A Beginner’s Guide To The Long Dark

Yeah, I know I’ve been writing about The Long Dark a lot lately. I can’t help it!

Like many survival games on the market, there are a number of fundamental concepts to consider in The Long Dark. You need to eat, drink water, stay warm, and get plenty of rest to survive. No, coffee doesn’t substitute for sleep, as much as us coffee fanatics would love to claim.

Flares Are Your Friend, Wolves Are Not

Hinterland Studio has made it clear that The Long Dark‘s wildlife is not a good representation of how actual wildlife behaves. Wolves are not nearly as vicious as they are in The Long Dark. However, we’re talking about a game, not real wolves. The wolves you’re going to be running into are not friendly by any means. In fact, it’s just general best practice to avoid them at all costs.

So instead of rushing up to Fluffy to cuddle, steer clear. If you see a wolf chowing down on a rabbit or deer, just take a wide berth and ready your defenses. If you find yourself on the run from a wolf, don’t be afraid to drop some meat or get a weapon out. If all else fails, you always have flares.

Wolves hate flares, and they’re likely to be the most common foe as far as wildlife goes. Carrying around some spare flares will safe you ammunition and a ton of headaches. It can be tempting to use flares as a light source in dark areas, but that’s what lanterns and torches are for. Always make sure to have at least one flare on you. They’re easy enough to find after all.

The Wind WILL Kill You

Wind makes a difference in temperature. It doesn’t just make for a cool blizzard effect, it actually causes the apparent temperature to drop. Travelling in windy conditions will sap your warmth faster than you think.

Use the terrain and environment to your advantage if you must go outdoors in windy conditions. Pay attention to the direction the wind is blowing and walk behind cover. Hills, trees, buildings, and other scenery can break up the wind, which is indicated by shield icon at the top of your screen.

Dysentery Is Bad For You

Regardless of how thirsty or hungry you are, always make sure your food and drink are safe to consume. Consuming unsafe water or food will cost you more in the long run in terms of medical supplies and time than just taking the hit to condition. Only eat or drink unsafe food or water as a last resort.

It’s important to remember though, that just because you cook food, doesn’t mean it’s going to be safe. The condition of the food you’re cooking can still dictate whether or not it’s safe to eat. If you have a choice to eat a rusty can of peaches, or a decent can of dog food, set the peaches aside and have a hearty meal of mechanically separated animals. Your stomach might just thank you.

Take It Slow

Sprinting everywhere and running down slopes will cost you. Imagine turning a corner and coming face-to-face with a bear, but you can’t get away quickly because you were running to your destination instead of walking. Sprinting should be a last resort for you, not only because it can hamper your ability to escape danger, but because doing so in the wrong areas can result in injury.

It’s easy in The Long Dark to sprain an ankle or wrist when rushing around, just like it can be in real life. Luckily, unlike real life, you can mend a sprained limb with some found painkillers (generally not recommended to just pop pills you found in real life), but since each bottle only carries three doses and they’re in limited supply, you might as well save yourself the trouble and slow down. After all, if you injure yourself and don’t have the meds, you have to rest to heal.

Not All Clothing Is Created Equal

Surviving in the cold isn’t just about wearing as much warm clothing as possible. There are a number of metrics that go into determining the effectiveness of what you’re wearing. Your clothing will differ in how much warmth it offers in normal conditions, as well as how resistant it is to wind and water. Additionally, if it’s bulky or heavy, it will likely offer more protection from wildlife, but it will also slow you down and tire you faster.

You also need to take into consideration how good of a condition your clothing is in, because if you’re wearing a worn parka, it’s not nearly as effective as one that’s in better shape. It’s a good idea to take a moment every once in awhile to gauge the condition on your gear (that goes for tools as well). After all, if your stuff is in bad shape and you end up getting attacked, you may end up with some ruined clothing.

Also, there are a number of craftable clothing items that can prove to be beneficial to you. It may take a long time to make a bear-skin bedroll, but there are added perks to having one.

Like reducing the chance of getting attacked by bears in your sleep.

First Aid, First

Injuries are no joke in The Long Dark. Unlike your day-to-day life, where you can shrug off a sprained ankle because you don’t want to go to the doctor, a foot injury in The Long Dark can cost you dearly. Ignoring afflictions and letting them get worse can cost you precious time and resources that are already hard enough to come across.

You may consider putting off treatment because meds are in short supply, but taking your last two painkillers is a much safer option than saving them for another day. There are a number of home remedy options available if you’d prefer to forage instead of using a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, or you can settle for a cup of tea and a lie down. You just never know when you might need to run from a wolf or seven.

So pay attention to your condition. Monitor your temperature and afflictions. Make sure to use the correct treatments for each issue, otherwise you’re just going to end up wasting something you may need later.

Better safe than sorry.

Have A Hot Meal

You might be surprised that a cup of coffee and a hot can of peaches can go a long way to making sure you don’t freeze to death before you make it to the next shelter. Filling your stomach with God’s gift to man (read: coffee) can help fight fatigue and keep you nice and toasty inside. It won’t protect you for cold temperatures for too long, but it will go a long way to helping you out. Starting every trip with a cup of coffee or tea is never a bad idea, and it might just help your mood a bit too.

This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of tips for The Long Dark, but it should get you started down the right path. Just remember, while most survival games pit you against zombies or sadistic cultists, The Long Dark pits you against the elements. Be a Boy Scout. Be prepared.


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