Jigsawn

My Stalker diary - Pleasant Valley and beyond

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Inspired by Ahache's Interloper diary in this forum, I decided to write up my recent Stalker runs so far. Although I played the game a lot in the past, I didn't push myself too hard on Stalker, only conquering areas like Mystery Lake, Desolation Point and Forgotten Coastline. A few years ago I gave up on a Stalker run on Coastline 30ish days in because I was getting bored. This time with the new patch I decided to try out some of the newer, harder areas.

My first starts on Pleasant Valley were brutal and swift, usually only lasting a few days or even less. I either froze to death wandering the wilderness, or was mauled by the many wolves around the map. During those runs I discovered scattered huts and picnic sites, as well as a big red barn. In my best run, I found the climbing rope up to Timberwolf mountain, another region I didn't know. After getting up there and discovering the relative safety of the Climbers Hut during a blizzard, I died a few days later from a wolf whilst desperately roaming the mountains for supplies. On the mountain I'd found various bits of the plane scattered around, as well as spotting the main fuselage way on the summit - but I couldn't find the way up, even after climbing a few ropes. I did however find a big cave but it led me downhill instead of up! 

I next tried a game on Hushed River Valley (another area I hadn't been to), but a blizzard followed swiftly by a bear attack finished me off on the very first day!

So I decided to return to Pleasant Valley and on my next run managed to survive a new record, for about 10 days. This was largely thanks to discovering the Pleasant Valley Farmstead which was packed with goodies. It meant having to dodge the numerous wolves around the farmland, as well as the resident bear every day, but I was doing alright. I headed towards the hilltop radio tower, and climbed up the cliffside rope to find a nice little control room full of stuff, including a rifle! Exploring around the radio tower hill, I found a fishing lake down the road. Unfortunately in my quest for food I got greedy and carried two rabbit carcasses at once, attracting two wolves - I shot one, but the other attacked me. I fought it off, but my condition was bad. Just then a blizzard came along. I desperately built a fire in the shelter of a rock to try and stave off the freezing cold before my condition dropped to critical. But whilst I was sleeping by the fire the wind direction changed - leaving me frozen and awake. To make matters worse the sun had just gone down.

My only hope was to try and make it uphill to the radio tower control room. My condition was already in the red. In the dark and blizzard I could barely see anything, so I tried to follow the road's direction, (not on it, because I knew there were wolves nearby). As I staggered onwards my health was dropping to a sliver of red, and I realised I wasn't going to make it. My last chance was my emergency stim. I slammed it into my veins and was rewarded with a bit of health recovery and a huge burst of speed! I had no idea how long it would last, so I just started sprinting in the general direction of the radio tower. But somewhere in the panic, night and raging blizzard I lost my way, and ended up completely disorientated in the trees. I ran straight downhill in the hopes of finding any kind of landmark, with my time rapidly running out. Out of the darkness suddenly emerged a road, and then the silhouette of an orchard tree. I knew I must be near the farmhouse and desperately ran into the orchard, praying that the blizzard had driven the wolves away. Swaying and with my vision blurred, I staggered into sight of the farmstead, and managed to get inside - where I immediately collapsed into bed. I was saved! 

After recovering from that ordeal I was low on food, so in a few days I climbed back up to the radio tower to explore more of the area around the lake in the hopes of finding some supplies. I spotted a deer on the hillside and shot it. As I went over to its body, I heard barking. Over the crest of the hill charged a wolf, and I didn't have time to get my gun out. With poor clothing protection and an already damaged condition, I couldn't fight him off and that was the end. But, at the very least I survived a lot longer this time!

Edited by Jigsawn
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By now I was starting to get a feel for Pleasant Valley and wanted to try again, get further and explore its nooks and crannies. My next run started near the fishing lake, appropriate considering how close it was to where I'd last died. But things turned sour from the start, after looting the lake hut I headed up the road to the radio tower, only to see the resident bear just meters away around the corner, blocking my route! I ran away and thankfully it didn't chase, but I'd alerted a wolf in the process and so had to keep sprinting. I veered off the road and circled the big rocks outside the radio tower. I managed to get inside the fence with the wolf hot on my heels but fortunately the fence flummoxed it a bit and it didn't figure out where the gap was - allowing me to get into the control room safely. What a start!

