|“|| 'These creatures ceased being human: they have no cognitive abilities, and so their behavior is the result of whatever remains of their purely animal instincts.'|
- Professor Sakharov's explanation on the origins of zombies.
Zombified Stalkers appear in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat. They are in fact similar to the player, yet brainwashed into attacking him. They do not have any superhuman or mutated abilities, but are unable to talk or to turn back.
Zombies are made by the "Psi Field" given off by psi emitters such as the Brain Scorcher in Lab X-19 and the Miracle Machine in Lab X16; when unprotected Stalkers are exposed to Psi emissions for a sufficient period of time, they start "to lose their minds". This results from irreversible damage to the higher functions of the brain, eventually resulting in a Zombified Stalker.
Stalkers approaching the "Miracle Machine" Emitter of Lab X16 in the factory complex at Yantar reported that once they get close to the gate, they began to hear voices and hallucinate. Following this they felt their brains literally boiling and melting inside their skulls, and they felt weak. If you are lucky enough to get away from the Psi field with your brain intact, you may also suffer from some detrimental side effects of exposure; for example, some Stalkers reported that they temporarily forgot their names after escaping the factory in time.
As such, zombified Stalkers can be consisted of unfortunate human beings. Bandits, Loners, Mercenaries, and even members of Freedom and Duty have all fallen victim. They lack the ability to differentiate former foes and are united in a bizarre fashion due to the destruction of their brain functions.
Stalkers from all factions across the Zone may become Zombified, except those from Monolith. Monolithians are an odd case, in that while they display some signs of being zombified, they still retain tactical knowledge and some measure of sentience; it can be assumed that this is the result of their influence by the C-Consciousness.
As seen at the end of Clear Sky's events, Monolith soldiers may be normal stalkers that have been 'indoctrinated' or brainwashed into protecting the C-Consciousness and the Wish Granter. Due to the Brain Scorcher's effects and prolonged exposure to radiation and Psi-Emissions, they may lose control of much of their humanity, and this may explain why many appear to resemble zombified stalkers. Many zombies can be seen wearing Monolith uniforms, which suggests that the process that created them causes long term degeneracy and brain damage and the C-Consciousness brainwashing lasts only as long as the victims mind.
Zombified Stalkers posess the equivalent intellect of a caveman, add to this a loss of higher brain functions, destruction of pain receptors and loss of most memory and reason, Zombified Stalkers are more like hollow shells or husks of what once was. The fact many Zombies still posess the ability to use weaponry and equipment means that at least on a rudimentary level, some brain functions remain but are gradually lost over time. How zombified stalkers are not killed outright by massive doses of radiation present in every area they are found in however, is still not known.
Controllers can also turn hapless Stalkers into Zombies by reaching into their minds and making them lose control of their brains until they become Zombified.
According to Professor Sakharov, these zombie stalkers in turn rely on whatever remains of their animal instincts, such as hunting and feeding.
Zombified stalkers however, still retain their skills to operate mechanical devices, such as firearms although they can't aim it like regular stalkers where they often inaccurately spray-and-pray their weapons from the hip. They can even reload their weapons, suggesting some basic abilities to survive are retained.
Although Zombified Stalkers are still able to use their firearms and even reload them, they are fairly stupid, and will often charge right in the middle of a firefight without cover, walking and firing from the hip. Upon encountering zombified stalkers one can hear them murmuring bits of meaningless phrases, establishing that zombies are incapable of coherent speech. In time, the zombie stalker's mind will eventually decay to a point where it will turn into a full fledged Zombie, unable to even operate mechanical devices anymore and rely on their arms and teeth for attacks.
Their inability to feel pain allows unaffected armed characters to shoot at them from a far distance without alerting them. Zombified Stalkers will not notice this, unless someone gets too close to them.
Zombified Stalkers do not seem to possess the knowledge on how to avoid Anomalies as they often walk blindly into one and often perish.
However, even though they lack tactical and logical awareness, "idle" zombified Stalkers can somehow run away from a thrown grenade and take cover. For some reason, this isn't present for husks that are attacking.
Sometimes one may spot zombified stalkers around a campfire, sticking their hands out towards the fire and react from the pain by retracting their hands. This may be a sign that they still hold some form of self preservation or are trying to regain their lost consciousness.
If not shot in the head but has taken sufficient damage, a zombie Stalker will fall on the ground and continously convulse until finally killed.
In combat, zombie stalkers are most dangerous when they see a target, as their utter disregard for personal safety results in a relentless assault, giving a stalker no time to recover if ill-prepared; in contrast, ordinary stalkers would usually seek cover upon engaging a target. Zombies however, are utterly inaccurate when shooting at long range and so it's most advisable to take them out from a distance. Zombies also have distinctive grey bandages tied around their mouths. Most stalkers seen without a gasmask have similar shrouds over their mouth and noses, as a very makeshift filter against dust, or possibly just to keep warm. In Call of Pripyat, Zombies are never seen wearing gas masks, helmets or even hoods, suggesting they instinctively try and remove anything on their heads.
Curiously, these brain-dead Stalkers can turn on their flashlights which often gives away their position (though upon being killed, the light also turns off).
Although they are mindless zombies, Zombified Stalkers are actually quite capable with weaponry and can pose a significant threat, even when one is only facing a small number of them. Despite firing their weaponry from the hip, zombie stalkers are quite accurate, especially in large numbers, thus making it inadvisable to get too close for a headshot unless you are undetected.
