By Stan Rezaee
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl was an open-world survival game that had players explore the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (a.k.a. The Zone). This was a game ahead of its time, but has since faded into memory as it’s overshadowed by titles like Fallout 3 and Day Z. However, this is a title with many possibilities, and a reboot would continue its legacy for a new era of gaming. This is one vision for how a possible S.T.A.L.K.E.R. reboot should look, but be warned that it’s a radical transformation.
Set in an alternative 2003, rumors have emerged that the USSR has been using artifacts found in the Zone for weapons development. In response, the CIA has deployed an operative, tasked to see if there is any truth to these rumors, and if so, then the agent must dismantle this secret weapons facility. The player enters the Zone with a group of freelance Stalkers, and from that point must fight against or work with other factions, do some side work, and learn about the Zone.
The game will take place in an alternative historical universe in which the Chernobyl disaster created a massive humanitarian crisis that destabilized the region. Residents in the area become infected with a new illness born from the disaster, which requires them to be quarantined in camps within the Exclusion Zone. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Partisan establishes a center of operation with in the Zone and begin launching their first major operation since the 1950’s.
To help calm the situation, United Nation Peacekeepers are deployed in the region to help care for the refugees while the Red Army battles the Partisans. The conflict forces the Soviet Union to end its intervention in Afghanistan, while making the government look weak to the hardline factions. All this results in Mikhail Gorbachev being forced from power and replaced by a hardline government, which means the Cold War is still ongoing.
By the end of the 80’s, the Zone attracted scavengers called Stalkers, who sought to make a fortune by selling the new minerals and resources that had been created by the mutation. While the Soviet Union has had a clam relations with the West, intelligence agencies believe that the conflict in Chernobyl is crippling the economy and military.
Soviet Armed Forces (Red Army) – The military forces of the Soviet Union have been deployed to eradicate the mutants, fight the Partisan groups while trying to bring order in the Zone. They have multiple bases and checkpoints across the Zone that are used to enforce their authority. While well-equipped, the many years have drained their morale, and some officers could easily be bought off. They are hostile to all factions except for the UN Peacekeepers and Independent Stalkers.
Ukrainian Partisan Army – First established by the CIA in the late 40s, they have gained ground ever since the disaster. Their goal is to bleed the Red Army dry in the region, in the hopes of achieving an independent Ukraine. Their only interest is to use the Zone as a battlefield. Normally friendly with other factions.
United Nation Operation in the Chernobyl Zone (UNOCZ) – In response to the growing humanitarian crisis and the civil war that erupted, the UN deployed forces to help the refugees and maintain a quarantine. They are friendly to all groups and will only shoot if attacked.
Special Operations Group (SOG) – A military unit of the CIA that has been deployed to monitor the Zone and help all forces that are hostile to the Red Army. Their objective is to keep Washington and NATO updated on the situation and prevent dangerous artifacts from being smuggled out of the Zone. This is the players main faction, and most of the main quests will revolve around the SOG.
Independent Stalkers – Scavengers from across the world who have come to the Zone seeking their fortune. They may work in teams, but are independent and have no allegiance to any faction. They will team up with other factions if it benefits their interests. Their ambivalent allegience can be used to help the player.
Bandits – Two bandit groups operate in the area with the goal of controlling all the illegal activities in the Zone. They fight to control gambling, prostitution, and the selling of dangerous artifacts. They are always in conflict with the other factions, but will respect cease-fire zones.
Duty – Established by former Red Army soldiers who teamed up with Stalkers in an effort to contain the horrors of the Zone. Their only objective is to kill the mutants and destroy any artifacts. This puts them at odds with Freedom and other Stalkers. They also have to fear being hunted by the Red Army, as many of the faction’s leaders are officers accused of desertion.
Freedom – An anarchist group fighting to open the Zone to the world in the hopes of ending the conflict. This puts them at odds with Duty and the UN Peacekeepers, while their biggest advisory is the Red Army.
Mercenaries – There are 3 different mercenary groups in the Zone who work to collect rare resources for private entities. They are better trained than the Stalkers, and only go after artifacts that are in high demand. Their interests may come into conflict with the player, depending on the group.
The game should be set in an open-world environment made up of small to mid-sized settlements. The gameplay should be similar to the RPG setup used in Fallout 3, along with the survival mechanism used in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Also included should be the guerilla warfare setup used in Red Faction: Guerilla and Far Cry 4.
Player starts with a series of skills (like lockpicking and medical) that are at a low level. As the player earns experience points and levels up, these skills can be improved. Working for other factions will also allow the character learn unique skills.
Assignments that are part of the main story will be issued by the SOG faction, while the player could earn the loyalty of other factions by offering their services. This includes targeting other factions, taking out Red Army outposts, recovering artifacts, and killing mutant nests.
The environment will consist of several refugee camps under UN protection, along with many Red Army bases and outposts. The SOG and the Ukrainian Partisan have their own outposts hidden away, while the Mercs have a series of small camps. Duty and Freedom will have their own base of operation in a community. There are several communities with no allegiance, occupied by Stalkers and Bandit-operated businesses.
That is just one suggestion for a reboot of this classic game. If Bethesda or Deep Silver is reading this, you guys get on this reboot, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl was an awesome game.