The Faction Wars are a major part of the gameplay in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky. As the name implies, different Stalker factions are involved in bloody struggling for land and treasure. The player can opt to join some of the factions and assist them.
Factions and locations Edit
- Clear Sky - Renegades, fighting for land in the Great Swamp.
- Loners - Bandits, fighting for control of the Garbage, as well as freeing or keeping prisoners.
- Duty - Freedom, engaged in fighting over principles and ideals, situated in Agroprom and the Dark Valley.
To a much lesser extent, the army, the mercenaries and Monolith also get involved in the wars. However aside from Scar returning to being a Mercenary after completing the Great Swamp, you cannot join any of these other factions.
How it worksEdit
Faction wars are all about capturing and holding enemy strongholds which are the entrances to their base's area while protecting your own and assaulting their main base. Capturing these offer you safe passage and increased manpower and resource; the more you control the more supplies your faction has.
The first part will be how many stalkers you currently have in your faction, this increases as you control more territories. The more stalkers you have, the better you are at being reinforced and the more they can send out there.
The second part is resources, resources will gauge how well-equipped your stalkers are and this increases as you control more territories. If your resources are low, your stalkers won't be equipped with anything heavy and will usually be confined to Tier 1 assault rifles and armor, if you have very high resources your faction will send better equipped stalkers out ranging from Tier 2 armored individuals to those wearing an Exoskeleton equipped with high-end weaponry. However this is still different faction-to-faction. Bandits for example will never have any Exoskeletons and Duty always has superior firepower to any other faction, assuming one is not helping Freedom.
Overview of each battleEdit
Here are the things you should expect when taking sides in faction wars:
This is the only faction war you are forced to partake in, Clear Sky needs to drive the Renegades off the Swamps in order to continue their operations unhindered and you automatically take Clear Sky's side by default. The Renegades aren't armed with anything better than a Heckler & Koch MP5 and most of them won't have any armor capable of stopping pistol rounds. By far this will be the easiest war you'll partake in. You will have to keep the renegades from capturing the Fishing Hamlet and capture their main base: the Machine Yard. All you have to do at first is secure the pump station and several other territories: The Burnt farmstead, Northern farmstead, Southern farmstead and the Old Church, all others will be secondary targets.
After securing the Machine Yard, you will then secure the southern farmstead to gain access to the Cordon. Once you exit the swamps, you are automatically a Mercenary again and free to partake in the other faction's matters if you so desire.
Rewards for capturing the main base: CS-3a Body Armor.
You will have the option of joining the Loner's faction immediately after helping Father Valerian with his problem with the kidnapping of Major Khaletskiy. Your only opposition will be the Bandit faction, which is fairly weak and mediocre in number. It is also very easy to take out the Bandit base, as you only have to secure a few positions in the Cordon and Garbage. This faction is often the best choice for the player if he wants to partake in the faction wars and still not create a difficult path for himself later on, since you will run into Freedom and Duty on several occasions later on.
Taking out the Bandit base can be fairly easy, the only problem you may encounter are the two small squads near the entrance to the base, which are under strong cover, you'll have little to no cover to take these two groups out. After taking care of these two squads, the actual base itself is fairly easy, you have some strong cover, and most Bandits will just pour out of the base in single file, ready for you to take them out. Since they are all very low in armor and firepower, even low tier weaponry will make quick work of them. A few Bandits will be on the catwalks near the back of the base, requiring you to move in and take them out, but the majority of the Bandits will walk right into your crosshair.
Advantages to joining the LonersEdit
- Quick and easy way to make early game money farming the bandits that constantly attack Cordon or Agroprom.
- You will not affect your relationships with Duty or Freedom.
- You can leave the Loners to join Duty or Freedom later on.
- When the faction war is finished, you will have nearly no enemies, except for scripted Renegades, Mutants, and Bandits, which, however, won't come out from their own base, being stopped not only by Loners, but also by Duty members.
