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InEffect's guide to Atom (EN)
By InEffect
How to make an absolute beast of a character.
This guide was created with a new player in mind and was kept to a bare minimum of spoilers possible.

My builds are not absolute "this is how you should do it" and more of a working framework presented that can't go wrong if you follow them(except for melee. That one is designed to go wrong).
Full Combat Build

Strength = 6. No more, no less. More on that later.
Endurance = 8. You can get away with 6 of even 4 with drug use for hard fights, but I wouldn't advise it as it will make your early-game needlessly hard and random encounters more dangerous.
Dexterity = Always 10
Intellect = Preferably 10 for faster power gain. In the long run 8 will be enough if you want more Attention and Luck or would prefer Morphine Doctor.
Attention = 6 will get you most checks you would care about. 7 will get most everything.
Personality = 1
Luck = Spare

Glutton. 2 Stats for free. Food is plentiful at every stage of the game, so it has no drawbacks.
Technophobe. For Int 10 characters. All tinkering you really have to do can be done with 2 Ciggys and a Magnifying Glass. Max technology you will need is 80 + a toolbox for a combined 100. Effectively you pay a level for 2 Stats. Not too bad.
Lone Wolf. If you plan not using companions, it's free. Not using companions will make your game a lot harder, though. Would not recommend for new players.
Morphine Doctor. 1 Stat for free more or less. You will have to be careful early-game cause food will be your sole source of healing as you can't risk getting addicted at the time. Late-game addiction doesn't matter as 1k for Apomorphine is nothing by then and you will get addicted no matter what with the amount of stims you'll use for hard fights.

My picks are Glutton and Technophobe.

The rest have more drawbacks, than benefits, imo.

Skills go into Automatic Firearms if you kill bandits in the 1st encounter(hard to do, but doable) or Speech to 50, Barter to 50(Will bleed into lvl2)
Female Charismatic Build

Strength = 5. Will be enough for automatic firearms to get you started.
Endurance = 8. You can get away with 6 or 4 to other stats and rely on drugs for hard fights, but survival is better, imo.
Dexterity = Always 10.
Intellect = 8. We had to cut corners somewhere - you will have enough for everything you need as we didn't pick any -skill Distinctions.
Attention = 6. no spare points for more.
Personality = 2. +2 from sex appeal. +2 from joints +4 from perfumes(2 types for females).
Luck = 3

Glutton. 2 Stats for free. Food is plentiful at every stage of the game, so it has no drawbacks.

Sex Appeal. Not many females you need to charm in the game. You won't miss much. On the upside you get 2 stats and 15 skills for free. Worth it.
Lucky One. If you want a universal charismatic build and an extra stat. Take Weapon Ability to negate the malus.
Technophobe. Less severe Skill drain and no need to spend Abilities on AR's. 1 less stat. Another option if you want to be able to charm everyone under the sun.
Starting Skills:
Speech to 50, Barter to 35

Happy middle-ground between Personality and Combat. Balanced stats(eventually).
Buy all perfumes you come across. Female ones pretty much never drop from enemies.
Male Charismatic Build

Strength = 5. Will be enough for automatic firearms to get you started.
Endurance = 6. We will get around to fixing it later.
Dexterity = Always 10.
Intellect = 10.
Attention = 6. no spare points for more.
Personality = 6. Max we'd need. With Joints and Perfumes we get it to 10 when needed.
Luck = 1

Glutton. 2 Stats for free. Food is plentiful at every stage of the game, so it has no drawbacks.

Unlucky Optimist. Won't have points to invest into luck anyway. We will be using heavy Machine guns late - crits won't matter as such.
Lucky One. Will force you to take 1st AR Ability to fix the malus and will take some grinding to fix the skills. Take instead of unlucky optimist and go for 6/6/10/8/6/6/4. Additional stats: Fish and 1st serum into End, last serum into luck. That will bring you to 7 luck with clowns nose. Not too shabby for a male character.

Starting Skills:
Speech to 50, Barter to 50(will bleed into lvl2)
Charismatic Gunslinger

Strength = 3. Enough for Percussion Revolver+. You will get around fixing it soon enough.
Endurance = 8. You can get away with 6 of even 4 with drug use for hard fights, but I wouldn't advise it as it will make your early-game needlessly hard and random encounters more dangerous.
Dexterity = Always 10
Intellect = 8
Attention = 6 We are already short on stats.
Personality = combined 4 if female. 6 if male.
Luck = Spare

Glutton. 2 Stats for free. Food is plentiful at every stage of the game, so it has no drawbacks.
Sex Appeal 2 Stats and 15 skill-points if female.
Child Prodigy Good way to fix stats on a male character if you are willing to grind more.
Lucky One We do go for Pistol Abilities and that fixes the malus. Not that many Skills are useful to us, so it's not that much of a deal. You will get around fixing the skills sooner or later. Good pick for males and females that go for universal charisma.

