I love The Long Dark. Kinda. The management of your clothes and tools, staving off the cold, the hunger and the thirst. But wolves are the weak link that just brings the whole game down. I've died one too many times to wolves and now I'm sick of it. On the hardest difficulty, what are the things I can do to save myself from wolves?
Drop bait? Unreliable.
Run? Once a wolf has started running after me, it doesn't stop.
Get a weapon and sturdy clothes and take the fight? No way. Even with an axe or a knife, I'm not even close to being the favorite.
Throw torches? Unreliable.
Start a fire? Too slow, and unreliable.
Now, I could change to custom settings but why should I have to? I want to play on the hardest difficulty survivor has to offer. When I decided to write this I had just gotten killed in story mode and there the settings aren't even customisable. Now, I know what you're thinking. "Well you chose to play on a hard difficulty so when the game is hard you shouldn't complain, you should just take it." The problem is that it isn't hard. It's random. Since there's nothing you can do if you get attacked, and nothing to prevent attack, every step you take is a roll of the dice. Does Hinterland REALLY want their players to invest hours into a survival game and have it end in a heartbeat even if the player played absolutely perfectly throughout?
I want animal threats to be like the rest of Interloper -- brutal and unforgiving, but WITH COUNTERPLAY. There are options, things you can do when you've gotten food poisoning, or your clothes are soaking wet. If you come over a little hill and a wolf is there you just die.
The strange thing is how unrealistic it is. I could at least understand if Hinterland was going for imitation of real wildlife and wolves just ended up like that, but wolves in real life are much more timid around people, so they've forced this gameruining thing onto the game.
That reminds me of something that aggravates this problem even more. Cars. When you're sitting inside cars you can't look outside properly! A wolf can be standing just behind the car and it's impossible for you to know. With a bit of snow on the window something they're just to the side of the car and you still can't see them because you're not allowed to lean over. It makes no sense. It doesn't improve gameplay and it's DEFINITELY not lifelike, which makes it just a pointless frustration.
Coming up with design choices that would instantly make The Long Dark a better game and keep wolves as intimidating as you would want is not hard. Just make them shy away for a few seconds if you bump into them, while they get a read on you. Have them call for backup and let them be more bold the bigger their numbers, like pack hunters should be. Make fire reliably deter them to SOME degree. Make them more persistent stalkers. Once they've gone into aggressive mode, make them start sprinting at you from bigger distances.
I can see what a session of The Long Dark would look like if it were like this... You're cold and hungry, and heading for shelter. You come over a hill, and stagger back as you see a wolf just a few feet in front of you. It staggers back as well in surprise as it notices you. You start backtracking, full sprint. The wolf takes a few steps forward and stands on the top of the hill, looking at you running away. It howls, and starts slowly running at you. Another wolf hears its call and joins from the bushes. They start running full sprint. You're almost out of stamina. You look behind you and a third wolf has joined in. Just as you don't have any energy left in your legs you throw yourself in a car. The wolves come to a halt just outside the window, breathing puffs on air on it. They circle the car, investigating. Another wolf joins. You're cold and in this car you're just getting colder. Many hours to go before the night is over. Occasionally, a wolf stands on its hind legs and leans on the car, scratching the windows with its paws, salivating at you at all that meat you got on your bones. Will you make it to sunrise?
That's not what happens now. Now, a wolf sees you, lunges at you, you left-click frantically, bleed out without even getting close to fighting it off, and then the game ends. What a shame. Hinterland, PLEASE bring the wolf element up to the high standard the rest of the game holds. I can't wait.
If anyone agrees with me, please say so. In numbers, we have more hope of getting what we want. Just like wolves