S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha is a standalone Modification based upon the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl game originally developed by GSC.
- One of the principal objectives for the designers of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha was to reintroduce, wherever possible, previously cut content that had been effectively jettisoned prior to the release of the Base Game.
- Unlike many mods, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha is a standalone game and requires no retail S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game to be previously installed before modification. The game will play directly from its own installation folder / directory.
- As a standalone game, the most obvious difference from Shadow of Chernobyl is the sheer immensity of the Lost Alpha Zone in comparison.
- Many previously cut levels have been re-introduced such as Darkscape and Dead City where salient plot-lines are executed in a considerably more detailed, and arguably, more coherent main quest.
- While the weaponry and armour remain largely unchanged from the Base Game, upgrading has been engineered into the game and behaves similarly to these functions seen in the other games: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat. Technicians are, however, in short supply. Weaponry has been rebalanced in terms of firepower (usually upwards for small arms and low-end weaponry) with the result that players will probably now wish to maintain suitable sidearms for the duration of the game.
- Since the Lost Alpha Zone is so large and diverse, vehicles are re-introduced to facilitate Zonal travel. Many are available within the levels for free, others may be purchased from the Barkeep.
- Just about every mutant that previously appeared in an earlier Build has been reintroduced and possibly some that are unique in their own right.
- In addition to an enlarged Lost Alpha Zone, there are also many more underground locations. Some only become apparent as a result of side-missions or main-mission tasks but they are all expansions of the Base Game.
- Where the affiliation of the player's actor was well demarcated in Shadow of Chernobyl and became more variable in Clear Sky, players will find that in this Mod that their actor may actively use camouflage by mimicking other factions through the use of appropriate dress. Although Faction Wars are not a feature of the game, the disposition of other Factions to the player varies with the progression of the storyline. Depending upon the player's decisions this will be most notable with the Military and the Monolith factions.
- The initial release (v1.3000 on 27/04/2014) was a "leak" and as such did not accurately portray the vision that the Dez0wave team had in mind for the standalone game.
- Despite the unwelcome feedback (see Reception § below), the team quickly released a hotfix for various issues (v1.30013 on 03/05/2014)
- A subsequent update (v1.3002 on 11/07/2014) resolved a number of 'game breaking' faults that had been discovered to that point.
- A final patch (v1.3003 on 01/08/2014) resolved most other issues with the game and left it in a highly playable final form.
- Between the initial "leak" and this point, the original team disbanded.
- The principal author of the game had not lost hope of eventually releasing a 'Developer's Cut' version of the game and teaser pages informing the public of these potential possibilities were published both on the Dezowave site and ModDB.
- The "Lost Alpha Developer's Cut" was released (v1.4000 on 26/04/2017)
- Patched within a week (v1.4002 on 01/05/2017) to address various problems that players experienced.
- Contentiously repatched a few days later (v1.4004 which was withdrawn within 24 hours)
- Subsequently, the game received a further release (v1.4005 on 25/12/2017) which sees the game seriously diverging (between v1.3000 and v1.4005) from its original declared objective.
- Despite encouraging social media chatter, many players found v1.4005 to be defective in various and diverse areas. The response from the 'new' Dez0wave team was to publish a rolling series of "Extended Pack" updates that merged ongoing fixes for a forthcoming "v1.4006" release with various suit and weaponry 'add-on' packs. This is currently in its fourth "Extended Pack" iteration as of 16/01/2018.
- There is no opportunity for the general public to revert to earlier "Extended Packs". Those that are more recently released delete earlier content.
- The final version of LA:DC was released (v1.4007 on 20/12/2018) and Dez0wave seem to have ceased with further development of LA:DC according to this article on ModDB.
- Lost Alpha received mixed reviews.
- Lost Alpha was released earlier than intended, and the finished product was initially incomplete and broken. Despite being highly hyped prior to its release, the release was met with a large backlash. Prior to release, the mod was very highly rated on ModDB based on teaser content, but after the actual release, the majority of reviews have been strongly negative.
- The worst criticisms center on the broken and unfinished game design. Unlike SoC, the large levels are nearly empty and NPCs have little to no A-Life, meaning the player will spend excessive time just moving from point-to-point to finish quests with almost no action in between - resulting in an extremely boring and tedious experience (a player may have to run for 15+ real-time minutes simply to finish individual quests).
