Best STALKER Game. Which One to Play in 2023? [Explained]

May 6, 2023

STALKER is an exciting game, especially if you play STALKER games in order. But you also may be interested in playing only one game of the series.

Deciding upon which STALKER game is the best is unreal if you have not played them all. And if you select it absentmindedly, you can forever ruin the relationships with this wonderful game.

Nonetheless, there are thousands of people who already asked that question and got answers from the experts of the game; thus, you can always make a research on the Internet in order to find the right answer.

The good news is you have found my article and this is a perfect solution to choosing the best STALKER game. In order to prepare it, I have made deep research throughout tens of forums, tested each game myself and then come up with a conclusion. Thereby, I believe my article is the best guide on the matter and using it, you can save a big chunk of time and money that you would spend on exploring forums and trying each game separately.

So, want to find the best STALKER game? Let’s jump right into this.

Which STALKER Game is the Best?

Giving you a short answer to this question, it is fair to say that STALKER: Call of Pripyat is the best STALKER game according to the reception, forum discussions, and my personal opinion. And in the following paragraphs I explain the whys behind of this as well as review the advantages and disadvantages of starting with STALKER: Call of Pripyat.

STALKER: Call of Pripyat

First of all, STALKER: Call of Pripyat is more realistic which isn’t odd due to the fact that it is the last and the most polished version of the game.

For example, now if your weapon is damaged, it cannot be sold until you repair it.

In contrast with other games in the series, although this is not a major improvement, the Call of Pripyat delivers a way better experience of survival in a post-apocalyptic world.

STALKER: Call of Pripyat Inventory

The second amazing improvement I have discovered in the game is its Artificial Intelligence. Thus, hostile creatures can roam the Zone and attack players they spot using advanced battle tactics.

It is important to mention that they attack only if they actually saw you, so if you are skillful enough, you can sneak through them without even fighting.

This is another good point to the realism which is an inseparable part of the best STALKER game.

In previous installments, enemies just follow you as if they always know your whereabouts and fight with you absentmindedly.

STALKER: Call of Pripyat Artificial Intelligence

Thirdly, in STALKER: Call of Pripyat there are fewer bugs and better graphics.

Whereas the look of the game mostly is just a matter of the release time, the bugs were an annoying issue in the first two games.

To illustrate, some players of STALKER: Clear Sky weren’t able to make it till the end because they had encountered a bug that crashed the game every time they load a certain area that was closely related to the main storyline and the only way to deal with it was starting the game all over again.

But this is not always a good option, especially if you have finished more than half of the game.

Alternatively, you would better install external mods to address these issues in the first two parts of the series.

STALKER: Call of Pripyat Graphics

The next big thing people notice about the best STALKER game, Call of Pripyat, is that the concept of open-world has undergone major changes.

This time, you can join any faction you want, select spawn location, and although the game has the main missions that progress you through the story, you can do whatever you wish.

This makes you immersed into the post-apocalyptic atmosphere even more.

Moreover, after you finish the main story, you can start playing a free mode where you will be able to complete the remaining additional missions or just wander through the locations.

STALKER: Call of Pripyat Map

Lastly, the Call of Pripyat is the best STALKER game for new players to get into the franchise because you start with a rifle, a gun, medkits, and food.

At the beginning, you can expect easy quests that provide you with even more good stuff and help to get comfortable with the game.

Compared with that, Shadow of Chernobyl doesn’t go that smoothly. You always suffer from the deficiency of ammo and medicaments.

Therefore, the Call of Pripyat might be good to start with in case you don’t like to delve into the game mechanics by yourself and need some help. Otherwise, you can give up on the series at all, and you will never understand what you are ditching from.

STALKER: Call of Pripyat Starting Equipment

On top of that, STALKER: Call of Pripyat brings a plethora of cool features such as bigger areas, a good upgrade system, and artifact hunting.

Especially, I love the last one. From now on, each day at a random time occurs an emission that kills everything outside of a shelter. After this, you can find newly formed artifacts at the epicenter of the accident.

Furthermore, as well as in the Clear Sky, to find the artifacts, you need to use a special detector that makes them visible.

STALKER: Call of Pripyat Artifact Hunting

On the other hand, Shadow of Chernobyl has a much better story which I find much diverse and intriguing.

For example, there are seven possible endings, while the Call of Pripyat has only one original finale with some different consequences for the secondary characters that are based on specific actions you did during the game.

So, if the Call of Pripyat had a broader story, the game would be priceless.

STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl

Furthermore, although I consider the Call of Pripyat as the best STALKER game, if you play it first, you might lose interest in playing the other two parts.

Firstly, you will know some elements of the story in advance because, during the game, you will meet a person who will be talking about the events happening in the first installment of the series. Anyways, these are very minor and barely notable, so you won’t get spoiled the whole plot.

Secondly, the Call of Pripyat is the last STALKER game and there are some features that missing in the first ones. For example, after playing the Call of Pripyat, you can forget that you can’t repair weapons in Shadow of Chernobyl and sometimes it can get you into trouble.

Therefore, if you start with Call of Pripyat first, be aware that some features might be not available in the other two games, especially weapon repairing and upgrades.

Best Stalker Games Ranked

Best STALKER Games Ranked

Concluding this article, I also want to rank STALKER games accordingly to the thoughts of their fans, reception, and my own opinion so you would know what to expect from each of them.

Meanwhile, it is important to note that every game in the series is pretty much decent and you should give a shot to the second and the third places in case you love the first one.

  1. STALKER: Call of Pripyat
  2. STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl
  3. STALKER: Clear Sky


To sum up, considering the advantages I have outlined above, it is fair to say that STALKER: Call of Pripyat is the best STALKER game because of its realism, simplicity, improved game mechanics, and new in-game features.

On the other hand, if you truly want to enjoy a story of the franchise, I recommend you start with the Shadow of Chernobyl first; thus, you won’t spoil anything and will be itching to get more of it.

So, now you know the best STALKER game and it is your turn! Install either the Call of Pripyat or the Shadow of Chernobyl on your PC and start enjoying it.

If you have any thoughts that would be useful for people looking for the best STALKER game, please let us know in the comments section below.

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