It’s not often a game that’s been playable for eight years feels like it has a lot more to offer, but that’s the case with The Long Dark. The recently released Tales from the Far Territory expansion pass has added a great deal of value even in its first of six stages, making what might be the best pure survival game available even better. After spending a few days exploring all that’s on offer, I’m more excited than ever for the future of The Long Dark.
Tales from the Far Territory first and foremost adds a new hub region, Transfer Pass, and a massive new region called Forsaken Airfield. Staying true to an unofficial theme in The Long Dark that nothing comes easy, players who want to visit these new areas must walk there in the game before these zones open as spawn locations for future runs. The journey to these new regions begins in Broken Railroad and it will take survivors more than 30 minutes to make the trek assuming the weather is kind and nothing unexpected happens, which is a huge assumption in The Long Dark.
As much as I wanted to gear up for my trip to Forsaken Airfield, I was impatient and set out from my spawn point in Mystery Lake after only a couple of days. I had okay clothing, one of the new Rifle variants, a Revolver, and limited carrying capacity. I was lucky to have that as the loot tables in The Long Dark were refreshed with Tales from the Far Territory, so I no longer knew where to go to find some of the essentials. The first leg of my trip took me from Mystery Lake to Forlorn Muskeg and onto Broken Railroad. I spent a day or two there, but soon I set out to make the journey to the Transfer Pass hub region.
In my interview with Hinterland Studio prior to the release of Tales from the Far Territory, Raphael van Lierop, Founder and Creative Director, talked about just how long this trip would be. He wasn’t kidding. After the initial 30-minute hike through dark mines and along the railroad tracks that lead to the Vacant Depot building at the Transfer Pass, I hunkered down next to a warm fire, sheltered from the wind. The next morning, I headed out to Forsaken Airfield. It was about another half hour for me to finally reach the heart of that region, Airfield 31.
Forsaken Airfield is a huge map with lots of open space. There is shelter, but safe structures are few and far between once you leave the actual airfield portion itself. Airfield 31 is about as safe as this region gets, with a hangar, ATC, and several planes, helicopters, and vehicles that provide shelter. You can spend a day or two looting and are sure to leave better prepared than when you arrived. It might not be enough.
Forsaken Airfield is bitterly cold with deafening wind that will make you feel uneasy even in the comfort of your gaming chair. I had to explore in the mid-to-late afternoon when the temperature was a bit more forgiving. Even that presented challenges since I had no idea where I could find a suitable shelter to sleep. When I did find two cabins, I decided to spend a couple of days operating out of them as I continued to see what Forsaken Airfield had to offer. However, I was never able to feel the confidence I’m used to enjoying in The Long Dark. As an experienced survivor with deep knowledge of the systems and regions I can almost always “tank” a situation that others might avoid. Forsaken Airfield had me questioning myself every step of the way.
In addition to new spaces for players to explore in Tales from the Far Territory, Hinterland Studio introduced new systems like Glimmer Fog and the Insomnia affliction. The Glimmer Fog is a phenomenon exclusive to Forsaken Airfield for now and charges the air and ground with electrostatic energy, bringing life to machinery that normally sits dormant. Glimmer Fog isn’t always present but when it is, spending too much time in it can cause Insomnia. When the risk of Insomnia struck me, my instinct was to stay in my cabin until it passed, thinking I had enough food and water for a couple of days. My instincts were good, but just like real insomnia impairs your judgement, I made the mistake of panicking after a terrible night of interrupted sleep and decided to walk out of the Glimmer Fog. I regretted this decision almost immediately and spent several hours trying to keep a fire going in the middle of a forest, with no idea where I was, or which direction would bring me to safety. When the fog cleared several hours later, I wasn’t more than a two-minute walk from the airfield. The Long Dark is the only game I’ve ever played where I could die lost in the snow and fog and not realize I was less than 100 feet from shelter.
After that experience, I decided to leave Forsaken Airfield and head back to the safety and familiarity of Mystery Lake. While I loved going somewhere new, I was not ready. My curiosity drove me into a situation I knew was risky, and I almost paid for it with my survivor’s life.
That’s rather exciting, though. I know what I must do to get ready. Not only do I need to go back and conquer Forsaken Airfield to regain that confidence, but I need to get ready for the two additional regions coming with the expansion pass. Tales from the Far Territory not only gives survivors something to dig into now, but it also kicks the door open to a promising future for The Long Dark.