My choice:
Glutton and Sex Appeal for female.
Glutton and Lucky One for male/universal. You might need excessive loading to craft Percussion Revolver+, but it's easily doable with a Magnifying glass and 2 Ciggys.

50 Speechcraft
50 Barter
Pistols and SMG to 199 in tandem with speech(to 115).
Throwing late-game for grenades. Optional.

Fast Hand
Armor of God
Oaken Skin
Think Like the Enemy

STSH-81 Helmet
Kaydan's Armor

If/when you get all mandatory Abilities you can go for praetorian and switch to 6B2 vest and Altyn/Face of Death(Altyn is pretty much impossible to find).

You do want companions for this one. If anything, they will help carry your stuff around. Also Even AP 9mm bullets are just 49%, so you want people with heavier weaponry in tow.

Stechkin is remarkable for near AR damage and is capable of making 2 bursts per turn. Probably a Frying Pan or percussion revolver for aimed shots for the 2nd slot.

A bit of a meme build, tbh. AR's are better in every way and can be used with the same 5str.
Melee Meme Build

Strength = 9. We plan to max it out
Endurance = 8. HP is even more important for us
Dexterity = Always 10
Intellect = 3. For the memes.
Attention = 5. Not that you really need it, but with a trinket you can buff it to 6 for checks. Some sequence is good to have as well.
Personality = 1. no spare points for this one.
Luck = 7

Glutton. 2 Stats for free. Food is plentiful at every stage of the game, so it has no drawbacks.
Lone Wolf. You can amplify the challenge and go solo. Pick this instead of Glutton then.
Black Belt. 5 Evasion will hopefully allow us to live a tad longer. Less crits against us, at the very least. Also Saves us some much needed levels.

Soviet Army Knife - We have so much bonus damage it would be a crime using slower weapon. One Aimed+2 stabs per round.
Lenin's Wrath - Good for one-shotting with guaranteed crit.
Frying Pan - You will be wearing this in off-hand most of the time for free DR
Grenades for late-game. You won't survive trying to poke enemies to death 1 by 1.

Kaydan's Armor
STSH-81 Helmet
Hockey mask - City of Dead bunker.
Eyeball Amulet(For Att Checks)
Rabbit's Paw - Before mask

Female only. It's a dumb blonde build. Jokes aside, female will net 1 more stat. Given this one is already mentally challenged(It went melee in this game) we need all advantages we can get.

Pretty much normal difficulty and below or it will be even more suffer. You've been warned. Oh, and you will have to grind. A lot. Cause devs decided melee needs loads of abilities to work. Unlike everything else.

If you don't want to suffer as much: dump attention, shave 1 from luck and forget about cube serum. Put those points into int. But it's not as meme.

Abilities: - Listed in the order of taking with lvl30 Normal in mind.
Way of the Warrior
Master of Dodging
First Blood
Armor of God
Oaken Skin
Think like the Enemy
Street Fighter
Precise Jab
Adrenaline Rush*
*Or Weak Spot Knowledge

Bonus stats: Fish into Str, Serums into Luck.

Melee 199
Stealth 160-ish
Lock Picking 30
Throwing Weapons 100-ish.

Enjoy the melee suffer.
Stats and reasoning behind them
  • Carry weight. Self-evidently good.
  • Melee damage. Unimportant. It adds max damage, not +all damage, so it's just 0.5 average damage per 1 point gained.
  • Intimidation. Can sometimes be used in dialogues. Either way, not important as it can be buffed with booze or solved with speech in 99% cases. 9 is the most I've seen.
  • HP. Not nearly as much as End gives, but every bit helps.
  • Weapon Requirements. Now this is the actual reason every character wants some. 8 is maximum requirement for endgame rifles and machine guns, so that's what we aim for.
Conclusion: 6 base+1 helmet+1 training is perfect for any character.

  • HP. One can never have enough. HP is the thing that lets you survive a machine gun burst to the face. there is no getting around it. Also your companions are dumb and don't use stimpacks enough. Tanking with MC is the only option.
  • Resistances. Negligible. You will take 2 RAD-0 for radiation and wear a 100% gas mask when needed.
Conclusion: 8+2 from condensed milk+1from onion(for story fights that you have time to prepare for)

  • Action Points. One can never have too many of those.
  • Dodge. Less crits will be made against us. Not amazing, but is good to have.
  • Sometimes is used in dialogues. Most importantly it sometimes allows us to take 1st action for the upcoming fights.
Conclusion: 10 Dex for 10 ap. Best stat in the game. Technically, there is +1 dex food but it lasts only 30m, so it's not sustainable.

