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Unlike the first game, now you can join one of several factions – having special benefits but also disadvantages. Choose carefully because every faction has an enemy, so in case you are friendly with one you become enemy with the other. Some specific armors and upgrades are only accessible in the appropriate factions. Joining a faction also means you will get the best prices when selling and buying stuff with them, which helps you, especially late in the game.
The Loners have Gordon in control, and their enemy are the Bandits in Garbage zone. They get some nice upgrades for low and mid class weapons. Keep in mind the Bandits have the same upgrades as the Loners, it's just a matter of preference here.
Duty are the rivals of Freedom. They are the first to offer upgrades for the shotguns and Russian armors, and the second to upgrade sniper and standard NATO weapons.
My personal advice would be to stick with the Loners up to the midgame.
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The swamps are the training level for new players. It gives you time to get used to the interface and the new game options. You might notice how beautiful the training level actually is, full of DX10 effects which you unfortunately won't see that much later in the game. Maybe they are trying to grab you with this first level, keeping your interest – or maybe the effects are just too fancy to pull off when the screen is full of baddies.
In the swamps, you will automatically join the Clear Sky Faction just to see how Faction Wars function. All the guides and transportation are free in the training level, but later on you will have to give your last penny to benefit from these fancy tool.
In the Stalkers base you can steal two AK-47 and a scope, if you manage to climb the roofs and keep above the tech guy. Before you leave the training level, be sure to get the scope from the Lookout Tower, the Viper 5 in the Pump Station, the Chaser 13 shotgun next to the stash in Pump Station and the CS-3 armor – a reward for completing the quests.
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Starting zone from the first chapter, belongs to the Stalkers. Every time you receive a Stalker task out of this zone, you can grab your reward in the Stalker central to the North, or from Wolf. The nice thing about Gordon is that there are lots of veterans, so if you let them die you might get some good weapons and armors – SPAS 12, Vintar sniper, etc.
This is the home of Duty faction, but there is also a big Stalker camp in the base between the destroyed gas tanks. There is also some shaft with a hermit who offers the best weapons in game. Their prices are insane though. The constant missions for defending the base provide a nice income stream.
You can only upgrade the Vintar snipers in the Duty base.
Here you will be in wars with the Bandits constantly. It was impossible to clear their base, but a hot fix came in one of the patches. The only Stalker place you will find is the Flea Market, however all the missions you complete will be rewarded in Gordon.
The home of the only neutral and friendly to your faction – the scientists. Here you can buy a SEVA costume. Over the lake you can find two artifacts, one of them is always the Eye – 20 000 rubles in cost. The enemies here consist are zombies and mutants, having a strong shotgun will help you live as the zombies at this point are no longer dying from only a knife hit.
Probably the hardest place ever. The moment you get in you have to chase Strelok, then you get ambushed while having bad armor and rusty weapons. Prepare for lots of actions, anomalies, mutants, artifacts and if you are a friend with Freedom – a battle with twelve heavy armored Stalkers.
A good sniper from the Freedom base will help you get them down easily though.
Two artifacts are waiting for you next to the rocks in the map exit, guarded by a giant Flesh Mutant. I couldn't kill him, so I just grabbed the artifacts and ran away. If you pass these zones you will have enough money and ammunition to continue during the rest of the game, which I'm not going to spoil for you.
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Unlike the first Stalker, finding artifacts in Clear Sky is not that easy. They are normally found around anomalies, hanging around as a harmless one. The only way to get it is to have a detector, then you enter, you get it and you leave nice and healthy... maybe.
The artifacts have fixed positions, but depending on your detector the one you get changes. Some of them respawn after some gaming weeks. Apart from bonus effects and protection, they are your main source for money. Every health pack and anti-radiation pack you use is worth it.
Some of the one you can find are:
- Battery, Endurance +2n;
- Compass, Endurance +6n;
- Eye, Bleeding + 40n;
- Flash, Electrical +3n;
- Gravi, Max Weight +20kgn;
- Koolobok, Health +4n;
- Mama's Beads, Bleeding +20n;
- Meatchunk, Chemical +3n;
- Moonlight, Telepathy +3n;
- NightStar, Max Weight +10kgn;
- Shell, Endurance +4n;
Most of them have good sell value, and a nice positive effect. However, all of them increase your radiation by certain level, which kills you slowly. Though, if you have some artifact that lowers your radiation, you won't need the special pills.
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There are the little tools on which your artifact hunt is depending. I suggest you not look for items before you have the best detector – there are three. The first one is Echo, very basic. Then you get Bear, which is the second version of Echo and includes a visual display. Veles is the best detector, showing the exact position of the artifact on a screen.
There is a Veles in the upper left corner of the Swamps, kind of hidden though.
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Weapons and Armour
Something very important to keep in mind about weapons is that any upgrade you make cannot be removed. Once you increase the damage of a weapon and lower the recoil, you won't be able to increase the accuracy for example. This also goes for the armors. Most of the weapons can use a scope. The snipers and mini guns use the same ammo, always remeber to unload them when you sell them.
Some of the notable weapons are: AC96, quite powerful using Russian ammo; Trs301, a great weapon for the late game, and; IL86, very good starting weapon and sniper, though it will cause you some problems at first.
Regarding the armor, you will have to buy all of them except CS-3 which is a reward. The Sunrise Suit is another notable armor which you get after helping Duty in the Swamps. Exo of course is the best combat armor, but you will not obtain it until later on. SEVA from Dr. Sakharov in Yantar (mentioned on last page) is also decent.
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Keep your game up to date by patching it. There were numerous bugs which made the game terrible to play and in some cases impossible to completed. It is good to save the game often, and it can help to restart the computer after 2-3 hours of playing. Also make backups of your save files, because sometimes a game crash can destroy a few of them.
Also be careful after major patching, if you already have played, the game might become unplayable or the levels uncompleteable when loading a saved game.
Eight (8) tips and tricks you'd pay me for:
- If you climb up some stash or anything higher than one meter, the killing of mutants becomes child's play and the “defend the base" missions will be just free but boring income.
- Talk to everyone, and buy any intel you find as it gives important information about where to find hidden stashes and flash devices for your upgrades.
- Use CTRL+Shift to crouch even lower, stalking style!
- Keep some backup ammo or armor in every base, this way you can free some spaces and kilos
- The mysterious artifacts F5 and F9 are your best friend.
- Aim for the head, always, otherwise you will have trouble with some stalkers.
- The blood suckers are invulnerable while invincible, so get your shotgun and aim for the head when they appear next to you.
- Keep your weight low, sprints are vital... unless you have the best armors.
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Cheat Codes and Secrets
You can edit the actor.ltx files found in gamedata/config/creatures. Open it up with notepad and you can change your statistics. Look for actor_immunities_gd ****. Changing it to 0 will remove damage completely, 0.5 would be half damage and so on.
- Change the actor_immunities_gd number to zero (0) to disable damage taken (god mode);
- Find max_walk_weight and change the kilos one can walk with;
The Secret Artifact: Found in dark forest where there is a cave full of bandits. You can meet poltergeists there which are very hard to kill, so I suggest you skip them. If you choose to continue further in, you will find one of the rarest artifacts called Compass, and it has zero negative effects. It gives six (6) endurance.
Gaining access to the Freedom Armory: You have to use a trick here. Find a chair and push it next to the guard, the chair might fall down halfway due to the glitch, but it will still work. Jump on the chair, then jump on the guard. The game will push you into the armory's hallway where you can just slash your way in, literally, by using your knife on the lock. To get out, do the same chair trick.