The Long Dark — Beginners Guide

The Long Dark is a game all about surviving the harshness of Hinterland. Since leaving its early access tag behind and now as a full release, the game has changed slightly – adding a story mode amongst other things.

The land is both cold and unforgiving and in truth, there is no set rules that will guarantee your survival, but there are a few tricks and tips you can learn that will better your chances. Hinterland is not only covered in snow and ice but has plenty of hungry wolves roaming around too.

If you’re new to the game entirely you might want to take note of these tips as you prepare to endure the harsh realities of a long and dangerous winter.

Shelter and Warmth

This might seem like the most blatantly obvious thing to do considering how much I’ve gone on about the cold, but it really is the first thing you ought to do. When you start the game your clothes won’t be the best ones for this weather, so finding some shelter is your first point of call.

Look for out buildings or other hut-like settlements to bunker down for a while and keep warm whilst your progress through the land. The easiest way to find some shelter is to simply follow the main path or the highway, making sure you don’t stray too far from the wilderness. Whilst you make your way be mindful in collecting as many sticks as you can, as these will be the fuel source of your soon to be roaring fire.

When you do eventually find a cabin or a house for shelter, the first thing to do upon entry is to start looking for alternative clothes and of course, food. Food can be a contentious issue in The Long Dark as it’s important to check it for staleness. If this is below 50% then it’s probably not worth your time.

You may find a bed located in the cabin or house you found, use this for sleeping and also warm up. I found this to be a great way of keeping warm quickly. Once you search the entire house, change your clothes and make your way to the next shelter.

Learning the Map

Learning the best places to hold out during a storm or to avoid incoming wild beasts can save your life in The Long Dark. Being new to the game, it’s going to take you some time to figure out and find the best places to settle.

I have a few favoured spots that I found could protect me from the weather and keep me warm until I was ready to venture off again:

The Farmhouse is located in the central part of Pleasant Valley, not only will you find a good amount of loot there but there’s also a handy basement which you can use to store things in.

The Camp Office is in the centre of the Mystery Lake area, it’s a great place to lay down for a while and it’s also great for catching fish to fill your belly.

Quonset Gas Station located east of coastal highway is one of the better places to find loot. The downside to Quonset Gas Station is that the area is infested with wolf packs. So unless you’re a confident Long Darker, id avoid this area early game.

Trapper’s Homestead is another place located near Mystery Lake. There is a decent amount of loot here as well as a rifle for protection.

The Beasts of the Wilderness

During the early game, the only protection you’re likely to have from the many wild animals is your torch. It’s easy enough to craft if you haven’t got one, just combine some wood, cloth and lamp oil – these should be found easily enough in a shelter.

The Long Dark requires a lot of crouching and stealth gameplay elements, and this is one of biggest pieces of advice. Crouch everywhere if you’re not sure whats lurking around that tree. If you do spot something you’d rather not cross, try using a decoy to lure it away. Decoys come in the form of a piece of meat that you carry around, as soon as you hear the barking or howling in the distance, drop meat and carry on with your journey.

If you do happen upon a rifle or other weapon this is by far the best defense against those pesky wild animals. I’d also advise getting a hunting knife which can be used to skin animals.


When you have most of what you need to survive – clothes, weapons and a base to scamper back to, it’s time to start hunting for some real food in the Hinterland.

One easy way to spot some food is to follow the circling crows. Look up and you might see them around a certain area. This usually indicates an animal is dead nearby and this can be used as a source of food.

Another way to find a good food source is to follow the footprints left by animals. You should easily be able to tell the difference between your footprints and that of a deer, so stalk your foe and find your next meal.

Of course, if you don’t fancy stalking through the forest there’s always time for a spot of fishing. You can easily craft the items needed to fish with some simple metal scraps and cured guts. If you’re near a fishing lake the chances are one of the fishing huts will have all you need to get your net catch.

Avoiding the Weather

The last piece of advice I can offer to new players is that the weather is your greatest advisory in The Long Dark. The mornings in this game are dreadfully cold and have caused me multiple deaths when I ventured out unprepared.

Prepare properly before venturing out, making note of and learning the possible weather changes. If you see the snow start to fall and the wind picks up, get moving and get back to your base as soon as you can.

Blizzards and storms will happen in The Long Dark, there’s nothing you can do about that. It’s just about being as prepared as you can for the inevitable.

Constantly threatening to write a book, but always with a story to tell. Tom has a typical northern English soul. He may sound as mundane as Jon Snow, but at least he tries to articulate. Lover of video games, comics, geek pop culture and wishing he could play Dungeons & Dragons.