When STALKER developer GSC Game World originally closed its doors in 2011, it provided the X-Ray Engine's source code to the public and gave fans the freedom to develop and distribute free mod projects with it. Eleven years later, one of the most popular creations that the community has made is STALKER Anomaly — an open world survival sandbox shooter that features all of the areas and factions from the three original STALKER games and uses an improved 64-bit engine, DirectX 11, and an enhanced version of STALKER's A-Life AI behavior system.
GSC is back and is working to bring fans STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl in 2023, but while you wait for it, we strongly recommend playing STALKER Anomaly. And while the vanilla Anomaly experience is a ton of fun, it gets even better when you install some of the extra add-ons that talented modders have created for it. Here's a list of the best STALKER Anomaly mods and modpacks available, as well as information about the tools you'll need to install them properly.
Best STALKER Anomaly mods: Modding tools
Before you can start adding mods to your STALKER Anomaly installation, there are a few tools you should download. The first is 7-Zip, which is a file archiver that you can use to both compress and decompress files. You need 7-Zip to extract mod downloads and install them manually by dragging and dropping them into the Anomaly game folder (we don't recommend this; we'll get to why in a second), and it also comes in handy when installing mods using the next tool we recommend: Mod Organizer 2.
Mod Organizer 2 is a powerful and easy-to-use mod manager program that places the files of installed mods into the correct folders each time you launch STALKER Anomaly through it. Not only does this automate the installation process and make your life easier, but it also allows you to easily disable a mod if it's causing stability issues for you by unticking a checkbox. Disabling manually installed mods is a massive pain by comparison, as you have to dig through the Anomaly game files to find and delete files. Therefore, Mod Organizer 2 is a must-have tool. Make sure you follow this excellent guide by DigitaLifeless to get Mod Organizer 2 working properly with STALKER Anomaly, as well as the tutorial that the mod manager runs you through when you open it for the first time.
Something to keep in mind is that sometimes, the files in mod archives will be organized in a way that Mod Organizer 2 doesn't understand. When this happens, you'll need to use 7-Zip to extract the mod and then compress the parent folder that contains the folders with the mod files in them. These mod file folders are usually called gamedata, but may also be called appdata, db, or bin. Once you compress the parent folder and create an archive, you can drag and drop it into Mod Organizer 2 and install.
Once you've got Mod Organizer 2 ready to go, you should install the Anomaly Mod Configuration Menu. This nifty mod adds an additional menu to the game that several mods use to add custom configuration menus, allowing you to tweak their settings easily.
Though they're not necessarily tools, we also strongly suggest picking up these modded STALKER executable files (there are versions for both Anomaly 1.5.1 and 1.5.2). A handful of popular and useful mods require the use of a modified game .exe, so user TheMrDemonized combined all of these tweaks into one set of executables, making all of these mods compatible with one another. Note that the mod comes with the mods Differential LTX Loading (DLTX) and Shader-Based 2D Scopes built-in; if you choose to install the Screen Space Shaders or Duty Expansion mod with these .exes, make sure you don't install the executables they come with. You can add the modded executables to your game by using 7-Zip to unpack them, then by dragging and dropping them into the bin folder in your STALKER Anomaly game directory.
One more thing: Always make sure you read mod descriptions. Most mod authors will include information about specific installation instructions, details about mod compatibility, requirements, and patches, recommended settings to use, and other helpful pieces of info.
Best STALKER Anomaly graphics mods
These mods will improve how graphically impressive STALKER Anomaly looks, and some of them will also change the overall style of The Zone. Most of them don't affect performance much, either, which is great.
Global Texture Rework (GTR)
Global Texture Rework (often abbreviated to GTR) completely replaces almost every texture in the game with higher quality ones that look fantastic. The textures are also better optimized than the vanilla ones, meaning that they won't affect performance and may even improve it.
Golden Autumn Textures
Golden Autumn Textures gives The Zone an early autumn appearance with lots of golden yellow grass as well as amber and red trees and bushes. Alternatively, you can also switch to green grass or use a combination of green, yellow, and red trees if you'd like to achieve a specific look.
Enhanced Shaders and Color Grading
Enhanced Shaders and Color Grading is an advanced mod that overhauls Anomaly's lighting and color with gamma correct lighting, PBR-style specular effects, ACES-based color grading, and more. Visuals like this were previously only possible with ReShade, but these shaders look just as good and affect performance less, making them preferable. Make sure you read the description to learn how you can configure the mod's settings to achieve specific looks.
