Red Forest (S.T.A.L.K.E.R.)

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S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl Collectibles

Soviet radioactivity warning sign. Disclaimers/Warnings: Koshka is not liable for any radiation poisoning, mutant maulings, or subjection to useless and obscure computer game trivia caused by this page. All graphics on this page, aside from the header image, the sidebar buttons, the 88x31 buttons on the bottom of the page, and Macula, are created and owned by GSC Game World. Do not attempt to pet the Blind Dogs.

Privet, Stalker! Welcome to the Red Forest! This is my little shrine to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a sublime Ukrainian 2007 FPS game, and my personal favourite computer game.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. takes place in the Chernobyl Zone, where a mysterious second outburst at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant further contaminated the area with radiation and caused a proliferation of vicious mutated animals and humans and otherworldly Anomalies and Artefacts, which in turn led to an invasion of Stalkers - adventurers who brave the dangers of the Zone in the interests of obtaining and selling Artefacts.

You play S.T.A.L.K.E.R. as the Marked One, an amnesiac Stalker with no memory of his past life aside from a PDA that was found on his person, with instructions to assassinate a man named Strelok. As the Marked One traverses the warped and enigmatic Zone to find Strelok and rediscover his past, his journey takes him through rotting swamps swarming with mindless pseudo-zombies attacking anything they see out of sheer terror, into abandoned secret Soviet laboratories where the hideous abominations spawned by the experiments still live, into a dead city full of mutants and deranged cultists who worship an alleged godly Artefact in the center of the Zone, and finally into the shrouded Sarcophagus of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant itself.

This page is named after the Red Forest level in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which is based on the Red Forest in the Chernobyl Zone. The forest received its namesake after all of the trees in the forest turned a red/ginger-ish colour and died due to being poisoned by the astronomical amount of radioactive contamination that swept the area during the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Aside from the illustrious S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, there is also a prequel named S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, and a sequel called S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat. A second sequel called S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Heart of Chernobyl is set to come out on 22 April, 2022. You can watch an incredible trailer for it on the game's official website. Despite the game's age, the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. itself still stands as one of the most atmospheric, absorbing, fun, and stunningly photo-realistic games out there, and is still more than worth playing.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has a heavy focus on exploration, and indeed, you will very likely miss doing the quests needed to obtain the true/"good" ending if you simply rush through the game instead of taking your time and stopping to smell the irradiated flowers. There are already some excellent sources of information on the various goodies hidden all over the Zone in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., so I decided to instead dedicate this page to something different: the various well-hidden oddball "collectibles" that only exist in the game due to errors by the developers. Some are very easy to stumble into, others are completely unknown to anyone beyond a small number of obsessed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. fanatics.

None of the items described on this page are of any use whatsoever, and are almost certainly just vestigal items that the developers meant to do something with, only to change their minds and then forget to take out. Nonetheless, if you are like me and are a hoarder/perfectionist who can't help but try to obtain every single collectible and beat every single quest when playing a game, it is good to be aware of these items.

A few of these items are so obscure that there is no longer any information available on the Web about them (that I was able to find), so I figured it would be good to put it up somewhere. The second knife and the extra pairs of binoculars were discovered by people on the official S.T.A.L.K.E.R. forum, whose names I no longer remember, the mechanics for obtaining the second guitar/harmonica were discovered by me, and all of the other items are so easy to find that it is impossible to tell who was first in locating them.

Without further ado...

hand radio Hand_Radio - A pair of goggles with the odd name "hand_radio" (with the quotation marks, yes) can be found in an open air stash in the southwest of the Dark Valley as shown here, along with an equally useless guitar. Presumably there must have been a quest connected to this that was aborted so early that no one even had time to create a proper design for this item, hence its appearance.

guitar Guitars - Yes, that's the plural form. Most experienced Stalkers are aware of the useless guitar that can be found in a stash on the southwest of the Dark Valley where the Hand_Radio is, but as it turns out, this glitchy musical instrument is not alone in the Zone.

The existence of the fabled second guitar was a well-known campfire story in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. community for years. A number of players had claimed to have obtained one by trading items with a random Stalker who happened to have it in their inventory, but because no one could pin down any sort of rules that could predict who this NPC would be, many people dismissed it as a hoax.

I still have nary a clue for how and why the whole thing works, but it turns out that the trigger for spawning the legendary Wielder of the Glitched Guitar is to enter the stadium at the end of the Pripyat level through the holes in either one of the two side gates. While entering the stadium from the entrance in the middle is the "point of no return" that triggers a cutscene that permanently moves the player to the Chernobyl NPP level, entering through the side gates completely shakes up the spawn tables in the game, while allowing the player to continue visiting the rest of the game world.

Among other things, the new spawn tables cause Pripyat to turn into a war zone permanently flooded with swarms of NPCs and mutants up to and including over a dozen of the otherwise extremely rare Pseudogiants. While the mutants scatter all over the level, the NPCs always appear at the entrance to the city and work their way up to the stadium. As such, there will usually be a good number of Stalkers loitering right at the entrance. One of them will repeatedly go into a "panic" state even if there are no enemies remotely within their line-of-sight to spook them. For reasons unknown, attempting to trade items with this anxiety-ridden Stalker will allow you to buy a guitar, and possibly even a harmonica from them!

