Post-apocalyptic Canadian wilderness simulator The Long Dark will receive its first paid updates since the game went into early access in 2014, Hinterland Studio’s founder Raphael van Lierop has revealed in a developer diary. Expect new regions, challenges and changes to the way the game plays from later this year, although Hinterland haven’t yet specified what form these will take. Van Lierop also announced that he will step aside as project lead on The Long Dark. Katie Sorrell, lead designer on the game’s Story mode, will be taking over.
The planned updates will target The Long Dark’s core Survival mode and take the form of a season pass. The expansion will be spread through around 15 to 18 months in regular installations for anyone who buys the pass. Hinterland are also aiming to offer the contents in three or four DLC packs after their release. Don’t fret if you don’t fancy buying access to the paid updates as there’ll still be free updates to the base Survival Mode, Hinterland say.
So why offer paid updates now? Well, Hinterland have always released major updates for free up to this point, which has grown the game into what they call an “unwieldy” form beyond the scope they set for themselves at the start of its development. Last year, Hinterland ran a poll on the future of the game and found people were interested in paid additions to Survival mode. Hinterland explain that they’ve had to uncouple The Long Dark’s Story and Survival modes so they can provide smoother and quicker updates to both without having to re-test the entire game every time.
The Long Dark’s Story mode, Wintermute, still has one episode in its five-episode-long arc left to tell, but there’s no release date for that outside of a vague 2023 window. John tackled Wintermute several times, and eventually came to enjoy it. “This is such a magnificent turnaround,” he said. “What once felt like a grindy tutorial now feels like a story someone really wanted to tell, and has become a story I really want to hear.”
Hinterland have promised a roadmap of what will feature in the paid Survival mode updates before launch, but there’s nothing concrete to share yet. Meanwhile, The Long Dark is available on Steam, Epic Games Store other Microsoft Store for £28/$35/€30.