If you want to use a ReShade, we recommend the Aggressor ReShade. It's a clean and filmic ReShade inspired by Escape From Tarkov, and since it doesn't affect performance much, you won't need to worry about it interfering with the flow of gameplay. It comes with an optional weather overhaul, too.
Screen Space Shaders
The Screen Space Shaders mod brings proper screen space ambient occlusion, shadows, and reflections to STALKER Anomaly, complete with full compatibility with the Enhanced Shaders and Color Grading mod. Together, these two mods make Anomaly look like a AAA game.
Don't install the executables that come with the mod if you're already using the modded .exes from the Modding Tools section above.
Beef's Shader Based NVGs
Beef's Shader Based NVGs completely remasters STALKER Anomaly's rather unattractive night vision by replacing it with advanced shader effects. Note that it requires the Anomaly Mod Configuration Menu, as it comes with its own set of adjustable options and settings.
HollywoodFX replaces all of Anomaly's visual effects with snazzy new ones, including muzzle flashes, explosions from grenades and other explosives, bullet impacts, blood mists and spatters, anomalies, blowouts, psy-storms, and more. If you'd prefer things to be as realistic as possible, you're in luck, as the mod author included a "RealisticFX" alternative option.
Shader Based 2D Scopes
STALKER's 2D scopes haven't aged very well visually, but the Shader Based 2D Scopes mod makes them look about as good as they possibly can. It uses a custom magnification shader and scope-based visual effects like parallax fog and chromatic aberration to improve image quality when scoped in.
You already have this mod installed if you're using the files from the modded .exes download in the Modding Tools section above, so don't install it again.
Anomaly HD Models
The default character models in Anomaly don't look great, which is exactly why the Anomaly HD Models add-on is so great. It replaces the models, meshes, and textures for every NPC and outfit with custom-made HD versions. Admittedly, a few of the models aren't exactly lore-friendly, but overall they look fantastic.
Dux's Innumerable Character Kit
Dux's Innumerable Character Kit is an excellent alternative to Anomaly HD Models if you'd prefer stalkers to look close to the way they do in vanilla. The mod adds a ridiculous number of vanilla-style high-quality models and textures while also making some improvements to the models from the base game.
T.H.A.P. Rework, the latest version of the popular The Hands/Arms Project mod, replaces the models and textures of the player's hands with brand-new assets. It's fully compatible with both HD Models and Dux's Innumerable Character Kit, too, making it a must-have if you want your first-person hands to match the way they look in third-person.
HD Mutant Models & High Resolution Mutants
HD Mutant Models and High Resolution Mutants are a pair of mods that significantly improve the appearance of the various mutant creatures that players and other stalkers will encounter as they explore The Zone. The former upscales mutant models, while the latter upscales mutant textures.
Best STALKER Anomaly sound mods
These mods add new sound effects to Anomaly's soundscape, making the game's world sound different and its weapons sound more powerful.
Soundscape Overhaul 3.0
Soundscape Overhaul 3.0 removes the fake mutant sounds that play in Anomaly's levels, but repurposes them and plays them whenever the mutant they belong to is actually nearby. Additionally, the mod also replaces all of the game's environmental sounds with new high-quality ones, vastly improving the overall soundscape. As a result, this mod makes the environment sound much more immersive, and it also ensures that when you hear a mutant in the distance, you know that it's actually there.
JSRS Sound Mod
The JSRS Sound Mod adds in a significant amount of new audio for Anomaly's weapons and explosives, making them sound more powerful and realistic. Notably, the mod is still a work in progress, so it's likely going to be updated with additional sounds over time.
Injury Audio Extended
Injury Audio Extended makes stalker injuries and deaths sound particularly brutal, as the mod adds several new audio clips of stalkers whimpering, crying out in pain, and choking on their own blood. It almost makes you feel bad for killing other stalkers when they attack you, and overall, The Zone feels bleaker and more depressing with it installed. It's not for everyone, but it's very well done.
EFT Sound Effects
Both the EFT Jump/Land SFX and Escape From Tarkov Aim Rattle mods bring subtle sound effects from Escape From Tarkov to Anomaly. These additions aren't game-changing in any significant way, but they make moment-to-moment aiming, jumping, and landing sound more realistic.
Best STALKER Anomaly gameplay mods
These mods improve STALKER Anomaly's gameplay by adding or altering weapons, quests, dialogue, enemies, animations, and more. Some of them also improve Anomaly's existing gameplay systems and mechanics to make them more stable and logical.
