Gaming News 2

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Misery 2.0 Released

After several delays and much anticipation, the long awaited Misery 2.0 has arrived. It is a huge overhaul mod for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat, drastically changing, enhancing, and adding features, but leaving the core story and quests intact. It’s currently ranked #1 on ModDB, so you know it’s something special. It’s made by one of the largest and most talented S.T.A.L.K.E.R. modding teams, known as True Zone Projects or TZP.

As a huge S.T.A.L.K.E.R. fan and a modder myself, I’ll be conducting an overview and review of Misery 2.0. For those who are interested in obtaining the mod, look here and here. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Closer Look

As the name indicates, Misery 2.0 is the second version of the Misery mod. The goal of this mod is to provide a brutal, hardcore, no-holds-barred, and more realistic survival experience. This was achieved by drastically changing the atmosphere and the gameplay. Remember the dozens of mods we recommend you get for Fallout 3 and New Vegas? Well, this one mod does most of those things by itself, making your life much easier.

Essentially, this mod is a re-imagining of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat. And yes, it does require ownership of the game. It is not standalone.

This mod is NOT for newcomers or casual gamers. Such people will get nowhere and will likely get little enjoyment out of this mod. It’s not unbalanced difficulty either, if you’ve played Fallout 3 or New Vegas with the aforementioned mods, and on the hardest difficulty, then expect Misery 2.0 to be similar to low level gameplay there.

Some might not notice it, but Misery 2.0 leaves an ini file in your main Call of Pripyat directory with unique options. They are as follows.


hardcore_ai_aim = false
upd_battery_drain = true
infinite_npc_primary_ammo = false
safe_cover_notification = false
dynamic_helmet_hud = true    

They’re quite self-explanatory, though they’ll make more sense after reading further. These are what I consider to be ideal options.

Misery 2.0 has greater role-playing emphasis. The main RPG feature is the addition of three classes, something totally absent from the unmodded game. There’s Recon, Assaulter, and Sniper. The names are self-explanatory: sniper uses long range weapons and can survive for longer without food. Assaulter can carry more gear, take more punishment, and is better with assault weapons. Recon is better suited for close range, and has the best healing skills. Despite what’s advertised, stealth is still ineffective as Recon. Unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve a good, working stealth system on X-Ray engine.

Of course these are very dumbed down explanations, each class has dozens and dozens of factors going into it. Each one is carefully thought out. You choose your class before starting the game, and choosing a class requires restarting the game due to the way X-Ray engine works.

I picked Recon this time. When installing the mod, you also get the option to choose your field of view. Unfortunately due to engine limitations, if you want to change your FOV, you’ll need to reinstall the entire mod. So choose once. Default is 55, the same as unmodded Call of Pripyat. Their measurements seem to be different, much like Crysis. The default 55 FOV is similar to my choice of 75 FOV in Gamebryo games (The Elder Scrolls, Fallout 3/New Vegas). I recommend either 55 or 67.5. Anything more is unrealistic and just looks distorted.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are no difficulty settings. Instead, the developers focused on making one ideal difficulty for this type of mod. This is an approach that I heavily favor. If I were a game designer, I’d do the same thing. Misery 2.0 is not for everyone.

Each class begins the game at a different entry point, adding replay value and catching the player off balance. There’s another alternate start option, called The Black Road. This is only for the most hardcore players, preferably those who are replaying the game. You start with no equipment except for a wind up flashlight and a knife. That’s it. No binoculars, no detectors, no armor, no projectile weapons, no medicine.

I’m not sure if The Black Road entry point is different for every class. As a Recon, this is what I got.

It took me three attempts just to get out of there safely. There you see the successful one. What a way to start!

Misery 2.0 is, to some extent, a compilation. It includes a custom version of AtmosFear 3, a weather overhaul and much more. It also includes a custom version of Absolute Nature 3. The developer of those mods, Cromm Cruac, is part of True Zone Projects. The unique version of AtmosFear provides a more eerie and dead look, as does the custom version of AN3, keeping with the theme of misery. Unfortunately, radioactive fallouts are not included, even though they are included with AtmosFear 3. I’m not sure if Psi-storms are included, so far I’ve only seen their reworked emissions, which is a thing to behold at least.

Also included is a custom version of Massive Simulation Overhaul, also known as M.S.O. This is perhaps the biggest and best A-Life overhaul for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat. You see, X-Ray engine has an innovative and very advanced A-Life system. It spawns all AI on the map at once, and makes each person unique with their own schedule. With mods like M.S.O., many boundaries to the A-Life are removed, allowing AI to wander farther whenever they want to, and unlocking never before seen features.

Misery 2.0, through M.S.O., adds a lot more life to the game, and randomizes encounters more. You’ll never know what you’re going to find: one day might be relatively calm for you, with only lesser mutants like Blind Dogs and Boars in your way. Other days might have you terrorized by Chimeras, Pseudogiants, and Burers all at once, who may fight among themselves for territorial superiority. Or anything in-between.