I geared up in the radio tower (including finding a rifle again), and when the coast was clear decided to explore the north east corner of the map. I went downhill to meet the road, and followed it left as it curved alongside the river, leading to a rockfall and a body. I stocked up on cats heads along the way, and set about exploring along the river in the other direction. I found a cave in the hills there, and then sprinted away in fear as it was home to a sleeping bear! He never woke up, or at least I didn't see him do so because I was outa there!

There didn't seem to be much else around the river. I reached some little shacks in the woods I'd seen in previous runs - no good loot but thankfully wolf-free for once, and headed south towards the Pleasant Valley farmstead as it was getting dark. No wolves in this part of the orchard, and it was a clear run to the house. I spent the next day gearing up, getting very lucky with the clothing I found - including two heavy duty jackets, warm jumpers, boots, thermals and ski gloves! That was nice!

In the following days I headed back north from the farm, going beyond the shacks and exploring the snowy tracks beyond. I found a lot of wilderness but also the ruins of a farmstead and a big rabbit grove. I'd explore and map around here using charcoal, hunt a few rabbits around the grove and cook them up, then head to the farm for the night. Things got a bit hairy every time I wanted to head back because I usually had a rabbit carcass or two on me, and to get there you had to get past at least one group of wolves depending on where they were patrolling. One time I had to use a flare to keep them off me, another time just outside the farmhouse I shot a charging wolf dead, fending off his friend with my hunting knife. Thankfully my strong clothing kept me from harm.

I gave up on my rabbit grove explorations as there didn't seem to be much else up there, and the runback to the farm with rabbits was too risky. Bad weather and low stamina kept me around the farmhouse for the next few days. But I did manage to get out to the wolf I'd killed and built a fire so I could harvest it in peace. I discovered some rabbits south of the farm, right next to Contemplation Bridge. They kept me alive as my food stores were running low. I had to stop this strategy too because the wolf attention was way too dangerous - a group of 4 wolves patrols in the orchard very close to this and its really easy for them to catch your scent once you have a rabbit. I had some very close calls with mad dashes to the farmhouse when the wolves were homing in on my scent!

With some more bad weather days although my condition was good, my supplies were running low. I'd spent a lot of idle time indoors fixing up all my clothing, sharpening my knife, cleaning my rifle, boiling water and reading books. With hunger biting, I headed out into a near-blizzard with no real choice, and decided to head over to the Farm Outbuildings which I'd discovered on previous runs. The wolves didnt bother me out in the hay field and I managed to find some food and other supplies in the barn, as well as warm up. On the way back a wolf chased me, I made it to the farmhouse and shut myself in the porch (I love that porch). As he came around the corner looking for me, I shot him through one of the broken windows. Take that, wolfy! I added his pelt to my collection, 2 wolves down. By this point I had about 10 rifle ammo, but although it was tempting to shoot every wolf around the farmhouse (there were still 4 to 6 every day), I wanted to save the ammo for hunting and emergencies. That night I chowed down on wolf steak... and caught internal parasites. Crap.  

 

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My plans for a wider exploration of the valley would have to go on hold until I dealt with the parasites. Fortunately I'd already found plenty of mushrooms so far, and so had 6 day's worth of medicine for the parasite's 10 day illness. Still, I'd need more mushrooms before I got too weak. I'd had parasites in a run last year and I remembered you get really crippled by a lack of stamina by the end, so it's important to find medicine asap.

By now I finally had some guts and rabbit pelts cured, enough to go to the farm basement and craft the rabbit hat, make some fishing line and a snare. My first priority was food as I'd run out. I decided I would climb up the rope to the radio tower and go to the lake to fish - in my low-stamina condition I didn't want to be dealing with rabbits and wolves. Heading to the rope, I discovered there was a cave right next to it, I hadn't noticed it before on previous runs. My stamina was already half gone and I'd only walked from the farmhouse to the climbing rope! Damn parasites!