  • Skill Points. The faster you max out your main skills the better. it's not the matter of getting there eventually. It's the matter of getting there as fast as possible.
  • Dialogue options. Very frequently used. Max check is 8, I believe.
Conclusion: I would advise investing no less than 8 here. Should be considered a combat stat as it allows for a faster power gain and surviving early-game is probably the hardest part anyway.

  • Helps you shoot better. Not sure how much it affects accuracy or if it's a flavor text.
  • Allows us to spot things in dialogues with actual tangible benefits.
  • Affects sequence. By itself sequence is not the most important stat. Still might be the difference between surviving alpha strike and not.
Conclusion: 6 allows us to do most important things in the game. 7 is good. Don't think 8 is used anywhere important.

  • Used in dialogues
  • Some people will flat out refuse to talk to you if you are not personable enough.
Conclusion: Not really important. Males can boost it by 4 and females by 6 with consumbales. Most people who refuse to talk to you would reward you with 30 exp or something measly like that. Quest NPC's generally don't care about it. There are a few quests that require 6 Per though, so either play female or cough up a point in Per. Charismatic Characters want 4 as a female and 6 as a male.

  • Affects loot.
  • Affects caravan frequency.
  • Affects Critical Chance.
  • Affects number of suicide bombers in cultist encounters.
  • Sometimes is used in dialogues for amusing effects.
  • Probably affects more than that even. Maybe less crit chance against you?
Conclusion: Despite impressive list of things affected is not really important as it affects pretty much everything but by a small margin. Small enough to be ignored if needed. Caravans can be fixed by barter and survival, crits happen often enough with just high weapon skill, talk your way out of cultist encounters and you won't meet any bombers, dialogues have other solutions than luck, etc. That being said, when all other combat stats are maxed out those small bonuses are what's left up for grabs. Can be buffed to 11 with booze and clowns nose for golden fish; other applications of alcohol luck boosting are highly suspect. Imo either a dump stat or put spare stats here.
Permanent Stat Increases
Golden Fish
+1 any. Can be found with high luck in any pond. Use spider brains or Weird Doll(corn+mushroom+nails). Luck can be ramped from 1 to 11 with booze. Save-scum till you get it would be the easiest thing to do. It will save your sanity. Even with luck 11 can take in the ballpark of 30m to get. Can be real pita on Survival. if you invested into luck a bit at the beginning can be fished at level 1, pretty much.

+1 any. Can be found in Roaring Forest. Take 2 ropes with you. Is guarded by a rather strong enemy. Come with some decent weapon.

Roaring Forest Idol
+1 Luck. Place 3 meat in the circle.

Serum 2
+1 any. Can be found inside a cube. Will need 6 Personality to talk the guy into showing the cube to you. So you need 2+2 Joints+2 Perfumes if male or 1+2 Joints+3 perfumes if female.
You would also need 6 per to spot the buttons. if your per was destroyed by joints - just wait 6h for it to go away. Once he agreed to show you the cube, you don't need to pass the check again.
You need 5000R to get there(with speech check passed) and 1500 to get back.
Instead of investing 100-ish points into pickpocketing that is useless literally everywhere else, Reportedly, it's possible at 75, but in my tests I wasn't so lucky.
I say do all quests there and just murder everyone for the key. Bring 30 Diesel with you so you can get back. Alternatively, you can craft a metric ton of ciggys and use them on said NPC till he dies so you don't aggro the whole area.

+1 Str or Dex. In your personal bunker after repairs are done. Not permanent per se, but lasts forever, so might as well be counted as such. Train for 4 consecutive days on 80kg for a 40 day buff. Bump your Str with booze if needed. Pretty sure duration is renewed if you train at a later date, so hit the gym if you are passing by.

Full Combat Build:
All into Luck if Female(will have to fish with luck 10 or you won't be able to put the point there or start with Str 5 or End 7). 1 into Per if male(before the Serum2).

Female Charismatic Build:
Golden Fish into Str. Serums into Luck.

Male/Universal Charismatic Build:
1 into Str, 2 into Endurance.

