypress Hill song - It’ll eat you alive if you don’t prepare
  • AI tweaks: The AI has been overhauled so stealth works and enemies will use different strategies to gank you

I’m going to grab it and post up some impressions, maybe do the diary thing we used to do with DayZ.

I just wish it was CooP.


#2

Well isn’t that a coincidence. I was just looking at putting stalker back on again and seeing what mods there is :slight_smile:


#3

If they haven’t put the dodgy dialogue from SOC in to this I will be upset. I wish they hadn’t patched out “Get out of here STALKER!”.

Getting the UAZ in Lost Alpha and it turning in to my mobile scavenging palace and figuring out how to drive in to the different areas that looked inaccessible to cars was brilliant - I hope the camps/tents you can setup bring some of this back, I’m not sure if this has vehicles.

That and I hope they bring the dog/rat swarms from SOC: Complete back in to this. Wandering through the train yard to Yantar and having to quickly scramble up on to any high ground to fight off a few dozen rats and dogs scared the hell out of me when it first happened. After a few times I started leading them to the Mercs and Monolith dudes in the construction area of the train yards whenever they’d spawn and watch the swarm eat them alive.

God I love S.T.A.L.K.E.R.


#4

Dam it Vred…I’m defo gunna have to put this back on now.


#5

I did enjoy the bit of S.T.A.L.K.E.R that I played but I was nowhere near the end of the game.

Not played it for years though!


#6

Downloaded and had a quick go, a few things to note for anyone interested:


Installation
I reckon most of you have sailed before but you may not have come across split zip archives unless you’ve sailed Newsgroups. The download for this is hosted on GoogleDrive and is in five parts, here’s the download process:

Downloading: Firstly, choose one of the mirrors from the above ModDB and then:

Either:

  • Download each piece individually
    or:
  • Highlight all five pieces > Right click > Download

The latter takes longer because it first compresses the files in to another archive, tries to scan it and then downloads it. I took the first option.

Note: It will prompt you that it can’t scan the file because it is too big - I’ve downloaded it without any ill affects so you should be fine.

Unpacking: The mod is not an install .exe like you might expect, instead it is just the ziped install directory split across five zip files (7zip files, so you might need to install 7zip - but that is just worth doing regardless). This means you first need to decide where you want the install directory to be setup - I unpacked the Dead Air folder and then dumped it in the program files folder on my E drive and launch from a shortcut.

Unpacking is easy: Make sure all five zip files are together and then ‘right click > extract here’ on the first file and it does the rest for you.

From here you just launch from the .exe in the install directory or make your own shortcut (I’d recommend the latter so you can rename it and set the launch options to Run as Admin which often helps avoid some crashes in various games).


English language patch
Easy: Just download the file linked above, extract the databases folder and then dump it straight in to the Dead Air install directory.

Note: It is not fully completed so some translations are missing or wrong. This hasn’t hindered the little bit I’ve played so far though.


Foliage mod
I decided to follow the RPS writers’ advice and grab the lush foliage patch also linked above. To install this just download the files and extract the folder directly in to the install directory.


Thoughts so far…
Scattered, in no particular order:

