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The Long Dark: 5 Best Tips for Beginners



The Long Dark is approaching its tenth anniversary, which means we’ve had plenty of time to scrub the Canadian wilderness of all its secrets and lore. Or at least, that’s what we thought, before developer Hinterland Studios only went and added its first paid DLC Tales from the Far Territory to the base game back in 2022, and then another in 2023. As for today, well, let’s just say there’s plenty more to uncover — and that Canadian wilderness has never looked so gigantic in all its ten years on the market.

On the off chance that you have yet to experience The Long Dark, here’s what we’d recommend doing just as soon as you get your hands on a copy. In need of a few quick tips? Here are five things you definitely need to know before taking your first steps.

5. Embrace the Cold

The Long Dark will present you with numerous challenges, that much is true. That said, the worst thing you’ll have to overcome are the icy conditions themselves, as the climate more or less has the power to break your momentum and send you to an early grave before any other craving makes way to consume you. So, before you do anything in The Long Dark, make sure you equip some additional layers of clothing, as this will prevent you from succumbing to frostbite and other weather-related injuries.

After you’ve managed to equip some sturdy gloves and a few other woolen cosmetics, you’ll want to forage for items to build a fire, which will keep you the warmest during nightfall, when the temperatures plummet to death-defying levels. Obviously, it’s far better to stay indoors if you can help it, as this will minimize the risk of being exposed to the harsh winds and what have you. To build a fire, you’ll need to collect a type of fuel; sticks, books, firewood, and coal, to name just a few. You’ll also need a way to ignite the flame, which can be done by striking a match against the campfire.

4. Freeze Your Food

It goes without saying that, if you’re going to cook a meal to keep your energy levels up, you’ll want to consume something fresh, and not, for example, a half-eaten squirrel. The best way to keep your food fresh is to keep it on ice — literally, as this will prevent it from becoming contaminated and inedible. So, if you do manage to hunt something, but have no need to stock up on energy, then be sure to keep it chilled and within spitting distance of your campsite.

Another good reason for keeping your meats chilled and not on your person is to avoid unwanted bear and wolf attacks. Fact is, if you have an entire backpack loaded to the brim with fillets and hides, then you’re bound to attract a lot of attention — which will only lead to disastrous results. So, do yourself a favor and keep the stockpiling to a minimum, otherwise you’ll only wind up becoming a walking convenience store for predators.

3. Be Weary of the Night

Going back to what we said earlier, about the night being viscously cold and dangerous; it isn’t something you’ll want to disregard. As the temperatures tend to drop to sub-zero levels at night, you’ll want to conserve as much energy as possible by remaining either indoors, or at a nearby campfire. You’ll also want to sleep after sundown, as you’re more likely to struggle with maintaining your energy levels during the twilight hours than in the daytime.

Of course, exploring at night is an absolute no-no, as the dark tends to bring out the predators, too. If you can help it, aim to stock up on resources and energy-boosting items during the day, and utilize them during the night, preferably in the comfort of an indoor area, or a safe place that’s away from any potential dangers. Don’t be reckless, is what we’re saying, as the only thing waiting for you out in the wilderness at night is a cold, grizzly, and gruesome death.

2. Find a Lakeside Home

You’ll be doing plenty of exploring during your time out in the Canadian wilderness, so expect to see your fair share of derelict cabins and facilities. If possible, try and establish several hub areas around the region, if only to store additional tools and meats for when you’re out doing supply runs and are in need of some respite. You can keep track of what you’ve stored by adding a comment in your journal.

Of course, it’s all well and good having a number of second supply bases to return to, but you’ll still need an actual place to call your own at some point or another. If you can afford the time, try and set up shop in a location that’s close to a stream or a lake, as this will allow you to not only gather water, but also hunt fish and other critters.

1. Know Your Predators

Dying from starvation is one thing, but being mauled by a pack of wolves in the dead of night is another struggle altogether, and definitely something you’ll want to do all in your power to prevent from happening. Unfortunately, such encounters are inevitable, which means you’re going to have to learn how to fend off beasts if you’re planning on staying alive for the duration of your stay in the wilderness.

Anyway, if you do happen to come by a firearm, then you’ll want to use it only when necessary, and not, for example, on a mangled rabbit. If possible, aim to use traps and other tools to kill small game, and use bullets to fend off larger enemies, including bears and wolves. If all else fails, then you can also use fire to scare away packs of wolves and other predators.


So, what’s your take? Do you have any useful tips for The Long Dark newcomers? Let us know your thoughts over on our socials here.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.