The Long Dark Beginner's Guide: Survival Tips and Tricks

Learn the basics of the survival in this beginner's guide to The Long Dark.

The Long Dark, an indie survival game from Hinterland, is leaving Early Access today -- and is celebrating its full launch with a brand new story mode! But if course, the sandbox elements are still this game's most essential component, and you'll need to understand them thoroughly if you want to survive. 

If you haven't played the game during the alpha stage, then you'll have some trouble progressing -- as its challenges are quite hard, even for experienced players. So in this beginner's guide for The Long Dark, we're going to give you some tips that will help you make this dangerous journey and endure your adventures in the snowy wilds.

Set the Right Difficulty

The Long Dark offers four levels of difficulty. If you’re a new player, you'll want to skip the Interloper one, which is the hardest. But if you really want to learn something, then don’t take the easiest setting, either. Instead, go for Stalker difficulty. It is perfectly balanced, and can really give you a sense of realistic survival.

Find Shelter and Get Warm

Your game starts in the Northern Canadian wilderness, and your first task is to get warm clothes and shelter. Your starting clothes are not very good, so you must find a place to hide from the cold as soon as possible.

Don’t stray away into the wilderness too much, but try to follow the main path or the highway, as this will surely lead you to a safe place. On your way, you can start picking up sticks from the ground that will serve as the fuel.

As soon as you find a cabin or a house, immediately start looking for clothes and food inside. But be careful with your food and always check it for staleness. If it’s below 50%, then it is advisable not to consume such stale foods as they may provoke sickness.

Change your clothes and use any bed for sleeping. This will help you get warm and protect you from freezing.

Beware of the Wild Animals

Before leaving your shelter, make sure that you have a torch with you. For now it’s your only protection from the wolves and bears. You can craft a torch using three simple components: wood, cloth and lamp oil. You should be able to find all of them in your shelter.

Another way of getting rid of wild animals is to throw them a decoy, which is basically a piece of meat that you can carry around. The wolves will most definitely smell it on you, so drop it as soon as you hear barking in the distance. This way they will chase the food rather than you.

One more trick you can use to avoid wolves is to crouch. It will make you almost invisible to them, even in cases when they appear really close to you. But don’t get too close, as there is a chance that they will attack you no matter what.

In time you will need to find a real weapon, such as a rifle. It is way more effective against wild animals. You might also want to get yourself a hunting knife that can be used for skinning animals.

Learn Navigation and Weather Prediction

Navigating the map and predicting weather are probably two of the most important skills for survival in The Long Dark. It will help you find the best locations for setting up your base and hide in there in case you get caught in a blizzard.

The best places for setting up your base on the map are following:

  • Trapper's Homestead: A decent location that has fine loot inside, including a rifle. (Mystery Lake: South-West)
  • Camp Office: Located in the central area of a Mystery Lake, which makes it perfect for fishing.
  • Quonset Gas Station: Located in an area infested with wolves, but has tons of valuable loot inside. (Coastal Highway: East)
  • Farmhouse: Find it in the central part of the Pleasant Valley. It not only has good loot, but also a basement that can be used for storage purposes.

Try not to leave your base too early in the morning, as usually the weather is extremely cold at that time of the day. If you see that there is snow falling and wind blowing, then return immediately to your base -- in such cases, the blizzard is inevitable.

If you do get caught in blizzard, then try to find any other shelter that is close to you. Don’t try to reach your base if you know that you’re too far away. Just light up your lantern and get to the closest building you may have passed during your exploration.

Hunt For Survival

When you have all the clothes, equipment, and your own base, you can start hunting for wild animals. Now you’re the predator, so learn as much as you can about hunting.

First, look up into the sky and check for a pack of crows circling above a certain area. This will indicate that there is a dead animal nearby, which you can use for meat or skin.

Secondly, don’t forget to check for footprints. You will see them in the snow. In time you will be able to distinguish them pretty well, and even follow your prey.

Lastly, learn fishing. You can craft hooks and lines easily using metal scraps and cured guts. If you are located on a lake, then look out for fishing huts. Often these huts already have fishing equipment inside them, so you don’t really need to craft anything. Make a hole in the ice and catch some fish, which is an excellent source of food.


This is pretty much it for the basics of the survival game in The Long Dark. With the new Story Mode, the game should deliver all kinds of fresh challenges. So keep your eyes open and come back soon for more The Long Dark guides at GameSkinny!


Sergey has been a freelancer in the video games industry for more than five years, writing for various publications around the world. His favorite games are MtG, Dark Souls, Diablo, and Divinity: Original Sin.

Published Aug. 1st 2017

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