Longer, Darker: The Long Dark’s New Region And More

I played The Long Dark [official site] for eighteen minutes then uninstalled it and will not return. My character skirted the shores of a frozen lake, scavenged supplies from huts, dodged wolves on the frozen ice, admired the views, then settled down in a cabin on an island to, I assumed, get smashed then top themselves. It seemed a natural conclusion in such a wonked world, and that was me done with the game.

If you get a bit more into surviving though, hey! The latest update added a new region to the open-world survive ’em up with remnants of the old whaling industry, along with new crafting in forging, updated graphics and sound, and more.

Developers Hinterland Studio whipped together a video to show the main features that update v.264 brought last week:

They also explained with words. The new region, Desolation Point, is a coastal highway dotted with remains of the former whaling industry, making it more industrial than many of The Long Dark’s natural areas. Appropriately, the update also added metal forging, letting folks craft rudimentary tools if they can find coal and ingredients.

What might tempt me back into The Long Dark for a second life, though, are the other new things. Its sound is now more complex and richer, with wind changing at different times, temperatures, environments, and altitudes. Hinterland say they’ve retextured “most of” the game’s assets, and the lighting, skies and weather are nicer now too. Walking sounds also now reflect things you’re carrying and wearing, making it more you. The game already was a nice world to be in, and now it sounds more so.

That’s what’d get me back: I’ve no interest in surviving for survival’s sake, but I like that The Long Dark tries to encourage moments of peace and reflection while being in a pleasant world for just a while longer, to see what’s over the next ridge and what the next day may bring. It may be futile, with the world trashed, you the last human as far as you know, and wolves at your back, but at least it might be nice. That’s what I’d want, to experience just a little more wonder before ending it on my terms. Again.

The Long Dark is still on Steam Early Access.

21 Comments

  1. communisthamster says:

    Which update adds pigs?

  2. slerbal says:

    I’m really glad I bought this a while back. The Long Dark is such a nice looking game, though I am holding off on playing any more until the story mode is in. It has a gorgeous art style and the game has an exquisite sense of loneliness. Also nice use of track from Ghosts by NIN on the update video :)

  3. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I’m a bit apprehensive about the direction being taken by some of these changes. Crafting isn’t this game’s strong point – scavenging and exploring are the highlights for me. It’s nice that you can achieve self-sufficiency and I’ve spent a long time doing this in one of my playthroughs but I really want to see the story mode develop. I like this game best when you have to strike the right balance between hanging around somewhere, gathering supplies and healing up, and having to move on because the area you’re in is lacking in something important for survival. I’ll be really disappointed if this turns into just another open world crafting game where you end up as a god-like one man industry with a weak story mode tacked on for the sake of having one. I hope my concerns are unfounded and that they’re working equally hard on the story, but it would be nice to get some updates to this effect too.

    • Urthman says:

      That’s one of the hazards of early access. They have no story mode yet but they’ve got a bunch of people who bought the game and have nothing left to do. It’s much easier and quicker to add a crafting mechanic than to create new places to explore or put the story into place. Those early access people need something to do *right now* or the word of mouth on the game will be that it’s boring.

  4. Visualante says:

    Still waiting for this story mode which they never seem to talk about. I expect it’s going to take another year or two now they’re working on Xbox One. I have a sneaking suspicion that the story mode won’t be as compelling as the sand box anyway. Maybe I should get in now before it becomes over developed?

  5. horsemedic says:

    Ending the world on my terms almost always means deciding to shoot the bear.

  6. Scelous says:

    I thought this game was extremely boring. It’s maybe the only popular game I can think of that I absolutely cannot figure out why it’s so popular.

    I bought The Long Dark due to all the raving about it, of course. I walked around the wilderness for a bit, stocked up on a massive amount of food in a cabin, and just sat there, passing days. “Okay,” I thought. “Now what?” Am I supposed to just enjoy walking around? At that point, I would rather go outside and walk around.

    The game seemed very empty and devoid of any sort of real content, so I’m surprised it has been so well received.

    That being said, I do love who they chose as the voice actors.

    • Urthman says:

      It’s not done yet. They haven’t added all the story and places to explore that would make it a satisfying game, but since they let people buy early access, they have to quickly add a bunch of busy-work mechanics or they’ll get a bunch of reviews like this one.