They also seem to be tougher than their normal human counterparts, most likely because they do not feel pain; Zombified Stalkers do not flinch no matter how many times they are shot, and unless they are shot in the head (which does not receive armour benefits), they can easily survive several shotgun shells to the torso, or even 2-3 magazines of assault rifle rounds. Zombified stalkers are sometimes even capable of surviving a headshot with a handgun, though this most usually incapacitates them, requiring either a knife wound or one more bullet to kill. It should be noted, however, that given enough time, an incapacitated zombie will stand back up again. The best way of dispatching zombies is the stereotypical bullet to the head, as the head of any stalker does not receive the defensive benefits that armour gives. Grenades can also be used effectively against zombified stalkers, since they can't run in their zombified state and will not escape the blast. The use of armour piercing rounds may decrease the number of rounds needed to kill a zombie, barring headshots, although considering zombies slow and predictable movement patterns, using armor piercing rounds for body shots is a tremendous waste, as it is by no means difficult to score a headshot.
Though Zombified Stalkers may not immediately react to the player's presence due to slowed reactions and lowered levels of sight and hearing compared to mentally healthy ones, Zombified Stalkers should under no circumstances be ignored if one intends to explore an area in which they are present. In addition, zombified stalkers can very easily turn an otherwise trivial threat such as an aggressive Flesh or mutated boar, into an avalanche of prolonged fire fighting, as they will, just like actual stalkers, react aggressively to the sound of gunfire.
A good tactic, if you want to avoid combat, is to use a rifle and dispatch them from a distance (a shot to the head will down one). This is especially useful in harder difficulty settings. Moreover, they move slowly (and in clustered groups in many cases) thus throwing a grenade is highly recommended to quickly finish them off as they will never run from these explosives.
Alternatively, if one is fast enough and can withstand damage, he can run through an anomaly and lure these husks to a trap.
Shadow of Chernobyl
Zombified Stalkers can be found predominantly in areas near or next to a Psi Emitter, such as Yantar and Lab X16, the Wild Territory (near the entrance to Yantar), the Red Forest and the Brain Scorcher of Lab X-19, and even Pripyat.
Zombified Stalkers can be first encountered in the Agroprom Research Institute (near the entrance to Yantar) where the player helps a group of Loners. Later, they can be encountered in Yantar and Red Forest.
Call of Pripyat
Zombified Stalkers can be encountered in all 3 areas of the game (especially after the Blowouts), spawning randomly in every location. Interestingly, if the player grabs the Rough Tools from Sawmill in Zaton without killing the Zombies there, they will become much more common in the game.
- Although it is said that any stalkers caught in a psy emission will have his brains scrambled and be turned into a Zombified Stalker, it was never seen in any of the games. In Clear Sky, stalkers will always seek cover, and anyone scripted to stay outside will be removed from the game until the emission is over. In Call of Pripyat, emissions simply kill anyone who happens to be outside during them, except for quest/plot important characters who seem to be completely immune.
- The Zombified stalkers in Call of Pripyat can sometimes be found crouched around a fire pit, murmuring meaningless words to each other, this can be a sign that they still hold some form of humanity, and attempt to communicate with each other. Around barrel fires, they'll stick out their hands into the heat in order to keep warm.They have some kind of life form or basic instinct for survival.
- Zombified Stalkers are not actual 'zombies' as defined by popular culture, they are more like husks. Hollow shells of what once was, stripped of reason or thought and turned into mindless slaves. Zombies are basically ordinary stalkers that have been exposed to enormous amounts of radiation and Psi-waves, and haven't had the good fortune to die. They are technically still alive by medical standards at least, but thier overall conscious behaviour has been surgically removed, replaced by animal instinct, hence - Husk. They cannot be labeled as actual 'undead' because only the brain was affected by the Emission, not the body.
- In Call of Pripyat, Zombified Stalkers will even loot weapons and artifacts, and will even use scavenged weapons if they are better than their current weapons. This is why you can sometimes find multiple weapons on the last zombified stalker killed in a horde.
- Zombified Stalkers wearing exoskeleton always have mask on their heads in Shadow of Chernobyl, but they don't have one in Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat.
- They rarely engage in combat with mutants as mutants never seem to attack them. However, under circumstances where high numbers of Zombies come across a pack of dogs or similar highly aggressive mutant, the zombies will open fire if one gets too close. The resulting fight is quite entertaining.
- They normally carry the same amount of supplies as normal stalkers, although all of the equipment that the player may find is usually weaker than anything the player already has, or is almost always in less than perfect condition. The only things of note they carry is ammunition, bandages, in rare cases anti-rads and medkits.
- Zombified Stalkers never carry food.
- At Yantar, the Zombified Stalkers to the front of the science bunker will have names just like ordinary stalkers, but the Zombified stalkers in the area around Vasiliev's corpse will all have the name "Zombified Stalker". This may mean that the stalkers originally guarding the bunker when the player arrives were Zombified in an Emission.
- Zombified Stalkers will not attack other humans on sight. They will only attack if others get too close to them. Zombies are however scripted to attack when the player gets anywhere in the area, regardless of location in all three games.
- It is a mystery on why Zombified Stalkers never attack each other. It could be likely some other life form is controlling them (akin to the C-Consciousness and the Wish Granter).
You got the papers ready? All those excise labels and stuff gotta be just right.