Released by Viva Media in 2010 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat gives players another chance to explore the radioactive wilds of The Zone. This time around, you control Agent Alexander Degtyarev who is posing as a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to investigate the disappearance of five military helicopters.
Best time: 0:38:58 by Daniel 'rayvex' Babik on 2012-06-30, done in 16 segments appended to one file.
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Alright, to kick this off, some general notes about the game that might be worth mentioning in regards to speedrunning:
- AI in this game is VERY, VERY random. That means each time you start a new game (or enter a new area), AI positioning will basically be different (with the exception of a few set spawns like the 2 Stalkers right at the beginning of the game).
- Item drops from enemies are mostly random aswell with the only limitation being the actual items they are potentially able to drop.
- Artifacts are the major moneymakers in this game. Unlike the AI, artifact spawns seem to be semi-random (at least for the first set after starting a new game). I have yet to figure out the system behind it, but from what I've gathered there seem to be set patterns that the game randomly chooses from.
As a result, running CoP is somewhat luck dependant. Idealy you'll want to keep restarting the game until you have a good constellation that meets the requirements of the route you're using.
An interesting point about this game is that unlike SoC there is a certain point in the backpacks weight where stamina restoration weighs off running cost meaning that if you have less than 40% of the max weight utilized you'll end up having infinite stamina basically nullifying the need of energy drinks. Based on this you'll see me doing quite some backpack managing throughout the run (temporarily dropping items at certain places, picking them up again at a later point etc.)
Another thing that affects stamina is the loadout equipped to the player. Even if there's no difference in total weight carried, the player will have more stamina by placing weapons and bodysuits in the backpack rather than having them equipped.
In order to be able to finish the game, there is one mandatory purchase that has to be done which is the SEVA suit. It is one of the most expensive items in the game so the first part of the run incorporates getting all the necessary money for it. The second expensive factor is the travel costs between areas.
The key is obtaining the money as you proceed through the main quest without really taking time-costly detours. This was actually the biggest and most time-consuming part to plan during the process of running the game. After weighing up different approaches I came up with a very good, if not the optimal route that contains getting most of the stuff basically 'on the fly'.
Cutscenes in this game can be skipped by taking damage during them. This can happen in 2 ways:
A. The player gets hit by an enemy (any sort of AI in this game still moves and interacts even during cutscenes)
B. The player damages himself for example by using a grenade.
There are several cutscenes across the entire run that are skipped using the second method.
I guess that's it for the general stuff, moving on to the area specific explanations now.
Zaton [00:00 – 03:10]
Here's where it starts. Zaton is the area with the highest density of artifacts which means getting multiple artifacts within short time is best to do in this area. In order to be able to detect second-tier artifacts I killed the two Stalkers in the beginning and looted a Bear detector (which in fact is a random drop). So in order to use this route I had to consider 3 things which was 1. the Stalker dropping a Bear detector, 2. having perfect artifact spawns and 3. having a random group of Stalkers appear near the Circus Anomaly in order to quick travel back to Skadovsk after investigating Stingray 3. These were the 3 variables that made me restart the game numerous times before finally having it the way I needed.
Investigating Stingray 3 is actually the only plot relevant task in Zaton meaning that I ignored the other two crash sites. On my way to the southern plateau I stopped by the Underground Caves which was the first big money source in the run containing 2 artifacs and Barge's bodysuit. The invisible teleporter leading to the plateau is always present since the start of a new game so talking to Noah was not necessary. The second set of artifacts was found at the Circus Anomaly on my way to the Stalker group that led me to Skadovsk saving roughly 40 seconds compared to walking back on my own.
Jupiter [03:10 – 14:52]
The only plot relevant tasks in Jupiter are decrypting the blackbox, getting the Underpass documents and recruiting one guy for the squad that accompanies you through the Underpass. I've decided to go with Vano since his quest is by far the shortest and as a neat bonus also rewards the player with 5000RU when choosing to wipe out the bandits instead of actually paying the debt. Interesting fact here is that killing 4 specific bandits will end the quest meaning that I didn't have to wipe out the entire base saving a considerable amount of time. Again, a random Stalker was used to quick travel to Stingray 1 saving over a minute of walking time.
Getting the documents from the power plant was pretty straightforward. One thing that I had planned out was the actual order of getting the documents to ensure the fastest possible way. At 07:33 there's a little timesaver I did by jumping over a gap using a railing. Interestingly only 3 out of 5 documents are needed here. Unfortunately the cutscenes at the power plant seem to work differently and thus cannot be skipped for whatever reason.
I picked up a 3 stashes on my way back to Yanov that were right on the path of my route to sell the loot for money.
Talking to Grizzly back at Yanov and triggering the 'Hostage' quest using the diplomatic option will make him hand out a Goldfish artifact that is supposed to be used as ransom to rescue his friend Mitay. However, since it's not necessary to complete side-quests it basically acts as free money in this run saving a huge amount of time that I would normally need to gather that sum (13 grand!!!). Getting the SEVA suit is easily shortened by a few minutes using this simple trick.
Underpass [14:52 – 18:01]
The Underpass is the most straightforward part in the entire run. It's literally just running through as fast as possible. Killing both your companions here excludes them from a big cutscene at the beginning of Pripyat saving some major time.
Pripyat [18:01 – 22:01]
As mentioned above, the first the cutscene here was severely shortened by killing Zulu and Vano in the Underpass since they didn't get to play their roles which they normally would when being alive at this point.
