Updated: Aug 26
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.