Charismatic Gunslinger:
Golden Fish into Str, Serums into luck.
Permanent Skill Increases
  • +5 Survival from an Old man(corn quest giver) in Otradnoye. Need 50 Speech(?)
  • +5 Automatic Firearms. Bald guy guarding 2nd gates(small ones) at the factory. Will teach you when you solve his predicament.
  • +20 Automatic Firearms. When you first visit weapon trader in KRZ. Need 6 Att.
  • +10 Melee Weapons. from a guy in white in the 1st part of KRZ if your melee is low. helpful early.
  • +5 Automatic Firearms. From Weapon trader in KRZ. Need 7 Per.
  • +5 Barter or Survival from a guy in peregon. There are other options, but they are worse, imo.
  • +4 First Aid +4 Survival from books in KRZ(lower the higher is your skill). There are 2 more books for speech(+5 combined at speech 50) He gets the Books in his stock when you hit 5.
  • +10 Rifles or +10 Barter. Girl in the "Safe Journey" farm. Need 70 Rifles or 8 Per. Tell her the truth and then invite to Red Fighter. When there she will teach you.
  • +5 Technology(lower the higher is your skill). Book on a skeleton in bunker 317 1st floor.
  • +10 Pistols and SMG. Old guard one the boat in Peregon. Need 8 Per.
  • +5 Pistols and SMG. Young lady in a hat with a pistol in KRZ. Need 8 Per.

Will add more if I remember something.
Martial Arts.
Useless. never spend anything there.

Melee Weapons.
Base values are sufficient. You can drop some points here, but your efforts will be invalidated soon enough.

Pistols and SMG.
Percussion Revolver+ and Stechkin automatic pistol are your only real picks in this category. Suffers from low armor penetration. Can be played for fun, but requires 3(or more) Ability investments much unlike Automatic Firearms. Could be considered a low investment option if AR's didn't get so many free skills during the game.

Rifles and Shotguns.
Good Stuff. For companions. Free 25-30 points in automatic firearms push us there hard. Not a bad Idea to level it after you are done with everything else.

Automatic Firearms.
Real Good stuff. Has a tool for every occasion.

Throwing Weapons.
Rare and hard to use. They do nothing that heavy machine gun does not.

Most used skill in the game. Everyone should have around 115 of it before gear/consumables.

Nice to have, but is not mandatory. a minimum of 50 is advised. 100 if you have nothing to spend on. In reality money are not a problem once you get your weapons covered, and that happens soon enough. Reportedly affects Caravan contents.

Idk what it's for. There are no gambling-exclusive content afaik and I didn't find direct effect from leveling it. At best it's some money you don't really need.

Increases healing from food and opens some encounters. Reportedly affects Caravan frequency somehow. Good to have, but is not a priority by any means.

First Aid.
Another good to have skill that you CBA to level. Your companions will cover you in rare skill checks, if you have em. If not - no crucial content is hidden behind the skill. Lowers the chance to get addicted.

Must have for solo. Level it to 160+. With companions they must have the same level of stealth you have for it to be useful. Around 80 will let you steal most everything. That might help early.

Lock Picking.
If you follow Factory quest line you will get +30 to lockpicking item. +20 lockpicks or a crowbar before that. No major investments needed for everything you need to be opened(just to 30). Do factory quest line(get +30 lock-picks) before death tunnel.

Another skill with no critical application. Only quest you would need it for can be solved by force. Theoretically can be used to rob caravans blind with no consequences, but why bother if money is the least of your problems rather fast? If you decide to level it - you need around 130 to have a chance at stealing a key in the city of dead and it should be enough for caravans as well.

Exp for vending machines and content are locked behind this one. 80+toolbox before tunnel of death.
Mandatory Skills
In order of importance.
to 115(do not rush it too much. level it in tandem with weapon skill)

to 50

Chosen Weapon Skill
to 199(counting free points)

to 80*

Lock Picking
to 30*

*Can be skipped, but you will miss some content.
Ability Tree
Might as well be non-existent. Everyone must have Think like The Enemy. and Praetorian while you are at it cause evasion helps against crits. The game is balanced around it. If you play on expert it's pretty much all you get. From that we can arrive to a Regretful conclusion: It actually would be better if there was no ability tree as it limits the build variations instead of facilitating them. Ergo, Automatic Firearms and Rifles work perfectly fine with no Ability investments; pistols are balanced around you investing at least 3 ability points there(ideally 7-8), melee is balanced around 7-8 points invested. See the problem yet?

There is a case to be made to take Master of dodging after you've done with armor tree for more evasion and as a result, less crits from your enemies. Then you can move to Adrenaline rush as it will trigger in hard fights allowing you to have 8AP(10 with drugs) after using stims.
Rank S
+2 Stats with no strings attached. Food is never ever a problem.

Rank A
Sex appeal.
+2 Stats and 15 Skills for female characters. Awful for males. There are not many female NPC's we'd care to charm with Personality and virtually all traders are male.

