In survival mode, the player can freely explore and survive inside a sandbox environment. Unlike story mode, survival mode has no quests or plots, and the player may travel between regions without restriction.

Survival mode is a permadeath experience. Once the player dies, the game save cannot be reloaded.


The choice of Experience dictates how harshly the world will treat the player throughout their journey in The Long Dark.


XpMode Pilgrim.png

The easiest experience available. Best for exploration and learning in a low-stress environment.

  • Abundance of items.
  • Needs bars drop slowly.
  • Wildlife will not attack the player unless provoked.
  • Safe starting location.
  • All fires stop the character from freezing.
  • The decay of all items is much slower than other experience modes.
  • Allows for five active feats.


XpMode Voyageur.png

An experience that balances exploration with a challenge.

  • A Balanced number of items.
  • Normal needs.
  • Hostile wildlife will not appear for the first twelve to twenty-four hours.[1]
  • All fires stop the character from freezing.
  • Chance to start at night.
  • The decay of all items is slightly slower than Stalker.
  • Allows for four active feats.
  • Player will not automatically wake up when freezing.


XpMode Stalker.png

A punishing survival challenge.

  • Few items to be found.
  • Needs bars erode quickly.
  • Immediate hostile wildlife and in greater numbers.
  • Starting a fire does not immediately save the character from freezing. Fire temperature must raise "feels like" temperature above freezing.
  • No chance of an indoor starting location.
  • Chance to start at night.
  • Allows for three active feats.
  • Player will not automatically wake up when freezing.


XpMode Interloper.png

The most difficult experience available. As the name implies, you are an unwelcome guest in this cold, hostile world. This experience is best suited for expert players looking for the ultimate survival challenge.

  • Very few items. Certain critical tools and items have limitations on how many times they can spawn across the entire sandbox (e.g., matches and other ignition items are rare, a hunting rifle revolver, hatchets, and hunting knives will never spawn on this difficulty).
  • Minimal starting resources: the player starts with just a partial set of poor clothing, a recycled can, and nothing else. Most high-quality clothing and some key tools/items need to be crafted.
  • Less numerous herbivores but more dangerous carnivores.
  • The world becomes more hostile, and colder the longer the player survives up to a limit.
  • Allows for two active feats.
  • Needs and item condition decay faster. Player condition regenerates more slowly.
  • Choosing a region to spawn is not possible. Possible to spawn at night, and no indoor spawns are available. Higher chance to spawn in Forlorn Muskeg, Hushed River Valley, or other higher difficulty regions.
  • Several cargo containers do not spawn on Timberwolf Mountain, and the quality of some containers may be downgraded (e.g., a container that held several cans of condensed milk may now only contain some tomato soup).
  • Player will not automatically wake up when freezing.


XpMode Custom.png

For players looking for their own experience, separate from standard Survival mode experiences. Players can create a custom experience here, with over 50 different variables which can be adjusted to their liking. These variables include:

  • Rate of hunger, thirst, cold and rest drain.
  • Wind variability and weather type probabilities.
  • Frequence of Aurora.
  • Animal behaviour and spawns, including an option for passive wildlife.
  • Quality and quantity of loot spawns (loose and in containers).
  • Level of damage and injuries from wolves.
  • Whichafflictions can be inflicted onto the player. well as many others.

Creating a Custom Experience Mode generates a code, which can then be shared with other players, usable across any platform.

Gameplay in a Custom Experience Mode will not go toward Feats completion.

