Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Welcome back everyone to the fourth and final instalment of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Anomaly Survival Guide. In part one we discussed the essential equipment you will need. In part two we walked through the Training Day missions, whilst in part three we highlighted the hazards and places of interest in the Cordon map and how to traverse it safely. Now we will discuss combat, hunting, companions and how to make a lot of money fast. Let’s dive in…
Although combat is often best avoided until you are ready for it, you will not always be able to avoid it due to the unpredictable nature of Anomaly and its emergent gameplay. Therefore, you must be prepared for it. The tips below should help you survive it.
Cover vs Concealment
Effective use of cover is essential in a gunfight. NPCs tend not to use cover as effectively as you can, (even with the A.I. more covered addon.) This helps to even the odds when they have you outnumbered and outgunned – which at the early stage of the game they almost certainly will.
Cover is anything that will stop bullets, explosions, RPGs etc. Examples include walls, buildings, trees, abandoned vehicles etc. Cover will also keep you hidden. Cover can also include the terrain – for example, keeping a hill or berm between you and your enemies.
Concealment is anything that will keep you hidden, but will not block incoming fire – such as bushes. Don’t confuse the two! Note this works both ways - enemies can shoot you through concealment, but you can shoot through it back at them too!
Anomalies do not appear to affect weapons fire, so you can shoot through them – but so can your enemies.
NB Stealth in vanilla Anomaly is a little hit and miss, and NPCs might be able to spot you through vegetation. The Stealth addon makes stealth gameplay more effective.
Engaging targets at a distance is almost always preferable. If you can accurately engage an enemy from a distance beyond the effective range of their weapons this will give you an advantage. Therefore, obtaining a reasonably accurate scoped weapon in a reasonable condition should be high on your list of priorities. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to obtain such a weapon at this early stage.
There are two main types of encounters with hostile NPCs; one where you attack first and surprise them, and one where they attack first and surprise you.
Player Initiated Combat
A fight with NPCs that you initiate will usually go through three stages; pre-contact, contact, and aftermath.
At this stage, the enemy is not aware of your presence. Ideally, this will last right up to the point you initiate the attack. To maximise your chances of surprising your enemy and getting the first shot off travel slowly in a crouch walk (or even a low crawl) making full use of cover and concealment.
When approaching a likely ‘trouble spot’, listen out for anything that might give away their location, such as gunfire, campfire chatter etc. Secondly, keep an eye out for anything that might betray their position visually, such as shadows cast by campfires or the light from their headlamps etc.
Try to position yourself in a location that offers cover and concealment, a clear field of fire, and a covered escape route, i.e., one that will allow you to place hills, trees, buildings etc. between you and the enemies in case you need to beat a hasty retreat.
Use the lean function to quickly assess the situation; how many enemies are there, what are they armed with, what armour are they wearing, what cover and concealment do they have, do they have reinforcements nearby, are there things nearby that could aid you (for example, are they sitting near a conveniently placed explosive red barrel?)
Now decide whether it is wise to engage the enemy, or quietly slip away unnoticed.
Assuming you decide to attack, lean around the corner, or peep over low cover, take aim - ideally for a headshot - and fire. If you have grenades then even better, and if there is something that will explode when shot consider aiming for this instead.
Now prepare for all hell to break loose.
Make full use of lean and shoot to expose the minimum amount of your body possible to enemy fire, and try to ensure that only one enemy has a line of sight to you at any one time. If you have armour piercing ammo - use it. Headshots will always end an enemy quicker, but they are harder to pull off. If you do not have time to aim properly then aim for the centre of mass.
Be aware that enemies may throw grenades, so be prepared to sprint to an alternate location at a moment’s notice.
If you are facing stiff resistance and multiple enemies, you may find you need to make a fighting retreat – i.e., falling back to successive positions of cover, whilst trying to take out an enemy or two each time.
If combat proves too difficult then it would be wise to ‘withdraw from contact’ AKA ‘run away’, but be mindful to keep cover between yourself and your pursuers, and be careful not to run into an anomaly. The enemy will either give up the chase and return to their positions, or continue to pursue you. If they do the latter, try luring them to somewhere populated by friendly and neutral NPCs, as they may end up fighting them for you.