Right at the beginning of the Gauss Rifle quest I killed the soldier in order to get his sniper rifle to take down the Monolith Leader since killing him with the AK is extremely inconsistent and also takes longer. I didn't have to wait for the instructions and positioning of the squad as entering the building beforehand will also trigger the Monolith's spawn. This is way faster than doing this quest the regular way and also has the advantage of the monolith fighters staying in their trance-like state causing no threat.
Back at the military base I entered the second room in order to trigger Garry's conversation with Sokolov. This way I was able to use Garry to travel back to Jupiter without any delays after talking to Colonel Kovalsky (Garry is not 'usable' as long as he is stuck in the conversation with Sokolov).
Jupiter (Part 2) [22:01 – 22:15]
I had to make a small 15 second stopover in Jupiter since I didn't have enough money to travel all the way back to Zaton using my current route. I sold the SEVA suit and the sniper to cover the travel costs for the rest of the game. I believe this is still the fastest way though since getting the 3000 RU that I was missing would've taken a significantly longer route earlier on in the game.
Zaton (Part 2) [22:15 – 25:34]
This is the part where Cardan loses his consciousness after showing him the gauss rifle. It takes a few hours of ingame time for him to wake up which is why I took a nap speeding up the process drastically. The important thing here is that Cardan won't pass out immediately but first enter an animation state. If you go to sleep while he's still in the animation the game will eventually glitch out and make it so that Cardan never wakes up again. I used that time frame to collect some stuff from the tables.
After the player takes a nap, Cardan comes back to his senses within a few seconds while his model is still stuck in the sleeping animation. This is why it actually looks like I talked to him when he was still sleeping eventhough he technically wasn't.
Nearby Stalkers led me to the underground lab and later back to Skadovsk saving roughly 2 and a half minutes.
Pripyat (Part 2) [25:34 – 42:36]
Right, this is easily the most boring and time consuming part of the run since there are a lot of quests that have to be done in order to proceed in the main story. The thing I had to plan here was the quest order to cover as little distance as possible. Almost every single quest in Pripyat has its own cutscene that I was able to skip using grenades.
The first thing I did was finding the missing recon unit that triggers the hardest quest in the run which is killing the monolith forces in the nearby bookstore. That quest required 13 precise headshots in order to finish it quickly which meant looting an Avalanche from one of the missing recon unit's soldiers just before the cutscene started. The ammo on that was just enough for the first set of monoliths in the bookstore which is why I swapped the Avalanche for a SGI-5k that was found in a nearby stash amongst 3 grenades that I needed for upcoming cutscenes.
Next quest was finding the missing sentry. I believe killing the controller with a rifle might be slightly quicker but the problem here is that his death triggers the cutscene almost immediately leaving no time for a weapon change. This way I had to pre-trigger a grenade for the skip before he was even dead. That was only possible by using grenades to kill him as they create a small time frame to work with before exploding.
On my way to Lab X8 I used a timesaver going up to the generator by walking on the outer edge of the windows past the fence that would normally block the way. After activating the generator, I was able to jump all the way down the elevator shaft thanks to the VERY generous fall damage physics in this game. Inside Lab X8 it is only necessary to get one random document of your choice in order to finish the quest. The route I chose included getting the Anabiotic drug that I needed for a 2 minutes skip later on. There is in fact a faster route for X8 by getting a different document near the electro anomaly. That route however excludes getting the Anabiotics costing 2 minutes later on in exchange for a merely 10 second faster route.
The next quest was where the Anabiotics came into play. Right after meeting Strelok, a long cutscene will start that includes a triggered emission that cannot be prevented. However, even though the emission is triggered it is treated just like a regular one meaning that it's skippable by using the Anabiotics saving roughly 2 minutes.
Last but not least: the final mission. This one works in a way that if the player reaches a certain point it will trigger the timer for the evacuation. That means that abandoning the military squad and running ahead actually speeded up the process of getting rescued and finishing the game.
That's pretty much it. This is kind of a brief set of comments as I could've gone way more into detail but I didn't want to write a novel so you'll have to live with that :P
Lastly, I would like to thank the following people:
- Onin for helping me with the run regarding planning and testing
- Lawyer Dog for finding out that it's possible to skip cutscenes
- Thomas for his absolutely awesome CoP survival guide that made planning and routing sooo much easier (link: http://cop.zsg.dk/)
1..............00:00 - 01:58............Start to Stingray 3................
2..............01:58 - 03:59............Stingray 3 to Jupiter..............
3..............03:59 - 04:43............Yanov Station to Stingray 1........
4..............04:43 - 08:47............Stingray 1 -> Bandits -> Documents.
5..............08:47 - 14:52............Back to Yanov, Zulu................
6..............14:52 - 19:33............Underpass + Pripyat Intro..........
7..............19:33 - 22:01............Getting Gauss from Monolith........
8..............22:01 - 22:15............Selling SEVA and Sniper @ Yanov....
9..............22:15 - 24:35............Skadovsk to Testing Workshop.......
10.............24:35 - 25:35............Back to Skadovsk -> Pripyat........
11.............25:35 - 26:16............Missing recon unit.................
12.............26:16 - 27:09............Monoliths @ bookstore..............
13.............27:09 - 29:03............Missing Sentry, way to Lab X8......
14.............29:03 - 29:50............Lab X8.............................
15.............29:50 - 32:48............Report to Kovalsky -> pick up c4...
16.............32:48 - 42:36............Kindergarten, Strelok, Rescue......
Note: Only autosaves were used for segmentation, no manual saves.
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