The first total conversion modification for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat, returning the player to the Southern Zone in the new engine, in the boots of a much loved character.

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Should WotW overhaul the way the entire Bandit system works? Express your view!

Posted by Beac on Jun 3rd, 2011

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Way of the Wolf

The Bandit Controversy


Hello one and all. I've taken a little break from my studies to write this article and get this 'off my chest' and into the public domain, in search of opinions and ideas.

I want Way of the Wolf to challenge perceptions and provide a new experience, so what follows is one way we could do that.

Get ready for a pretty long read - you might want to take this in stages, and have a cup of tea at the ready.

Please do let us know what you think.

The Conundrum:

The bandit faction in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has always confused me a little.

In Shadow of Chernobyl they are, after you leave the Cordon and Garbage for the first time, little more than an annoying pain in the ass for the rest of the game.
In Clear Sky, they are a faction of their own, but still little more than a collective pain in the ass.
In Call of Pripyat, they are a largely neutral group of pseudo-pain-in-the-asses.

I have a feeling that GSC were a little confused on what they actually wanted the bandits to be.
SoC is a perfect example of how they're basically a way to artificially lengthen the game. Chuck some bandits with terrible weaponry at the player every now and again and you'll probably add a fairly considerable length of time to the game. The thing is, it's not fun. That feeling you get walking up the Cordon only to have to fight a couple of poorly-equipped bandit groups who are in the way of your next objective isn't one of enjoyment, but frustration. They aren't a challenge, they're just a nuisance.

Let's examine some features of the bandit faction and take a look at why the system is fundamentally flawed:

1: They're a faction.

Why? Surely a group of criminals and thieves isn't going to come together for 'the collective good' and identify themselves as a unified front? Everyone in the Zone is, at their heart, out for themselves. Labeling yourself as a bandit doesn't seem like a good idea to me - not when almost everyone else in the Zone hates you.

2: They are distinctive.

This one is probably my greatest annoyance with the bandits. Do criminals in real-life go around wearing semi-ridiculous clothing that blatantly tells everyone that sees them who they are? Nope, so why do the bandits do it? Clad eternally in trench-coats and tracksuits, it's like they WANT to be targeted.
The reason for GSC doing this is purely for 'gameplay reasons'. Basically, they think (because it's often true) that people need a bright red crosshair painted on the chest of enemies.

3: They're poorly equipped.

The only way I can think of this one is that GSC never intended for the bandits to be anything but early-game enemies. Bandits with high end weaponry would obviously be bad at the start of SoC for instance, but by the time you've got yourself a fair weapon, they become nothing but a diversion that poses no real threat to you.

The Discussion:

So - I've explained why I feel the bandit faction is flawed. Next I'm going to explain how I feel bandits should work in STALKER.

In my eyes, bandits are just like any other Stalker. Let's remember the STALKER acronym.


The last one is the important one here - bandits (or Robbers) are just like any other Stalker in the Zone.
The separation of Loner and Bandit, I feel, is not entirely correct.
Can you honestly tell me you've never, in a time of great need, killed a fellow, innocent Stalker just because you needed his supplies?
Have you ever taken the hidden supplies of others?
We're all bandits in some ways, you see. Necessity drives us all, and in the Zone, it's every man for himself.

So here's my view. Bandits aren't a collection of evil bastards with a penchant for trenchcoats with voices straight out of 1950's Chicago. They're often normal men driven to extremes, bullies that prey on the weak to survive, or opportunistic and desperate souls that spy an easy target.

The Idea:

Here's what we could do:

Make bandits normal Stalkers:
Forget the way bandits have worked in STALKER previously. Completely start afresh. They'll wear the same clothing as everyone else, use the same weaponry as everyone else. At first glance, they won't appear any different than a typical Loner.

Make bandits randomly hostile:
Maybe he's running low on supplies, maybe you look like an easy target, or maybe he wants the artifact glowing on your belt. Whatever it is, this guy's started shooting at you, and you're going to have to shoot back if you want to survive.

