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The Long Dark adds new wilderness to explore, manual cooking and haunted computers

Cold winds and silicon ghosts howl

Frostbitten survival adventure The Long Dark is one of the best in the genre, so says our boy Adam. On top of offering its own uncompromising vision of humanity pushed to the brink (all without a single zombie, alien or robot), it now has a steadily evolving main story arc that's being released one episode at a time. While today's free Vigilant Flame update doesn't contain much in the way of new plot, it does set the scene as well as introducing some major new gameplay mechanics.

The biggest new feature of the Vigilant Flame update is a whole new region to explore. Hushed River Valley is a beautifully scenic piece of wilderness without a single human-made structure to sully it (or seek shelter in), and it branches off of the Mountain Town map. It's apparently the hardest area to survive in, but contains some nice rewards for dedicated explorers.

The other big new feature is manual cooking and melting of snow-ice, implemented in a pretty natural and intuitive way. Make a fire or heat a stove, put a pot (or an empty tin can) on the heat, and put your meal or drink of choice in the vessel. Wait until cooked, but don't stop too soon or late or you'll risk food poisoning or burning it to an inedible crisp.

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Probably the most thematically interesting part of the Vigilant Flame update is Buffer Memories. At night, when the aurora glows bright, computers may flicker to life to reveal their last active images before everything went dark. These notes can be collected and kept in your journal. Right now this is mostly for spooky world-building purposes in Survival mode, although Hinterland reckon that they may be an interesting way to lead players to hidden locations and stashes in later updates.

On top of these three big new features, there's a small mountain of tweaks, and bug-fixes made, including some quality of life improvements made to the radial quick-select menu. You can see the complete patch notes here.

The Long Dark is available via Steam and Humble for £23.79/$30, and is currently half price on GOG too. The Vigilant Flame update is out now.

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