- You can obtain a SEVA suit early in the game, which is extremely helpful on the Master difficulty setting.
- Loners across the zone can become more well equipped and experienced depending on how well you maintain your faction.
Disadvantages to joining the LonersEdit
- Joining the faction too early will lose your earlier chances of fully upgrading the SEVA Suit – as the Bandit technician is the only one who can fully upgrade it.
- All Bandits will turn hostile to you.
- The Loner base is located far away from the events later in the game, making backtracking for reward money a hassle. However you will only get a few hundred rubles for helping them anyway.
- You will be called for help often, especially at Agroprom or early on in the Garbage.
- If the player would like to join Duty or Freedom after completing the Loners' war, he can face the Loners' squads holding the points needed to be taken in the faction war. This can be, however, avoided, if the player allows Bandits/mutants to kill Loners before joining Duty/Freedom, or if the player will destroy the Bandits base right after the control on the Garbage is obtained.
- The Loner's war is the second easiest behind Clear Sky vs Renegades. In turn, this doesn't make it profitable and challenging.
You can join the bandits after assisting Yoga with his 3-part job and after you've flooded the Agroprom underground.The Bandits are definitely the hardest faction to assist and dominate with. They lack high-end weaponry, heavy armor, numbers and overall resources. In addition to the Loners hostile to you: Duty will also shoot you on sight and Freedom will shoot other Bandits, but not you. Your objective is to capture the entrances to the Cordon and defend your side and then eliminate the Loners in their main base.
A quick guide for winning the Bandit faction war
- Make a save game before joining or starting a quest from the commander as this is one of the most buggy faction wars.
- The best time to join the bandits is after you proceed in the storyline where you're tasked to go into the factory with your psi-emission protection gear. There will be a point where a group of Lone stalkers are suppose to help you get there, but if you joined the Bandits they'll fire upon seeing you and you can't kill them as they're invulnerable. If that happens you won't be able to proceed further into the game unless you reload a previous save. You can however, do the 3 missions the Bandit leader gives you prior to letting you join the faction, since the player can only join Bandits or other factions, after the sewers is flooded from the main story line.
- When you first enter Garbage, you must NOT fight any bandits even when they all want to mug you at every turn. You should instead run the heck away while trying to avoid being shot at when they stop you and ask for your money. There's no point in caving in either, since they will constantly continue to try and mug you until you join their faction or you finally decided to kill them all together, making them your enemy.
- Sometimes the Bandit leader won't even let you join their faction (missing or broken dialogue option to join them) until you're actually mugged at least once at Garbage
- The first quest the Bandit leader gives you can bug your game if you don't let him finish his long speech after you accomplish the task of killing the guy. If you head for the loot while he's still talking you'll get out of range and cutting him off altogether making you unable to get the 2nd mission
- On the 2nd mission it's best to head off to the flea market at Garbage and just clear the occupants there before doing the 2nd quest. The 3rd quest he'll give you requires you to clear the Flea market, but the puny bandits he provides you with for the assault tends to die asap before you can even lead the charge, rendering the quest to bug as there won't be a second group of bandits heading your way to occupy the empty Flea market that you cleared out. You should also rush to the flea market while not bothering to loot the corpses from the 2nd mission. Flea market tends to repopulate fast.
- When you finally finish the main storyline and flooded the sewers you can now join the Bandit faction
- The missions he gives the players after joining the faction involves capturing and holding key position in Garbage until reinforcements comes to claim the area as part of the Bandits. However the player should prioritize in establishing an unbroken chain of encampments: starting from West of Bandit Depot, South West, then leading South to the Cordon. If the players don't plan ahead and just go whichever way the player wants, the player will soon be facing an upward battle of reclaiming territories from Duty, Freedom and the Stalkers.
