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Will Mackenzie and Dr. Astrid Greenwood witness the First Flare moments before their plane crashes

The First Flare refers to the first appearance of the Aurora in The Long Dark's Story Mode. It is the primary cause of the so-called "quiet apocalypse" seen in both Story Mode and Survival mode.


The First Flare event took place at least 10 years after the The Collapse, the colloquial name for the economic collapse of the Canadian - and wider North American - economy. The First flare occurred on September 6 based on notes found in Milton and conversations between Grey Mother and Will Mackenzie. According to the Climber's journal page found in the Mountaineer's Hut in Timberwolf Mountain, the First Flare specifically took place on the night between September 5th and 6th.

Cause & Effects[]

The cause of the First Flare and subsequent Aurorae has been labelled as a geomagnetic storm. Its most immediate effect was the widespread disruption of electronic devices, including lights, cell phones, televisions, radios, power plants, and vehicles. One of the Flare's slower but more devastating effects is the destabilization of weather patterns and wildlife behavior, leading to extreme weather and unusual animal activity in many areas. Due to the loss of worldwide communication and the isolation of the game's setting of Great Bear Island, it is impossible to determine the exact scope of the First Flare; however it is implied that the entire world has been affected, leading to the collapse of civilization.

Notable Incidents Caused by the First Flare[]

  • Electronic devices across northern Canada (and presumably the rest of the world, not mentioned, confirmed or refuted by Wintermute story) stop working, leading to total blackouts and loss of communication.
  • Wildlife behavior is disrupted. Predators that once avoided humans now attack them on sight. Bears are roused from their hibernation and begin roaming the area.
  • Disruption of weather patterns leads to extremely cold temperatures and brutal snowstorms across many regions of Great Bear Island and presumably the rest of northern Canada.
  • Loss of electricity, severe weather, and food shortages lead to widespread looting and violence throughout many of the affected areas.
  • Dozens of motorists are stranded on highways and roads after their cars stopped working. Refugees from the highways begin to make their way toward towns and cities.
  • Pilot Will Mackenzie and Dr. Astrid Greenwood crash in the mountains outside of Milton following the total loss of power to Mackenzie's plane.
  • A prison bus carrying several inmates to Blackrock Federal Penitentiary crashes into a collapsed tunnel outside Milton. Some of the inmates survive, Hobbs among them, and proceed to Milton, where they hold residents hostage in the Schoolhouse. The residents are killed by a fire from a subsequent Aurora event.
  • A cargo airliner crashes into the summit of Timberwolf Mountain, scattering debris and cargo all over the area.
  • A motorist named Matt loses control of his truck and drives off a bridge in Desolation Point. (Survival mode; unconfirmed for Wintermute)
  • A passenger plane crashes near Skeeter's Ridge in Pleasant Valley, many do not make it and the remaining survivors make their way to Thomson's Crossing.