Thanks to the free-to-play Anomaly mod, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise is now more popular than ever. But there are newcomers who jump into Anomaly or its most popular mudpack, GAMMA, instead of playing the original trilogy by GSC Game World. These are the reasons why you should play the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R trilogy before playing Anomaly/GAMMA.
Why S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Anomaly and GAMMA are so popular
There are people who call Anomaly, the best S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game out there. I myself am an Anomaly player and I agree that it has the best gameplay elements out of all three original games. With sandbox gameplay featuring all the maps from every game, including the cut content and more, Anomaly is the perfect survival horror game. And to top it all off, it’s completely free to play.
GAMMA is one of the greatest and my personal favorite modpack for Anomaly. It’s carefully curated and perfectly set up for easy installation, and the quality of the game is impeccable, both visually and from a gameplay perspective.
As you may understand, the popularity of Anomaly is completely justified thanks to the level of freedom and customizable nature of the game. But there are countless players who skip the original games and start playing Anomaly. While it certainly isn’t a crime, it’s hardly the way to experience S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
Granted, there is no “correct” way of playing the game, as the consumer is free to choose what he plays, and when he wants to do so. But Anomaly was made for players who want more of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. after finishing the trilogy.
Why the trilogy is important
This is a question with a few simple answers. The lore, locations, characters, anomalies, artifacts, and plot points are all in the original trilogy starting from Shadow of Chernobyl.
Anomaly is a mix of it all, and it features every location, character, anomaly, and artifact, among other things. If you are to play Anomaly without playing the trilogy first, you’re missing out on the chance to gradually learn and understand the games.
Unlike Anomaly, the trilogy doesn’t throw everything it’s got at you from the very start. Instead, through quests and environmental storytelling, it reveals things in a way that’s convenient and fun for the player. It’s the same case with characters and their stories. Many characters in Anomaly are ones that return from the trilogy.
Most importantly, the narrative of the trilogy is miles better than the ‘story’ of Anomaly which is basically parts borrowed from the original games. And Anomaly is completely non-canon and modpacks like GAMMA can also be downright lore-unfriendly.
It’s because of these reasons, among others, which you will understand by playing the trilogy, that you must be an experienced stalker to visit the Zone again.
Another reason for you to play the original trilogy is because of the highly-anticipated sequel to them, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl which will be released in early 2024. While it’s not mandatory for you to have completed the trilogy in order to enjoy S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, the official website says that it will make for an even more satisfying experience if you already are familiar with the Zone and its stories.
And everyone should keep in mind that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is not a sequel to mods and that it’s a sequel to the original trilogy.
I wrote this article because of the popularity of Anomaly and GAMMA, and because playing the original trilogy will make playing the mods all the more enjoyable. Gameplay-wise, Anomaly is near perfect. GAMMA, even more so. You will come to appreciate the effort of the modders more after playing the trilogy completely.
Here’s an order for you to play the games: Always start with Shadow of Chernobyl. Then play Clear Sky, which is a prequel to the original game. Finally, play Call of Pripyat, which is the most polished official game. It’s completely fine to play them with mods. However, sticking as much to vanilla is recommended because of the unmatched atmosphere of all three games. Then you can install and enjoy Anomaly or GAMMA.
Join the official S.T.A.L.K.E.R. GAMMA Discord server to download the game. https://discord.com/invite/stalker-gamma