As you explore the world of The Long Dark, you’ll notice auroras are often present in the sky, appearing and disappearing according to some unknown set of natural rules. Besides acting as a hauntingly beautiful reminder of what has transpired, the auroras also have an effect on the world around you.
In story mode, the aurora makes its first appearance when the player wakes up following a plane crash. This initial, intense aurora is hereafter referred to as the "First Flare." The exact cause of the First Flare or its effects on electronics are not fully explained in the first two episodes. However, the impact on electronics and the appearance of the aurora borealis resemble the expected effects of a powerful solar flare accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun.
After the First Flare knocks out most modern technology at the start of Episode 1, the aurora does not make another appearance until Episode 2, when the player blacks out at the Maintenance Yard. From then on, auroras will keep making appearances seemingly at random.
In Survival mode and challenges, the aurora's appearance is rare and based on many factors, regardless of the region. It only appears during the night, sometimes well after sunset, and only when the weather is clear with no fog or snow.
When the aurora is present, electronics will come to life. Lights will flicker, computers will turn on, radios in cars may be usable and songs will begin to play. In Wintermute, the elevator at the Carter Hydro Dam becomes operational in story mode. When it comes to the computers a rare few in select locations will show readable messages called 'Buffer Memories'. The messages are usually lore based.
The flashlight's battery can be recharged when the aurora is present. However, it will quickly die when the aurora leaves, rendering the flashlight useless.
Animal Behaviour Edit
The predators will be extremely aggressive and very dangerous during an aurora event. They will ignore stimuli they normally fear, so flares, campfires, and similar items are not reliable deterants. Predators will also lock on to the player from greater distances and will give chase for longer periods.
However, wolves seem to fear the bright lights that come to life during the aurora. They will avoid street lamps, floodlights, and other bright electric lighting, much as they do with campfires, normally. In addition, all wolves and bears have a green glowing effect on their fur that is visible from long distances.
Coming into contact with certain electrified items, such as arcing cables, will severely injure the player, reducing their health by 50 points and giving a "burns" affliction. If entering an area only accesible through an electrically controlled door (which is required at least once during Wintermute), the player may be trapped inside if the aurora ends before the player exits. It may be many days until the next Flare allows the door to be opened.