Apocalyptically icy survive 'em up The Long Dark [official site] will start its story campaign and leave early access on August 1st, developers Hinterland Studio have announced. The 'Wintermute' story will see a pilot try to find his partner and learn what's going on as the world goes to icehell, and comes in five episodes - the first two of which will be available at launch. Another big early access update is coming before then, mind. Hinterland say it will bring a new UI, cartography, and the option to do terrible things to rabbits. First, have a peek at Wintermute:
"The first two episodes of Wintermute are about bush pilot Will Mackenzie and Dr. Astrid Greenwood, and what happens when they get separated after a mysterious geomagnetic event causes them to crash deep in the Northern Canadian wilderness," Hinterland say. The announcement goes into more details but hey, maybe you don't want to know in advance. They say that the episodes tend to take players about 6-10 hours. Episodes three-five will follow across 2017 and into 2018.
Adam and John have both gushed about The Long Dark's sandbox mode but it's the story mode I've wanted. Survival for survival's sake isn't enough so I played one game, left it at a point where I imagined my character could die in relative comfort, then uninstalled. I'll be back in August.
Before then, more big changes are coming to early access. The 'Faithful Cartographer' update is the final promised sandbox update, and will enter later beta this month. Expect a new UI, a new and less buggy save system, (optional) cartography to create your own maps, bug fixes, performance improvements, the chancy choice to quarter carcasses and butcher them elsewhere while risk unwanted attention, the ability to throw flares and torches, the ability to throw stones at animals. Oh, that last one is awful. Hinterland say about stones:
"They make a good tool of 'last resort' against Wolves -- you might get lucky enough to scare one off -- and you can hunt Rabbits with them. Stun a rabbit, then see if you have the heart to finish it off."
No, no thank you. Please stroke that rabbit's ears then tuck it up in some cosy moss with a little of your food to nibble on, you monster.