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So I started playing this game Sunday 3/6. It was supposed to be a quick break from modding Oblivion. So I thought I'd go easy and started out on Pilgrim mode. Just to explore a little, get a feel for the game.

Nearly died of hypothermia before I found the Camp Office. Nearly jumped out of my frozen skin when I discovered Ranger Dave upstairs. Fortunately I had enough wood to start a fire in the camp stove, and fell into an unmade bed without a care in the world except to get waaaarm . . .

Here I am fifty plus days later (in game), suckered into the next survival challenge, the next place to check, checking to make sure I have enough food, water, and rosehip tea for whatever comes. I spent the bulk of those days in Pleasant Valley, my second region, and just entered the Coastal Highway about three days ago. 

The animals in Pilgrim mode are pretty close to what I'd expect of RL wildlife. I expect in Voyager mode they'd be more dangerous, because of the catastrophic global event that just occurred. Deer are exceptionally loud when they run, and it sounds a little off to me. I can't quite pin it down, only that they sound like a herd of thundering Shires, and I know deer don't weigh nearly that much. Elk, maybe, moose, definitely but not deer. And I've been around horses long enough to know they don't sound so sharp on snow, either. More a thudding rather than a clattering sort of sound, which is what I think I'm hearing. Also the sound doesn't seem to match the footfalls - almost more like an equine canter (three-beat) than an actual deer bounding. But then, what do I know? I can't recall ever hearing deer run in real life. So if someone else out here who has actually heard such can vouch, I'd be okay. But I think what really bugs me is that the sound doesn't fall off in volume as the deer run away. Huh?

I really like the weather and the wind sounds in TLD. I can tell if I'm inside whether or not we've got blizzard conditions outside or not. Yup, the wind sound changes just enough for me to recognize. Although there are times when it sounds like a bear trying to get in . . . In any case, the other thing I love is how dead things sound when it's foggy. Wow. Just, wow. And the fact that the wind does indeed affect the animals' ability to detect my approach. Sunny days are almost too bright for me, just as they are IRL (I'm very fair in coloring, and my eyes are very light-sensitive). It makes me wish I could find birch bark and make Inuit sunglasses for those days. I love how the trees and grass sway so much in the wind, and their shadows sway too!

I've been mauled by a bear - the one at the farmhouse in PV. I wanted a bear bedroll, and thought I would start with him. Also the idea of bear meat was kind of appealing, as my larder was getting a little low. Stupid me, I thought venturing off the side porch a few feet would be fine - I found out that this bear charges just as fast as the ones IRL. He left me at 5% and I barely made it back into the house where I had antibiotics and bandages stocked. I finally got him from the front porch, just in front of the door. I harvested the pelt and guts, and about 10 kg of meat. Thought I'd come back later and get the rest in a couple of days. Headed up to Signal Hill for the one there, but when I came back, Bear 1 was gone! Should've carved up that extra meat and thrown it into the trunk of the car right there!

Went back to Mystery Lake to find some more wolves. Sprained my wrist and ankle multiple times. Once I tried to tough it out (both wrist and ankle) because I didn't have any painkillers or rosehip tea on me, and started limping worse. I really found that camera effect immersive, and having experienced sprained ankles in the past, I winced with every step. Of course, that was when all my supplies were stored in the Forestry Lookout. I think I crawled up those stairs . . .

Sometimes when I'm out on a clear night, I'd just stand there and stare at the stars. So pretty . . . Then my visible breath reminds me how cold it is, and I head back indoors.

I lugged an overfull backpack around enough times to notice that my PC's walk is very slow when the pack is about 10 - 15 kgs over, and pretty spry at 15 - 20 kgs full. My stride also slows down when I'm going up hill, and insanely fast when going down hill. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to tip over and break something.

One thing that drives me nuts is the lack of maps in game. I keep hitting the M key (brings up the in-game map in Oblivion and Skyrim) before I recall there is no map in TLD. But it made me more attentive to my surroundings, and to navigate by feeling my way through the landscape, and that's a change I've come to enjoy. 

With maps come compasses, and I miss that as well. However, when the weather is clear enough, I use the sun and the moon for that. And that's another thing I noticed about the environment. The sun is southerly in its arc, it does not follow the path to true zenith. That's consistent with winter in the northern climes, and I really appreciate that touch. 

After I had explored Pleasant Valley for some time, I discovered some maps online (and white berry's last night) and downloaded them to my iPad. I role-play that I found the PV map in that store up at Rural Crossings; when I returned to Mystery Lake I found that map in the Camp Office (somehow I had missed that the first time I stayed there . . .). Here at Coastal Highway I waited until I entered the gas station, then -- waaait a minnit -- what do gas stations sell besides pop and preserved cardboard? Maps! So I have a map of Coastal Highway here as well!

I was excited about Story Mode coming out. I'm still looking forward to it, but not with as much anticipation. I'm having much too much fun playing the sandbox mode. This is the first game where I really enjoy sandbox mode. I wouldn't be surprised if I somehow miss the ANNOUNCEMENT that STORY MODE IS RELEASED! only to discover it months later 'oh, wait, what's this? Story Mode is out? Three episodes already??"

TL:DR:normal:

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Thanks very much for sharing the details of your experience. Great to hear you're enjoying sandbox, and always nice to hear stories from our newer players. I had to google inuit sunglasses -- Interesting! I appreciate the desire for a map. We typically express that learning the lay of the land is part of the experience, but I like the idea that the discovery of a map for you is a self-imposed role playing experience. I find myself getting lost in similar experiences when I play The Long Dark and Skyrim in particular. 

Great TL;DR as well :winky:

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