This mod also adds many classes or professions for NPCs, to separate them. For example, some Stalkers might be separated into a Hunting class, and on their bodies you’ll find items that mostly revolve around… well, hunting mutants. Every class has a unique and appropriate loadout.

There are new behavioral features to be seen here. AI now loots bodies, making it much harder for you to find equipment simply lying around. No, he’s not drowning himself, he’s looting.

Due to the removal of some A-Life restrictions, you’ll now have more diverse encounters. For example, Freedom and Duty were never spotted in Zaton in the unmodded game. Now these are somewhat common encounters. Areas won’t just become lifeless either. But I have to say, as good as the A-Life is here, it isn’t quite as dynamic as Shadow of Chernobyl Mod Pack 2013, in which you could find just about anything, anywhere.

Toward the end of this video, you’ll find Duty leading an assault on the sawmill.

Misery 2.0 also makes it so factions react to your decisions much more quickly, again this is going along with their role-playing emphasis. If you start to side with one faction, the opposing one will take notice faster, and take a more noticeable course of action. If you become hated by one faction, they’ll sometimes send veteran members to hunt you down.

Monolith soldiers also behave more unpredictably, and may even commit suicide under certain situations. NPCs may also surrender in combat, allowing you to interrogate them for things like stash coordinates or finding out what they were doing.

Another huge mod included with Misery 2.0 is a custom version of New Ordnance. This is a very unique mod that diversifies weaponry to an extent never seen before. In addition to the dozens of new guns, every gun has several different variants, to make the game more personal and diverse. You’ll find Worn versions of one gun, or a Personal one, Modern one, etc. Here’s an example.

Also included is a custom version of Armory Mod, which adds much needed diversity in NPC character models. You’ll rarely find NPCs dressed identically, while in the unmodded game, each faction only had around four different looks. NPC look is more diverse and more customized: you’ll find some of them are now wearing in-game items on their person, such as canteens, lots of ammo pouches, etc. In addition, there are many new armors, and many new masks.

Misery 2.0 is also innovative with its armor attachment feature, allowing for more armor customization than I’ve ever seen before. These attachments are placed in what used to be artifact slots, but artifacts can be placed there as well. There are dozens of armor attachments.

Hundreds of new misc items have been added, from food items to repair items, to armor attachments, different kinds of batteries, gadgets, IEDs, and even junk. Food is now separated into two categories: Zone produced, which are made in the Zone and suffer from radiation poisoning. Imported comes from the outside world and is safe to consume. You can also cook raw mutant meat that you find on dead mutants, but you have to retrieve the raw meet quickly or else the body decays too much, and the meat is not edible. There’s also an animation for eating food, which takes around five seconds to complete. Seriously, attention to detail at it’s finest.

Oh, and lets not forget knives.

A revamped healing system is included. Medkits are no longer viable on the field; they take a long time to apply. Bandages take at least five seconds to apply too. They added a new feature: Stims. These are used on the fly to slightly increase health and overall well-being, but have some downsides. These are what you’ll be using on the field: medkits are to be used in safe locations. Doctors now charge for their services too, no freebies.

To take survival emphasis even further, Misery 2.0 makes it so that electronic items like detectors, night vision, PDA, etc. now require battery power. They streamlined this feature by adding a Universal Power Device. It accepts any batteries (you’ll find MANY different kinds of batteries in the Zone) and will charge all connected devices. If you run out of batteries, no worries, for there is a Wind-up flashlight available too.

Encumbrance has been reworked too. Ideal carry weight has been lowered from 50 kg to anywhere between 30-45 kg, depending on your class. But there’s not much of an upper limit anymore: a point in which you can’t move at all (it’s actually set to 150 kg). Instead, Misery 2.0 has a realistic stamina simulation system. Every little bit of extra weight affects your stamina. If you go over the limit, you simply tire much faster. Some classes tire more than others.

There is a new side to the repair system too. No longer do you have to simply take your equipment to technicians and pay them to repair it. This is still an available option, but there are also several (anywhere between 5 and 12 from what I’ve seen) repair kits, and other items that can be used for repair, such as glue. All repair kits are limited to certain items, such as a “Pistol Cleaning Kit”. These repair kits are used in conjunction with raw material, which is used to repair the item. There are dozens of different kinds of raw material, even other weapons or pieces of armor can be used as raw material. This is the best repair system I’ve ever seen in a game: thorough, but easy to use and understand, with unrivaled versatility.

Stashes were revised as well. There are now two kinds of stashes: Simple Items, which are just the usual stuff you find hidden away like in the unmodded game (some of these stash locations haven’t even changed), while other stashes are grouped as Personal. These personal stashes are more unique and say a lot about their owner. You can make your own stash too, by dropping backpacks with GPS trackers in them. The developers are also working on a quick-release backpack system, to drop all your gear on the spot. Expect to see this in the future.

