STALKER Environmentalists and Monolithic Factions Explained
factions of HARLER and the next STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl each have an opposite counterpart. This can be a violent rivalry such as the ideological war between Duty and Liberty or the more fundamental conflict of Solitaires and Bandits. Others, like the military and mercenaries, do not compete openly, but develop along divergent paths over the course of the games. This second category applies to the final main factions: the Ecologists and Monolith.
Although they almost never engage in open combat with each other, the Ecologists and the Monolithians couldn’t be more antithetical. Both of which are very likely to reappear in STALKER 2understanding their wildly divergent views on the Zone is one of the most important aspects of uncovering its deepest secrets.
The environmentalist faction
One of the few state-sanctioned factions operating in the zone, the Environmentalists are made up of expert scientists who hope to harness the bizarre miracles of HARLER‘s Zone for the good of mankind. The vast majority of the world’s limited knowledge of the Zone is the result of the work of the Ecologist faction. From inside their heavily fortified bunkers, conservationists are constantly testing artifacts, mutant parts, and anomalous data. Unfortunately, most conservationists are scientists, not fighters, which means they have a short lifespan in the Zone’s dangerous environments.
After the army was driven out of the area, environmentalists were left helpless, scientists began to hire stalkers as protection. This proved to be an extremely profitable relationship for both groups, as the Stalkers not only defended the scientists, but could also reliably bring mutant artifacts and parts, receiving generous bounty money and state-of-the-art anomaly protection equipment. Affectionately referred to as “eggheads” by loners, environmentalists are considered one of the area’s best employers for their reliable income and polite demeanor.
In the three HARLER titles, Ecologists serve as quest givers and central NPCs that drive the main story forward. While the Environmentalists can be seen outside the bunkers, most who venture beyond the perimeter are easy prey for bandits and hordes of horrid area mutants. Although their armor is not suited to defend against bullets and claws, it provides unparalleled anomaly protection, making ecosuits highly prized by artifact-hunting Stalkers.
The Monolith Faction
Where conservationists want to unravel the mysteries of the Zone, Monolith is obsessed with keeping them obscured. Unlike most Stalkers hunting artifacts for personal gain, Monolith is a dangerous religious cult made up of zealots determined to keep everyone out of the center of the Zone, aided by powerful psionic barriers protecting the routes to Pripyat and the power plant. Chernobyl nuclear. Rumor has it that the most powerful artifact of all, the Monolith, lies deep within the ruins of the CNPP.
Monolith soldiers are the main antagonists of The shadow of Chernobyl and Clear sky, enemies of all other factions and with the manpower and equipment to fight them all. Monolith Soldiers are extremely dangerous opponents, capable of continuing to fight even after sustaining mortal wounds. Serving the Monolith is their sole obsession, and they will willingly give their lives to protect it. Even after the events of The shadow of Chernobylthe remnants of Monolith remain formidable fighters, their skill surviving even as their humanity fades.
Monolith is easily the best equipped zone faction. Their armor provides protection against physical and anomalous threats, and their troops are typically deployed with high-end exoskeletons and science armor. Even more impressive is their access to an arsenal of HARLERthe most powerful weapons in the Eastern and Western blocks, as well as extremely powerful experimental weapons built using area artifacts.
The importance of ecologists and the monolith
Ecologists and Monolith represent two opposing views on scientific discovery and the nature of mankind. Environmentalists respond to the unknown with humble wonder and optimism, while Monolith is rooted in a cynical and arrogant desire to rewrite human nature. The minds behind Monolith, though trying to limit the damage they have caused, never learn from their mistakes and continue to make matters worse with every “fix”, always justifying their crimes against humanity.
Both factions also show a strong connection with Roadside picnicthe novel the HARLER series is largely based on. The idealistic and intelligent researcher Kirill Panov is a major character in the story and one of the few people the cynical protagonist trusts. Monolith also has a minor connection through Gutalin, a religious counter-stalker who believes that artifacts in the area should not be removed. GSC Game World reflects this in the friendly and helpful nature of the environmentalists and the bigoted behavior of Monolith.
At a much more basic level of gameplay, GSC designed the Environmentalists to be NPCs the player could positively connect with while Monolith becomes a symbol of fear and hate. In this way, they are each other’s perfect foils. With STALKER 2 raising the emotional stakes of the series, it will be interesting to see how these factions are used in the return to Chernobyl.
STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl is in development for PC and Xbox Series X/S.
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