Tips for new survivors in The Long Dark


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Ever since The Long Dark first launched we've had an ongoing thread where you, our experienced survival community, have shared your tips, tricks, and strategies for surviving in the game with newer players. Since the game has changed and grown with a number of free updates, we are restarting this thread to help new people who find themselves lost in the cold Canadian wilderness.

What's your best piece of advice for a new player? What is something you learned that made the difference between life and death in your game?

Here's a basic one to get us started:

Fires not only provide warmth, but allow you to cook food, and collect and purify drinking water. Eating cooked food, particularly meat, is better than eating raw food which is more likely to make you ill.

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A tip to save your precious matches: Lighting a campfire with a match will fail very often, especially when your fire skill is still low. Instead of using a match lighting the campfire, light a torch.

I'm sure this has been said before, but I can't stress this enough! Drop your canned items (Tomato Soup, Pinnacle Peaches & Pork and Beans) in front of a lit fire to open (and cook) them whil

Don't fixate on hunger. Hunger causes 1% condition loss per hour.  You can live four days with no food if you can avoid other causes of condition loss.   Cold is actually what's killing you.  It

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Exhaustion and encumbrance is a silent enemy that will kill your character through several indirect means. Stay light, stay rested, outmaneuver predators. 

 

While waiting around a fire or passing time, thimk about what your character can do in the meantime. Repair clothes, read a book, boil water? 

Edited by MarrowStone
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Here's another tip.

A good source of potable (drinkable) water is from the reservoir tanks of toilets in houses, cabins, and other buildings found in The Long Dark.

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Everything is a resource to be managed and used...including your own well-being.  Don't be afraid to sacrifice a bit of health for the greater good.  i.e. sure, maybe you're freezing and have hypothermia risk...is it really worth spending time to warm up now, or can you take your hypothermia on the chin and get a couple more hours of work done in the cold?

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on the more resource heavy difficulty levels, make sensible depots/ stashes.  as mentioned above, too much gear can be a problem in itself.  don't end up with 5 can openers but no cans to open with!  Plus it's always an idea to have a key base or two in each region that you can retreat to if you get mauled by the wildlife, and can easily get warm/ fed/ healed/ re-clothed.

on the harder difficulties, get good at hitting rabbits with stones!  They're good and plentiful source of food and skins, but you can't level up like most other things in the game, you just need to get the knack. Carrying only one stone at a time makes it easier to grab them when you do get a hit.  What you do with Bugs after that is up to you though... 🐇

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A tip to save your precious matches: Lighting a campfire with a match will fail very often, especially when your fire skill is still low. Instead of using a match lighting the campfire, light a torch. lighting a torch has 100% chance of success, so you need only 1 match every time. Now you can light the campfire with the torch. Failure? No problem! the torch is still burning and you can try it again without needing a second or third match.

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When possible, be patient!  If dark is getting near (or even several hours away) and you find a good shelter, stop and spend the night there!  Don't think, "Oh, I can push and find another shelter before I freeze."

Make the best use of the time you have.  One of my favorite time-saving activities is when I have an abundance of food to cook or water to boil, I will put the food/water on, and if time allows, sleep for an hour or 2.

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Don't fixate on hunger. Hunger causes 1% condition loss per hour.  You can live four days with no food if you can avoid other causes of condition loss.  

Cold is actually what's killing you.  It causes 20% condition loss per hour.  You'll die in five hours if you don't warm up.  If you are playing a low condition recovery game mode like interloper, you will lose more condition in two hours freezing than you can recover with ten hours of continuous sleep.  If your clothing can't keep you warm, passing time in a bed in a warm building can warm you up fairly quickly without using up your fuel and matches.  If you are looting buildings, take the time to fully warm up before you move on if you have far to go between them.

Edited by TheRealPestilence
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The scent indicator system doesn't tell the whole story.  If you have as little as .01kg of cooked meat on you, you are drawing predators.  When you leave your base to go somewhere, get in the habit of spamming the 'drop decoy' shortcut (3 by default on PC) a few times as soon as you get outside.  Until that key causes nothing to drop, you smell, even if there are no scent bars on the HUD.  Scent travels much farther than you'd think, especially down wind from you.  If you find yourself being surprised by wolves who appear to be looking for you, that's because you smell and they actually are looking for you.

