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Saying goodbye to my two-year-old save file in The Long Dark

With Tales from the Far Territory changing how The Long Dark saves work next week, the final days of a two-year-old save file have arrived.

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On December 5, 2022, The Long Dark will launch its first expansion pass, Tales from the Far Territory, and the game will receive an update whether you choose to buy the DLC or pass on it. This update will include changes to how the save system works, so old save files will no longer work with the updated version of the game. While players on Steam could continue their favorite saves using The Long Dark’s Time Capsule feature that allows them to play previous versions of the game, most players are likely to leave those old save files behind, myself included.

A couple of years ago I created a custom difficulty save file for The Long Dark with the intention of surviving 500 days to unlock The Will to Live achievement. That’s just shy of a year and a half of staying alive in a game where the only certainty is that you will eventually die. Resources are finite, wildlife can be hostile, and the weather is so bad that keeping warm is a larger concern than running out of food or getting chomped on by a bear. I completed that trek to 500 days survived back on October 10, 2021, but that character remains alive to this day. As he enjoys his final days of life before playing new content requires a fresh save, I find myself looking back on the most memorable journey I’ve ever embarked on in a video game.

A screenshot showing the Mystery Lake region in The Long Dark
Heading out to the fishing huts on Mystery Lake to spend the better part of a month ice fishing.
Source: Shacknews

The closest I can date this save’s creation is prior to October 7, 2020, but I’m not sure how much further back it goes. That’s when I unlocked another achievement called Faithful Cartographer, which I know for a fact I earned on this file. That means this character pre-dates both the Ash Canyon region and the Blackrock region. Given the fact a real hour equates to 12 hours in The Long Dark, I’m going to ballpark this save as having about 250 to 300 hours of play time, and I’m probably short on that estimate.

While it’s cool to look at this investment into The Long Dark from the perspective of time, it’s the experiences that I’ll never forget. This character spent 98 days living in Timberwolf Mountain, one of the most brutal regions in the game. I remember walking into Hushed River Valley to map all the points of interest and getting lost, forced to sleep on the narrow ledge of a cliff for one hour at a time, listening to the wolves howling nearby and hoping I wouldn’t freeze to death in my sleep. I recall living in an ice fishing hut on Mystery Lake for 19 days so I could level up my fishing skill. There was the moose hunt in the middle of the night as I walked through Forlorn Muskeg. Moose are so rare that if you see one, you’ll be tempted to make risky decisions you would normally never consider just for a shot at its hide and a month’s worth of food. There was my one and only trip to Bleak Inlet where I crafted some ammunition, mapped the region, and got out before my pants were chewed to shreds by timberwolves.

A screenshot showing Trapper's Cabin in The Long Dark
A look at my setup inside Trapper's Cabin. Placing items to decorate my home is one of my favorite things to do in The Long Dark.
Source: Shacknews

Between those adventures have been many boring stretches. It’s been a couple of hundred days since I had a reason to visit most of the regions. I looted them long ago and dragged whatever was worth my time back to Trapper’s Cabin in Mystery Lake, the place I call home. That little cabin is decorated down to the smallest detail with the gear I’ve acquired, and outside you’ll find five rock caches full of extra loot and meat. I have everything required to cruise all the way to 1,000 days survived, and I probably would have pulled it off a couple of years from now if not for the update coming next week.

The truth is, I’m a bit bored with this character, which is not the fault of The Long Dark. Any game where you can sink a couple hundred hours into a single save has done its job. I hold onto this character because there’s so much history there and throwing it away feels like a waste. It’s like a relationship gone stale that you just can’t move on from because of all the good memories and familiarity. Sometimes, though, those relationships end whether we have the guts to initiate that split or not, and it’s often for the better even if it doesn’t always feel that way in the moment. While I’ve heard from a few players who are mourning the imminent loss of their favorite save files in The Long Dark, I’m choosing to embrace the moment. I know it’s time to move on from that character and collect a new list of memorable moments. I look forward to taking those first steps in fresh snow on December 5.

Co-EIC

Bill, who is also known as Rumpo, is a lifelong gamer and Toronto Maple Leafs fan. He is known for his guide writing and, unsettlingly enough, enjoys grinding out in-depth collectible articles. Tweet him @RumpoPlays if you have a question or comment about one of his guides.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 30, 2022 5:56 PM

    Bill Lavoy posted a new article, Saying goodbye to my two-year-old save file in The Long Dark

    • reply
      November 30, 2022 6:51 PM

      I don't think I ever lasted more than a week to 10 days in TLD. Game was savagely unforgiving to the point of not being an enjoyable experience for me. (For the record I've beaten Dark Souls 1 and 2 and almost completed super meat boys cotton alley dark world so I can stick with the hard stuff as long as it feels beatable!)

      I'm sure an ex shacker, Fred Garvin, worked on the sound design(?) in TLD! Fun trivia for you.

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        November 30, 2022 7:25 PM

        Not sure when you last played, but the game has four pre-built difficulty levels, a couple of which fall well short of the difficulty you'd find in a Dark Souls game. It also has custom difficulty so you can tune your own experience as you see fit.

        If you fire up Interloper, the hardest pre-built difficulty, yeah, you won't last long unless you are intimately familiar with the game and very experienced, but that's the entire point of that mode.

        Very cool tidbit of information!

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          December 1, 2022 8:02 AM

          It was years and years ago. Probably shortly after it came out.

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        December 1, 2022 5:44 AM

        fred garvin is a name I haven’t heard in quite a while

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      December 1, 2022 5:28 AM

      fred garvin

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      December 1, 2022 6:02 AM

      Thanks for writing this! I enjoyed reading it. It took me a few tries to get going with Long Dark but it hooked me pretty hard once I got over the initial humps and was out on my own in the wilderness. During my first few experiences with the game, I legitimately thought I was doing something wrong or that I had missed something, but it turns out that it was just that punishing. As a reward, I got stunning vistas and sunrises, immersive snowstorms, and genuine relief at stumbling upon something left by some wayward traveler. This game still calls out to me from my Steam library every time winter hits. Pour yourself a stout, put a log on the fire, and fulfill an abstract primal longing for exploration!

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      December 1, 2022 6:41 AM

      Fantastic article, Bill.

    • rms legacy 10 years legacy 20 years mercury super mega
      reply
      December 2, 2022 2:28 PM

      This was a great read, I felt like I was listening to the IceMan recount the tale of his life!

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