Like many people who enjoy this title, I have been playing (and reviewing) The Long Dark since it first debuted back in 2015 as one of the first open world survival games, which were much less common back then. It’s been frustrating at times for a lot of players having to wait seven years and counting for the team to finish five story episodes for the Wintermute campaign. At least the final result on those have been good, with Episode 4: Fury, Then Silence offering a really great experience and high review scores.
According to the developers, many of the delays (but certainly not all of them) can be attributed to the fact that the teams at Hinterland were working on both the Wintermute stories and the open world survival side of the game at the same time. They often release updates for the survival side including new weapons and items, maps and gameplay enhancements between those long waits for new story episodes. To help streamline the title’s development a bit more, Hinterland has officially broken the two pieces apart, letting new players purchase either the Wintermute stories or the survival gameplay. And on the survival side, they plan to release new paid DLCs for players to enjoy, almost like new Wintermute episodes. Players can buy individual survival mode DLCs or purchase all of them at once, including future releases – basically a season pass to get all present and future survival content.
On the survival side, the first piece of content released is Tales from the Far Territory, which is available for $20 as a standalone update on Steam and other platforms. The update adds a few extra features like a new, more agile hunting rifle and makeshift metal crampons that you can craft to add to your boots. The crampons add the Sure-Footed bonus when worn, which is really helpful because it not only makes it much less dangerous to travel up or down slopes without spraining your ankles, but also gives you more time prior to when thin ice breaks (about one more second of leeway) which can save you from an icy bath. They are easy to craft using scrap metal. And they degrade more slowly than just about any other kind of clothing item. They unfortunately take up one of the two auxiliary slots on your character’s clothing doll, but when combined with ear flaps (which could take up the second slot) makes for a well-rounded set of extras.
The new items are nice, but the real reason people are going to want to play Tales from the Far Territory is the new maps. The DLC adds quite a lot of new places to explore to the core game, and if you are like me and enjoy poking around in those abandoned buildings and exploring over every hill and dale looking for secret caves or hidden resources, then there is a lot to do in this DLC. There are many Easter Eggs compared with other parts of the game world.
One huge negative, which I don’t think that Hinterland really stressed, is that the DLC invalidates all of your previous saves. I had one saved game where I was trying to go for the long haul and had a pretty good setup where I could catch almost unlimited fish, plus had access to other resources. So, I was kind of bummed when it got wiped out and many months of in-game work went down the tubes. But ultimately, I think it was worth it to improve gameplay, add new items and, of course, get access to the new maps. Hopefully, the new DLCs that Hinterland plans to release over the next 12 months won’t invalidate saves again, because that is not something that any player wants.
Interestingly enough, even after you buy the DLC, you can’t actually start in it, which seems kind of odd at first. Instead, you have to find it and unlock those new maps, whereupon you can then start in that area if you want. Hinterland made the journey to get to the new territories a long and challenging one. I grumbled about that at first, especially after having to start over with a new game and then spend a few days in Mystery Lake again (one of my favorite zones) finding new equipment and clothing so that I could actually survive my journey to the DLC’s lands. However, making the journey to these new territories part of the adventure turned out to be really fun. I got to explore some interesting places, battled with the neighborhood wolves who just happened to be patrolling along the paths I needed to take, and even upgraded my wardrobe and supplies as I adventured.
You will need to pass through two “connection zones” to get to the Forsaken Airfield, which is clearly the star of the new DLC. Those zones are interesting, if mostly linear. You start your journey in Broken Railroad. The damaged bridge at the far end of the territory now has a way to cross it, which you can use to access the first transfer zone on your trek to Forsaken Airfield. Be prepared and ready for a long journey, probably as much as three or four game days depending on how often you like to rest, how much of the transfer zones you plan to explore, and if you like to travel at night or hunker down and boil some tomato soup and watch the snow falling outside. There are plenty of shelters for resting up safely during your journey, but there’s also a healthy wolf population in those areas, so be careful as you travel through there.
The Forsaken Airfield is a huge new zone which consists of the airfield itself including a hanger, tower and support buildings. There are also some airplanes and helicopters scattered around. If only we had Mackenzie with us from Wintermute to try and get them flying. The new buildings are fun to explore and, as you might expect, are packed with resources to use in your constant struggle against winter. The tower is especially cool, and a great place to hang out during storms or auroras if you want to watch the show. In addition to the airfield, there is a lot of territory around the airfield to find and explore, including a few that may become favorite spots for players to squat at for a while.
There is also a new element called Glimmer Fog which pours into the area at times during the day. The fog shimmers with electrical current which activates radios and car lights, although it’s not dangerous to walk through. The primary hazard posed by the fog is that it can give your character the insomnia trait. When players get the insomnia trait, they can’t successfully rest to regain condition, so it can become a bit of a soft death spiral, especially because it seems to last a very long time. You can escape the Glimmer Fog by going underground, although it would be nice if there was some kind of cure for it, like tranquilizers or sleeping pills maybe. If you are at all careful, it probably won’t be much more than an annoyance for you, although it may play a bigger role in future survival DLCs.
Finally, there is a lot of story packed into Tales from the Far Territories, as you may have guessed from the name. You just have to look for it, as it can be found in notes and other clues left behind by former survivors and those who lived there before the world turned into a frozen hell. Adding more story and plot to the survival DLCs is really nice, and those who don’t care too much about that side of things can simply ignore it. But the stories are really interesting, so give them a read when you find them.
All in all, The Long Dark: Tales from the Far Territory is a fine addition to the core Long Dark, and worth the price. Yes, losing your saves might be an issue for some people, but if you can stomach that, then there is a lot of great content to explore once you make the long trek into the far territories. And after that, I am also pretty excited to see what else the developers at Hinterland Studio have in mind for the survival side of The Long Dark.