Warfare Alife Overhaul
Anomaly's Warfare mode — a variation of the standard experience in which The Zone's factions dynamically attempt to capture and defend territory — is a genius idea, but its vanilla implementation often doesn't make sense and has out-of-control spawn rates. Warfare Alife Overhaul solves this by making stalker spawns more reasonable and giving each faction custom behaviors based on their motives and goals in STALKER lore. The mod also makes Warfare compatible with the Story mode, allowing you to experience both modes in one playthrough.
Yastin + Favkis Fluid Dynamic Relations
The Yastin + Favkis Fluid Dynamic Relations mod packages two popular add-ons for Anomaly's Dynamic Faction Relations feature into one. The two mods make it so that factions that would never fight or ally based on canonical lore will never become enemies or allies in your playthrough, and also reduce the size and volume of relation changes in general so that factions aren't constantly changing their relationships with other groups.
Trader Overhaul changes the stock of The Zone's various merchants so that many of them carry specialized stock instead of a selection of general goods. This gives players a rewarding reason to explore more, as they won't be able to easily buy everything they need from a single trader anymore. There's also an optional hard mode version of the mod that doubles the amount of reputation you need to earn with a faction before their trader will begin selling you higher-tier items.
Duty Expansion is a small, but well-made quest mod that adds four brand-new Duty quests involving a new NPC called Anna. She can be found in Rostok, guarding the checkpoint near the entrances to the Wild Territory and the Army Warehouses.
Don't install the executables that come with the mod if you're already using the modded .exes from the Modding Tools section above.
Boomsticks and Sharpsticks (BaS)
Boomsticks and Sharpsticks (commonly referred to as BaS) adds countless new guns, attachments, and melee weapons to Anomaly's sandbox, complete with custom animations. You can buy them from traders, find them in loot stashes, or take them from the corpses of enemy stalkers you've slain.
EFT Weapon Reposition
The EFT Weapon Reposition mod does exactly what the title suggests — it repositions the viewmodel of Anomaly's weapons to something natural, similar to what they would look like in Escape From Tarkov. This makes shooting feel more natural as a result, improving the feel of combat.
Weapon Reanimation Mods
Anomaly Weapons Animation Redux, Blindside's Weapon Reanimation and Rebalance, and FN FAL Animation Set 2.0 all either replace Anomaly's vanilla weapon animations or improve them by smoothing them out. This makes the moment-to-moment gameplay experience feel smoother and less janky. Note that you'll need to use the JSRS sound mod and its patch for Blindside's Weapon Reanimation and Rebalance to use Anomaly Weapons Animation Redux.
Adjustable Scope View
The nifty Adjustable Scope View mod allows you to change how close or far away your character holds their weapon on the fly, which is useful if a weapon's viewmodel doesn't look great at the standard distance. It can be particularly helpful if you're using a small sight and want to bring them closer to your "face" so they're easier to aim through.
By default, Anomaly has weapon sway that occurs while strafing or looking left or right while aiming down your weapon's sights. If you find this annoying, get the Steady Aim mod that keeps your aim level and steady while you move around.
Death Animations & Remade Animations Pack
The Death Animations and Remade Animations Pack mods are perfect for making NPC stalkers feel more alive. The former replaces the vanilla game's ragdoll animation with a series of different death animations (for example, a stalker may clutch their gunshot wound before dying), while the latter replaces Anomaly's goofy sprinting and aiming animations with something more realistic and natural.
Food, Drugs, and Drinks Animations (FDDA)
Food, Drugs, and Drinks Animations (FDDA for short) adds several animations that play when you eat food, drink something, or heal yourself with medical supplies. Not only do these animations make Anomaly feel more immersive, but they also make using these items in combat more interesting since you can't do so instantly or spam them.
Best STALKER Anomaly modpacks
If you'd rather not install STALKER Anomaly mods one by one and would prefer to download all-in-one modpacks, there are a handful of them that we recommend. Some of them come pre-packaged with an installation of Mod Organizer 2 and are modular, meaning that the pack was designed to allow you to disable individual mods that you might not like without the modpack becoming unstable. Others require a manual installation and are more rigid, as adding additional mods on top of the modpack's content may cause crashes and other issues. As always, make sure you read the description for installation instructions and other information.