Doing these things addresses a couple of issues I see that currently exist:

1: Lack of a full-game enemy that's fun to fight.

Because these new bandits would be just like any Loner, they'd be able to sensibly use any weapon in the game. This gets rid of the whole 'bandits in trackies wielding sawn-offs' situation. Difficulty in fighting them is maintained, and the lack of knowing just who might start shooting at you gives an extra layer of tension to proceedings.

2: Adding to the gameplay experience.

You see a group of Stalkers fighting, but because everyone wears the same types of clothing now, the guy wearing a trenchcoat isn't necessarily a bandit... What do you do?
A pair of Stalkers approach you - are they just passing by, or do they want to kill you and take your loot? You won't know unless you ask.

Your View:

What do you think? Are we on to a winner here, or do you prefer the old system? Are GSC right to dumb down the system, or are you guys eager to have an additional challenge in the Zone?

Let us know your opinions in the comments, and feel free to suggest ideas! We want to hear your view!

Until next time, Stalkers1

- Beacon
WotW Team Lead

Post comment Comments
JohnnyTheWolf Jun 3 2011, 8:37pm says:

I think it's a great idea, as it would force the players to think twice before approaching other Stalkers.

However, I see one problem: some of the quests, like the deal with the Mercs, involve shootouts between bandits and stalkers, and could get very confusing with your new system. How are we going to be able to tell who's who when everyone is looking the same... not to mention that NPCs will have an unfair advantage over you.

-1 votes     reply to comment
Beac Author
Beac Jun 3 2011, 8:57pm replied:

You realise the mission you describe is part of vanilla CoP and hence won't be in WotW? :)

+7 votes   reply to comment
JSleight Jun 3 2011, 8:46pm says:

You should have it so some bandits are in 'gangs', that wear uniforms, and would mostly be for quests, so you don't go around shooting the wrong people during a quest

+5 votes     reply to comment
Beac Author
Beac Jun 3 2011, 8:58pm replied:

If you're required to kill people during a mission, we'll make sure you know who to kill, don't worry :)

+4 votes   reply to comment
SetaKat Jun 3 2011, 9:26pm says:

Nice idea. I did think about mixing up the bandit and Loner visuals a bit, but not to this extreme. This is a bit like my idea for PreSky and the Renegades.
About missions involving Bandits/Stalkers. It might be a good idea to have the two groups wearing different uniforms.
In SoC we saw Stalkers wearing Trenchcoats like Snitch and the infamous Stalker robbing gang at the start of the garbage (yes, they are Stalkers, not Bandits), and Bandits wearing Stalker suits, like the Bandit behind the Flea Market. GSC did start this idea, they just didn't develop it to the extent you've come up with here.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Renay Jun 3 2011, 10:17pm says:

Sounds great, definitly add it if you can make it work properly

+3 votes     reply to comment
kommandojoe Jun 3 2011, 10:45pm says:

as long as they aren't "too" common, it would be turbo-gay if stalkers were constantly attacking/ambushing you.

+2 votes     reply to comment
SenisterDenister Jun 3 2011, 11:16pm says:

The Bandits in Call of Pripyat seem pretty different from the others in the previous games, the way they justify themselves as a faction is that its a mob-like group of folks who often band together under a single charismatic fellow, like Sultan in the first area, and what they do (quite at the behest of the other stalkers) is protect them while they look for artifacts, and then take it upon themselves to take the artifact the other stalker found as compensation for keeping them safe from monsters and the like whilst they were searching for loot.

Clear Sky brought about the Renegade faction, which were Bandits but to an extreme, they took no prisoners, and would kill for supplies more-so than bandits. A Bandit would rob you but leave you alive with some equipment to make sure you got away to be robbed again later, a Renegade would kill you and take all of the loot for himself.

