The Long Dark Wiki

The current Skills display menu.

Skills are a survivor's trainable abilities that may be improved throughout their survival mode gameplay. Any given skill can be trained by specific actions that relate to the skill. Performing any of these actions grants the player skill points in that skill. Skills can also be increased by researching the research book that corresponds with the skill.

Achieving higher levels in skills can give players various advantages, such as preventing food poisoning from eating any cooked food or preventing failures while mending clothing.

There are 9 skills that can be improved in The Long Dark. All skills start out at level 1. Survivors can improve their skills up to level 5; after that, they get no further benefits from continuing to train the skill.

Skills do not carry over between survival mode games or challenges, unlike feats. When the player dies, they lose their survival skill progress.


Survivors have access to nine core survival skills:

Skill Description
Archery Archery Archery is used to hunt animals with the use of a survival bow.
Carcass Harvesting Carcass Harvesting Carcass harvesting is used to harvest meat, hides, and guts from wildlife.
Cooking Cooking Cooking is used to cook raw food for a number of reasons, including increasing the condition of raw food and preventing food poisoning prior to consuming food.
Fire Starting Fire Starting Fire starting is used to start fires, which are used to generate heat, cook food, melt snow, and purify water.
Ice Fishing Ice Fishing Ice fishing is used to catch raw fish, which are used for cooking and for creating lantern fuel.
Mending Mending Mending is used to repair cloth or leather equipment, such as clothing.
Rifle Firearm Rifle Firearm Rifle firearm is used to hunt animals with the use of a hunting rifle.
Revolver Firearm Revolver Firearm Revolver firearm is used to scare animals. Can be used during a melee fight.
Gunsmithing Gunsmithing Gunsmithing is used to craft new bullets for the revolver and rifle, as well as repairing them using firearm cleaning kit.

Secondary skills[]

Players also have access to three secondary survival skills, which are not tracked by the journal in the game menu. The skill status can only be viewed while attempting to perform an action related to that skill within the game menu.

Skill Description
Cleaning Cleaning is used to repair hunting rifles and the revolver. Keeping a rifle in optimal condition reduces the likelihood of the rifle jamming.
Repair Repair is used to repair a variety of metal tools, such as hacksaws and heavy hammers.
Sharpening Sharpening is used to repair bladed tools. Higher levels in the sharpening skill reduce the amount of time required to sharpen, and additionally increase the amount of condition restored to a tool by sharpening.

Increasing Skill[]

Each skill can be increased by performing its corresponding action(s), or by reading research books associated with it. Duplicates of the same research book can each be read, each granting independent skill bonuses (e.g. two "Wilderness Kitchen", each for 10 Cooking Skill Points), but many books cannot be read at skill 3 or 4, giving the error "Your skills are too advanced for this book".

Archery can be increased by 1 point per crafted simple arrow, per hit with the survival bow on living wildlife, or for 10 points by reading "Stay on Target".

Carcass Harvesting is increased at a rate of 1 point hour spent harvesting wildlife carcasses. It can also be increased for 10 points by reading "Field Dressing Your Kill, Vol. 1".

  • Slower harvesting times (e.g. with bare hands) increases Carcass Harvesting Skill faster than with tools (e.g. a hunting knife).

Cooking is increased by 1 point per Cooked food or drink item at an active fire, or for 10 points by reading "Wilderness Kitchen".

  • Warming canned food and beverages to 'Hot', as well as melting/boiling water does not increase Cooking Skill.
  • Cooking Skill can be quickly increased by cutting carcass' meat into 0.1KG pieces (via aborting the harvest with the 'ESC' key), and cooking these small pieces. Cooking teas and coffee are also a fast way to increase skill.
  • Cooking Skill points are gained upon picking up a cookable item which has finished cooking, so items which burn do not grant Cooking Skill since they are destroyed.

Fire Starting is increased by 1 point per fire lit, or for 10 points by reading "Survive the Outdoors!".

  • Failing to start fires, as well as lighting matches, torches, flares, marine flares, and storm lanterns does not increase Fire Starting Skill.
  • Fire Starting skill can be rapidly increased by starting or re-lighting Campfires, using a lit torch and supply of sticks.

Ice Fishing is increased by 1 point per fish caught, or for 10 points by reading "The Frozen Angler".

Mending is increased by 1 point per clothing item successfully repaired, or for 10 points by reading "Sewing Primer".

  • Failing to mend a clothing item yields no mending Skill.
  • Fast ways to gain Mending skill are to repair extra pieces of clothing or by repairing clothing as soon as it drops below 100% condition.

Rifle Firearm is increased by 1 point per hit with the hunting rifle on living wildlife, or for 5 by reading "Frontier Shooting Guide", and 10 by reading "Advanced Guns Guns Guns!".

Revolver Firearm is increased by 1 point per hit with the revolver on living wildlife, or for 10 by reading "Small Arms Handbook".

Gunsmithing is increased by 1 point per rifle round or revolver round harvested, bullet crafted, gunpowder crafted, or rifle round or revolver round crafted, or by 10 by reading "Practical Gunsmithing".

  • Harvesting car battery yields no Gunsmithing skill.

Cleaning is increased by 1 point per cleaning action with firearm cleaning kit on a hunting rifle or revolver.

  • Attempting to clean a firearm cannot fail.
  • Hunting Rifle Skill and Revolver Skill increases the amount of condition repaired with the cleaning action.
  • Maximum Cleaning Skill is 100.

Repair is increased by 1 point per repair action with simple tools or quality tools and scrap metal, on a hacksaw, storm lantern, heavy hammer, flashlight, simple tools, or quality tools.

  • Failing to repair yields no Repair Skill.
  • Maximum Repair Skill is 100.

Sharpening is increased by 1 point per whetstone action on a hunting knife, improvised knife, hatchet, or improvised hatchet.

  • Attempting to sharpen a tool cannot fail.
  • Maximum Sharpening Skill is 100.

History of release[]

Skill Release Release date Time since last skill
Gunsmithing Gunsmithing Errant Pilgrim (v1.64) 10 December 2019 7 months, 4 days
Revolver Firearm Revolver Firearm Steadfast Ranger (v1.48) 6 May 2019 2 years, 7 months, 13 days
Archery Archery Vigilant Trespass (v0.364) 23 September 2016 3 months, 0 days
Mending Mending
Carcass Harvesting Carcass Harvesting Penitent Scholar (v0.346) 23 June 2016 Initial batch of skills.
Cooking Cooking
Fire Starting Fire Starting
Ice Fishing Ice Fishing
Rifle Firearm Rifle Firearm