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My Take on Episode Three (SPOILERS!!!)

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I'm not going to write this as a totally comprehensive and well-structured review but more as just spouting out a bunch of things that stood out to me, what I liked and disliked. I won't touch on every single thing and every single character, just the main things I wanted to get across.

Here's some things I liked:

I love how the overall weather in this episode is harder than in the previous episodes. Pleasant Valley is infamous for having some of the worst, if not the worst weather in the game. The cold is much more of a problem in this zone. Not only is it colder than other zones, but the zone itself is so vast. You have to trek across vast distances with the threat of hypothermia encroaching every step you take. It adds more tension to every moment in the story. The Canadian frozen wilderness is more than just a setting, it's literally out to kill you and make your life hell. It's in a sense, the main villain. In a story mode, this kind of cold weather mechanic adds so much. No other game does cold weather survival as well as TLD.

Astrid. A lot of people find her inner monologue annoying, but I've always found it charming. I enjoyed hearing Jennifer Hale's wonderful voice acting throughout this episode and I think she did a fantastic job. It's easy to take for granted just how well every single line of dialogue is delivered because it all feels so natural. I'm going to agree with HadrianLP in that I miss the old recording of the line "I'll die if I don't warm up soon!". But I see what she was going for with the new version. She is so overwhelmed with cold that she can barely even say the line and in that aspect it comes across so well. As far as the character of Astrid herself, I find her likeable enough and I appreciate her selflessness and natural instinct to help others. She is not just a Mary Sue. She's not perfect and has issues. She and Will have a somewhat strange and still not yet explained relationship, but they were/are? married. And they had a falling out of some kind which I'm sure will be explained later down the line. But despite that, she still clearly cares for him at least a little bit. She and Will are trying to find each other not because they are in love, but because their very survival and others' survival depends on it. And I find that to be a far more compelling way to create tension through separation than just because they love each other or used to be in love. It is made clear through her dialogue with Thomas that she is not religious, which I guess even for a doctor I find that somewhat surprising. But for me, that just makes her character even more interesting and makes you wonder who or what she lives for as she struggles to survive. She is clearly made out to be an exceptionally physically strong character, willing to risk her life for the sake of others. She can survive through the harshest blizzards, tangle with the most vicious wolves, and lug people on her back across the map. More on that later. Overall, Astrid is an awesome character.

The side quests. After 100%-ing the entire episode. I now know to do these before doing too much of the main missions. They're pretty fun and the rewards are pretty awesome and gives you a huge advantage out there in PV. More than once, my mouth was left agape whenever I opened a bag and saw what my reward was. My favorite of all the side quests is definitely the one with the giant bass. He is HUGE! I posted a screenshot of him on Steam not mentioning that it was story mode and not sandbox and a couple people already commented thinking it was a sandbox fish. I found that highly amusing. The side quests do a great job of padding out the episode and adding life to the story, but not enough.

And now the not so good (With some good in the beginning still):

I did not find the whole gathering Whiteout-esque stocking objective as offensive as some others. It's actually quite easy and everything you need is easy to come by. It's just a matter of doing it. But it is admittedly still tedious, especially having already done something similar in episode one. But for this situation in the story, it feels completely appropriate at least. One of the objectives I did have a problem with was the whole thing of rescuing the three survivors. The first time when I rescued Gwen from the plane crash was quite a great story moment I thought. Her clearly frostbitten face and hands were frightening to look at, she's been stuck out in the cold for so long and she was on the verge of death. I realized I could diagnose her like the others in the town hall, and when I carried her, I could see her own needs meters and manage them on top of my own. I thought that was extremely cool and a pretty clever idea. As I carried her, I could constantly hear her heartbeat, the very thing keeping her alive. By the time I headed down with her on my back, it was dusk and it was getting dark and foggy very quickly. I began to realize the danger of my situation. It was pitch black outside and very foggy and I couldn't see, and there were wolves. I had to somehow find a way to get her to safety through all that. It was one of the most genuinely tense and scary moments I had in this episode and I loved it. (I used the in-game map to help me but let's not mention I did that!). That was great the first time, not so much the next three times. It simply sucks carrying three people halfway across the map to safety, none of whom are strong enough to walk themselves. At least one of those survivors should've been strong enough to walk with you and even help fend off wolves for you. I realize that would take A LOT of animation work, but come on!

I feel like in terms of story, immersion, and character development, a lot of opportunities were missed.