The Bandits hated the Renegades because they were bad for business. The Bandits use stalkers like a mafia using stores for protection money and such, while a renegade would be the guy who would cause trouble for everyone.

Bandits weren't necessarily the bad guys, even though they kind of were. Call of Pripyat and Clear Sky did a good job of fleshing out their role in the setting and explained why they all dressed in a similar fashion, because they were a legitimate faction unto themselves.

Perhaps they should be renamed, but the bandits of Shadow of Chernobyl fit more into the Renegade role than the Bandit role of the later games.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Beac Author
Beac Jun 4 2011, 11:12am replied:

Thanks for the detailed reply!
I definitely agree that certain charismatic/particularly ruthless Stalkers would create small gangs around them - Sultan and Jack are good examples of this from CoP. That makes sense and works well, so we may well have situations like that :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
SenisterDenister Jun 4 2011, 11:21am replied:

Approaching the game with the bandits not being automatically hostile to you is the best way to do it, so I agree with that part. I like the main concept that you're going to implement, what with the bandits wearing regular stalker gear and will rob you.

If you do work in a "these guys are trying to kill everyone" group that's where the Renegades should come in since nobody likes them. I guess that was the main point of my last post.

Bandits should actively try to protect stalkers from mutants and renegades (if they're in the mod) but would approach the stalkers immediately after to take "compensation" for keeping them alive.

+2 votes     reply to comment
headcrap Jun 4 2011, 12:30am says:

I think you should also keep some of the old bandits and the prominent bandit groups.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Null-Entity Jun 4 2011, 5:14am says:

Great idea and a realistic change, my only question is would you keep some part of the bandits as a faction in respect to bunches of them grouping together with someone higher up calling the shots (like thugs in a gamg ?) as thats how I always viewed them in the normal game.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Beac Author
Beac Jun 4 2011, 11:13am replied:

See my reply to SenisterDenister :)

+2 votes   reply to comment
sgt.davis44 Jun 4 2011, 5:19am says:

I have an idea with the above part of shootouts and missions: basically, a small hostile faction(not necessarily differently clothed) that consists of all the former Loners who have been discarded and shown away and are not trusted. They are small and only have their few hideouts(and don't move around much like vanilla bandits do). So in effect, a "formal" bandit group that you really only encounter through missions or by your choice.

Then the system you describe for the rest of them.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mateos Jun 4 2011, 6:47am says:

Could be good to make an objective your not the only one wanting: there's you and a group of bandits. Or you work together then steal it, or you bring death to both obj protectors and bandits... ?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Lito.LV Jun 4 2011, 7:01am says:

One thing I want here (think I saw it in other mod), bandits wear different suits, they can wear duty, freedom, loner, army, anything they get their hands on.

I really dont like the whole vanilla idea: "we are a faction, we wear trench-coats."

+2 votes     reply to comment
SetaKat Jun 4 2011, 10:57am replied:

I know I did that with the Renegades in PreSky - made them use visuals from Loners, Duty, Freedom, Bandits, Army, etc. That might be what you've seen.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Bäver33 Jun 4 2011, 7:28am says:

I like the idea, thumbs up! Just make sure to balance it well!

+2 votes     reply to comment
Doyle_138 Jun 4 2011, 7:45am says:

in general this are very good ideas. but i think it would be hard to balance this.

imagine somebody randomly shoot at you from the behind o.O

well, you can do things against this. you have the option to make them weaker, but this is a little against the idea at all.

or you can make them to acting weired (this would be really awesome :D). for example they sneak around you and spy you a little, or they ask you if you have some food/ammo for them before they attack. sth. like this.