- If you see a group about to attack any of those encampments from West, South West, and South head over there asap and stop the attack before it happens. It will save you from having to wait for a reinforcement group coming from the depot to reclaim the area, while exposing you for another counter attack from different key position
- Once the hurdle of somewhat claiming Garbage for bandits is over, another hurdle is to finally go to the Cordon and the Neutral village (center of the map or where you go to to join the Lone Stalkers). The Bandit leader will give you the mission to go and attack Cordon when it's time.
- When attacking Cordon, it's all about speed. The stalkers will constantly send groups to retake the outposts in Cordon and the player would want to wait for a bandit to hold the outpost before heading out. If the player by any time get's the mission to assault the Neutral Village, go there asap. Once the player do clear out Neutral Village the player can consider the Bandit war finished and can go back to the Depot to claim the rewards. Don't even consider to try and wipe out the entire Cordon for the Bandits as it is nigh impossible with the infinite speedy respawns that's located too near the Neutral Village and the bridge.
- Also the player can join the Stalker faction afterwards, if the player left the commander, info/merchant, and the mechanic alone at the Neutral Village. It shouldn't be too hard to regain their favors when you can just repeatedly attack Depot to get them to like you.
- Another thing to consider before joining the Stalkers or a different faction, is to advance the storyline until you get to speak with the scientist (Sakharov) at Yantar and purchase a SEVA Suit (one of the best armor with anomaly protection) from him and have it fully upgraded from the Bandits mechanic, as he's the only mechanic in the game that can do so. The only other time you can get a SEVA Suit early in game is from joining Stalkers and assaulting the Bandits hideout (Depot), in which case you can't upgrade it anyways the Bandits will fully hate you, or if you're really really lucky you can buy one from the Bandits merchant when you hand in a flash drive with info on the SEVA Suit to the mechanic. It will only appear for purchase one time only and you'll need about 27k to buy it. If it appears and you can't afford it, it won't appear again.
Advantages to joining the banditsEdit
- Getting your hands on GP 37 with high accuracy, damage, and it uses the common 5.56x45mm, making headshots a breeze while ammo can be easily scavenged.
- You have access to the Black Kite.
- Tooth will on occasions have high-end ammunition in stock and may sell a VSS Vintorez or AS VAL at the lowest prices available.
- You control the biggest buffer zone in the Zone.
- The only mechanic to fully upgrade a SEVA suit
- Bragging rights for closing off one of the most buggiest chapters in the whole game
- Action at every turn and so much of it that it'll be annoying.
Disadvantages to joining the banditsEdit
- The most buggy faction in the game that will require the player to reload previous saves many times and spend a lot of effort in order to reap the rewards.
- You will be able to join Bandits' side only after completing the Agroprom part of the main quest. Which means Duty, Freedom, and Loner factions will already be fighting at the Garbage, making the war much more difficult.
- Your faction will normally be second to the last on the faction strength list, just above the Renegades. Even if you managed to win the war and secure total domination over the Loners, you'll rarely get close Duty and Freedom's numbers.
- The Loners and Duty are hostile to you. The former is the most widespread throughout the zone, the latter has the best equipment out of any faction.
- While you are neutral with Freedom, Freedom will attack other bandits on sight and normally you will be forced to attack them in defense, in turn making you hostile to every faction in the game save for the Renegades and Clear Sky.
- Often you won't be able to rely on your allies, as they never have armor that can stop even pistol bullets.
Duty's side Edit
You have the option of joining Duty once you've flooded the underground, where if you accept you will receive an OTs-14 Groza and a PSZ-9d Duty Suit. Duty by far has the easiest time with the faction war. Their boys will usually be equipped with upgraded high-end weaponry and there will usually be an Exoskeleton or PSZ-9d Duty Armor wearing stalker in the group. You won't have to assist Duty very often with territory defense since they can handle it without much trouble, seeing as Freedom won't have many powerful weapons at this stage.
At first your task is securing Agroprom and taking over the entrances to the dark valley from Freedom, it won't be that hard since Freedom won't give much resistance as by this time, Exoskeletons and Veterans will start converging to the Dark Valley. Taking the base is less simple: There are snipers on the ground, and if you aren't careful they can easily end you from a distance. After you've dealt with the outer perimeter guards: proceed to the hangar and you'll end the campaign after you've neutralized all resistance there.