+2 Stats at -60 skills. Might seem harsh, but with decent Intelligence you will get around fixing those soon enough. Everything you would care to tinker can be done with a magnifying glass, 2 ciggys, and some patience reloading. Barring that still would cost you 1-2 levels to fix for a 10 int character. A decent proposition.

Unlucky Optimist
+2 Stats for anyone dumping luck. Dumping anything is not something I like to do with no good reason, but it's there as an option.

Lucky One.
A metric ton of stats. Forces you to take Weapon Ability to fix the malus. Very good, but most builds want to go for Armor instead.

Rank B
Black Belt.
Default pick for Melee Characters. Given you won't be able to raise Weapon skills above 179 is not advised for any sort of character looking to use ranged weaponry outside of throwing.

Child Prodigy.
+3 Stats at the cost of slower leveling. It's up to you if you value your time or a bit of a power boost for your character more. I prefer the former. Use in tandem with Lone Wolf if at all as companions further reduce your exp gain.

Lone Wolf.
Good bonuses at the cost of using companions. Companions rob you of exp, but make the game much easier. If you plan on going solo this is a no-brainer.

Morphine Doctor.
+1 Stat with not so harsh penalties. That being said, addiction is hard to deal with in early-game, so you will have to resort to healing yourself with food only for the first half of the game. Not as bad as it might seem, but sure is annoying.

Rank C
Anabolics Fan.
+1 Stat and some carry weight. Not too bad, but reduced evasion means you will be critted more often. -Resistances don't matter much with good Endurance, that most characters aim for anyways.

Cursed Sniper.
For snipers, surprising no one. Will need Idol and clown's nose to try for Golden Fish if you value your sanity. Pairs well with Unlucky Optimist. Even rifles have burst late-game. That -10% accuracy will bite you in the rear one day. Mark my words. Also sequence kinda hurts.

Shooting Gallery Fan.
Some ranged skills for 1 stat. You can take Lucky One and fix it with this for a net bonus of 3 stats per 2 Dispositions. Not awful, but not great either. Glutton+Technophobe do the job better.

Rank D
Lucky One, except bad. Not nearly enough benefits to consider using it, but it's there.

-2 Per for 15 skills. -3 if we count serum. Literally awful. Food is never a problem in this game. Even characters dumping Per should know better than taking this one. Still won't harm you that bad as to cripple your character.

Rank F
-1 Stat -7kg carry weight for 10 skills. Now we are in a category that actually harms you. We are not ever short on food.

Sick Dealer
+1 Stat but negative carry weight and sequence. If sequence is possible to live with carry weight is a no-go.

Hobby Engineer.
Remember we we talking trading 60 skills for 2 stats is a good deal? well this one trades 2 stats for 40 skills. 20 of which we don't need. Yikes.

Circus Education.
-20 carry weight this time around. Can it be worse? Yes, it can! It also cuts your sequence.

A special brand of terrible. Actively penalizes you for having companions. Hands down, the worst one yet.
Aquired Dispositions
Book on the shelf in Mayors office, Otradnoye. You can read it from the shelf without stealing it.

From a fisherman in Otradnoye in exchange for a bottle of vodka.

Ghostly protection
Restore the shield for a guy in the bar, located at the boat in KRZ.
Pieces of shield locations:
1 in Otradnoye under the stone. Need 8 Str. 1 in Mysterious cave(dead center of the map on the right side of mountain range). 1 in Thug fortress down the road from Red fighter. 1 in Drunken lair on the table.

Combine 4 pieces and glue to fix.
Gear and Consumables

+Speechraft hats.
Nice to have one just to save on perfumes. can go up to +15 for army hats. Easy +10 hat along with good backpacks can be gained from murdering scavengers near bunker 317.

+20 Tech. Easiest bought from a guy you save from Factory.

Clown nose.
+1 Luck -1 Per. Pretty much +1 Luck as long as you don't forget to take it off for Per checks. I usually balance the Skills with it in mind so I don't have to take it off for trades. Given for Perfomance at the circus location(crashed plane)

Gas Mask
+100% toxic resistance -1 attention. Rarely sold by caravans. Keep an eye out. Not mandatory to do every quest in the game, but is nice to have.

Magnifying Glass
+3 Tinkering. Not much of a bonus, but it sure doesn't hurt to keep around.

+Pick Locks Items
Crowbar, Lockpicks and a special item During Factory quest-line.

General notice.
All consumables stack up to 2 times with themselves. consumables with different names stack indefinitely.

Condensed milk.
+1 End for 12h. Frequent drop by teen levels. Use extensively.