  • A lot rougher around the edges than the article/video makes it look. It controls like the vanilla game with camera bob and wibbly wobbly movement but that isn’t so bad after a few minutes.
  • FOV is weird. It is defaulted to 55 (Really? REALLY?) but when you set it to 90 (Like a normal non-cyclops/lizard) the scale of everything just seems really off. Another thing that is easy to ignore after a few minutes but a bit jarring to begin with. Everything is in lego scale…
  • I followed the advice of the RPS writer and chose the extra weapon set ability and then chose the merc kit which comes to 90/100 starting skill points. This means you start with armour and an AK with some ammo along with some basics and other misc kit but no meds or technical equipment like a giger counter/etc. You have 100 points to spend on whatever you want. Also follow the guy’s advice about the camping pack: Make it the first thing you buy when you get to Sidirovitch, even before medical supplies and food.
  • Equipping kit is different in Dead Air: When you equip any item of clothing, reload a weapon or switch kit around on your belt it is done in an animation. Irritating, but I feel like it is designed to stop you from cheesing the areas that required specialised kit and stopping you from insta-switching to gain an advantage that would break things. Made it a little bit more immersive for me but YMMV.
  • Ammo/Artefacts/certain items must be on your belt if you want to use them. For example, you need to have ammo for the weapon(s) you have equipped on your belt if you want to be able to reload more quickly. If it isn’t on your belt you have to go in to your inventory, drag the ammo on to your weapon or in to a slot an then go through a short animation (as you would normally for reloading) which is much more protracted than just reloading/using items from your belt.
  • Stamina: They seem to have taken hints from Bohemia and implemented something like the ARMA3 stamina system which nearly gave me a rage aneurysm. You have stamina that expands quicker the more stuff you have. Annoying but it feels like a choice given how different everything is now with equipping items, managing equipment and consumables, etc. I think they’re going for realism or at least trying to avoid the situations from the previous games where you could become and Ubercommando really quickly and then essentially only have to worry about game bugs.
  • Holy Clampits Batman, there is soo much stuff. I don’t have a clue what half of the new items even do and the ones I have figured out require multiple sets of items/kit to work together and have different alternatives or grades of kit. For example, you need to be near a lit fire to cook food but also need cooking equipment to cook it with meaning that you can end up needed something to light your fire with, fuel for your fire if you aren’t at a camp fire, cooking utensils and the thing you’re cooking…which means you need a knife to harvest food from animals and mutants in the zone but you need different grades of knife for certain mutants and knifes degrade so you need the rare kit to maintain them or to pay for them to be maintained or keep a supply…you get where that is going. This is the same for a bunch of the systems available. This could prove tiresome but that remains to be seen!
  • No HUD map - You have to open your PDA to check your map and your messages/quests. There is not 3D marking from your PDA and you get much fewer notifications of mission status. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not (since the world map has been changed so much and is so much bigger, it might be a limitation) but I found it frustrating to track missions, even more so than in the other STALKER flavours. Navigating without the HUD map doesn’t especially bother me because I know most of the maps better than where I live by now and hopping in to the PDA to check doesn’t really bother me.
  • Am I in Australia?! - Everything is more dangerous. Things die quicker but they’re all more dangerous to handle and the AI is smarter. I did the first mission from Sidirovitch at the factory down the road and nearly had my head taken off a bunch of times, only really survived because there was a friendly AI absolutely dominating the bandits, flanking, using high ground, corner peaking, firing and moving - playing a lot better than me!
  • Food and drink work differently with different grades of food/drink, different effects beyond radiation, different sources of food, different levels of involvement for collection and preparation. Could be as irritating as DayZ or could be more interesting, as I said before time will tell.
  • Loot: All found kit is degraded. You wont be finding fully repaired AKs with enough ammo to invade the Crimea anymore. You’ll find a good variety of weapons in varying states of disrepair with different levels of modification and different amounts of ammo - if the bandit you killed to get a weapon died after a protracted firefight you may find he has no ammo when you pick up his gun. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean they actually have limited ammo, just that you may find none when you loot them, confusingly.
  • I’m running it on a mixture of Low/Medium/High settings and haven’t really tinkered with it yet until I get a feel for what I could reasonably push. Right now I’m getting pretty solid 60 with the normal little loading dips that the Xray3D engine is prone to (despite what the RPS writer said)
  • Crashes: I’ve had three hard locks so far in 2 hours compared with one crash every other play for Lost Alpha and the other variants. I need to update my graphics driver so hopefully that helps. I’ll report back.

Not really spent any time with it to tell how good it is, that’ll take a good 10 hours, but so far it is pretty standard fair for a heavily modded STALKER game.

I’ll post up some more thoughts/experiences as I go.


#7

i got a single download rather than a multipart one. Only played 10-15 minutes so far though.


#8

Ahh that must be the main mirror for the download - I had to use the alternative mirror when I tried because the main one was down.