Advantages to joining DutyEdit
- They're the most well-supplied faction overall.
- They can hold the line without asking for your assistance very often.
- Most troops will come out as veterans and experts.
- Ready access to some of the best Eastern Bloc weapons in the game.
- After joining the Duty, the faction's trader, Mitay, will be able to sell you Bulat, heavy Duty armour, and Exoskeleton with no markup.
Disadvantages to joining DutyEdit
- If before joining Duty you passed Loners' faction war, you will have to kill some Loners, that could have taken some points needed to be taken in "Duty vs. Freedom" war.
- Their side of the conflict is easy (in comparison to others), removing challenge and it won't be very profitable.
- Freedom and the bandits hate you.
- Their armor is standard at best, and most of their weapons have sub-par accuracy.
- Will make continuing the main storyline more difficult, as you will run into Freedom on a few occasions.
- You cannot ask Hog for Freedom's help when attacking the base in the Army Warehouses, making this extremely difficult.
Freedom's side Edit
You can join Freedom after assisting them defeating the Mercenaries in the Dark Valley and after you've assisted General Krylov. After you have joined you will receive a SIG SG-550 upgraded to mount a SUSAT-Scope and a Guardian of Freedom Suit. Freedom's side is the hardest in this conflict as Duty outguns them hands-down, your advantage is that they have a lot of stalkers to send into the fray. At first you have to secure all exits of the Dark Valley if they aren't secured yet. Then you begin to push into the Garbage, capturing the embankment to the north (which leads to the Army Warehouses in CS, and Rostok in SOC) and can optionally capture the Flea Market. You then push further towards the Agroprom Research Institute (Duty's base of operations) and are required to capture and hold all entrances to the Agroprom until reinforcements arrive. After all entrances are secured you can make your push into Duty territory. There are two camps at the entrance to capture and hold until you can make your final push towards the base of Duty. Note that once you DO secure the entrances in Agroprom, you will have a real hard time of ambushing the hoards of heavily armed Duty stalkers attempting to take their territories as Freedom squads have a low chance of repelling an attack against Duty.
Freedom squads are generally less well equipped compared to their Duty counterparts. They do not use their sniper rifles effectively, e.g. seek higher ground and snipe at a distance but instead engage in close combat with weapons not made for such short distances. Duty squads are sometimes lead by an exoskeleton wearing veterans with a PKM who is singlehandedly able to take on to Freedom squads alone, especially at higher difficulties. Once you have secured the Duty base, the Freedom squads are often unable to hold the Agroprom and most of the Garbage without your help due to the constant stream of Duty squads.
- Duty squads are usually not equipped with sniper rifles or NATO weaponry, but with less accurate Warsaw Pact Weapons, so the safest bet to take them down is to secure a higher position and snipe the squads from afar.
- The Duty base can easily be bombarded with grenades from the hill the Agroprom Research Underground exit is, as charging head front is not recommended. This spot is also perfect for sniping the Duty base.
- Charging from the entrance that leads north to Yantar is also a good strategy as there are only a few guards stationed there. Then use the street to this entrance as a bottle neck.
- Bring lots of ammo with you for your rifle and bring some extra 5.45x39 rounds in the event you can't re-supply yourself.
- Bring lots of medical supplies; this will be bloody.
- NATO weapons converted to fire 5.45x39 will ensure that you have the range advantage over your enemy and never run out of ammo.
Advantages to joining FreedomEdit
- Ready access to the SVD and SVU sniper rifles, along with 7.62x54mm ammo for it, and 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.
- Your armors are centered around maneuverability than strength.
- The Freedom Exoskeleton.
- Your only enemy by default is Duty.
- Your weaponry is typically superior.
- By default, you are the largest faction.
