Survival game The Long Dark announces 'the first change to our permadeath system that we’ve ever made'

 A survivor in the cold holding a gun.
A survivor in the cold holding a gun.

Ten years after its alpha first appeared in 2014, first-person survival game The Long Dark is still getting new stuff. The fifth and final part of its Tales from the Far Territory DLC is due out next month, and it's bringing with it some pretty interesting new elements, most of which are going to ratchet up the challenge but one that will give you a second chance at survival.

First and most unusual for The Long Dark is the new "Cheat Death" system, which for the first time in the game's 10 year history will let players avoid permadeath when playing in survival mode. Typically, dying in survival mode means your save file is ruthlessly deleted so you have to start over (unless you sneakily backed it up). With the optional new system, you'll be given the choice to accept death or keep playing—though cheating death will make the game "progressively more difficult for you," developer Hinterland says. You can cheat death four times, but "Your final life will be very difficult."

Cheating death will involve "a series of trade-offs, because while you can cheat death, you can’t cheat death for free." That's a bit vague and unfortunately there's no further explanation on how it'll work, but it sounds more interesting than just clicking "continue" and proceeding as if nothing has happened.

"This is the first change to our permadeath system that we’ve ever made in the game," Hinterland says, "and we hope it brings a new dimension to gameplay for those of our players who just aren’t ready to lose their favourite survivor, or those who just want something fresh. We’d love to see players get into the spirit of this and give it a try instead of backing up their saves and continuing without consequences."

If you'd rather court death than cheat it, Hinterland has you covered there, too. The DLC will also include a more hardcore survival experience called "Misery Mode" which will introduce six new afflictions to your survival experience. The specifics of these afflictions haven't been announced, but there are already a ton of injuries in the game like frostbite, burns, broken ribs, lacerations and blood loss, sprained ankles and wrists, plus diseases like poisoning, dysentery, intestinal parasites, and even scurvy. What could possibly be left to afflict you with? The thing that happened to me the last time I walked in the snow, where my boot came off and I took a step into the snowback with just my sock? Cold wet socks are a terrible affliction. FYI, I would die of complaining roughly three minutes into a real survival scenario, long before dysentery even had a chance to kill me.

Speaking of death, an interesting new "alpha predator" is also coming to The Long Dark: the cougar, and it will present a new type of danger for players. "Cougars are very territorial, and will get interested in you when you start to spend a lot of time in one region," the developer says. "If you hang around in one region for too long, they will take an interest in the region and occupy it. You’ll then start to encroach on their territory, which is very dangerous!"

You'll be able to pick up signs that the cougar is in your region before you ever encounter one, but no warnings before they attack and undoubtedly claw you to pieces (which may be one of those new affiliations). To avoid this you can leave the cougar's region for a while and it'll eventually lose interest in turning you into a bloody cat toy. The cougar sounds like a fun and scary new threat for a game that's already full of them.

Hinterland is currently aiming to release Tales from the Far Territory Part Five in "the second half of June" though that's dependent on testing and clearing console certification. You can read the full developer diary on Steam.