Survival games can offer thrilling anecdotes when their systems coalesce, and feel like searching for meaning in a random number generator when they don’t. When developed via Early Access, that’s both they’re strength and their weakness: they can feel empty on some playthroughs when incomplete, but each new addition can have exciting consequences that ripple through the entire design. Today’s ripple is to be found in The Long Dark [official site], which has just added a large new terrain, smartened up its animal AI, and added harvestable plants.
The new region is called Pleasant Valley and is a “rural mountain valley featuring abandoned fields, farms, caves, surrounded by a vast wilderness.” It’s accessed via the Coastal Highway region and is “unlocked in the Sandbox Menu after it has been discovered in the game.” It’s also almost 10 square kilometers of terrain, which doubles the overall terrain size again after last October’s update did the same.
Aside from new snow drifts to die in, the team have also improved wildlife AI to make it easier to read the behaviour of wolves. No more sticky situations where they ask you out for coffee and you’re not sure whether it’s a date or whether they meant it as just friends. There’s also new “Torch Brandishing gameplay”, which is a great way to say that you can hold torches now and wolves are scared of them.
Harvestable plants are used for crafting first aid items, but perhaps more useful is that the inventory system has been revamped so it’s easier to see what you’re carrying and to make use of it.
Can you yet train those wolves and use them like huskies to pull your sled across the frigid wastes? No, that’s Eternal Winter.