      • Scelous says:

        But that’s just it — everyone is raving about The Long Dark and eating up those busy-work mechanics, which is the part that confuses me. So despite the fact that they haven’t added all the story and places to explore to make it a satisfying game, it’s getting rave reviews from users and critics.

        I could understand people raving after it was completed. But right now? What the hell?

        • canis39 says:

          If you’re into survival games, I can’t see where you wouldn’t enjoy this game. If you don’t understand why people like the sandbox mode of The Long Dark, it’s safe to say survival is not the genre for you.

          Which is okay, we all have our preferred genres.

          The real “what the hell?” question is: why did you buy the game? Based on “all the raving about it”? Maybe next time just follow your own instincts and don’t listen to the crowd.

  7. canis39 says:

    “I’ve no interest in surviving for survival’s sake…”

    How did you get picked to be the one to write an article about a survival game?

    • El Stevo says:

      It’s just a news article.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        Nevertheless, it’s sort of silly to have someone writing news about a game while expressly stating that they are not interested in its core concept.

        • nindustrial says:

          I somewhat agree, but also have to point out that I’m pretty sure RPS assigns a junior writer to cover an entire week of news posts at a time.. so if it’s Alice’s go when this one comes up, we’re out of luck so to speak.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      I chose to write this post myself. (I’m also news editor and write most of the news on RPS.)

      I’m clearly a little fond of The Long Dark. You might have missed the rest of that paragraph you’re quoting from. I enjoyed my brief time in it, and do admire it a little from afar.

      And hey, it’s a news post about a patch. I’m certainly not heaping scorn and snark upon the game. I tell you about the patch about my experiences with the game and express a mild desire to return. I don’t see what’s so heinous here.

  8. fupjack says:

    When Long Dark first came out, the graphics were more of an abstracted version of what they represented. It worked, as an art style.

    Now that time has passed and they’ve significantly enhanced the atmosphere, it’s still a stylistic representation of the outdoors – but there’s enough real aspects creeping in to make it that much more impressive. Or I’ve just played long enough to mentally ‘buy it’.

  9. Raoul Duke says:

    I have had this for a while but have avoided playing it much.

    I find it a tad frustrating that the jump from the lowest to medium ‘hostility’ settings turns animals from totally benign to relentless human-killing machines. Something in between would be much better – e.g. wolves are reasonably safe in daylight, but if you are near them at night you’re in trouble.

    Does anyone know whether the long term plan is to link up the different areas?

    • canis39 says:

      They are linked: Coastal Highway connects to Desolation Point, Mystery Lake and Pleasant Valley. ML and PV connect to each other and to CH.

  10. Rindan says:

    I was pretty meh on the game when I tried it. I had two big complaints.

    First, starvation killed you hilariously quick. For fuck’s sake people, humans take weeks to starve to death. Hunger will weaken you to a point, but even two days of not eating isn’t enough to significantly degrade your performance. I would really love a game that has a subtle hunger system. No real effect from starving for a day other than that your peak performance starts to degrade subtly(i.e. you can’t run as long). After a couple of days, your upper end endurance starts to go, meaning your carrying capacity starts to drop and you start losing the ability to sprint for long periods of time. A couple more days and your carrying capacity goes to complete shit, you can only walk and only very briefly sprint. As you get weaker, you sleep longer and get colder quicker. After a week or so, you are a zombie shuffling around; and maybe then you off the poor bastard for game play reasons rather than having them slump half dead on the floor for another week or two. If you manage to find food after a good solid starvation, it doesn’t magically revive you. Instead, you get a big boost in performance after some food and sleep, but it takes a while to get back to your peek capacity.

    My second problem was that it didn’t seem to have much in the way of direction. I don’t need much, but a little something to work towards would have been nice. Survival is fine, but I would like survival in a particular direction. It could be as simple as build a supply cache and repair and fuel a big old snow rover or something. Hell, even just uncovering a mystery as you survive might be enough for me. Just give me a little more direction than “don’t die”.

    Granted, this was all a pretty long time ago, so things could have perhaps changed. As negative as I sound, I was actually pretty up on the game. I think it had a lot of positive points… it was just missing something to make it sticky and make me want to stay around. There is a great foundation in there, it just needs a little direction and an actual game built on top of that foundation.

    • canis39 says:

      Sounds like you will enjoy Story mode more than Sandbox mode. Check back in a few months, Story mode is supposed to be out by the end of the year.