Mapping out multiplayer

The Zone may be something of a solitary place when you're adventuring through the story mode, but S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 's multiplayer component is anything but lonely. Spread across three distinct gameplay types, the competitive action is fast and deadly. Some of the multiplayer features are obviously inspired by previous hits - such as buying weapons before each round - while others are new innovations that help keep the run-and-gun action feeling fresh.

Deathmatch and team deathmatch are pretty straightforward. The goal is simply to kill the most people until either the time limit or frag limit is reached. You can purchase new weapons after every death (assuming you have the cash) or pick them off the bodies of dead soldiers. Team deathmatch splits players into the Stalkers and Daredevils, with each using Russian and NATO style weapons respectively.

Artifact hunt is the third multiplayer option, and it feels like a cross between capture-the-flag and a standard Counter-Strike match. Players are split into the Stalkers and Daredevils, each with a base. Weapons can only be purchased within your base. The goal is to grab a randomly generated artifact and bring it back to your base to score. The twist is that the player carrying an artifact can activate it, immediately transforming it into a deadly anomaly and denying either team the chance to score. It's kinda like playing CTF with a tactical nuke serving as the flag.