What You Know
That Ain't So

More useful info:
Troubleshooting FAQ
Crashes Still in the Patched Game
Quirks in the Game
"S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - SoC" Stuff

What You Might Know That Ain't So

There are a lot of misconceptions held by quite a few of those who play STALKER. This article is intended to correct as many of these as possible. It is an ongoing work; there's lots of stuff we know that ain't so. Warning: Some spoilers, obviously.

Quick Links Artifacts
Psi Helmet
Storyline and Quests
Unique Items


Some artifacts are generated by anomalies after a day based on a probability calculation, and every day thereafter until the quota for the anomaly is filled. Some are found in secret stashes, some on bodies. Some are randomly spawned when you break a crate. And some artifacts are put in the game by the devs, in special crates/cases or in the wild.

The probability calculation for generation of artifacts by anomalies is flawed; you probably won't see a lot more after the first day.

In the vanilla game, Moonlights, Flashes, and Sparklers can only appear between midnight and 5 a.m. in the wild, either near locations that have Electro anomalies, or when deliberately placed in the game's all.spawn file by the devs. An example of such a placement: The Monolith headquarters.

Also, breaking a crate can yield an Electro artifact, but you won't know that until you return to the area during the wee hours of the morning.

Whether crate-spawn, anomaly-spawn, or dev-spawn (heh), all Electro artifacts switch offline if the in-game hour is not between midnight and 5 a.m. -- even ones you drop on the ground, once you go beyond 50 meters from them. And they won't switch back online until the next midnight, and they might roll somewhere else.

In some cases a crate-spawn will skip the test to see if you are greater than 50 meters, so you might see it anyway. Typically you will have to move away and then come back, even if the hours are suitable for Electro artifact visibility.

No, that glowing red object produced when you die in an anomaly is NOT an artifact. It's a piece of your skeleton, with an anomaly effect.

Artifact protection is applied to the amount of damage apart from the protection of the suit. If the suit has 50% protection against bullets (fire_wound_protection), and you have 25% protection in artifacts, then you receive Damage x (1-0.5) x (1-0.25) or 0.375 Damage, not Damage x [1-(0.5+0.25)] or 0.25 Damage.

Maybe a better example would be: 50% shock protection from armor and 90% protection from Battery artifacts still yields 5% of the original shock damage applied to you every time the Electro fires.

The vanilla game wrongly calls the Shell burn-protection artifact a Battery.


The in-game default accuracy display for weapons is misleading. For example, the Big Ben is shown as having zero accuracy, but it is actually more accurate than just about any other handgun. To see the first-shot accuracy without the recoil and rate-of-fire adjustments, use the Weapon Stats option in the ZRP Modifier.

Add-on scopes do not change accuracy. Add-on silencers can, reducing it by 20% in vanilla.

There are two components to aiming: the accuracy of the gun and the inaccuracy of the Marked One's stance. Accuracy of the gun depends on the default for the weapon, adjusted for the different ammo types and for the gun's condition. Essentially, the shots will strike inside the inner ends of the crosshairs.

The Marked One's accuracy component is added to the gun's accuracy. No matter what anyone tells you, iron sights are best (Marked One's "inaccuracy" contribution is 20 times less than standing in vanilla), although recoil makes a difference on subsequent shots. The crosshair settling time can still apply, so wait a moment without moving before pulling the trigger in zoomed mode.

The following is a relative comparison of accuracy with a low-end weapon and a high-end one, assuming a 1.0 k_disp multiplier for the ammo (which is not true of the PM; see below). Shorter is better.

Legend: --   The weapon's basic accuracy --   Marked One's inaccuracy contribution
PM (Makarov) pistol in 100% condition, ignoring ammo (fire_dispersion_base = 0.4):
Gauss rifle in 100% condition (fire_dispersion_base = 0.01):
Marked One standing (vanilla disp_base = 0.8):
Marked One aiming via sights or scope (vanilla disp_aim = 0.04):
Marked One shooting from the hip with PM:
Marked One aiming with PM:
Marked One shooting from the hip with Gauss rifle:
Marked One aiming with Gauss rifle:

What makes the accuracy even worse is the ammo. While gauss rifle ammo has a 1X multiplier, PM ammo has a 3X multiplier. So take that red line for the PM data and triple it!

Marked One shooting from the hip with PM, adjusted for 3X ammo (see note):
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marked One aiming with PM, adjusted for 3X ammo:

Note: A space was inserted to allow the line to wrap in a smaller window. Expand your browser if needed to compare. You can test this effect yourself in a modded game by changing the k_disp value for +P+ ammo (ammo_9x18_pmm) in gamedata\config\weapons\weapons.ltx from 3 to 1. Then switch between normal 9x18 ammo and 9x18 +P+ (AP) ammo in a weapon that uses those ammo types, like a PM pistol (Makarov), and watch the crosshairs change.

And no, the difficulty setting does NOT determine how often YOUR shots hit the target. In fact, the game's difficulty setting does not affect accuracy at all, yours or that of the NPCs. According to TKGP in this "Damage and skill levels" GSC forum thread, the only probability difficulty value that is used -- and only for NPCs shooting you -- is the novice value in gamedata\config\defines.ltx, which is not affected by any difficulty you select on the game's Options menu. Alundaio observes that this probability applies to any NPC shots that would otherwise strike your hitbox.

The NPC's hit probability starts at 100% (if his shot hits your hitbox) if the NPC is shooting you from point-blank range, dropping off to the aforementioned value of gamedata\config\defines.ltx's hit_probability_gd_novice at the distance set by hit_probability_max_dist (in gamedata\config\weapons\weapons.ltx), which defaults to a mere 10 meters. It remains at the hit_probability_gd_novice value (default 20%) beyond that. Set hit_probability_max_dist to a higher value (like 100 or 1000) for a tougher game at any difficulty level.