With it being a damn cold morning I had to go stick scrounging to build a fire in the cave to warm up before attempting the rope, cooked up a rabbit I'd caught on the way and had a lovely cup of hot coffee for an energy boost. Then I went to the rope and started the long climb. I was going slow, which is never a good sign, and my stamina was dropping fast. As I laboured up the final part I realised I wasn't going to make it - my stamina ran out, but to my luck I must have been past the point of no return and Astrid hauled herself over the cliff edge.

But now I was on top of a cliff, freezing cold and almost starving, with red stamina (i.e. no sprinting). There was no way I could take the risk of walking to the lake, what if I ran into wolves? Going to the radio tower was just as dangerous plus there were no supplies there. I had no choice, I had to go back down! Of course, now I was over-encumbered because I was so weak and so I had to shamefully drop a bunch of stuff at the top of the rope and shimmy down in defeat. After warming up in the cave again I shambled back to the farmhouse, with nothing to show for my efforts for the day. Parasites suck.

 The next day fully reguvinated but still close to starvation I headed immediately to the rope and climbed it before my stamina was too low. I collected my stuff and shimmied down.  Exploring around the cave revealed a rabbit grove by the river, so I hung out there for the day hunting some rabbits, harvesting them in the cave and it kept me warm whilst it snowed outside. There were no wolves around here, in fact it was a really nice spot. I decided to spend the night in the cave, and sure enough for most of it the temperature was fine. The floor of the cave became scattered with hides and guts beginning their drying process.

With a fuller belly than usual I decided now was the time to push onwards for medicine and supplies. I went back onto the road and followed it east, past the Outbuildings hay field. The weather was decent and a long way down I reached a junction with a right fork. There were wolf howls down the right, and I think it curves around to become the track that goes alongside the fishing lake. So I went onwards and eventually came to a little crossroads village. Just what I needed! I'd seen it before in other runs, I just didn't know where it was relative to the farm. 

This was like christmas, four buildings to loot. I found plenty of food and drink amonst the other supplies. I desperately wanted a hatchet as I still hadn't got one, but sadly no luck. My hunting knife had been my trusty companion so far, without that I would have been having a bad time! On the last building I ran into some wolf trouble - I'd thought about picking him off at range but he seemed to be wandering off so I saved my ammo. That decision came back to bite me (literally) as he turned back in my direction and charged. With the uneven terrain around the houses I missed my shot and fought him off in a big struggle, leaving me at under half condition, with my stamina already critical to boot thanks to the parasites. As I was recouping he recovered from his stabbing and came hurtling back towards me down the hill - I only just managed to get into one of the houses before he would have got me!

 

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After resting for a bit inside, I knew I had to sleep and recover condition before taking further risks. I peeked outside and the wolf was gone, so I went over to the Canada flag house and spent the night in bed there. The next day the weather was crappy but I wasn't going to hang around wolfsville any longer (you could hear the howls just up the hill). I followed the road along the rocky edge of the map, heading north. I'd been pretty good at filling out the key points of interest of the map with charcoal this run, so I was starting to get a good feel for where things were.

The road led to a dead end, another place I'd seen before in earlier runs, a rockfall with a body and a car. Backtracking, a junction had a left turn going uphill to where the wolf howling was coming from. I didn't fancy that but I did spy a cave to the side of the track, hidden off in the trees. It even had some coal inside. I returned to the end of the road and took the left track which led to some burned out houses. I knew from past runs there were usually wolves here so I quickly checked for supplies and ran back the way I'd come, just as a wolf arrived on the scene. My stamina was already out thanks to the parasites, 6 or 7 treatments left to go. I went back to the cave to rest, and found more mushrooms, enough to last me through the illness. I had loads of snacks from my village raid, and now medicine - this had been very successful!

I spent the night in the cave and the next day I decided to brave the wolf track up the hill, gun at the ready. The track just seemed to lead to tree-filled hills. I climbed up the hillside to get a better vantage of the area, and to my surprise found some wooden supports, and then spotted a metal lamp. Right there was a mesh door leading to "Abandoned Mine". Exciting!

