The Zone of Alienation mod is an adaptation of the renowned AMK mod. It is built on top of a specialized variant of AMK that uses a magazine system. From this premise, it has expanded to aim to include the following:
The mod is great when it works. Save frequently because a crash, although they are rare, (about once every 2 to 4 hours of play), they happen at anytime so you dont want to be losing progress.
The Zone is incredibly intense, especially with moving anomalies, ect. Read through what AMK does and get a general idea. Then read this one.
I only experienced one bug, the binoculars/magazine reloading. Wasnt game breaking, I just always had to carry tons of looted magazines on me for my weapons. No need to carry bullets at that point. Downside was that I wasnt able to use my binoculars, which kinda sucked cause they add a great feel to the game.
Normally The Zone becomes easier for STALKERS who gain better artifacts and gear, like Vanilla version. Well in this mod, its not like that. At all. I got wrecked all the time. You cross to another area of the map, climp on top of the highest hill to get a general feel for the area and suddenly 10 dogs, 4 boars, and 4 fleshs come at you like a wolf pack of ligers and ****. It was awesome. I crouched down and just fired into the seething mass hauling *** towards me. I knew Id had to reload at some point so I just stopped shooting and sat there, getting hit by a wall of rabid and radiated mutants. I was dead in less than 2 seconds. Thus is life.
New mutants, improved gears, artifact transmutation. You can even use artifacts as weapons. You drop them on the ground and they spawn anomalies. Pretty useful if you know how to use them.
I played on Master, which is honestly the only way to play and enjoy any STALKER game to its fullest. That helped make this whole mod enjoyable and pretty much helps envision what the mod creator has in mind.
Excellent concept, but unpolished.
To get it out of the way - ZoA looks incredible. Seriously. With this mod, graphics at max and forced AA, SoC looks as good as it probably ever will. It looks realistic without being overly gritty, and manages to be both colorful and grim at the same time, unlike a certain other "realistic" Stalker mod.
Weapons are generally well textured, with some occasional wonky modeling and quite a few poorly modeled iron sights. Also, certain guns have an annoying innate zoom on their irons, like the SVD. One of the better features is the inclusion of night vision optics, which feel like a natural extension to the attachment system and work very well. Rarely, when attaching scopes, the gun and scope can spontaneously disappear.
The magazine system is also a nice touch, though it certainly has flaws. Reloading feels much clunkier than it needs to be - there has to be some way to implement a menu or something - but the fact that magazine reloading is actually animated is really cool, and gives you something to do while waiting for dawn around a campfire. I experienced some issues with magazines getting "eaten" by the reloading process, and loading from boxed ammunition, rather than loose ammo, sometimes outright refuses to work. There also doesn't seem to be a way to unload partially loaded magazines without first filling them, which is a huge annoyance when trying to scavenge rare ammunition.
The almost total lack of HUD is an interesting choice, and usually works well - with one exception. There's no way to check the fire mode on a weapon without test firing it. There needs to be some way to do this - perhaps a brief text popup when you switch between fire modes?
Overall, ZoA is one of the best mods out there. It's certainly a bit unstable, and in need of some polish, but the uniquely brutal combat and atmosphere make it incredibly immersive. It feels like the game that STALKER always should have been, rather than just a mod.
What a brilliant mod. It's hard, it's beautiful looking, the gun play is fantastic, the world is immersive. FatalFunnel has put in so much work and done such an amazing job on this. Truly this is the best iteration of any STALKER game. I eagerly await the next patches.