Contrary to popular belief, the drop decoy shortcut does not magically turn meat and guts into decoys.  It's just a shortcut.  The method you use to drop meat on the ground makes no difference in predator behavior.

Edited by TheRealPestilence
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Something I had discovered the hard way:

Sardines and Pork 'N Beans can kill at a higher condition rate than I had originally thought. I ate one at around 40% and died some time later. Always check the condition and eat lower quality cereal bars and such first. Just keep a wary eye on your Sardines and Pork 'N Beans.

Jerky never really becomes dangerous, so even on 30%, you will be fine. That's something handy to know, as I used to throw out any low quality food, wasting jerky multiple times.

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Cooking skill is easy to max: harvest a deer 0.1kg at a time by selecting 0.5 and cancelling after a fifth of the circle.  Each tiny piece will give you a cooking skill up.  Two deer done this way will nearly max your cooking skill.  

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If arrow heads are limited and you don’t want to lose them (and thus not be able to remake them once broken), practice your bow skill on bunnies.  They’re tough to hit, but each one is a skill up!  Saves you from dragging a lot of rocks around too.  Shoot them as they’re moving from left to right and slightly toward you.  Lead just a bit. 

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As an alternative to actually practicing with the bow, each arrow you craft raises your skill by one.  You can reach level 5 Archery without ever firing a shot, if you craft 150 arrows.  Or fewer, if you supplement it with skill books.

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Increase your cartography skill. This is not an in-game skill but you'll develop it on your own. If you're planning on playing on higher difficulty, first try out and wander around in pilgrim or voyager; note some landmarks that would guide you to safety.

 

If you are going to the Bleak Inlet to craft ammunition, dress for combat, not for cold. 

Do not use sprint if not necessary, you can't be sure if there is a wolf waiting for you around the corner and you're exhausted.

If you can find a six-slot stove, you can cook 6 meals or boil 6 pots of water at the same time, saving a lot of energy and fuel. 

Pleasant Valley is not so pleasant. 

You can not pet or tame wolves.

Edited by yollarbenibekler
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Store your harvested meat outside if you’re not ready to cook it, as well as after you’ve cooked it. It’s ok to keep it in a pile immediately outside of your front door, it will not attract predators if you drop it all in the “sweet spot,” and meat stored outside in the cold decays significantly slower so it will still be high condition when you’re ready to cook it / eat it. To find that sweet spot, leave your base with minimal clothing, on the step where you see that you’re beginning to freeze is your “sweet spot.” From most bases, that spot will also be within the bounds of the base so animals (many times even charging ones) will stop prior to that spot because it’s part of the base in the code. Therefore, all of your meat will last significantly longer (I’ve left zones with piles of cooked fish & venison, played for 50 in game days or so in another area, and came back to meat still above 50% condition), it will be safe from predators, and you’ll save valuable storage space in your containers inside of your base. 

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3 hours ago, Joel said:

Store your harvested meat outside if you’re not ready to cook it, as well as after you’ve cooked it. It’s ok to keep it in a pile immediately outside of your front door, it will not attract predators if you drop it all in the “sweet spot,” and meat stored outside in the cold decays significantly slower so it will still be high condition when you’re ready to cook it / eat it. To find that sweet spot, leave your base with minimal clothing, on the step where you see that you’re beginning to freeze is your “sweet spot.” From most bases, that spot will also be within the bounds of the base so animals (many times even charging ones) will stop prior to that spot because it’s part of the base in the code. Therefore, all of your meat will last significantly longer (I’ve left zones with piles of cooked fish & venison, played for 50 in game days or so in another area, and came back to meat still above 50% condition), it will be safe from predators, and you’ll save valuable storage space in your containers inside of your base. 

One think I do about meat is, when I kill a wolf, I harvest 2 KG of meat, and start a fire to last just enought to cook it, and leave. This way, when I pass this way again, I have 2 pieces of meat with 100 % condition, since it don't start to spoil until we colect from the fire. It can last forever there...