- The initial release was also full of many game breaking bugs, though patches have been released to correct the worst bugs. Nevertheless many serious problems still exist, such as broken vehicle mechanics, and the ability for key characters to be accidentally killed (resulting in the game being uncompletable without reloading an earlier save).
- The in-game voice acting and cinema sequences were also widely criticized as being very poor and detrimental to game immersion. The deviation of the plot from the original SoC (ex. including Illuminati references) was also very unpopular with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. fans.
- There was a clear difference in design philosophy associated with the Developer's Cut when compared to the Lost Alpha.
- Whereas LA sought to reintroduce previously cut content from the various builds prior to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, and largely succeeded in this respect; DC development seems intent upon introducing any and ALL possible content from the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. canon games.
- While the general push has been towards a welcome improvement of weapon and suit functionality and repairability, this has been manifested in a seemingly "Call of Lost Alpha" direction which appears at odds with the original Dezowave philosophy:
|“|| Have you ever dreamt of playing the old, forgotten S.T.A.L.K.E.R.?|
- Dez0wave teaser
- The DC release was clearly rushed to meet or coincide with the thirty-first anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
- Critics were quick to note some 100 bugs and deficiencies present in the release  of the quickly withdrawn v1.4004 release (also present in v1.4002)
- There was also criticism concerning the efficiency of Dezowave's preferred bug reporting procedure: 
- Apparently, none of the GSC forums sourced bug reports and fixes (for LA v1.3003) had been taken on board by the developers.
- Where LA has some 58 Artifacts, many of which were unused, DC introduces another TEN..
- Supposed "rebalancing" of the game has arguably created more problems and issues.
- The fact that Anomalies now spawn more interesting artifacts is probably a welcome development, but this is just a half-hour tweak of already extant text files, and could easily have been released as an interim patch for LA.
- The Anomaly Fields still have buggy behaviour in Yantar.
- Many Side Missions have been introduced to occupy the player's time and efforts, but almost all have been "balanced" to reward the player more poorly (frankly, few are worth the effort)
- Introduced storyline threads are poorly structured, easily broken or crashed and prone to encumber the player with "inventory bloat" (The expedition being a fine example)
- The 'Illuminati background' storyline thread has been further 'pruned' from the game with the Swamps cutscene being a casualty - hence no visit in-game to the Oso except for the "Victory" Endings (one of which crashes the game)
- For a project that had as its original philosophy a desire to restore cut content, this seems to be a clearly retrograde step. The occurrences of the Sin Spy during the cutscenes after Kill the sniper or inside Lab X7 now have little symbolic cohesion for the storyline, are probably confusing to any player of DC that has not previously played LA, and probably makes them the next candidates for the chopping block.
- When addressed with such criticisms as those listed above, the developer's response is one of defensive misdirection attributing such failings to a lack of manpower or resources.
- This seems counterproductive and disingenuous. A development plan that attempts to be 'all things to all people' will end up being little to no-one.
- The decline of commentary regarding all things DC over on GSC forums is arguably the most telling of all.
Differences from Base Game
- Certainly for the early game, the player will be on foot. Later, there are several opportunities to repurpose various abandoned vehicles to speed up movement.
- It is not always possible (or desirable) to drive through some level transitions.
- Whichever mode of travel is chosen, the player will quickly become aware that in comparison to the Base Game which utilizes the 1.0 version of the X-Ray (Engine), Lost Alpha has improved physics characteristics built in, with the result that running through rough terrain and undergrowth impedes the player proportionately. Previously this was mostly noticeable over aquatic features. Now, the player will need to calculate non-linear travel / escape routes.
- Additionally, the game is set in July rather than May. Not a major change, just enough to allow the vegetation to grow higher and denser to provide better camouflage for opponents.. The mid-summer setting allows for some stormy weather as well.
- One notable difference regarding gameplay is that the player will not be engaging in a "running game" to the finishing post. Various levels are closed to the player until certain criteria are established. However, this does not result in the game "linearity" seen in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky but is arguably a balance between CS and the Base Game.
- Players should also be aware that opponents will use grenades (often recklessly) as in Clear Sky but that there is no 'incoming' animation to assist, just an audible taunt.