+2 votes     reply to comment
DeathVice Jun 4 2011, 11:10am says:

I say It's a pretty good idea... And I LOVE a challenge in STALKER. (:

+1 vote     reply to comment
commieturtle Jun 4 2011, 11:37am says:

I love this. I can just imagine the level of paranoia added while just simply traveling from point A to B. Mutants just don't scare me anymore :(

+2 votes     reply to comment
[TZP]LoNer1 Jun 4 2011, 12:35pm says:

Oh man,this is going to be one hell of a mod, igot that ideaalong time ago too, making bandits enemies of everyone, their own "faction" too, so they are really loners.And giving them other equipment and outfits too,but yeah... lost the mod :( But i am waiting on this!! ^^

+1 vote     reply to comment
Lithianlord Jun 4 2011, 1:00pm says:

Anything you do Beacon is as if by god's mighty hand.....err...

I mean, great idea! My problem with the bandits is that they always were just plain hostile, except in CoP, and in CoP they literally were of no threat to me. I hated going through the garbage and all the bandit problems were just plain gameplay wise.

Like, for instance, the bandits at the pile of construction equipment. That had the opportunity to show the player what a "highway robbery" was like and what all the loners were afraid of. Instead, the bandits just saw I wasn't one of them and opened fire. Even worse if I was wearing one of their trench coats. It didn't make sense to me.

They are a faction, but without any rules. And when they do band together in CoP as a real faction, all they did was shoot loners right outside the bases and nothing really more outside a few quests.

I was excited with the bandit quest in the very beginning. It showed the real way the bandits should act and how they planned out this whole robbery. Then they just stepped out of the shadows and started shooting.

I say, do exactly what you are doing. My only "problem" with this is that I don't want to be in a base and have someone randomly start shooting me as I am talking to someone or just relaxing. IT would be a great system, but I can see times when I am doing nothing in the bar or selling something to a trader and all of a sudden I am dead because the guy next to me wanted my gear.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Beac Author
Beac Jun 4 2011, 4:27pm replied:

Thanks for the great post - regarding your concern, I've thought about this too, and we'd make it so that it couldn't happen ;)

+1 vote   reply to comment
Szabtom Jun 4 2011, 1:19pm says:

I fully agree with the idea.

+1 vote     reply to comment
NeoTheLizard Jun 4 2011, 1:42pm says:

I think it's a great idea. I can just imagine what it would be like to carelessly pass by a couple of random stalkers, only to moments later hear the sounds of guns blazing towards your back. Would really make the Zone an even more deadly and unforgiving place, and you would have to be even more careful when venturing around on your own.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Borovos Jun 4 2011, 3:26pm says:

It's a very good idea.

"They're a faction" => I think the bandit should be organized in small groups (max 10 or 15 npc) or individual, not in faction

"They are distinctive." and "They're poorly equipped."
If they steal neutral stalker, they should use the same equipement. It's logic.

"Make bandits randomly hostile" For me, it's the great idea.
In game, it will be very difficult to identify bandits, it's a challenge. We will surprise! I like it!

+1 vote     reply to comment
filiepgroh Jun 4 2011, 4:50pm says:

You could set them as "douchey" loners. Adding random routines they could execute in case they need something, not all of them ending in death (yours or theirs).

You're randomly walking arround and they trick you into saving one of their frieds, you pay them a small ammount of money or just kill them (make it so they wont try that against a player wielding a PKM and an RPG-7 while wearing a exo-suit). You find an artifact and he could come up to you asking for it, depending on your equipment he would go arround the lines, your life or the artifact or just make up a sad history. Selling broken weapons to you saying they're new and the like.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Thryker Jun 4 2011, 6:28pm says:

The first time I cleared out the garage in the Cordon I was dissapointed that:

A.)I couldn't hire other stalkers and have them defend the place

B.)Bandits would spawn and attack from the same place over and over again.

with your new system, aswell as deciding to attack you/other stalkers if they need something, will this same logic apply to Bandits attacking/seizing areas?

e.g. A large group walking round cordon may suddenly just up and attack the garage/rookie villiage if they were big enough in numbers/needed supplies. (And wouldn't attack from the same direction over and over)