GAME START ======== ======== ======== ========
Baseline resource availability Very High High Medium Low
Starting time of day Noon Random Random Random
Starting weather Clear Heavy Fog Heavy Fog Heavy Fog
Indoor spawns permitted Yes Yes No No
Survivor monologue Yes Yes Yes Yes
ENVIRONMENT ===== ===== ===== =====
Length of day multiplier 1x 1x 1x 1x
Weather variability Low Medium High Very High
Blizzard frequency Low Medium High Very High
World gets colder over time None Low Medium High
Wind variability Medium Medium Medium Medium
Aurora frequency Medium Medium Medium Medium
Fire overcomes ambient air temp Yes Yes No No
HEALTH ===== ===== ===== =====
Calorie burn rate Low Medium High Very High
Thirst rate Low Medium Medium High
Fatigue rate High High High Medium
Freezing rate Low Medium High Very High
At-rest condition recovery rate High High High Medium
Condition recovery rate High High High Medium
Hypothermia recovery time Low Medium High Very High
Frostbite rate Low Medium High Very High
Cabin fever No Yes Yes Yes
Intestinal parasites No No Yes Yes
Dysentery Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sprains Yes Yes Yes Yes
Food poisoning Yes Yes Yes Yes
Broken ribs No Yes Yes Yes
Rest as a resource Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fires prevent freezing Yes Yes No No
Wake up player when freezing near a fire Yes Yes No No
Birch bark tea crafting (v.1.64) Yes Yes Yes Yes
GEAR ===== ===== ===== =====
Item decay rate Low Medium High Very High
Loose item availability Very High High Medium Low
Empty container chance modifier None None Medium High
Stick, branch, and stone respawn frequency Very High High Medium Low
Starting gear allocation Very High High Medium Low
Rifle availability Yes Yes Yes No
Revolver availability (v.1.64) Yes Yes Yes No
Harvestable plant availability High High High High
Reduce container item density None None Low High
WILDLIFE SPAWNS ===== ===== ===== =====
Fish spawn chance High High High Medium
Wolf spawn chance Low Medium Very High High
Timberwolf spawn chance (v.1.64) Low Medium Very High High
Deer spawn chance Very High High Medium Low
Rabbit spawn chance Very High High Medium Low
Bear spawn chance Low Medium Very High High
Moose spawn chance Low Medium Very High High
Time to wildlife respawn Medium Medium Medium Medium
Reduce wildlife population over time None Low Medium High
Wolf spawn distance Medium Close Close Close
Predator grace period No Yes No No
WILDLIFE BEHAVIOUR ===== ===== ===== =====
Wildlife smell range Low Medium High High
Scent increase from Meat/Blood Medium Medium Medium Medium
Passive wildlife Yes No No No
Wildlife attacks during rest No Yes Yes Yes
Wolf fear Medium Medium Medium Medium
Timberwolf morale (v.1.64) High Medium Low Low
Wildlife detection range Medium Medium Medium Medium
WILDLIFE STRUGGLE ===== ===== ===== =====
Struggle bonus High Medium Low None
Struggle condition damage modifier None None None High
Struggle clothing damage modifier Low Low Low High
Struggle damage severity Low Medium High Very High

Choose Region

Main article: Region

The player may select any region they want as their starting point. The player also has the option to randomize their starting region. Each region is unique, has different advantages and drawbacks, and are all interconnected.

If the Interloper Experience is selected, then the starting region will be randomly chosen. In Interloper, you will not spawn in Mystery Lake or Coastal Highway, and the number of possible spawn locations is limited.

The current regions are as follows:

Mystery Lake [beginner] - connects to Coastal Highway, Pleasant Valley, and Forlorn Muskeg

Coastal Highway [intermediate] - connects to Mystery Lake, Pleasant Valley, and Desolation Point

Pleasant Valley [advanced] - connects to Mystery Lake, Coastal Highway, and Timberwolf Mountain

Desolation Point [intermediate] - connects to Coastal Highway

Timberwolf Mountain [advanced] - connects to Pleasant Valley

Forlorn Muskeg [advanced] - connects to Mystery Lake, Mountain Town, and Broken Railroad

Broken Railroad [intermediate] - connects to Forlorn Muskeg

Mountain Town [beginner] - Connects to Mystery Lake and Forlorn Muskeg

Hushed River Valley [advanced] - Connects to Mountain Town

Bleak Inlet [advanced] - Connects to Forlorn Muskeg and The Ravine


The choices are male or female, with the only differences being the player character's speaking voice, hands, and the body shown in the clothing screen.


The player is alone, not dressed for the cold, and carries only a meager amount of supplies. The player must find food and shelter before nightfall, when the temperatures drop. The amount of supplies one starts with is dependent on the experience mode selected.

Depending on the sandbox difficulty, the players may either find themselves in a house or outside in the cold. In harder difficulties, it may also be approaching nightfall or already dark, and, in some cases, bad weather may move in quickly.


  • Although survival mode is intended to be a permadeath experience, some players back up game saves periodically so that if they die, they can load the backed-up save and continue. This practice is called "save scumming"



  1. Steam, The "Silent Hunter" Update (v.233) -- We've Added Bows & Improved Hunting!, viewed 22 May 2015, <>.
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