- The implementation of weapon 'Blind Firing' has not carried over though.
- From v1.4002+ it became apparent that the player had a 'middle-option' if using Vehicles was undesired or not possible for some reason. This involves the sprint abilities of the SSP-100M suit, which is scripted to be nearly 60% faster than a conventional suit. The initial protection parameters have been successively degraded between 1.4002 and 1.4007, but it is relatively easy to upgrade and will function much more reliably as an all terrain 'vehicle' for the player.
- Alphabetical list of Lost Alpha levels with brief description.
- Antennas (Only available in v1.4007. See Cheating Stalker's Guide For Jumping The Levels for access procedure)
- Agroprom Institute
- Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
- Construction Site
- Dark Valley
- Dead City
- Generators 2
- Great Metal Factory
- Lost Factory
- Military Warehouses
- Oldroad (Only available in v1.4007.)
- Oso (Only available between versions 1.30013 and 1.4002. Effectively deprecated from v1.4005)
- Pripyat Underground
- Rostok Factory
- Lab X2 (Warlab)
- Lab X7
- Lab X10 (Brain Scorcher)
- Lab X14
- Lab X16 (Miracle Machine)
- Lab X18
- There are a plethora of minor locations that the player will visit during the course of play.
- Descriptions of these locations, together with other interesting information may be found here.
- The Artifacts in Lost Alpha do not have the same Artifact Parameters as artifacts in the original game. Many have more in common with the rebalanced properties seen in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat.
- Other, more esoteric artifacts exist due to the (re)-introduction of the Artifact Merger resulting in a more diverse set of artifacts, some with quite varied properties.
- See also Artifacts.
Many cues have been taken from original STALKER alpha and beta footage and Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat. There are more and stranger anomalies than in the original Shadow of Chernobyl.
- The player's perception of Radiation is more in keeping with that experienced in the later canon games where increased radiation 'darkens' the screen. This is the opposite effect to that portrayed in the release build of Shadow of Chernobyl where radiation was presented as a 'white-out' in severe instances.
Mutants and Wildlife
- As mentioned in the Overview there is a pretty eclectic mutant population in the Lost Alpha Zone. Most of these are best dealt with using small arms, a silent pistol is especially effective due to its ease of upgrade and low cost of maintenance.
- Most of the audio cues and behavioral characteristics for the wildlife remain very similar to those seen in SoC, but there are differences:
- Blind dogs now have a 'whistle' which they seem to use in echo location. Although effective, the player may exploit a weakness of this ability by hiding in a bush and remaining motionless until the beasts lose the 'audio scent'.
- Bloodsuckers have now developed the ability to latch onto the player for a health-draining 'extraction', which they conclude with a heavy right hook combination that may prove fatal if damage prevention characteristics are insufficient.
- Fleshes always seem to be good for a Flesh eye.
- The Pseudodog seem to fight less aggressively, is routinely terminated even with handguns (due to higher damage from the weapons) and only provide Pseudodog tails on rare occasions.
- Snorks seem unchanged from SoC, less hyperactive compared to CS specimens, best dealt with using more powerful weaponry and have a low probability of yielding a Snork foot.
- Burers are still a bit of a pain, can easily kill the unwary player, need to be approached quickly while they have their shield up and then dispatched with head shots as soon as it is removed. Dead Burers are a certainty for acquiring a Hand of a Burer.
- There is a naked Burer towards the northern end of Forest. The body is still good for a Burer Hand.
- For Lost Alpha the little green-eyed dwarf-with-a-punch is designated as a Karlik. Specimens have been found with the Karlik's ear body part, but these are extremely rare.
- The Karlito appeared in early releases of the game, notably in the Pripyat Underground, took some time off subsequent to patch 1.3002 and was reintroduced with the Developer's Cut (v1.4000+).
- Boar are pretty much unchanged but are very unyielding of Boar's hoof trophies.
- The Bloodsucker Village that appears in LA is best avoided later in the game. The tower becomes patrolled by at least two Chimera. Safe passage between the Dead City gate and Great Metal Factory is shortest and safest along the western fence.
- Izlom mutants are pretty tough characters and best attacked from a distance. Their melée attack is quite punishing. Corpses often yield Izlom's arm body parts.