Once you think the fight is over carefully observe the environment from a position of cover and concealment. This is important, since assuming all the enemies have been dealt with could get you killed. There could be more enemies around than you thought there were. What’s more, additional hostile NPCs or hungry mutants may arrive from elsewhere. If so, you may need to deal with them too.
Once you are certain as you can be the area is safe tend to any wounds, radiation etc. you may be suffering from, reload your weapon and magazines and generally prepare yourself for the next fight. Take stock of your ammo supplies – if the encounter has left your ammo reserves low you may need to obtain more before engaging in combat again.
Now is time to loot the bodies of the fallen. They will probably have weapons, ammo, suits, and other supplies which will be useful to you. Remain aware of your surroundings whilst doing this, as enemies, mutants etc. may attack whilst you are busy looting. I recommend checking your surroundings before and after looting each body. Suits will probably be too heavy to loot, and disassembling them in the field will leave you vulnerable to attack, so it is advisable to leave them for now.
Hostile NPC Initiated Combat
A fight where the enemy has surprised you, and thus got off the first shot, is always more dangerous. To survive, you should do the following;
Take immediate cover. If no cover is available, go prone.
Try to identify where the fire is coming from.
Once the shooter(s) have been identified either;
A) ‘Attack the ambush’, using the tips discussed previously.
B) Withdraw from contact, using the tips discussed previously.
If the enemies do not give chase, you could then ‘advance to contact’ again, this time forewarned and forearmed with the knowledge that the enemy is there, find an alternate route, or plan to attack later - ideally when they are no longer on alert.
A Spanner in the Works
Note that unexpected events could happen which might force you to change your plans and switch your tactics at a moment’s notice. Examples include;
Mutants attacking you, your enemies or you both.
A Blowout or Psy Storm starting just before or during the battle.
The arrival of one or more NPCs – be they friendly, neutral, hostile to you, or hostile to everyone (i.e., the monolith who seemingly hate everyone).
Be prepared to improvise, adapt, and overcome as necessary.
Mutant Hunting Tips
In most cases, the same rules apply when hunting mutants. The main difference is that the mutants you will commonly encounter in the Cordon lack ranged attacks, and so will attempt to close the distance with you to attack. Where possible, attack them from a distance, and from atop of level geometry where they will have difficulty reaching you - such as on top of abandoned vehicles, roofs of buildings etc. Shotguns loaded with buckshot are very effective against most mutants at close range. Longer barrelled shotguns loaded with slugs are effective at longer ranges.
Note that mutants ARE affected by anomalies. A handy trick is to position yourself so that there is an anomaly between you and them, then baiting them to attack you by shooting at them. They may then run straight into the anomaly in their rush to get at you. The anomaly may then kill the mutant. Note that this is less effective against multiple mutants, as the first may trigger the anomaly and be destroyed by it, but the others may quickly slip through unharmed afterwards.
As we saw with Fanatic and his Training Day missions, Anomaly features a companion / simple squad mechanic. This is optional for the most part, and it is up to the player to decide whether or not to engage with it. There are both pros and cons to adventuring with companions, which I have outlined below.
Companions are a real gamechanger, and I recommend travelling with some whenever possible. The advantages they bring are legion; they can watch your back when looting, provide early warning of approaching enemies, provide additional firepower against said enemies, and give said enemies something other than yourself to shoot at.
They can also carry your loot for you, allowing you to remain unencumbered, or to haul more loot than you can physically carry on your own. Additionally, they are unaffected by radiation, so if you have run out of LLMCs, you can simply get them to carry artifacts for you, safe from the artifact’s radioactive properties.
You can gain companions in several ways. Some methods will gain you temporary companions, whilst some will gain you optionally permanent companions. Some of these methods are costly, whilst others are free. All are listed below.
1. Paying someone to be your bodyguard for a fixed duration. This can be useful if you have the money and are about to go somewhere particularly dangerous, such as the Red Forest.
1. NPCs joining your team for specific missions, such as surveying an anomaly field or hunting mutants. Here your job will be to escort them to their objective, defend them while they get busy, then escort them back. They will remain companions until the mission is completed and you have returned to the quest giver.
