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I believe that a nice late game feature will be expeditions. How this will work:

There should be some points in the game where the Survivor could go on expeditions just like the points where you travel to a new area, except these will be like Quests which will advance time, offering potential rewards and risks, together with the max and min resources you need to complete them. For example:

Explore Train Unloading in Coastal Highway:

Min: You need 5.000 calories of food 10 lit water, 6 fir wood or 55 sticks, fire starter source, and knife.

Max: You need 10.000 calories of food 15 lit water, 10 fir wood or 100 sticks, fire starter source, and knife.

Potential Rewards:

0-4 bullets 1-3 flares , 0-6 caned food, rare chance of finding some tool,

Potential Risks:

chance of Hypothermia or -45% condition or -23% condition and 1-3 wolf bites

You could see the Potential Rewards and Risks Once you have completed the expedition for the first time, so as to know what to expect the next time you decide to do it again.

I think this will be a great late game thing that this game desperately needs, so as to keep our adrenaline flowing and it will be not too hard to implement.

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I'm not against the idea of late game expeditions, but the way you've described it sounds very gamey and doesn't seems to gel with the setting.

What I think might work are finding clues on dead bodies - hints as to where stashes of supplies are. The peppers stash is a good example. If you don't know it exists or its potential spawn points, chances are you can play for dozens of hours and never find it. But if one of the bodies referenced the stash in a cryptic note or crude map... It's still gamey and it's not an endless quest system, but it is a model for adding more targets for exploration beyond survival needs.

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Finding clues is also good, but I think going on expeditions blends in nice with the story. You are trying to find your way out by further exploring the area traveling great distances which if it was real game play will be boring just walking and walking for days so that's why I purposed this idea instead of you walking for days you just gather the food and water and that's it :) . This also could be tied to finding clues about what really happened after a few expeditions you will learn which way is the best to travel also some future areas could be reachable only by taking expeditions because they will be far away, and so on. This will fit very well with the story mode. Yes clues and expeditions will be nice addition to this game.

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