- Poltergeist are more of a debilitating nuisance than a serious threat. In LA they frequently allow the player to claim a Poltergeist's brain as a trophy.
- There is also a water-dwelling Swampbeast which has a body modeled upon the corporeal form of the Poltergeist. These are relatively slow moving 'knuckle-walkers' and have a melée attack. Starting with the Developer's Cut (v1.4000) they very seldom yield Swampbeast's nose, before they had no salvageable body parts.
- Phantasms seem to be present but rare.
- Pyrogeist still set fire traps and are a noticeable feature in X10.
- Cats tend to patrol in pairs over open countryside, have a fair rupture attack being clawed beasts and are very fast when attacking. Fortunately for the player they are physically weak.
- Rodents and Rats usually confine their activities to the underground locations. The former usually attack singly or in small numbers. The Rats are proper swarm pack vermin. The player is advised to seek higher ground from which to exterminate them with pistol fire.
- Controllers are particularly lethal in LA both because of their psycokinetic attack and because of their medium range psy attack generally. Protective devices against psy assault remain rudimentary in LA compared to later canon games and the availability of other warding measures is also currently in short supply or non-existent.
- The usual Factions carry over from the Base game as expected but the way that they behave towards the player has been altered in several ways.
- The previously cut faction Sin makes a reappearance and the mysterious Stranger faction is introduced.
- A faction for Traders has been created which remains neutral to the player during the game. Other NPCs who mimic traders remain members of their base factions.
For the most part armour carries over from Shadow of Chernobyl and there are limited possibilities for suit repairing and upgrading if the player has the wherewithal and inclination to track the Technician down. They are much less prominent than in Clear Sky for example.
- One notable difference is that a Stalker suit now weighs 8kg instead of 5kg.
- Upgrades do not appear to add carry weight to the armour.
- One other feature of upgrading is that applying an upgrade also results in automatic suit repair thus obviating the need to repair and then upgrade. In most cases this exploit is only available for the first two upgrades, after which the suit is upgraded to the limit of its tree and subsequent repairs will need to be paid for routinely.
- The "SKAT-9" armour that may be purchased from Petrenko when he becomes a Trader later in the game is bugged and will deteriorate very quickly.
- As noted in the Overview weaponry has been re-balanced upwards for the most part.
- Upgrade trees are introduced in a similar vein to those appearing in Clear Sky but some parameters still need fine tuning as of version 1.3003.
- Weapon 'drift' and 'shake' are apparent.
- Unique weaponry exists in plentiful variety throughout the game, but none of the "technicians" will repair them.
- Either through a coding error or by intention, the TRs 301 in its accuracy enhanced state will provide the player with more than adequate work-a-day firepower. The rifle does not seem to degrade noticeably during use either.
- Conversely, the Vintar BC becomes much less useful in the field with more than one basic upgrade. (Versions 1.3000 through 1.3003)
- For the player on a budget, a standard Obokan can be especially user friendly due to its enhanced strike power. The Sniper Obokan and Storming Obokan variants are also useful in the early game (but may not be repaired)
- A comprehensive list of available weaponry and ammunition may be found here.
- As mentioned in Getting Around there are a variety of vehicles that the player will be able to utilize within the game. A list of these may be found here.
- There are several useable units situated within several of the levels. Others may be purchased from the Barkeep.
- The list of Items available to the player is considerably larger and more diverse than in the Base Game.
- The original food and drink items carry over, of course, but the player's diet is now more varied and several quality alcoholic drinks can now tickle the palate.
- Items that are connected with the various stages of the Main mission are also extended in scope. As an example: the player will now need both the Not adjusted psi-helmet and the Functional psi-helmet to complete the game. The former may not be dropped when the latter is acquired either - and each one weighs a hefty 1.0kg.
- Similarly, there are items that are involved as a facet of the various Side Missions, either as the target item or to enable progression to a later stage of the mission.
- The player will need to make logistical decisions throughout the game. Another example: should the player's vehicle run short of fuel, a Petrol can weighing 10kg will need to be obtained and brought to the vehicle to refuel it.
- This has been expanded and altered from that seen in the canon games.