2. Rescued NPCs will also become companions until you have led them to safety.
3. NPCs you have agreed to escort to somewhere will become companions until you reach their destinations. Note that getting them to their destination late will result in both reduced pay and a drop in reputation, so be sure you can get them there in the allotted time frame before taking on these missions. This is especially a concern if using the Level Transition Travel Simulator addon.
Optionally Permanent Companions
Hip (seemingly the only female stalker in the Zone) will become an optionally permanent companion upon completing a few of her missions. (This is time-consuming and very expensive, however.)
NPCs may agree to join your team once you have attained sufficient rank and reputation. This is a great long-term strategy, but will not be an option when starting out, since your rank and reputation will be minimal.
Anomaly treats all companions the same, regardless of how they have come to join your team or for how long. They can all be given the same set of orders as we did with Fanatic and will generally obey them (A.I. glitches notwithstanding of course – they are still pretty stupid).
Companions – The Negatives
There are a few downsides to companions, however, but these are usually easily remedied.
Firstly, they may make it more difficult to sneak around unnoticed. To remedy this, instruct them to stay somewhere safe and out of sight when you need to be stealthy and then go it alone. Just remember to go back to them afterwards, or if summoning them to join you, ensure the route to you is safe. The companions turn off headlamps when in stealth mode addon also aids this.
They may start fights with hostiles when you were hoping to avoid them. This can be remedied by ordering them to ignore combat. Just remember to order them to "Fire at will" afterwards.
They cannot go everywhere you can, such as up and down ladders, vaulting over the scenery or taking other shortcuts that their pathfinding A.I. does not recognise as viable routes. This can be remedied by the companion teleport addon.
They can get in the way and may block you in. Again, the teleport addon can remedy this.
They may bump into you which may push you into an anomaly, or away from something you were trying to use. To remedy this order them to "wait here", as this will stop them wandering around.
How to ‘Game’ the Companion System
Since companions are so useful, finding ways of getting temporary companions for free can make the early game much easier and can help you amass wealth far more quickly. Thankfully, there are several ways you can do just that.
Firstly, I advise raising the maximum number of quests per NPC to three or above in the game’s settings, as this will allow you to ‘stack’ far more missions at once. I advise speaking to the three main quest givers in the cordon; Fanatic, Sidorovich and Wolf.
Between them, they should have several hunting missions, a rescue mission, a ‘bring me X number of bandit faction patches’ mission, and possibly a few others. The one to look out for is ‘Tourist Safari’. Once you have accepted the mission you will be joined by two freshly spawned stalkers, who will become a part of your team until the mission is completed. Until then, they are yours to command 😉
Now tackle the hunting missions in turn, but crucially, do not go back to the Rookie Village to collect the rewards just yet. If you take on a ‘Rescue the Courier mission, (and if said courier is in the Cordon) then your team can help fight the bandits who kidnapped him. Upon rescuing the courier, he will join your team as well. Your now expanded team can now be made to haul the loot you obtain from the bandits, mutant body parts and whatever else you find.
Places to Visit
Take the opportunity to explore the map with Stalkers watching your back for you, and get them to carry any loot you find. Be sure to visit the 'Tent Encampment' and the nearby 'Rock Trio' to the northeast of it. You may well find tool kits in both!
When you have explored the map thoroughly and looted everything in sight, take a quick trip to the garbage via the safer side route. Upon exiting the pipe, head to your right and look for the broken log stash – you might find tools inside this as well. Then head to the train hanger in the centre of the map to meet Butcher. Sell him all the mutant parts you have harvested and purchase the hunting knife if you do not have it yet.
Then head back to the cordon and visit Xenotech in the Cordon Northern Farm. If you have been very lucky you may now have the basic, advanced, and expert tools. Accept each ‘find the toolkit’ mission in turn and turn them in. If you found and turned in all three then you will now have earned your first achievement - ‘Mechanised warfare’ - made quite a lot of money, and earned the privilege of using Xenotech’s vice for free for a limited time every 24 hours. This will make upgrading and repairing your gear much easier and less expensive from now on.
