(Updated guide for 2020)
The Long Dark’s permadeath mechanic makes it a truly unforgiving game – especially towards newcomers. All you need is one wrong move and you’ll be forced to start a new playthrough all over again. For this reason, as someone who has more than 200 hours into the game and more than 300 days of survival on a single playthrough (ongoing), I decided to give you a few The Long Dark tips that will help you survive for one more day – or a hundred… Depending on how vigilant you are.
That being said, those tips aren’t necessarily meant to be read only by beginners. Even as a veteran player, you may be able to learn a thing or two. So, let’s dig right into it!
The Long Dark Tips 1: Navigation is Key
Navigation is an extremely important aspect of survival that lots of people neglect. In a world where blizzards can kill you in a handful of ways and the weather is changing from totally fine to a death trap in mere moments, knowing how to navigate means the difference between life and death.
As we all know, there are no maps, a compass, or any means of “normal” navigation in this game. And although you can spend time and effort into drawing your own map, I’d recommend against it since it wastes precious time and puts you at risk of getting hurt without getting much in return.
So, how do we do it then? Well, while each player has his own way of understanding the game’s world, there are primarily two ways of navigating in this game:
- Using the landscape
- Natural game-sense
Making Most of the Landscape
The first way is the easiest to understand. You simply need to look for visual or even aural cues into the surrounding environment that will help you understand where you are and where you are heading.
Those cues can be anything from mountains and buildings to the location of the Sun and the sound of a rushing river. Take Desolation Point as an example.
The lighthouse is visible from a big part of the map. So, it makes for a good reference point. Speaking of which, make it a habit to always know where your nearest shelter is relative to your position. Because when a blizzard kicks in, you won’t be able to see a thing.
As mentioned in the beginning, you can also use the overall landscape, position of the sun, the surrounding sounds, or whatever makes you feel more comfortable. It’s a matter of personal preference.
Have a Natural Game-Sense/Navigation
There is not much to say about this one. Natural navigation is just that – natural. Most people gain it naturally by playing the game, learning the world around them piece by piece, and thus they know where they are at any given point.
However, this is only useful if you’re venturing into explored areas. If you’re still exploring the maps, then it’s pretty much useless. Still, do try to learn the maps as you play. It’ll make your future playthroughs 10 times easier.
The Long Dark Tips 2: Manage the Resources
The Long Dark doesn’t give you a lot of room for carrying stuff. There are more than 60kg of equipment that you can use but you can only carry 30 or 35 if you’re well-fed and 40 if you’re both well-fed and have the carrying satchel.
So, you do need to leave some stuff behind and for that reason, you need to learn how to manage your resources. Again, each player has his own way of managing resources – different playstyles and everything. So, even though I can give you a few tips now, you’ll need to develop your own personal style over time.
From category to category, this is what I normally carry:
- Firewood: Little next to nothing. Usually only matches. There is a lot of firewood everywhere along with sticks, crates, etc.
- Meds: A little bit of everything. They are very lightweight and can make the difference between life and death when you’re injured.
- Clothing: A mix of crafted stuff and “normal” clothing for the ultimate balance between mobility and warmth. Bear’s coat is a must.
- Food: 2 litres of water and maybe enough food for a day while travelling or in case of emergency. Sometimes little pieces of meat for bait.
- Tools: Two empty cans for boiling water, a knife for quick harvesting, hatchet for protection and chopping wood, sewer for clothing, whetstone for sharpening, and a flare or torch for crossing caves or protection against wolves. A bow and a couple of arrows is usually the best weapon choice.
- Materials: Usually a few pieces of cloth and leather for repairing clothing.
This setup is usually enough for surviving while also leaving enough room for carrying meat when you’re out hunting. It will definitely carry you as a beginner. But, you’ll want to adjust it to fit your own style as you progress through the game.
The Long Dark Tips 3: Set Up Camp And Be Efficient
First of all, set up a base. You don’t need to stay there or anything. But, have a place, two, three or however many you want where you can gather extra tools, food, meds, anything that may come in handy that you can’t carry around all the time. This way, you’ll know where to find meds when you run out. You know where there is food when your hunt didn’t go as expected.
