Cold is your worst enemy in The Long Dark. Living through your first day in this hardcore survival simulation isn’t easy, and thriving in the Canadian wilderness is even harder. If you’re new to The Long Dark and need some starting tips, we’ve got you covered.
Survival in the freezing tundra requires three basic things; shelter, food, and water. All three resources are available with a little exploration. Just watch out for snow storms, cold weather, and the biting cold at night. That doesn’t even take into account predators like roaming packs of wolves or unstoppable bears. Get started right with a handful of tips and tricks all to help you survive in the great white north.
How to Survive – Tips & Tricks
The Long Dark is a race against time. Every moment you’re awake and in the cold, you burn calories — the colder it is, the faster you’ll go hungry. Night is a dangerous time to be outside, if you want to live, priority #1 is…
Step #1: Find Shelter
Shelter comes in several forms. There are caves, huts, and other structures to find in your random location. Anything is better than being outside when the sun goes down.
Man-made structures tend to be your best bet. Carefully scout the area for predators and make sure to note locations of caves, mine-shafts, cottages, shacks or any other shelter you can use in case of an emergency.
Watch for weather — at night, the temperatures are extremely low. Try to stay inside at night and get as much sleep as possible. Save all activities that can be accomplished indoors, such as eating, repairing or crafting item, for night so you can maximize your exploration time during the day light.
Before leaving a shelter, check the weather. If it is extremely foggy or if there are blizzard conditions, stay inside until the bad weather clears up. You’ll need sunlight and good weather. Why? Because you need supplies.
Step #2: Find Food
Food is your most important resource. Find and stock up as much food as possible. There are multiple sources for food, but at the start of your journey, you’ll only have access to scrounged food.
Later on, you’ll be able to hunt wildlife and cook the meat. Bunnies and deer roam areas. Even wolves and bears can be hunted, but for now you’re going to want to find any processed or packaged food. Search containers, shelves, and cabinets until you’ve got enough to last the night. About 1,500 calories should do before you continue searching.
Calories last longer the warmer you are. Try to find better clothes than the rags you start with, and always save sewing kits for warmer gear. Don’t waste repair kits on low-warmth outfits!
Avoid going outside at night, during snow-storms or in the heavy fog. If you’re caught in a flurry, quickly duck into a cave or any shelter until the weather passes. To help make survival easier, you’ll need another resource…
Step #3: Start A Fire
Eat hot food and warm yourself by a fire if shelters aren’t an option. A fire can be set with the [Tab] menu anywhere outdoors, you just need two things; tinder and tinder plugs.
Collect logs for use as tinder, and sticks for tinder plugs. Newspaper is worthless as tinder, but works well for tinder plugs. Tinder is your fuel, while tinder plugs help you start a fire. Certain items, as described above, are better suited for each role. The more tinder you add to a fire, the longer it will burn.
Fires can save your life in a pinch. They will keep wolves away and keep you warm while exploring new areas. Always carry some extra tinder and tinder plugs in your inventory.
Step #4: Explore
Shelters don’t provide food for long. Eventually you’ll have to give up scrounging and start hunting animals; bunny, deer, wolves or bear.
To do that, you’ll need a bow or a rifle. The bow can be crafted, but you’ll need to find the rifle on your own. Ammo is scarce, and the survival knife will only get you so far.
During the day, use the light to locate untouched areas and check for tools, materials, weapons, medical supplies, extra food, or new clothes. Bring your bedroll or you won’t be able to sleep away from home base!
Stay on high ground or stay close to natural wall formations like cliff walls. Always try to keep a good view of the area you’re about to explore. Predators are everywhere, and you’re easy pickings for a hungry bear.
Watch out for predators, and be prepared to run from a fight. Bears are extremely dangerous, and wolves hunt in packs. Use flares to keep wolves away, or throw extra bits of food between you and the predators. Wolves and bears will check out the food before coming after you. Always try to avoid combat if you can.
Speaking of running; don’t carry too much weight. Just like the cold, carrying more weight than necessary increases your calorie drain. Carry too much and you won’t be able to run. Dump marginally useful junk at a landmark and move on.
Step #5: Survive
Take in the stark majesty of the Canadian wilderness and survive as long as you can. Don’t be afraid to leave your preferred shelter after the area is completely cleared out.
If you’re going to start hunting, do yourself a favor and scout your prey. Watch where they go at night and find a good vantage point. Whether you’re using a bow or a rifle, never shoot unless you’re positive to score a hit. Ammo is rare, and you don’t want to waste arrows.
Animal carcasses will last several days before they disappear. Strip the body of meat and use a fire to cook for best results. You can partially strip a carcass and return later to keep the meat fresh longer.
If you have plenty of medical supplies, it might be a good idea to save ammo entirely and take on a wolf one-on-one with a knife. Just make sure to take off any nice clothes and put on something a little less quality — clothes get ripped apart by wolf bites.
Wound the wolf, run away, fix yourself up, and follow the blood trail to the body. Eventually, wolves and other wounded animals will die. Don’t lose track of the blood trail.
That’s all you need to know to survive in The Long Dark! Got any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!
Kevin Thielenhaus is a freelance writer for The Escapist. Find him on Twitter here.