Into the mine I went, oil lantern raised. This turned out to be a mazelike set of tunnels, with zero light but full of coal and other supplies. So much so that I was carrying way too much and moving at a snails pace. I followed the rule of Lefts to avoid getting lost, vowing to return when my lantern reached half oil. Getting stuck in these tunnels in the pitch black would be a death sentence, and you couldn't even light a campfire here. Fortunately just as my lantern was about half, I found a torch and was able to continue. I eventually found the mine exit, which to my surprise brought me out in Coastal Highway. So the abandoned mine must be one of the "transition" areas I'd heard about but never seen, very cool.  I didn't want to leave Pleasant Valley yet though, so back I went, leaving piles of coal at each junction so I wouldn't get lost on any return journey. With no real need for coal right now I could always come back for it later, and I also dumped a load of the random clothes and junk I'd found in the mine into a locker, for me to collect should I come this route another time.

And that's where I'm up to now. With my crappy parasites I can't get far every day, but I'm planning to next head north past the wolf shacks and explore up there. On one previous run I discovered the Draft Dodgers Hut and the rope to Timberwolf Mountain, and I'm guessing that is probably up in the big unexplored corner of the map I haven't touched yet. I'm sure there's little bits I have missed as well. At some point I'll loop back to the farmhouse and the radio cave to grab gear and check on my drying pelts and guts. In the long run once I think I've seen everything in Pleasant, I might head to Timberwolf and try to explore and survive there, hopefully a bit easier with all my gear compared to last run. But that is far in the future, for now I need to focus on curing the parasites, dodging wolves and slowly exploring with my crappy stamina. I'm hoping to kill a few more wolves soon so I can make the wolf coat, hell yeah!

Edited by Jigsawn
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Exited the mine back into Pleasant Valley into a blizzard. Ah, it's fine, I thought - the cave down the hill isn't that far. It ended up taking ages against the wind and my stamina down to zero again because of the parasites. When I finally found the cave in the blizzard after taking some wrong turns I was freezing and exhausted. I had collected sticks on the way and started up my fire to warm up, then was going to have a few hours sleep. It's then I realised I had left my bedroll in the mine. Oops. 

To allow me to pack-mule as much stuff in the mine as possible, I'd dropped a bunch of gear at the entrance. Then I'd quit for the day and completely forgotten about it. So with no other choice I warmed up for a few hours whilst boiling water, consumed all my fuel and then limped back out into the blizzard. Luckily I made it back to the mine before taking too much damage but it was sloooow going. I grabbed my gear and decided to sleep in the mine for the rest of the night. Only a few treatments for the parasites to go.

Next day it was snowing so I went to the cave to drop off excess gear, then headed past the dead end road and hung right going past the derelict cabins further on to avoid the wolves there. It was already afternoon after my long sleep earlier but I decided to press on, I knew up ahead there were some cabins and stuff - I just didn't know where.

Then the snow turned into a blizzard. My stamina was already low and I quickly began to freeze. I carried on up the track praying to find shelter, it was just as far to go back to the cave and I didn't fancy running into wolves around the cabins if my stamina ran out. It started getting dark too. Finally some shapes came out of the driving snow - it was cars. Disagreement Point. I searched the vehicles and decided to press on to try and find a hut before nightfall.

I went straight ahead following the main track, it was slow going in the blizzard but I eventually reached some ruined huts - Skeeters. I had a quick look around but couldn't find anything (I later learned there's a basement I missed!).  It was almost dark, I couldn't go forwards so I'd have to spend the night in a car at Dissapointment, I was already freezing. I made it back in the sunset, the blizzard still raging. But I wasn't warming up inside the vehicle, I think because my clothes were all soaked. Crap. I would die if I stayed here overnight.

I decided to follow the snowy track up the hill, dropped some gear at the cars because I was overncumbered. Visibility was awful now so I used the road verge to keep me orientated. The track just petered out into trees and snowfields. I wandered around for a little bit in the dark and then realised I needed to warm up before things got any worse. I found a rocky overhang and built a fire using my last sticks, then huddled at it for warmth for about 2 hours. My calories were also low but not much I could do about that now.