- Previously, the player could generate a healthy income by trading Antirad for 225 Ru to just about anyone with the wherewithal in the Base Game; or make a dull but respectable income 'running guns' in Clear Sky.
- Now, in LA there are more factors to consider:
- Generally a Trader will not offer best prices for an item.
- Friendly NPCs give better prices than Neutral NPCs who still give more than Truce NPCs such as the Military or Sin.
- Basic food and drink items attract a pittance but the 'good stuff' sells for list price to almost anyone, Traders included.
- Most Stalkers above Rookie level have 5000 Ru to trade with and will buy salvaged weaponry without quibble within their limits.
- Different Factions will have varied preferences towards the sort of weapon the player tries to unload, some prefer Warsaw Pact items, some NATO gear.
- Another useful revenue stream for the player may be the partially upgraded weapon.
- An upgraded weapon will be purchased for its upgraded value by anyone with the resources to do so. This strategy works well:
- Liberate an SVDm-2 or a GP 37 in any condition.
- Take it to a friendly Technician and pay for the first second tier upgrade (unit repair comes free)
- Sell the unique SVDm-2 or GP 37 for either 18,900 Ru or 21,000 Ru to someone with deep pockets, recouping the original upgrade cost (around 3500 Ru) with a useful margin on top.
- In many instances these "uniques" stay with the NPC and might be available for repurchase at a subsequent date although this is far from certain as the NPC may determine that the unit is superior to that currently carried and instantly add it to their own personal inventory (observed with Skinflint)
- Unsurprisingly, Stashes are present in the LA game space.
- Despite the size of the Zone being 3-4 times larger than that of the Base Game, there are only around 170 stashes in total.
- A list of these stashes may be found here.
- The coordinates are obtained from corpses as before with the exception of one - which needs to be bought an a similar manner to some stashes in Clear Sky.
- Just as in the canon games, there are Placements on the board that are free for the player to acquire regardless of game difficulty or initial game setup spawning.
- There are fewer Side Missions offered by NPCs than in the Base Game.
- Many are reminiscent of those seen in the Base Game but several involve some semi-complex logistical itineraries over the map.
- A list may be found here.
- The Timeline for the Lost Alpha is largely unchanged from Shadow of Chernobyl and a copy of the salient back history has been reproduced from the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Wiki.
- As has been mentioned previously, the LA gameworld has a calender dateline of early July, with lively summer weather and extensive undergrowth in greater profusion than the Base Game.
- It is not needed to have a previous GSC S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl game installation to install and play this game.
- Lost Alpha is currently patchable to version 1.3003 as of 31st July 2014.
- Lost Alpha's plot is in many cases similar to that of Shadow of Chernobyl. Still there are numerous and sometimes serious differences between the two, so Lost Alpha is not a lore friendly mod.
- A Developer's Cut was announced on the 4th of December 2014 that ostensibly will add more content into the game. A full list of changes can be found here.
- As of March 2016 this "Developer's Cut" remains in alpha testing; although the remaining todo list is minimal in extent.
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Lost Alpha - The Developer's Cut was released on 26th April 2017 as version 1.4000.
- A patch was released within one day (1.4001) to rectify shortcomings that were overlooked in the two-year testing cycle.
- Patch 1.4001 was withdrawn by the author within one day and remains unavailable.
- Patch 1.4002 was released on 1 May 2017, fixing numerous errors and bugs.
- The Developer's Cut is playable in its current state (1.4002), differs greatly from LA v1.3003, and remains prone to unstable play with frequent crashes.
- Patch 1.4005 was released on the 24th of December 2017.
- The Dezowave game developers have correlated their pseudonyms and assumed real names in the game's final Credits.
Storyline and Plotlines
- Many of the original plot devices that were part of previous GSC builds have been added back to the game. Missions to various laboratories are more involved as a consequence.
- Just as the Base Game had an extensive range of cheats and exploits, so does the Lost Alpha and some may be found here.
- As in the released game, there are pieces of teaser information that are gleaned from recovered PDAs and hint towards various aspects of the Zones and their historical development for the purposes of the game. These are listed in the LA Lore article.
- Another source of 'information' comes from the Stalker communication network and is mostly composed of indifferent gags and jokes that are spawned at random intervals. Although these tend to portray the Zone as being populated and having a more active A-life, they can generally be ignored.