+2 End for 12h. Could allow us to go with 4/6 End, but is not common enough for that and is kinda costly. Unless you are willing to time-skip to stock up on those I would not recommend. Also withdrawal effects can and will catch you in bad position. Generally is more pain that it's worth imo.

+1End -1Per for 30m. Short duration makes it hard to use. Still useful to bump your End to 11 for hard fights if you have time to prepare.

+1Per, +10 Speech. 1 type for males(but really common drop). 2 types for females(but harder to find - always buy them from caravans). Secretary in KRZ hospital sells female ones occasionally. Buy those too.

+1 Per With harsh penalties. Your go-to for passing Per checks as they are easy to come by. Weed+Toilet paper to craft.

+50% Radiation Resistance for 24. Take 2 of those in irradiated areas.

For when you just found out the area is irradiated.

Use when tinkering. Allows you to never invest into that skill. Especially with save-loads. Common drop so I never had the need to craft those.

+1 AP, +2 Str. Can be hard to come by. Rare. Use for real hard encounters.

+HP, +Damage Resistance, +Damage Threshold. Uncommon, but are not too hard to find come late teens.

Keep some on you in case you get poisoned badly.

If you start using stims and other drugs you will inevitably get addicted. It will help you with that. Use it when you get "withdrawal" debuff.

Cucumber Brine.
Same as above, but for alcoholism. Really heavy so don't keep it on yourself.

For passing Str checks and fishing for golden fish.

Healing Items.
Medkits for large chunk healing keep 3-4 on you. Kesparamid for healing scratches on your companions keep stock of 30. Stimpacks for healing in fights once Super stims are abundant enough switch to those. Heal yourself with food mostly.
6B2 Armored Vest
For everyone. No competition there.

Kayden's Armor
For rare cases when you can't afford Praetorian. Decent armor values with just -1 Evasion malus. Located in city of dead hanging on a cross outside the stalkers base.

For companions and characters that didn't pick up Praetorian. Decent armor values with low penalty of -2.

For companions/characters with Praetorian Ability. Rare like a unicorn. Armor vendor in KRZ might sell it. If you are either lucky or are willing to save-scum him for hours.

Face of Death Helm
For yourself(usually). +1 Str and decent enough armor values. Will likely want Praetorian to use. Can Be Looted During a Quest to hunt some bad people(not to spoil too much). Quest can be gained from an old man in KRZ. 2nd building to the left from the gates. Warning: the quest involves some rough fights. Top tier body armor and some serviceable weaponry is highly advised.
Melee Weapons
Frying Pan.
Free Damage Resistance for companions.

Soviet Army Knife.
Good for killing rats early. Also good for encounter farming due to +5 Sequence that will allow you to always go 2nd.

Taiga Machete.
Same as above, more or less, but is harder to find.

Lenin's Wrath.
Quest reward from a guy with a chainsaw in KRZ square. Good damage, but it suffers from all the same Melee uselessness. 6AP per hit are a nail in the coffin.
Zip Gun
Metal+Log/Club+Wires/Rope Pretty much a crafting component.

Custom Revolver
Zip Gun+Metal+Nails+Electrical tape Another crafting component.

Percussion Revolver
Custom Revolver+Metal+2 Empty tin+Electrical tape Almost there, but still meh.

Percussion Revolver+
Percussion Revolver+Metal+2 Electrical tape+Toolbox First real gun in the game. Good damage. If only it didn't require 3 Abilities to work properly... But still even with jam chance it's one of the best early weapons and is perfectly capable to carry you into mid-game. Can be used even late for 2 AP aimed shots. Otherwise Stechkin outclasses it.

Stechkin for poor. 2 bursts per turn; 5 bullets per burst. Even with so many bullets hardly compensates for low base damage.

Near rifle damage. Would be actually decent if it was 1AP lower for 2 aimed shots per turn. As it is it's ok early to shoot bandits for cheap.

Stechkin automatic pistol
Best pistol in the game. Can be bought from vendors. Decent damage at a reasonable AP. Can do 2 4 round bursts per turn.
Automatic Weapons
Automatic Rifles:
Best early-to-mid-game weapon imo. Good damage, common ammo. 4AP per shot 6AP per burst.

Lower damage, than HK-33 but longer bursts. Same AP per shot. 5 per burst. Eats up your ammo, so I generally prefer HK for trash encounters. If you need to mow something down - RPK does the job better.

Poor man's HK-33. Price is the best thing about this one.

Beastly damage. 5AP single shots, 7AP for a burst. Mix and match as you please. After Aimed shot buffs is not as appealing for main character. Still an awesome pick for companions. Common ammo.