Other than that, be efficient and learn how to prioritize. Time isn’t just money. Time can make the difference between having food, water, or the necessary tools available to you, the difference between being stuck into a blizzard and arriving safely to shelter, etc.
Your time is important. So, don’t waste it! Multitask! While you’re waiting for water to boil, meat to cook, a storm to pass, don’t just sit there twiddling your fingers. Use that time to repair your clothing, read a book, craft something, maintain your tools.
The Long Dark Tips 4: Prioritize Tasks
And that brings us to the last point: prioritization – it’s definitely one of the best The Long Dark tips that I can give you. This is a game that relies heavily on choices. Both in real-life and in-game, you don’t always have the luxury of choosing between right and wrong. Sometimes you only have two bad choices and you need to decide which one is the worst.
You may find yourself in such situations more often than you may think. So, prioritize. For example, it’s nighttime, lots of things happened and you couldn’t get food for the day. You just ate your last provisions so you need to go out hunting – despite being tired.
Then you see the deer. You pull out your bow, ready to fire, and a blizzard kicks in. What do you do? Keep on hunting despite the cold and darkness? Go to sleep and leave it for the morning? Hide and wait for the storm to pass?
In this situation, no matter which way you go, you’ll put yourself into a difficult situation – each one with pros and cons. And each one with its own chances of something going horribly wrong. So, learn to prioritize what you need the most. In that example: is it food? Rest? Warmth? The answer will differ from player to player and the exact situation.
- Leave cooked meat outside. It loses condition much slower.
- Try to avoid wearing out your tools and fire-starters for surviving longer. Ex: use a magnifying lens instead of matches, harvest with your hands instead of a knife, smash furniture and pick up sticks instead of chopping wood with the hatchet, etc.
- Use a headsetto locate wildlife with sound.
- Open your ears. Sit still every now and then and listen for the footsteps of a bear, the howling of wolves, etc.
- Stay calm. Fear and anger can mud your thoughts.
- Understand the risk and reward ratio. Do you really need to hunt down that bear? Is it really necessary to carry that extra gear which slows you down and puts you at risk of spraining? Understand how much you may lose and what you may get in return.
- Learn how to hunt. Bad weather can erase the footsteps of animals, cover blood tracks, and prevent crows from gathering above a corpse. All of which make tracking very tough.
- Stop being a scaredy-cat. If you camp indoors all the time, not only you won’t be able to get equipment which will save your life later on, but you’ll also develop cabin fever which can be the death of you if it catches you unprepared.
- Plan ahead. The Long Dark rewards those who are living in the future.
- Always assume the worst. Especially when you’re travelling. This is not a world for the optimistic.
Extra Tips For Longevity
- Conserve your fire starters. Every time you light a fire, cook as much meat and melt as much water as you can.
- Careful with the ammo. If you’re using the rifle and/or the revolver, do understand that ammo is scarce and limited. One bullet should be enough to take out most targets with a couple of exceptions.
- Bears are not afraid of fire or rifles. Only a revolver or a distress pistol has a chance of temporarily stopping a bear charge.
- Do NOT run away from wolves. They smell fear and weakness. Keep your eyes on them and only run once you’re out of sight.
- Make sure that every time you light a fire outdoors, it’s covered from the wind. Try to make it so that the wind can’t get at it no matter what.
- Blizzards can damage your clothing. Just because your clothes are warm enough to withstand the cold, doesn’t mean that you should sit and “chill” outside.
- Do not forget to clean your rifle and maintain your tools. You don’t want to experience a jam while a bear is charging at you.
- Don’t walk on steep surfaces unless you absolutely have to or you’re risking getting a sprain
- Choose a snow shelter over a bedroll. It only asks for a few pieces of cloth once and then you can maintain with sticks after that. Not to mention that it’s much warmer.
- Extreme draw distances will kill your performance/stress your GPU without making any difference. Turn them down to where you actually see a difference. (PC only)
When it comes to The Long Dark tips, that’s all we’ve got for now. Feel free to let me know about your tips in the comments section.