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21 hours ago, Joel said:

Store your harvested meat outside if you’re not ready to cook it, as well as after you’ve cooked it. It’s ok to keep it in a pile immediately outside of your front door, it will not attract predators if you drop it all in the “sweet spot,” and meat stored outside in the cold decays significantly slower so it will still be high condition when you’re ready to cook it / eat it. To find that sweet spot, leave your base with minimal clothing, on the step where you see that you’re beginning to freeze is your “sweet spot.” From most bases, that spot will also be within the bounds of the base so animals (many times even charging ones) will stop prior to that spot because it’s part of the base in the code. Therefore, all of your meat will last significantly longer (I’ve left zones with piles of cooked fish & venison, played for 50 in game days or so in another area, and came back to meat still above 50% condition), it will be safe from predators, and you’ll save valuable storage space in your containers inside of your base. 

Meat dropped outside doesn't attract predators.  The only time meat dropped outside will be taken by a predator is when a piece is dropped, by any method, when a predator is "locked on" and following you.  Otherwise, you're safe to keep meat anywhere outside you like.  Raw meat decays quickly, even outside, and cooked meat lasts quite a while.  Meat can be stored outside on the ground or in a container (car trunk, box, etc.), making no difference in the rate of decay.

Some seemingly "indoor" places count as outside for meat's rate of decay.  Two are: Anywhere in two-layer caves (open caves where the temperature increases in the back part of the cave) and the closed-in porch in the Pleasant Valley Farmstead House.  Meat dropped anywhere in those caves and on that porch and will decay at the same rate as meat dropped outside in the snow.

Edited by MrWolf
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Don't

Hug

The

Bear.

 

I know it may look cute and cuddly, but DON'T do it.

 

For real though, watch out for bears. You'll see them standing on their hind legs for a little bit, and that's your queue to get out of there. Once this happens, they are aggravated and you should find any indoor shelter like a cabin, transition zone, or cave you enter via prompt. If you have no shelter, you can fire a distress pistol shot at the bear when it charges at you, scaring it away and giving you time to run. You can find the pistol at these locations:

-Summit at Timberwolf Mountain

-Ravine in the Ravine Transmission Zone (Follow the tracks through the trail near Carter in Mystery Lake or follow the tracks to the tunnel up the hill near the Fishing Camp in Coastal Highway)

-Fallen Lighthouse in Bleak Inlet.

 

As you get better at fighting the bears with the bow and rifle or avoiding bears altogether, the pistol may not be needed. For new players who don't play Pilgrim, the pistol is a valuable tool.

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Try to gain an advantage with the wind. Wind slows your movement as you qalk more directly into it. If you walk the same direction the wind is blowing, you can move faster. If you're going to a destination and the qind is bloqing to your left or right, try to hug the walls for more warmth and speed.

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Frostbite is a permanent affliction that costs you 10 points off your maximum condition can happen multiple times and to the same place costing 10 points each time. IT CANNOT BE HEALED.

Frostbite risk occurs when a body part is exposed (either by not having a covering or having a frozen covering).  You will get a warning when you get the risk, when it is dissipated, or when you get frostbite. 

Do not make the mistake of equating Feels Like Temperature with your frostbite risk.  Feels like Temperature is nominal whole body while frostbite is a point (extremity) issue. Check the Status screen and look at frostbite risk for information about what your risk is.  If it is increasing your danger goes up.  If it is decreasing your danger goes down.  FYI, most risk % (exception is risk of intestinal parasites*) represent where on a scale of 0 to 100 you are.  0 is no risk of the affliction. 100 means you got the affliction. 

For frostbite, ambient air temperature is what matters.  Getting a covering, thawing (and drying) a frozen covering, getting a hot enough fire, finding a place where the ambient air temperature is above freezing (they do exist), or using a bed or bedroll where the warmth bonus for it exceeds the ambient temperature (usually in a building) can start to reduce frostbite risk.  Note that even when a proper covering is applied, the risk does not immediately vanish but has to dissipate over time. 

Be careful and good luck.

* Risk of intestinal parasites which occur in certain difficulty modes from consumption of cooked predator meat gets tested,  as a percentage roll (by RNG), once a day, and if you win the brass ring, you got it and have to treat it, else it passes harmlessly.  Cooking level 5 will eliminate the risk for any cooked predator meat regardless of what level it was cooked at.

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