Edited by Jigsawn
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The Gods must have been listening because as the fire was getting low, the blizzard abated. It was still snowing but I'd warmed up and dried my clothes a little, plus I had some warm drinks in me. I still couldn't see much in the dark so I walked around the fire area, and rounded a corner to see... the cars again. I'd just done a big circle! I decided to take shelter inside a vehicle, with my new warmer constitution I managed to get a few hours sleep without dropping temperature.

Morning came and with it the cold again. At first light I set on up the snowy track again, it was still snowing but the visibility was ok. I passed last night's fire and spotted a hide in an open field, along with a deer. And just up the hill was... a ruined cabin - the climbing rope to Timberwolf! And as I knew... the prepper's cache hidden behind it. It had been 10 seconds walk from my fire last night, but I hadn't been able to see it in the dark. 

I spent the day looting the bunker and then trapped inside it when more terrible weather arrived. I hungrily devoured the snacks I found inside. There was even a hacksaw I knew would be handy later. I took my medicine.

A blizzard all the next day. I stayed in the bunker, organising my inventory and filling up lockers with spares. I finished off the last of my snacks before bed. I needed to find food tomorrow.

The blizzard died out overnight, thankfully. I went down to the hide, hoping to see the deer again. Sure enough, it soon showed up, and I got a nice headshot on it with the rifle. There were wolves howling nearby so I built a fire and spent most of the day harvesting it and cooking the meat. Ahhh, a full stomach at last! Not one to waste a fire, I kept it going for more hours to boil up water, and it's then that I saw three wolves patrolling just over by the bunker. Uhoh.

Even though I only had a few bits of cooked vension on me, all around me were strewn cooked vension, guts and the deer hide. Two of the wolves vanished over the hill, but the third suddenly turned around and came towards me. The fire was still going but I didn't want to have to deal with 3 wolves at once. He charged but the fire scared him away. He vanished over towards his buddies. I dropped the meat I was carrying. He came back, he got scared. He came again and finally this scare seemed to drive him far enough away.

I carried on my boiling, waiting for the wolf patrol to move beyond the bunker so I could haul my deer goodies back to safety. After an hour I grabbed a few bits of meat to do a test run, it didn't give me a scent of 1 so I figured doing multiple runs might be the safe way to do it. As soon as I left the fire, a wolf appeared over the bunker hill, heading straight for me. Damn it! But this time, his friends came too. I ran back to the fire as all 3 charged me. Thank god they were all scared off. I dropped the meat I was carrying and waited. They slunk away. I picked up a piece of meat. Immediately a wolf came over the ridge. I dropped it, he turned away. Hmm.

I grabbed some sticks around and built up the fire to last another hour, then waited until just 10 minutes remained. I grabbed all the deer stuff and sprinted over to the hide, then dropped it all inside. The wolves were already coming, but they had started moving off again. Phew. I waited the fire out and then very carefully sneaked my way back to the bunker. Hopefully the wolves couldn't get in the hide and eat my lovely venison. 

Next day, no sign of the wolves, good riddance. Grabbed the deer goodies and sprinted it back to the bunker to store it, still no wolves, excellent. Took a steak for the road. I set out north, towards Skeeters but on the right side beyond the hide. After a while Skeeters came into view, but I could hear wolves there, so I stuck to a clearing nearby where there was a deer carcass, and just beyond that, Burnridge cave. No bears so I harvested the deer hide and guts and quickly dropped them in the cave. 

I checked just beyond the cave to see if I could get around to Skeeters from the back and - what the heck - there was a hatch here! Had I really found another bunker so close to the one I'd been living at? Just as I was going to check it out, I suddenly heard a bark and then I was on my back, fighting for my life! For some stupid reason the weapon was defaulted to prybar instead of hunting knife, and I hammered the button in panic so ended up bashing him with that, which took forever. I took half damage but scared him off. Screw that, into the bunker I go! I'd deal with you later!