4AP bursts. Rare and expensive ammo. Best pick to accompany a heavy machine gun.
You can get it early if you kill a guy in Roaring Forest.

Heavy Machine Guns:
Best mid-game machine gun. 6AP short bursts and good damage. Common ammo type.

Fn Minimi.
Straight upgrade to RPK. Holds more ammo, less damage spread. Most reliable way to get it is from a quest gang in the city of dead(random spawns). Go in, look at the enemies and see if they have it. Reload if needed. Warning: the fight can be hard. Go in with top armor and good weaponry. 2 painkillers for safety.

PK machine gun.
Insane damage. Rare ammo and it uses it fast. Pretty much an endgame cleaner.
Rifles with no optics.
6AP aimed shot. Bad past early-game. Only mentioned cause one of your companions comes with it.

A good pick for companions that don't invest into rifle Ability tree. Rare ammo kinda hurts.

IZ 58
Decent early pick. Just don't give your companions buckshot.

Actually good shotgun. Low armor penetration limits usability late.

Rifles with optical sights.
SKS with optical sights.
Good for MC as you can make 2 aimed shots from it.

Best companion sniper rifle. Beastly damage with Eagle Eye taken.

Dragunov sniper rifle.
Not bad should you have trouble finding R700-M. Less crit chance and more balanced damage. Bigger Magazine.

Good as a fight opener. I generally avoid it in favor of other weapons due to heavy ammo and chunkiness, but the damage is supreme. VER is better in every way possible.

Best rifle in the game. Period. This is why MC might consider investing into rifles as a 2nd weapon group late-game. Ammo can only be made by your guy in the bunker.
Game is much easier when you use them.

Quick guide to get them all asap:
At level 3 visit KRZ and grab Fidel at the Bar. Take Zhuk quest near the local traders. Persuade the cryptocurrency guys to part with the money with Str then tell Zhuk you have none. You will need that 1k shortly. Enter KRZ and pay that 1k to the guard.

Go to local hospital and talk to a guy on the bed. Take a quest from a Book store owner.

Move to Red Fighter. Kill some book burners on the way. it will net you some armor and cash. They are farmable with decent armor and are always melee. it is prudent to farm them a bit and maybe craft Fidel and yourself percussion revolver+.

Kill all spooders in Red Fighter and you've got yourself Hexogen.

After bunker repairs, training room, and workshop done(1st 2 steps are doable yourself) you will have Alexander visit. You will need 6Per for him to join.

Dog Joins through event. You need the owner to die for it to join. grab the collar from his corpse and the dog will join. Need 35 Survival for event to trigger.

There is also a secret companion, that is rather... unique. It's possible to beat the game with her in tow but it sure is not for new players, so I won't touch that subject.
Joins Level 3. Has just enough AP and Str to use Sniper rifles. That's about it. Best thing about him is he is easy to find early and he's easy to make use of.

Max rifles and switch to 100 First Aid help you with checks. Probably Stealth after.

Needs exactly 69 Melee Weapons to equip a frying pan. Don't ask me why.

Good candidate for Kayden's Armor as he would like getting Eagle Eye asap.
Joins Level 8. Good stats as far as companions go. I'd advise leveling Automatic Firearms on him. Give him HK-33 and he will be a happy panda. For secondary skills Survival and Stealth should work well enough. You can swap Survival for Technology and skip it on MC. Or just go Stealth so you get a stealthy team faster.

Has 80 pistols from the start, so it's better to give his rifle to Fidel and give the percussion revolver+ you've made to clear spooders to him till you get a spare HK. AKMS is a solid option as well to diversify ammo usage.
Good stats. Joins level 13 with pretty much no skills. Has his Abilities allocated to be a melee fighter. I say it's not the way to go. Level rifles exclusively on him and try finishing Armor tree like everyone else.

Melee companions is just a bad idea in general. They won't use a billion stims per round like you can and will just rush the enemy and likely die. Should you make him so - give him Lenin's Wrath.

He does ok with a shotgun or AVS-36(late) once you gained a few levels on him. Probably will never have enough skills to level stealth so to use him or not is highly debatable.
Literally useless. You can drag him along for the first few levels with a command to stay near you so he doesn't run away and die. Best used to "guard" you base.

Main problem with the mutt is dog armor sucks. Even the lowliest of enemies will deal damage to him so he will soak both medkits and meat.