The only issue I see with you taking away the bandit uniform is that it does add some confusion and can be annoying at times (When playing your Redux mod, loners/bandits looked a like and I would be hesitant to shoot, especially if they were near eachother)

also, having the odd group just randomly start shooting at you could be more annoying than fun, so some kind of indicator/event may be better:

e.g. they approach you and a 'robbery' dialogue screen comes up, you can pay or fight your way out.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Szabtom Jun 5 2011, 6:29am replied:

Thryker, all your suggestions would take out the most important elements from the solution: the immersion factor and the plausability. They look the same? So, what? If you were a bandit, wouldn't you wear the same clothing as the regular loners just to blend in?

And about the random shooting - don't you think a guy wandering alone is an excellent target for bandits, heck, even stalkers if they need food or ammo? That is what the player does anyway - you need food, you sneak on some guys, shoot them and take their stuff.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Spetsnazer Jun 5 2011, 5:16am says:

I agree with SenisterDenister.

The way I see it, you'r just creating random aggresive stalkers and removing the bandits.

And I don't see in what way they are "robbers" if they actually KILL you for the loot. They would more be "killers"...

I like the idea of mixing cloths of bandits with regulard loners. I would like the idea of getting approched and threatened by a band of "regular looking stalkers". So in my eyes, yes, any loner should not allways be a good guy.

But still, I've really fallen in love with bandits from CoP and gangs organized like little mafias should still stay. They have their own supplies coming from outside the side, have different point of view well explained by Sultan. The only problem with the original idea froma GSC is really the fact they call themselvs bandits... That's really ridiculous.

+1 vote     reply to comment
0800 Jun 5 2011, 3:02pm says:

You could make it so that at the start of the game they are hostile to you; but later in the game, perhaps after a certain point or quest they become neutral to you ( - they may realise you r too powerful, so they don't bother trying to kill you or take you loot), so that they become less of an irritant later on in the game.
I say keep them as an independent faction, and in the same clothes that they were in, in vanilla.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Beac Author
Beac Jun 6 2011, 3:09pm says:

Huge thanks to everyone who's commented with opinions and ideas - it's really, really appreciated :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
DrBlizzard Jun 6 2011, 3:10pm says:

I am probably quite alone with my sympathies with the Bandits (see later) here, but, here are my takes:

A) The bandits should be a faction. Everyone hates them, true, but that hate would force them to band together if they were to have any chance for survival.

B) The bandits are about robbery, and they should be robbing people all over the place, not just in one area. This gives you that "ever-present" enemy.

C) The bandits should not be automatically hostile. One of the "join-us-or-die" choices; if you pay a fine (not all your money), you go on and you live. You refuse, and they gun you down if you don't gun them down. After so many payments, or refusals, they either leave you alone, or they make you a target (respectively).

D) Bandits should be well armed - they're stealing from everyone, so they should have good gear to show for their theft.

In M.I.N.E., I armed the bandits with anything that can spawn out of a list of guns so that you NEVER know what they are armed with. If you try to run the first time when the bandits control the garbage in M.I.N.E., there is a 50% chance they will paint the walls with your blood before you even get two feet beyond the entrance. I wanted it like that to SPECIFICALLY enforce the idea that these people ARE a threat, and they ARE a nuisance, and if you mess with them, you're GOING TO PAY.

E) On the subject of faction, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed gunning EVERYONE down when I joined the bandits, because it was a challenge, the loot was immense, and it was generally fun. Likewise, fighting them was equally fun. In SHoC, you don't get that choice, and that wasn't much fun to me.

What are the bandits to YOU? Are they friends? Enemies? Or you just really don't care? Freedom of choice should be the determining factor. Living your in-game life the way that YOU would is a way to "experience the Zone", to the fullest, in my opinion.