Escape From Pripyat (EFP)
The most popular STALKER Anomaly modpack by far, Escape from Pripyat (also known as EFP) is a complete gameplay-focused overhaul of the game that's heavily inspired by Escape From Tarkov. Featuring a new health system that negatively affects your character's abilities when your arms, legs, chest, and head take a certain amount of damage, a revamp of Anomaly's ballistics and body armor, a magazine-based loadout system, a reworked economy, more realistic survival needs, and more, EFP is without a doubt the most hardcore modpack available.
STALKER G.A.M.M.A. (Grok's Automated Modular Modpack for Anomaly) is similar to EFP in that it's pretty hardcore, though G.A.M.M.A. focuses less on combat and more on economy. The modpack places a massive emphasis on exploration and crafting, as you're no longer able to buy weapons and some other types of supplies from traders anymore. Therefore, you have to find, maintain, and upgrade your gear yourself, and you also need to plan your actions wisely and constantly keep an eye on your surroundings since it's difficult to stockpile important supplies like medkits or food and water. G.A.M.M.A. also features a custom storyline, making it the best option for people looking for lots of new quests to do.
STALKER Dark Signal
STALKER Dark Signal is a recently released modpack that's closer to the vanilla Anomaly experience than EFP or G.A.M.M.A., and mainly focuses on making The Zone feel more active and alive with new audio, visuals, mutant spawns, a custom preset of the Warfare Alife Overhaul mod, and other additions. It's easier to get yourself some good gear in Dark Signal than it is in vanilla Anomaly, though the tradeoff is that your character's survival needs are more demanding and require more attention. Overall, Dark Signal is arguably the most balanced Anomaly modpack there is, and it's a fantastic choice for players who don't want to stray too far into hardcore territory.
STALKER Expedition has a bit of a reputation for being unstable, but the latest 2.0 version of the modpack solves these issues for the most part (there's one consistent crash that you can fix using this patch). Expedition is focused primarily on graphics and action, as the author included plenty of weapon and visual mods with custom tweaks. It's even closer to the vanilla experience than Dark Signal, so it's a good choice if you care a lot about visuals and don't want something radically different than normal Anomaly.
Project Q.U.A.N.T.U.M. is the smallest and simplest Anomaly modpack available, as it's essentially just a combination of the most popular shader mods and a custom ReShade preset (there's an optional texture pack as well). If you want a quick and easy way to make vanilla Anomaly look significantly better, this modpack is a great choice.
Bonus: Radiophobia 3
While Radiophobia 3 isn't technically a modpack for Anomaly — it's a standalone modded version of the original STALKER game, Shadow of Chernobyl — we wanted to spotlight it here because of how excellent it is. Much like Anomaly's Dark Signal, Radiophobia 3 builds on the vanilla Shadow of Chernobyl experience by adding new visuals, sound effects, AI and spawn behaviors, weapons, consumables, and more. It includes several Anomaly mods backported to Shadow of Chernobyl and also brings Anomaly's thirst system to the game as well. It even restores cut mutant enemies and adds over 40 new lore-friendly quests, giving longtime players something new to experience. Overall, Radiophobia 3 is an incredible mod, and it's easily the best one for the STALKER game that started it all.
Which mods should you use?
STALKER Anomaly is one of the best PC games for fans of survival shooters, and it's even more fun to play with the mods we've spotlighted in this roundup. We think you should use the vast majority of these mods, as most of them are compatible with one another as long as you use Mod Organizer 2 to install them and read mod descriptions to figure out which patches you need and what your load order should look like. With that said, there are a few mods we consider more valuable than others if you're only interested in doing some light modding.
For visuals, Global Texture Rework, Enhanced Shaders and Color Grading, Screen Space Shaders, HollywoodFX, and Anomaly HD Models will instantly make your game look fantastic. Soundscape Overhaul 3.0 and the JSRS Sound Mod are both must-haves for audio, while Warfare Alife Overhaul, EFT Weapon Reposition, BaS, Death Animations, Remade Animations, and FDDA all make Anomaly's gameplay smoother, more balanced, and more engaging.
Of course, you can also forego the process of installing mods yourself and use a modpack instead. The most popular one available is the hardcore combat-focused Escape from Pripyat, though we also strongly recommend Dark Signal if you want something feature-rich that's still fairly similar to the vanilla Anomaly experience. G.A.M.M.A. is ideal for players who love exploration and resource management, while fans of jaw-dropping visuals will be right at home with Expedition or Project Q.U.A.N.T.U.M.. Lastly, there's the superb Radiophobia 3 for folks who want to experience a modernized version of 2007's STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl.
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