After a successful Kickstarter, Hinterland Games has released a hardcore survival game the long dark via Early Access in 2014, reaching version 1.0 in 2017. It has continued to get free updates ever since, both for the Wintermute episodic story mode and the survival mode, but as director Raphael van Lierop explains in this month’s issue developer diaryThis is gonna change.
While previously The Long Dark’s survival updates had to be limited in scope due to the two modes being connected, the team has been working since the release of episode four to decouple them. That work is now complete, enabling more significant additions to survival mode – albeit not for free.
“Last year we conducted a community survey,” writes van Lierop, “asking how you would like us to focus our focus on the future of The Long Dark. Among other helpful feedback, we found that nearly 80% of you wanted us to start producing Paid expansion content for Survival Mode.”
Long Dark’s first paid update, which van Lierop describes as similar to a season pass, will be released later this year: “It will be some sort of ‘season pass’ type approach (actual name to be determined) where we have a ~ Campaign 15-18 months of updates that unlock for those who purchased the pass.” Throughout this campaign, buyers will receive “a combination of content and gameplay system updates, including new regions, new challenges, new mechanics, etc., as well as general improvements and updates to the game’s key systems.”
Those who choose not to purchase a season pass will have access to updates after the campaign ends, when they will be repackaged as three or four separate paid DLCs. Free updates will also continue. “These updates will generally be smaller,” explains van Lierop, “more modest improvements compared to what you will see being added to the paid content stream, which seems fair.”
At the same time, van Lierop is stepping down from his role as project lead on The Long Dark. Katie Sorrell, lead designer of the story episodes and designer of new regions added from Pleasant Valley, will take the helm. “My last practical contribution to The Long Dark is the script for episode five,” writes van Lierop, “where the story of WINTERMUTE is brought to an end.” He will still serve as creative director and “will always have a hand in reviewing and guiding the experiences we make, so that doesn’t mean I won’t look at every bit of The Long Dark that walks out the door for you.”
Anyone who owns The Long Dark will still get episode five for free whenever it finishes, and the plan is for paid updates to begin in the second half of 2022.