Indeed this was another prepper's cache. In fact, it was a horde, a horde of food. Food to last for weeks, for months. Tons of drink as well. Can openers, flares, meds, a bed. Honestly, instead of being overjoyed, I was dissapointed. This was like an easy win button. I wish I'd never found this place. I enjoy the game most when I'm up against the wall, grinding out my success through hard decisions and using my brain. With this cache I wouldn't have to worry about food for ages.

Unsure about what to do, whether to just try and forget I ever found the bunker, I went back up to exact revenge on my furry adversary. It didn't take long for him to reappear, that one bit of venison must really have taken his fancy. Rifle at the ready I took my shot as he advanced on me... and missed. On the ground again, at least I managed to switch to the knife, but I thought this was the end. But somehow I survived, though my health was in the red. I healed my wounds and retreated to the bunker to recuperate. Hey, it was time for my last parasite dose - I'm cured at last!

After a nice sleep, recovering to about half condition, I ventured topside in the hopes of exploring Skeeters properly, and dealing with the wolves. I climbed a big rock overlooking Skeeters and sure enough, there were the 2 wolves patrolling it. I was done with the cautious approach, I was kind of ready to quit the run at this point after the bunker haul had sucked the food challenge out of it. I crouched and aimed my rifle... bang, one wolf down. It started snowing hard. After the buddy came back from his fright, I tried to pick him off at long range, impatient. Missed. Wait for him to come back. Miss. It was getting dark and harder to see him. Dammit, I don't have time for this sniping business. I strode down off the rock and walked up right behind him. I aimed at him but as I was lifting the gun, he was turning. Before I could get off my shot, he pounced.

And that's how it ended, my furious knife stabbings weren't enough. I'd killed his brother. I'd gone rambo, got annoyed, impatient. I deserved to die this way.

I was a bit annoyed at how willing I'd been to throw my life away, considering how hard work the run had been up until today. But honestly since finding the second prepper's cache, I knew I would either have to ignore it or end the run, I couldn't face the thought of weeks of just hunting, crafting and exploring with no food worries. Still, I'd had a good time and really got to see most of Pleasant Valley, I'm pretty sure I've seen nearly all of the major locations now. I survived 23 days.

My good looting luck in the farmhouse, the second bunker, and the loads of gear I found in Pleasant Valley in general got me thinking. I think I need a bigger challenge when it comes to loot. Its no fun when you have big stockpiles of everything within 20 days. I've decided to start a new custom game using Stalker settings but with the generic loot turned to Low (which is the same as Interloper), although the specific loot stats are kept to Stalker levels. Hopefully this will make loot in general a bit less OP, but not incredibly stingy like Interloper - I don't know the maps well enough to survive on scraps. I've also bumped the worsening weather from medium to high, again the same as Interloper. This will mean the weather's going to get really nasty and cold, no more getting tons of great clothing by day 7 and being fine for the next few weeks, in the longer run this will give me something to aim for even if I do find quite good loot early on. 

I've already begun and random spawn put me in Desolation Point. I don't know it super well but I do know the 2 major locations. I started near the lighthouse so immediately headed there (had to run away from a chasing wolf) and looted up - not a lot in there. Spent the night and in the morning went up to the ruined church, caught a rabbit and ate it by the fire barrel to warm up. Then went over to the wrecked ship, found a few bits and bobs but was already freezing, and it was too dark to see well in the hold so I'll have to come back with light. Went over to the whaling station and have just arrived at the bunk bed cabin where I'm warming up. I know there are always lots of wolves around the whaling station, and I have no defences yet, and barely any clothes, so I will have to be careful.

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@Jigsawn  This was a good read, especially sense I usually just pass thru Pleasant Valley and only really know it from the The Hunted Part 1 challenge and going to TWM. I have to say having parasites can be a very annoying, but it can also be a benefit for another reason. You seem like someone who like to discover the game as you go but there is something you can do for food when you have parasites that you wouldn't normally do. It is below.

Eat more Bear/Wolf meat, you can not get it twice while you have it! (At least the way the game works.)

[\Spoiler]

 

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