Misery 2.0 has a lot of smaller changes as well. Every armor piece takes into account dozens of new variables, much like each class takes these into account. Everything is now measured in real-world units as well, to add more subtle realism to the mod.

Gas masks now have a visible model with a breathing effect. Like Metro 2033 and Last Light, your gas mask can be damaged, and the model changes to show this.

I can go on all day about new features in Misery 2.0, but these are the most noticeable ones. Every single gameplay aspect was touched upon and carefully revised, and they’ve added lots of huge new features as well as dozens of smaller ones. Attention to detail is superb, beating out actual mainstream game developers.

This is how S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat should have been from the start. The result of all these changes is a much harder, more complex, and much more intense game. You can’t just wander about the Zone anymore, you need to plan every course of action or else things can and will go terribly wrong.

When playing, I often find myself tagging alongside stalkers. It’s much safer to travel in groups. Although the recruiting feature from Misery 1.0 is removed for stability reasons, there’s nothing stopping me from following them. Like a real stalker!

I don’t really have many complaints for this mod, and any I can come up with are small. I don’t like how the player can be killed in as little as two dog bites, but that’s when I’m wearing no armor at all. Some of the prices are a bit strange. There are some things that can be improved even further, like making A-Life more dynamic.

Sadly this mod doesn’t change anomalies, so they’re still contained in the same areas as the unmodded game, opposed to being scattered around the map in larger number and changing spawns after an emission. This is to be expected from big mods, hopefully they add this in the future.

There aren’t many bugs in Misery 2.0. Some descriptions are too long and result in the description box going off screen. I’ve gotten some reports of incorrect scope textures being used on 16:9 screens. The Mosin-Nagant uses the wrong ammo type, some descriptions are messed up, a few little oversights. Though I’ve seen one report of a bigger bug: Beard and Owl won’t talk to you if you’ve aided the Bandits. This is potentially game-breaking, so don’t help the bad guys. A patch will be released shortly.

Audio & Visuals

Misery 2.0 is also a huge graphics and sound overhaul. First person gunshots are no longer too quiet like in the unmodded game, footsteps are much louder, and there are a ton of new ambient sounds, creature sounds, weapon sounds, item usage sounds, etc. Although sound effects aren’t as good as the upcoming version of L.U.R.K., the improvements really help a lot with immersion, and so do the visual enhancements.

AtmosFear provides amazing time of day presets and sky textures, while the custom version of Absolute Nature 3 included with Misery 2.0 retextures all of the vegetation to make it look higher quality. It also adds many new types of vegetation, and populates the world with much more vegetation, since the Zone is supposed to look overgrown due to long periods of abandonment.

They also include several GBs of custom textures. Rather than going all out with 2k and 4k textures like Photorealistic Zone 2 for Shadow of Chernobyl, they were a bit more conservative. 2k textures are used where they’re needed, and others are a more modest 1k but with improved sharpness and clarity. Misery 2.0 uses unique rusted and decayed textures, which fits perfectly with the theme of the mod. Combined with the mostly dead vegetation and eerie ToDs, it looks impressive and really enhances atmosphere.

They also improved the usage of parallax mapping, like many other mods do. Graphics detail exceeds most other games, though it still suffers from poor anti-aliasing and some low polygon vegetation models. You should try tweaking AA yourself in NVIDIA Inspector or Radeon Pro.

Although not shown in these pictures, switching the game to DX9 mode (Enhanced Full Dynamic Lighting) will allow you to force anti-aliasing effectively, using the following custom AA bits: 0x00001041. This works very well with both Ordered Grid Supersampling and Sparse Grid. Both look nearly identical for me, but Sparse Grid runs much better. AA won’t be perfect until you use high amounts of it, which you probably won’t be able to run, but 2x looks very good nonetheless.

It’s too bad that AA will never be as good as some games. Great AA can mask things like poor vegetation quality; Fallout 3 is the best example of this.

View distance has been improved drastically, exceeding most other games by a long shot. We won’t be seeing view distance like this until “next gen” games. Though grass draw distance isn’t as far as Shadow of Chernobyl Mod Pack 2013, it’s hard to complain about it.

Here are some examples of amazing ToDs provided by AtmosFear 3.

 

Conclusion

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Misery 2.0 is, to say the least, an impressive modification. It is one of the best representations of a true survival game. Intensity is rivaled by few others, and the added gameplay complexity is amazing. Games like this are the reason I shake my head when people say that The Last of Us is a good survival game. This type of gameplay should be the present and the future, but unfortunately it isn’t. Enjoy it while it lasts.

If you’ve never played S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat before, and are interested in this mod, it’s up to you whether or not to play it first. You should have already played Shadow of Chernobyl already, if not then go back and play it. Misery 2.0 doesn’t change the story or main quests, but it does overhaul everything else. I must say, playing Misery first would probably blow your mind.

You Might Also Like