Now head to the Rookie Village and sell any remaining loot you do not intend to keep. Remember to take the loot from all your temporary team members before ‘turning in’ their respective missions, otherwise, they will despawn, taking all the loot they were carrying with them.
Once all the loot has been sold take stock of your situation. Have you looted enough food, and water to survive the next day (one bottle of water and two tins of baked beans should suffice). Next check you have some ammo, medkits, bandages, anti-radiation drugs etc. If you are low on any of these, buy them now.
With the money you have leftover, see if you can purchase any of the outstanding items on the essential items list (a gas mask in particular) and remember to equip them.
By this point, it will probably be getting dark, and it is unwise to go exploring until you have obtained a headlamp and decent night vision devices. Your avatar may be getting tired by this point too, so the wisest thing to do now is head to the underground sleeping area, eat and drink if you are already thirsty or hungry, then sleep until the early hours of the next morning (about 06:00). Upon waking, you will probably need to eat and drink again, which you should do ASAP.
Congratulations, you have now survived your first 24hrs in the Zone! You should now know all the fundamentals you will need to survive going forward. The rest is up to you.
Below are a collection of random tips I have discovered recently.
The cool 'raindrops on gasmasks' and 'wet surfaces' effects may not work if you are in debug mode. Turning off debug mode should get them working again.
To fast travel, right-click on the green 'house' icons on your PDA map. You may need to turn the 'Areas' tab off for this to work, as the white area circles tend to interfere with this.
If you return to a previously looted body after a while you may find a bolt has spawned on them. This may be a bug so might get patched out in the future.
'Junk' artifacts - i.e. those that have no positive or negative properties and cannot be placed into a container - are visible from a distance. The more useful 'proper' artifacts only become visible when you are close to them and have a detector in your hand. If you can see an artifact in an anomaly field from a distance it might not be worth the risk of obtaining it.
The piles of scrap in the garbage are no longer radioactive as of Anomaly version 1.5.1. This makes them relatively safe to explore and can now serve as useful lookouts, shortcuts and places to hide from mutants and hostile NPCs.
Don't sell drug-making kits to traders. Medics - found at most major safe havens - may have 'bring me a drug-making kit' missions for you which will pay more, raise your reputation with their faction and reduce the cost of medical items purchased from them in the future.
I have provided links below to external sources that provide further hints and tips that might prove useful. There are many others of course – Steam and Reddit are also useful sources. Best of luck, and get out of here stalker 😊
Video by Cheeki Breeki
Video by Wavey's Gaming Adventure
Anomaly Wiki tips
Stalker Wiki Tips (Technically for Vanilla Call of Pripyat, but most are relevant)
The following two are technically for the original MISERY mod for Call of Pripyat, but since Anomaly is partially based on MISERY most of what you will find in these will be useful.
Beginners Guide to Misery
A Misery Handbook
If you have any other useful tips, feel free to share them in the comments section below. If you know of other useful guides, feel free to share links to them too. 😊
Iain is a 40+ author and gamer from England, who started his gaming journey on the Atari 2600 36 years ago. His specialities include obscure cult classics, retro games, mods and fan remakes. He hates all sports games and is allergic to online multiplayer. Since he is British, his body is about 60% tea. He can be reached via Twitter at https://twitter.com/IainBaker17, and contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nomad’s Reviews now has a Forum. Check it out here.
Remember to follow the site on Facebook, Twitter and become a member so you never miss an article. If trying to find the site via Google, search for ‘nomads technology reviews’ to skip a page worth of backpacking sites.
The site is not funded via ads; therefore, it is reliant on community funding to keep running. Therefore, if you like what you see, please consider supporting my work via Buy Me a Coffee, Patreon, PayPal or SubscribeStar. This would help to support the site’s ongoing work to preserve video game history, promote excellence in video game design, and champion accessibility features so that games can be enjoyed by all. Many thanks in advance.
Buy Me a Coffee: buymeacoffee.com/nomadsreviews
Need Work Done?
I am available for hire! If you like what you see on this website and would like content created for your own, or if you have content you need to be proofed and edited, please get in touch via e-mail at email@example.com. You can view my LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iain-baker/