+1 vote     reply to comment
jjawinte Jun 7 2011, 7:52am says:

Capital idea, but I think that as with the other factions, they would simply require a unique characteristic feature which would make them identifiable without being so blatantly obvious as they ( and their gang-like attitudes toward fellow stalkers ) have always been previously portrayed. I've always enjoyed " hunting " Bandits, but it would be cool if some productive associations with them were an option.

+1 vote     reply to comment
0800 Jun 7 2011, 7:51pm says:

You could add them to most levels, but make them more powerful in the later areas, e.g. Army Warehouses, and less powerful in the earlier areas, e.g. Cordon, rather than just making them weak and adding them to the earlier areas (- in the same way that the stalker faction carry better weapons and armor, the deeper into the game that you go).

They should definitly be hostile to you in the begining of the game, but then later on you may be given the option to become neutral to them - perhaps though a unique quest where they need your help, but keep the quest open for the rest of the game.
- This way the mod would be more suitable for a wider range of people, who all haved different opinions on the whole bandit thing, and it could potentially make them more useful e.g. for trading, rather than just killing and filling out the game.

+1 vote     reply to comment
N3uR0m4nT3 Jun 9 2011, 4:29pm says: +2 votes     reply to comment
TheUnbeholden Jun 23 2011, 3:56am says:

I whole heartedly agree with your analysis of bandits. They should not be a faction.
If you can't immediately tell what a persons faction is they can either be A. A wanderer (a loner, just some random person who isn't affiliated with any group and have their own goals in mind) or B. A person who kills people and steals their stuff (referred to as a bandit).
I agree with you that bandits should not have any dress code, and can wear just about anything.
Each group of bandits would naturally be enemies with other groups of bandits, so you could say that a bandits are 'subgroups' and can fight one another.
Shooting immediately at group of people who appear to have random clothes isn't a good idea because you can't tell if they are either a group wanderers or bandits. You would have to see if they shoot you on sight, or try to talk to you and then try robbing you.
Talking is the way you gather information so its going to tell you.

So I agree that pointing at someone should not tell you if they are a wanderer or bandit. I also agree that they can come in ones or twos (it doesn't always have to be groups of bandits).

+1 vote     reply to comment
R0ADKILL Jul 6 2011, 9:56am says:

It's a great idea, but my opinion is that bandits wear their old clothes and also mix of all, the y take what they can get, and they should be hostile, i think i like GSCs system, recognisable clothes and hostile towards all, but weaponary could be improved in high rank bandits.

+1 vote     reply to comment
stonefly Jul 9 2011, 1:09am says:

I love the idea of making the "bandits" blend in with normal stalkers. It would add a new threat and fear to the zone but as with the rest of the factions in stalker a group of people with similar ideals got together to protect thereselves and their interests. so what im getting at is that maybe the bandits would still be identified as a bandit in the grand scheme but mix up the clothing equipment and motives of each individual or group make it possible for a bandit in a exo with a g36 in the cordon they should have kind of a base area a criminal underworld group where its say a come and go place for criminals where these "bandits" go to sell their stolen loot your idea is great i just thought id give my two cents on the subject

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mental_Tormentor Jul 19 2011, 6:59pm says:

I like this idea to an extent, but I had also the idea that Bandits should have their own outfits also, not necessarily to make them a faction, but to add some distinction so you aren't shooting every Loner you come across to make sure you aren't robbed. I like the Bandit Exoskeleton skin (I think from SMRTER or SGM), and their brown Mercenary suit could be used more often, leaving only the bosses that sit in safe houses and novices with the leather trench coats and jackets. Although there would probably be a need to create a military suit for them as well.

On the other hand, having them blend in with Loners is also cool, so you think twice before walking towards that guy that looks like your old friend. If you could do this and keep the Ukrainian voices (as a sort of indicator) and have people generally talk more, I'd be very happy.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Nominee Jul 19 2011, 7:50pm says:

You just made me track your mod.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Beac Author
Beac Jul 19 2011, 10:04pm replied:

From the article, you mean? Thanks :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
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