Since most NPCs and mutants will keep respawning forever unless spawn tables are altered by the player advancing past a certain point in the game story, this is possible to repeat ad infinitum. On my last playthrough, I had actually managed to amass several dozen guitars and harmonicas purely for the lulz.

Please note that this may not work on the 1.0006 version of the game. Almost all S.T.A.L.K.E.R. players, including myself, use the sublime 1.0004 version, and I have no idea if this glitch is something that went away in the final version of the game.

harmonica Harmonica - Same story as the guitars. So far as I know, there are no methods for obtaining any harmonicas aside from exploiting the Spooked Stalker in Pripyat.

binoculars Pairs of binoculars - You start the game off with a single pair of binoculars that does not show up in your inventory and cannot be removed in any way. Multiple NPCs also happen to own a pair of binoculars for the purpose of using it in their idle animations, but it does not show up in their inventory when they die. It is however, possible to steal it from them by critically injuring them while they are wielding and looking through their binoculars at something, causing them to drop the binoculars on the ground.

As far as I remember, this method only works if you cause the NPC to go down in a single shot, and only if they sustain enough damage to not die and only go into a "wounded" state where they need to be provided a medkit in order to recuperate. The reason this trick works is because the binoculars are treated as a wieldable item just like any of the guns are. When an NPC is wielding the binoculars during an idle animation, they will drop it once they are taken down just like they would otherwise drop the gun they were currently holding.

I cannot remember which NPCs exactly can be used for this, aside from one of the Stalkers near the start of the Garbage at the camp that gets attacked by Bandits, who repeatedly takes out and uses a pair of binoculars to track the impending pack of marauders. I looked through my old screenshots and saw that I had amassed four pairs of binoculars during my last playthrough, so there are at least three other ones to look out for.

knife Second knife - As anyone who has played S.T.A.L.K.E.R. for at least 2 minutes is aware, you obtain a hilariously overpowered hunting knife from the Stalker known as Wolf when you accept his request to rescue Himble from a pack of Bandits in the Cordon at the start of the game. Unlike other weapons, the knife cannot be removed from your inventory no matter what, as long as you have a quantity of one. As a genius player whose name has sadly been lost to time realised, this actually makes it possible to obtain a second copy of it by cleverly exploiting some other game mechanics.

Aside from Wolf, there exists one other NPC who is capable of giving the player a knife: Arnie, the Stalker who hangs out in the Bar and grants the player money in exchange for fighting in the Arena. It turns out that the script that temporarily strips you of all of your equipment when you enter an Arena match and replaces it with the items you are allotted for the fight, also grants you a free knife in case you do not already have one! Normally, you lose all of your Arena-only equipment when exiting a match, but since a knife cannot be taken away if you only have a single one, you are able to keep the blade and then visit Wolf to receive a second knife.

Obviously, the problem here is that you need to get to a certain point in the main questline to even be allowed access to the Bar by Duty, and the mission to rescue Nimble is the very first mission in that questline. Yet, it is possible to open the gates leading from the Garbage to the Bar via either hand grenades or by shooting the door in a specific way.

This can be extremely hit-or-miss and you can easily waste a profligate amount of ammunition without successfully opening the gate. The Duty faction is also supposed to become your enemy if you enter the gates without their permission, but this is glitched and does not always happen. It's recommended to save near the gate before attempting entry so that you can easily reload the game and repeat as much as needed until success is achieved.

Regardless, once you have successfully invaded the Bar without drawing Duty's ire, all that is left is to visit Arnie and successfully complete one of the Arena matches without dying, and you will have obtained a permanent knife. Then you can mosey back to Wolf and obtain a second one for free.

bread "Bread" - An odd glitchy item simply called "bread" (again, with the quotation marks) can be found stashed away in Borov's room in the Dark Valley. It is inedible and has no description to illuminate what distinguishes it from regular old bread. Given that Borov is a notorious Bandit, it's possible that it is inedible due to being meant to assassinate someone via poisoning in a quest that never came to be in the game? Or perhaps it's just an incredibly old and moldy loaf that Borov kept stashed because it had sentimental value to him? Perhaps the sociopathic Bandit boss had a secret soft spot for his babushka, who baked him a loaf of bread the day before she passed? The world may never know...

Soviet stop sign Void Gliding - I no longer remember any of the specifics and will have to update this entry later on with more detailed information, but there are a myriad of locations in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. where you can bypass the fences and other obstacles by jumping over them, and frolic freely in the "void" outside of the regular game world. Probably the best place to try this out is the Bar since it is almost entirely peaceful aside from the Blind Dogs near the the southern entrance, and has the most locations where this can be successfully done.

The void is surprisingly vast in most levels and even has occasional structures, along with migrating mutants and NPCs. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has a unique gameplay mechanic wherein creatures and people usually respawn in a different level than where they lived and then migrate to their post, crossing through both the regular game world and the void. You can often witness some interesting in-fighting by intercepting them during these hidden voyages.

The reason for the presence of these large voids is allegedly due to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. originally being meant to be one monolithic level that the player would have free movement across without any load screens. Lamentably, it turned out that this was not physically possible to implement, and as such it eventually had to be split into a bunch of levels. You can actually get a very good impression of how some of the levels were meant to bleed into each other by void gliding near the exits connecting the two levels to each other. The Bar and the Garbage are an excellent example of this.