HomeReviews4/5 ReviewS.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Prypiat Review

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Prypiat Review

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The conclusion to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Legends of the Zone Trilogy is here in the form of Call of Prypiat. It is regarded in some circles as the best of the bunch. After my time with it, I am in agreement, and that’s all down to how atmospheric it feels in comparison to the first two.

Part three of the Legends of the Zone Trilogy follows on from the events of Shadow of Chornobyl with another new protagonist. This time around you are playing as Major Alexander Degtyarev who is returning to the Zone on behalf of the Ukrainian government to cash in on an apparent gold-rush. 

Stalker Call of Prypiat review 1
The best in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Legends of the Zone Trilogy

Ukraine have launched Operation Fairway; a mission involving five helicopters to pave the way for an imminent military invasion on the Zone and reclaiming the focal point of it, the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant. However, these helicopters are suddenly downed en route and the Major is sent in to locate them and find out what exactly happened.

All this is explained in an introductory cutscene, that also recaps the entire history of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Now, video game subtitles aren’t always the most consistent with what’s being said for whatever reason. But Call of Prypiat is on another level; dates don’t match up from that shown and that said, and there is so much varying information between the two you will definitely miss something if you don’t pay attention to both.

Your first task is to find the five downed helicopters, but in true S.T.A.L.K.E.R. style it isn’t long before the side quest distractions take over your quest list. Finding each helicopter also spawns its own questline. That, and these downed helicopters seem to have dropped from the sky in the most awkward of positions. In fact, several of them have fallen in places that are teeming with mutants. Whilst this is an inconvenience, it also cannot be coincidental either…

Mutants seem to be the bigger enemy in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Prypiat, for the first time in the series. Gone are the groups of Stalkers and bandits occupying every abandoned building with their unhuman-like ability to scope you from half a click away. And instead we get all manner of horrors, including some new ones. I feel like we finally get the true STALKER experience as a result.

Early on I went to an area that seemed to be inhabited by bandits, but instead turned out to be full of zombies. Not only was the resultant skirmish a lot easier, but I felt like I was seeing something new. Another time I scared myself silly by walking into a lethal hanging plant in an abandoned building. That was the first time I felt the atmosphere and desolation that these games are known for.

Stalker Call of Prypiat review 2
What the…!?

I think part of that is because Call of Prypiat seems to be less populated, or that’s how it felt. As I said, I mainly encountered mutant enemies, with human ones few and far in between. As a result, there are often extended periods where it is just you and the sounds of the Zone for company. Play at nighttime for the true authentic STALKER experience.

If S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl continues this trend when it releases, then the Zone will be nothing but horrifying mutants. And I’m all for it.

That’s not to say this iteration of the Zone is devoid of humans. There are plenty to be found in settlements and whilst out and about, as well as roaming around, and your actions will affect your social standings. 

Then there are the emissions to deal with. This time around you don’t have any resistance to them, so you will need to find a safe haven when one is coming. Just don’t do what I did; find a ‘safe’ haven that just so happens to be in a cave full of snorks, ready to attack you.

Your mileage may vary, but that’s the beauty of these games. The sandbox environments allow you to play your way.

They still present a hell of a challenge though, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Prypiat adds another layer with some light survival elements. The – again – improved UI will show you when you are bleeding and need a bandage, but it also now shows you when you are thirsty and hungry. The breads you have been stocking up on now have a dual purpose.

Stalker Call of Prypiat review 3
Shoot anything that moves in Call of Prypiat

Sadly, Call of Prypiat does have the same problems as the others on Xbox. It is more stable than S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky but not perfect, and it also lacks any current-gen enhancements. They’re coming, but they should have been here at launch.

Call of Prypiat does feel like a graphical step-up once again from Clear Sky however. Just like that was a step-up from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chornobyl, this again feels the same.

After playing the three S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games back-to-back-to-back, I was worried that fatigue would set in. But S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Prypiat is the best game in the Legends of the Zone Trilogy, and really feels like a true STALKER experience. The atmosphere is excellent, delivering a desolate and dangerous environment. And whilst it builds upon the story laid out in the first two games, tying them together nicely, it also sets up the sequel rather well too.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Best game in the Legends of the Zone trilogy
  • More atmospheric
  • More mutants and horrors
Cons:
  • Still a last gen title
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, GSC Game World
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review)
  • Release date and price - 6 March 2024 | £15.99
Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Best game in the Legends of the Zone trilogy</li> <li>More atmospheric</li> <li>More mutants and horrors</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Still a last gen title</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, GSC Game World</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review) <li>Release date and price - 6 March 2024 | £15.99</li> </ul>S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Prypiat Review
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