Doesn't invoke Lone Wolf Penalties, so there's that.
Game tips
  • Once you open your inventory in combat(4AP) you can use unlimited number of drugs and reload all your weapons for it.
  • Crits are affected by your accuracy. Excess accuracy/10 for regular shots and accuracy/10 for aimed
  • If you shoot an enemy before they spot you - you get 1st turn. If the enemy spots you - they will get the 1st turn no matter your Sequence. What that means is Sequence is not as valuable as it could've been.
  • Every robbed caravan lowers the chance of meeting one by 1%. I would not advise doing that as you have more loot than traders to sell it to. Just trade your trash for the things you need.
  • Traders restock at a regular intervals. KRZ weapon dealer - every 3 days, for example. You can save and skip time until you get him restock. See if he has what you need and reload if not.
  • If you Alt-F4 on survival the progress is not saved. Use it if you want to cheat.
  • Car is in Old Scrapyard. Take the quest from a guy with a chainsaw in KRZ. Kill the mutants.
  • Buy and store all Scrap metal, Waste Paper and Gunpowder. You will thank me later.
  • When you finish book burners quest - choose a book as a reward. Eat a mushroom in Otradnoye and read it inside the stone circle. See what happens.
  • You can give food to your companions if you place it in hand slot and click it and then on your companion.
  • Evasion unlike what the name suggests doesn't help you evade. Enemies have more accuracy than that. What it actually does is being subtracted from enemy accuracy effectively cutting their critical chances.
  • Morlocks are very armored everywhere but their eyes. Use aimed shots.
  • You can unload guns in traders inventory with right-click. That's a lot of ammo you might be missing.
  • Medical trader in KRZ can be used to convert heavy or too expensive items into much more convenient chems.
From Author
Decided to make English version instead of Russian one cause there is a distinct lack of English resources on the game. I hope it helps somebody. Corrections and suggestions are welcome.
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InEffect  [author] Jan 14 @ 8:50am 
You will have good use for those once you get the place to call your own. Go with the quest line from a guy in KRZ hospital.
Schutzengel Jan 14 @ 8:17am 
Why do we have to 'Buy and store all Scrap metal, Waste Paper and Gunpowder.' ?
InEffect  [author] Jan 12 @ 10:41am 
As I mentioned earlier the directions and explanations are very much intentionally bare-bones to let players discover the game themselves. The purpose of this guide is to help with character planning and help people miss less content, if possible. I try being as vague, as possible, while still providing just enough information.
Van-d-all Jan 12 @ 9:49am 
The book is called "Unaussprechlichen Kulten", an easter egg from Cthulu mythos.
InEffect  [author] Jan 12 @ 8:58am 
You do you, man. I am not here to argue. If you find playing 1 end on survival enjoyable - I am happy for you.
gaius germanicus Jan 12 @ 8:43am 
you state many things that are actually false,you can finish the game with 1 endurance on survival,and you definetely cant tank bursts.honestly havent seen worse guides written for any game,better to play some more and understand how the game works than produce fake news.

the game has many issues,lack of builds is not one of them.
gaius germanicus Jan 12 @ 8:36am 
my experience is completely diiferent-in my 64 hours of gameplay i have seen once painkillers being sold,and surviving 7 bullet bursts from multiple enemies is impossible (maybe one turn).
each bullet does 10-30 dmg,now imagine 5 dudes taking turns bursting you.
your complain about lack of viable builds is not accurate,armor perks and high endurance is maybe good for melee builds,but the stat tha matters the most is sequence-if you dont go first you will die late game.
InEffect  [author] Jan 12 @ 8:16am 
If you survive the turn you open inventory and heal to full. Sequence only matters 1st turn and 16-17 that any character has is enough. Again. Tanking shots is not optional. You do have to do it. Your companions literally suck at tanking as they don't use stims enough in combat. and in solo it's not even an option. Not to mention low End is either a time wasted for reloads or survival game ruined depending on what difficulty you play. What I described consistently works late-game and nothing else does. I don't have to like it for it to be true. And it's not up to me to decide how it should be.

I have 3 full playthroughs and 237h under my belt.
InEffect  [author] Jan 12 @ 7:49am 
about taking a lot to sustain late-game damage - yes. This is the state of a game. The game is balanced around you having those. It's up to devs to fix it somehow. if they nerf it - endgame will be a slot-machine. if they do nothing - it will be as it is with Abilities being not much of a choice.

also you can not rely on offense. game often throws you right into combat. with how the Sequence works you will eat a PK burst to the face you want it or not.
InEffect  [author] Jan 12 @ 7:43am 
you do not need perks to be effective with either AR's or rifles. painkillers and BF12's are frequently sold by stalkers. the former can also be found at caravans and medical shop. there are about 4 tough fights in the game as they feature AP bullets in said guns. slavers and some such can be tanked with painkillers no problem solo and with nothing at all with companions given everyone has tanky perks.