One problem I have is with Father Thomas and the whole community center setup. He is one of the main people you talk to and he is a priest. I would think you'd get more than a few chances to talk about faith with him. Astrid is not religious, but that gives even more reason to explore her views on faith with Thomas and more opportunities for interesting dialogue with him. Not just "You need to go out there and save these people, my child." It would've just helped so much to make him feel more like a useful character rather than just someone there who's seemingly important and wise but all he does is tell you to go places while he stands there in the building watching over these people but not really being that useful. And let's talk about these people. The survivors from the plane crash site. It's quite a stark view to walk into the community center for the first time and see all these people wrapped up in bedrolls coughing and crying out softly. It works for the first few days, then you realize that's all they do 24/7: Stay bundled up in their beds coughing and crying. I suppose there's a good reason for it because they just got out of a nightmare plane crash situation and stumbled their way across the dangerous wolf infested wilderness and the freezing cold. They were lucky to survive. But not a single person manages to gather the strength to at least sit up or stand up and walk around a little bit. You never get a chance to talk to any of the survivors and get to know them. What's the point in rescuing and helping all these people if they don't even feel like people? Yes they're sick and shaken, but they never say a word to you. All these people and you can't talk to them.

All these opportunities for dialogue, immersing you into the world, and character development are completely missed. No one gathers back their strength and makes themselves useful. They're all weak. There should've been at least one or two others out of the survivors with some fortitude out there helping them survive, helping Astrid in her mission. You're the only damn person who's proving to be useful at all. Yes, Father Thomas gathered these people here in the first place. But as soon as you show up, he does nothing but stand around and it just makes him feel like he's useless even though he really truly isn't. And with the survivors gathering back their strength, that gives even more opportunities for interesting story moments. Maybe one day you find out one of the survivors who you've gotten to know went hunting and died to a timberwolf attack, and you find his ravaged body eaten to almost a skeleton, surrounded by a pack of wolves. Just something like that to add more to the story and to exploit this truly dangerous and fascinating situation that has been created by the writers. Right now, the way this community center situation has been presented to us, it just makes the story feel a bit too empty and hollow, and makes you feel like the only damn person doing any work. Yes, Astrid is selfless and doesn't do it for recognition, but as a player from the outside, it annoys me. And I can't give the benefit of the doubt to everything I find problematic. I get that it would've been a huge effort to implement these suggestions in, but I think it would've been worth it. It may sound relatively simple on paper, but it's truly not.

I feel like overall, for me personally, I think they're trying to tell the wrong kind of story for what this game is. It's not bad by any means, it's just a bit incompatible. This game was originally created for story, but everyone knows the bread and butter of The Long Dark is the survival mode. This game is one of the best games out there in terms of pure survival, no zombies or cannibals, just nature. (And of course vicious wolves who want to eat your face.) The more I play this story mode, the more I wish it could have been more about pure survival. Just being out there, lost and trying to survive by yourself. Not all this other stuff. I understand that with that kind of story, it wouldn't separate itself all that well from the plain sandbox mode and probably just wouldn't have been as interesting and compelling compared to the story we are getting. But I can't help but wish, because I feel that kind of story has potential too if done in the right way, and would fit in line better with what to me is the true spirit of The Long Dark in my own opinion.

Edited by xXTacocubesXx
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I think that when we get to Thompson's Crossing as Will we will see the survivors healthy and walking around, if only for a short while. 

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I don't think we will go to Thompson crossing as Will. my main reason is that there wouldn't be any loot which I would be fine with but, Hinterland is really holding peoples hands in Wintermute. Actually let me rephrase that  Hinterland has a everybody wins mentality with Wintermute or at least from what I can observe. I think we will see some Beak Inlet action seeing all of the Wintermute aspects we already see. it's entirely possible that Hinterland designed Bleak Inlet  with Wintermute in the forefront of their mind to save resources.  And then there is the very good  chance he will go through coastal highway to Desolation Point. Which desolation point is much more likely for us to go through with no new resources. It's also worth mentioning how Coastal High Way is already great for a long trek a cross as, well is the richest narrative in survival mode other then Mystery Lake. If I was to guess this is what I thin the journey will look like the red is the path I and most other players if left to our own devises and told to go to desolation point, the green is what some other players would do and the orange is what hinterland will try and get us to do. This is the clearest map could find.Inked530202531_preview_CoastalHighway_LI.thumb.jpg.da3263a8a0d38d2226e39bd70911d083.jpg

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