For proof of the statements in the above paragraphs, set the two parameters mentioned there to 0 (zero hit probability beyond zero distance from the player) and play. As indicated, the difficulty you select doesn't matter; master difficulty is fine.

Did you notice how you are just as accurate as before, but the NPCs can't hit you at all? See the "Vanilla Bullet Sponges? Well, Yes and No" thread, page 2 for more details.

Yes, there are those that claim hit probability affects the player's accuracy, but many of the mods claiming to fix this change other parameters like the fire_dispersion_base of some weapons and/or the k_disp of ammo. The effect of wide dispersion and limited range of early-game pistols and sawn-offs (especially if in bad condition) lead many to apply such a "fix". They notice an improvement with rifles and wrongly credit this parameter "fix".

Hopefully the proof above will put an end to this "hit probability for the player" nonsense.

I played a recent game using novice difficulty and no changes to vanilla settings for any of the variables above including hit_probability_max_dist. I died a lot less and had a lot more ammo available to me from bodies. My accuracy at novice was no different than at master difficulty.

The placebo effect might also be in play: You expect the adjustment to improve things, so you tell yourself it's better. But don't go by feelings. Go by facts.

Another simple proof: Later, more accurate weapons will still hit within the crosshairs, but those crosshairs will be much closer together. And don't forget that when the image zooms, so does the hit circle. The accuracy improvement may not be as obvious.

Additional info: While this discussion has been about accuracy, other factors as mentioned above do interfere with the experience:

Much of this information can be found in the ZRP documentation (e.g., gamedata\modcfg\FirstPersonShooter.cfg.txt) and the ZRP discussion thread in the SoC Mod Discussion section of the GSC forum.

ZRP 1.07 has a few features to support experimenting. You can add an invulnerability artifact, you can tweak the parameters of the player's accuracy contribution, you can tweak the ammo component, you can even check the NPC's health as you ping away at him.

You don't have to guess or feel. You can know.

* If you want to see how setting time_to_aim to zero helps make headshots much more damaging, effectively eliminating the "bullet sponge" effect for a weapon, install this mini-mod. It's a drag-n-drop install of a single file, but please read the instructions, especially if you already have a mod that adds and/or modifies weapons -- you will need to edit your mod's weapon files to set time_to_aim to zero for each weapon.


>> I have more than 2 GB of RAM, but the game says I'm running out of memory?

By default on 32-bit operating systems like XP or Vista/Windows 7 32-bit, an application can only use 2 GB of RAM. There's a tweak for Vista/Windows 7 using bcdedit to extend this a bit. For XP, lower texture quality or use static lighting in resource-intensive places like Army Warehouses. Look up "process space" for details.

Myth:   You need 2 GB RAM to play this game.
Fact:   No, you just need enough page file (virtual memory) size. However, the more RAM you have (up to 4 GB), the less swapping of data to/from the hard drive, which may improve the frame rate.


Searching a mutant body will show an attitude that is actually the one from the last human body searched.

There is only one psydog in the Red Forest, one of the grey ones. Kill it and the phantom pseudodogs disappear. But they also disappear if you get out of the psydog's range.

All controllers do have a ranged attack, where they grab your point of view, pull it toward them, then throw it back. But not all controllers use this attack right away.

Controllers do have a melee (close range) attack: Your mental health drops. If you are running on novice mode, this is negligible; you will recover faster than you will lose mental health. If you are playing at Master difficulty, you will see the brain icon (green, yellow, red) appear on your HUD. You can also watch your mental health drop; it is the blue bar on your inventory screen in vanilla. That is NOT your armor condition; to see that, click the Marked One's image on the right and look at the green bar in the armor stats box in the middle of the screen.

When that blue bar completely disappears, you die.

Psi Helmet:

The unadjusted psi helmet is NOT as good as the calibrated one, but it is far better than no helmet at all. With no helmet, your health takes damage in a psi emission field like that in Yantar and Red Forest. With an uncalibrated helmet, you will get the yellow screen effect sooner and with more intensity. You will see more mutant phantoms in Red Forest.

An alternative form of protection in vanilla against psi emission fields is rupture protection, believe it or not. You'll take less damage by equipping Goldfish, Gravi, Wrenched, or Kolobok artifacts, and wearing suits with good protection against mutants.

Storyline and Quests:

Exiting from the Agroprom underground via the wrong exit will not complete the "Find Strelok's group's stash" task in vanilla. This is fixed in the ZRP.

The weapon of the Dutyer is often not where it is marked in the game. See the Quirks in the Game page for details.

You must search Ghost's body to get the objective to see Guide, but you must first have talked to Mole at the entrance to the Agroprom tunnels west of the Institute, or searched his body before going below. Merely going back to the tunnels and getting Strelok's flash drive does not work.

X-10 is really X-19 (or X19). References in the game use X19, except for one occurrence used as a label in the level save info. Unfortunately, that's what everyone sees most often, including replacement devs who used X10 in later games, so X10 is now considered canon.

Unique Items:

Items in the vanilla game that are marked unique may not really be one-of-a-kind. Some one-of-a-kind items are not marked unique, like the Beretta found on Bullet's friend. Some non-unique items with the upgrade symbol (white arrow on green background) include the Sniper SGIs found on Twig and Leshiy and the Tunder/Groza modified for 5.45x39 ammo (used by Barin and occasionally sold by Sid, up until the first time after rescuing Nimble that you talk to Wolf). You can also get a new "tourist suit" from Sidorovich each time he wants a Night Star.

See also Quirks in the Game.

Last page update: October 16, 2020
Copyright (C) 2009-2020 Metacognix. All rights reserved.