- You see plenty of action, thus a profitable and exciting war.
- As long as you see combat against Duty 5.45x39mm ammunition is extremely easy to find.
Disadvantages to joining FreedomEdit
- If before joining Freedom you passed Loners' faction war, you will have to kill some Loners, that could have taken some points needed to be taken in Duty vs. Freedom war.
- Freedom will lose ground against Duty rather quickly unless assisted.
- Freedom stalkers aren't armed with upgraded weaponry unless they are experts.
- Lack of deployed Experts.
- Despite being neutral to bandits: Freedom stalkers will always attack bandits on sight.
- Will make continuing the main storyline slightly more difficult, as you will run into Duty on a few occasions. A detachment of veteran Duty stalkers are camped in the Red Forest by default, you will have to fight your way through the camp by Forester and Duty will constantly harass it.
- This can be the second hardest faction war in the game.
Because squads will eventually respawn, without the player's intervention, a faction can lose a lot of ground if the enemy simply keeps respawning infinitely and whittle down their numbers. This is especially prominent in the Garbage if one takes over the Depot while affiliated with the Loners, as the Bandits will eventually take it back again and again even after they were supposedly "chased out" of the Garbage. This is also visible, but far less prominent, in Agroprom, where Bandits will always attack the Loner base at the center of the map both from the west and the east. However because the Loners also respawn infinitely, it's a lot easier to hold this area. This also becomes a very easy way to acquire infinite rubles if one has joined the Loners. You can loot the corpses of either faction and sell the loot to Thrush. Your reputation with the Loners will not be hurt no matter how many of their corpses you loot.
Due to a strange bug, possibly due to having too many side quests or joining Loners at a certain time, a series of quests related to taking ground in Cordon could result in the Trophy Akm 47/2 becoming impossible to acquire. If one attempts to take quests from Loner squad leaders, they will inform the player they have no quests to give them, even if they have not yet acquired this gun or taken all the ground in the Cordon.
- The only way to have as few factions hostile against you as possible is to simply not join a faction. However, if one still wants to reap the benefits of joining one, the Loners are the best choice as they are widespread throughout the entire zone and only have 1 hostile faction: the Bandits.
- Becoming friends (when they start appearing as green dots on the minimap) with a faction does not produce the same results as joining them. For example, if one becomes friends with Freedom, Ashot will not sell you special equipment. However you will still get small discounts on repairs, purchases, and guides.
- Because the developers highly intended the player to join a faction at one point, if one decides to not join a faction (or to join the Loners) you will not get any guns better than the TRs 301 until you get to the Army Warehouses, which is very close to the end of the game. By this point, a mid tier assault rifle becomes more and more outdated. The only way to get a better gun without joining a faction is to kill a member of a faction who has a better gun. However this will almost always turn you hostile to said faction.
- Joining the Loners gives you the least unique and ultimately least useful rewards. All you get is a Bubble, SEVA Suit, and a Veles Detector. All of them can be acquired without joining the Loners, and by joining Loners too early it becomes impossible to fully upgrade the SEVA Suit anyway. However if one is an avid artifact hunter, they will come in handy. Sadly as artifacts do not respawn after an emission in Clear Sky, they all eventually become useless.
- Joining the Bandits gives you the most unique, powerful, and valuable rewards. You get a Bulldog 6, a GP-37, and access to the Black Kite, all of which are top tier guns in their respective classes. They too can be acquired without joining Bandits, with the exception being possibly the Black Kite, but all of them can only be acquired much later into the game. In addition, becoming hostile with the Bandits means you can never fully upgrade the SEVA Suit.
- Due to the fact the Garbage is highly contested by 4 different factions, if the player does not intervene and act for one faction while becoming hostile to all others, ultimately Duty will take most of it over as they have the best equipment out of any faction and will slowly creep their way over the Garbage. Only positions held by Loners will not be attacked, but they will be taken over if the Loners die from a mutant attack and a squad to replace them does not arrive before Duty does.