Scavengers, Trespassers, Adventurers, Loners, Killers, Explorers, and Robbers – S.T.A.L.K.E.R is a first-person shooter game based on the novel Roadside Panic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. The game revolves around a second explosion in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which is known as the Zone.

The suspense and horror-themed game has managed to amass an incredible following and a long-lasting impression among gamers and enthusiasts. From the first game that was a classic, the franchise has followed up the success with hall of fame-worthy games, with the two sequels managing to become solid games in their own right.

Whether you’re new to the Stalker franchise or looking to dust up some old classics and taking yourself down memory lane, here is the order of the Stalker games in order.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl

Release date: March 20, 2007

Developer: GSC Game World

Platforms: Microsoft Windows

The Shadow of Chernobyl is the first and most iconic release of the Franchise. The development of this game started as early as 2001. Back then, the game was only known as S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Oblivion Lost.

The plan was to release the game in 2003, but the game's development took longer, and it finally came out in 2007.

In this release, the plot is relatively simple. The player is an unnamed character referred to as the "Marked One"rescued from the death truck in the year 2012.

The character suffers from amnesia, which is quite common in the Zone, and has to rely on his PDA's simple instructions, which read: "Kill Strelok.”

The mission leads the Marked One deeper into the Zone. Along the way, he recalls mysterious memories from his past that help to bring pieces of his identity together. This mix of suspense and adventure is what makes the game thrilling.

The gameplay includes some RPG elements and an inventory system. There are numerous NPCs that you can interact with, and there are stats you need to keep in mind as you play along.

You also can join several factions, which is further expanded in the later titles of the game.

Although the game is slow-paced, it requires a calculated approach. You also need to take cover when firefights break out. Ultimately, be cautious about how much inventory you carry since it can affect the player’s mobility.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Clear Sky

Release Date: September 15, 2008

Developer: GSC Game World

Platforms: Microsoft Windows

Following the success of the first title, it did not take long for the franchise to follow up with another title only a year and a half after the release of The Shadow of Chernobyl.

However, the release was a prequel that didn't feel as successful as the previous one but wasn't a failure either.

Clear Sky starts by telling the story of what happened a year before the events featured in the Shadow of Chernobyl. It offers answers to most of the questions that most gamers had after completing the first part of the game.

In this second part, you assume the life of a mercenary called Scar who can survive the high energy emissions in the Zone. Scar was rescued by a faction of Clear Sky and now helps them achieve their goal of understanding the Zone and stopping the emissions, which seem to be getting more frequent.

The mechanics of the game haven't changed much. However, there are a few additions that include new weaponry and gear, the ability to repair and upgrade weapons. There are also detectors and protective suits, which are the only way in the game to discover artefacts.

In Clear Sky, the factions have expanded, as well as the reputation system. An exciting addition is an ability for members of one section to take territory from another and get some rewards.

Despite the much-needed additions, the second title was not well-received as the first one. Clear Sky offered enhanced graphics but suffered from bugs and performance-related issues. Most of the storyline's scenes and parts were rehashed from the Shadow of Chernobyl with only minor changes.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat

Release Date: February 2, 2010

Developer: GSC Game World

Platforms: Microsoft Windows

The Call of Pripyat is for the time being the final entry in the series. This title of the game is set right after the events of the Shadow of Chernobyl.

The plot of the game revolves around the interest in the Zone by the Ukraine government, which sends five helicopters to discover the territory and find any unusual artefacts.

The mission goes south, and all the helicopters crash. The player assumes the role of an SBU agent and former Stalker, Major Alexander Degtyarev, who goes to the Zone to investigate the accident.

During the mission, you will reveal secrets from the previous chapters, and by the time you complete the game, you will have a clear picture of all aspects of the game and its storyline.

Fundamentally, the third release of Stalker is not very different from the previous two and the core mechanics remain largely untouched.

In the third title, the upgrade system is better refined. It includes new, larger and more open areas than the smaller and more focused areas in the first two releases.

The Call of Pripyat also exhibits better stability with an appealing lack of bugs, and it provides a more open-world experience allowing players to explore more.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2

Release Date: TBD

Developer: GSC Game World

Platforms: Unconfirmed

The release of Stalker 2 has been surrounded by confusion. It was cancelled back in 2012 before being relaunched in 2018. It's expected to hit the shelves in 2021, but the details about the new release are scarce.

It’s likely the new game will be powered by the Unreal Engine 4 and will most likely be released for consoles as well.


While waiting for the release of Stalker 2, it might be a good idea to polish up on your skills with the three released versions to get the hang of the game and also get to experience why it has such a massive following.