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How to enjoy S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl with mods as a first-timer

A Guide on How to Enjoy S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl with mods as a first-timer

This is a comprehensive guide on how to enjoy S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl with mods as a first-timer. Shadow of Chernobyl is one of the greatest survival-horror RPGs ever created and it has aged relatively well for a game from 2007.

However, there are things about the game that are noticeably dated by today’s standards. Let’s overhaul the game with mods and make it enjoyable while keeping the vanilla feel intact.

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A note before we proceed

There is something that must be addressed before talking about modding S.T.A.L.K.E.R. There are tens of thousands of elitists out there who insist you must play the vanilla game first with no mods. Many say that it’s the way the developers intended for it to be played.


However, the vanilla Shadow of Chernobyl we love and play today is not actually what the developers originally intended. The game went through development hell and the final product was downgraded from what was originally planned.

So, even without mods, you’re not really playing what the developers had in mind. However, those who tell you to play the game vanilla have good reasons to do so.

Even though the final version of the game was not what was originally thought of, the vanilla game’s atmosphere is unmatched and it holds up to this day. This is why I also advise going as vanilla as possible when playing this game.

But not installing any mods is not really a rational thing to do. That’s because there are countless mods that fix and add much-needed things to the game.

This guide will be all about how you can mod the game to enjoy it to the fullest while keeping as much of the vanilla game’s feel intact.

The Mods you need

A Guide on How to Enjoy S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl with mods as a first-timer

There are only a few mods that you may install for the game, and they aren’t as complicated as, say, modding The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim game.

I will not post the installation instructions for these mods because they are clearly shown in the descriptions of the mods you’re going to download.

A prerequisite

After installing the game, browse to its directory and find the document called “fsgame.ltx.” Edit the document, replacing the “false” under “$game_data$” with “true”. This allows a folder called “Gamedata” to be used by the game. When you install a mod, it goes into this directory. Without the edit, your mods will not work.

The essential Zone Reclamation Project patch

This tiny patch fixes loads of issues with the game, and it’s a must-have for any player. Installing this will be mandatory for a playthrough with little-to-no crashes and glitches. Download it here.

Absolute Nature and Absolute Structures

These two graphics mods overhaul the vanilla game, making it look significantly better. Absolute Nature adds new, lore-friendly weather effects and vastly improves what’s already in the game. These improvements range from visual to audio.

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Absolute Structures improves many textures of the game’s architecture and more. While it’s not essential, it’s made by the same developer as Absolute Nature, and it’s great when they’re paired together.

These two are the only graphics mods we will install. Also, be careful if you choose to install more mods other than the ones named in this list because you will most likely face crashes.

Download it here.

Original Weapons Renewal mod

This mod is optional if you don’t want improvements to the vanilla weapons. The vanilla gunplay of Shadow of Chernobyl is still quite good, honestly. If you’d like to experience it first, do not include this mod and the ones that are associated with it.

Original Weapons Renewal mod adds high-quality textures for all the weapons, improving their appearance significantly. Also, the weapon animations, handling, and even sound have all been replaced with new, overhauled ones. This mod makes the gunplay much more enjoyable, and it’s probably the best weapon mod out there for SoC.

Be sure to install the “ZRP compatibility patch” along with OWR. Without it, the game will not work correctly. It’s available on the mod’s page. The link is given here.

Russian Audio

Unfortunately, the cinematic cutscenes will not have subtitles, even with the InGameCC mod.

This mod is optional. It replaces the dialogue of the game with Russian audio, making the game more immersive. However, there will be no subtitles (the next mod solves that) and there will be sections of the game where you won’t understand what’s going on. Unless you’re Russian, of course.



This is a subtitle mod for the game. Now, you will clearly understand the Russian dialogue that was added with the last mod. But the cinematic cutscenes will still not have subtitles. So, you may not install Russian Audio until your next playthrough, if you want to clearly understand the game.

But adding InGameCC is useful nonetheless because it will be easier to understand what many characters are saying. It even translates the existing Russian voice lines of the game.

The provided link below has the InGameCC version that’s compatible with ZRP. If you install the regular version, your game will simply crash, so the below version is what you need.


The Takeaway

These are the mods that I recommend. Each of them is compatible with each other. They will make the game less frustrating and get rid of the inconveniences of the vanilla game. If you install any other mods, be careful because those that are incompatible will cause crashes.

If you’d like to make the game even more immersive, turn off the music. The sounds of the environment and weather effects are very clear when music is disabled, and some players prefer the immersion. However, the music is also quite good, so you may want to turn it off in the second playthrough.

For the best experience, I like to use a pair of high-quality headphones, turn off the lights and just lose myself in this beautiful game. With its atmosphere and immersion, you will feel like you are a part of the Zone in no time.