Announcing TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY20.10.2022.
Thanks for your patience as I put this dev diary together. It took a while. As you’ll see below, there is a lot of information to share, and we wanted to make sure we crossed all our Ts and dotted all our Is before we put it in front of you.
First thing, though—I’m excited to reveal the title and key art for the first Expansion Pass content for THE LONG DARK. We call it, TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY.
Plus, check out the teaser trailer below:
TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY is the first paid content for THE LONG DARK since we launched on Steam Early Access back in 2014. Those of you who read my dev diaries or follow me or Hinterland on Twitter know we’ve been considering ways to create a more long-term sustainable model for ongoing Survival Mode improvements, and in my last dev diary I hinted at the form this might take. Since sharing that info, we’ve had more time to refine our thinking and planning, and so today I’m proud to be able to share the results.
But first — the obligatory marketing blurb:
Deep along the spine of Great Bear tracks a steep mountain range that bisects the island.
This is the Far Range, an imposing wall of rock that stands vigilant over Great Bear’s priceless resource riches.
Over the decades, many have tried, few have succeeded to crack open the wealth within these rocks. And mysteries abound. Dark stories told around campfires, about abandoned mines and remote airfields that hold many secrets.
Now, with the aurora blazing across the sky, is the Far Territory ready to surrender its stories? Will you survive long enough to wrest any truths from the rocky grasp of this old, dark territory?
Makes you feel cold just reading about it.
WHAT IS THE EXPANSION PASS?
The Far Territory is our first attempt to expand the world of Great Bear Island with something entirely new. To get there, you must take a long and treacherous journey along abandoned railway lines, tunnel systems, and caverns, to get to the hub region that then connects to three other large regions. We’ll be revealing this new part of Great Bear Island to you over the course of the 12-month Expansion Pass campaign. Some of the things you can expect to see added in TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY include:
- Three new Regions, connected by the long travel zones and hub region. The first of these Regions, “Forsaken Airfield”, and the travel zones all launch with the Expansion Pass. The other two Regions will be released over the course of the 12-month campaign.
- Three Tales, narrative-themed Challenges that take place within your Survival game, each revealing insights into the Far Territory’s mysterious history.
- New gameplay systems including: Handheld Shortwave, Travois, Safehouse Customization, Trader, Complex Recipes for Cooking, and new Item Variants. We’ll share more info about each of these features on the larger Expansion Pass site we’ll be launching closer to release.
- 20+ minutes of new Survival music (10+ minutes included in the first Drop).
- And much more..
WHAT ABOUT FREE UPDATES?
In addition to the huge amount of new content and features going into the paid Expansion Pass, we will also continue making meaningful free updates with new systems, content, and improvements to the “base” Survival Mode, including:
- Full global loot and wildlife refresh. We’ve redone all the loot tables, all the pre-placed loot, and rebalanced the loot economy across the entire game. The Resource refresh will go live for all players when the Expansion launches, and the full Wildlife refresh will come some time next year.
- Visor Notes. You’ll be able to find notes under visors (and other locations) that point to supply caches and other useful things, hidden all over the world.
- New First-Person animations. We’ve added a whole bunch of new animations for harvesting actions, and more.
- Thermos. You know — to keep your drinks warm.
- Visual enhancements (focused on high-end systems).
- Burdock, a new edible plant.
- Improvised Crampons, so you can make them yourself. Watch those ankles!
- …and a range of enhancements to existing systems.
Please keep in mind these are just partial lists. We’ll share a more complete list as we approach launch, but this should give you a sense of the scope of the Expansion Pass, and some of the other things we’ll be doing to keep the game fresh for all our players.
All of these updates will be released in content “drops”, with our goal being to release a new Drop every 8-10 weeks. This cadence is pretty aggressive in comparison to how we’ve been updating the game since we started releasing Episodes, but with the major changes we made to the game’s structure, splitting Story and Survival into two separate games, and other pipeline and workflow improvements the team has implemented during the last year or so, we are in a much better place to deliver frequent, meaningful updates to Survival like we did in the earlier years of the project. And we’re very excited to be getting back to that!
We’ll be releasing a full roadmap for TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY on our Expansion Pass site closer to launch, and we’ll share the link here, on our social channels, in the forums, and to our mailing list.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY will be priced at $19.99 USD at launch. (Your pricing might be different depending on where you are buying in the world, as we do our best to price sensitively accounting for the power of your local currency.) There will be a bundle option that lets you save a bit of money if you already own THE LONG DARK. At the midway point the price will go up by $5, to reflect that more of the content is available. At the end of the 12-month campaign, we’ll increase the price by $5 again, to $29.99. So, the best time to buy TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY is at launch, but if you prefer to wait until the end of the campaign to see how all the content and features turned out, you can certainly do that! We won’t be “sunsetting” or “vaulting” the content afterwards, so your purchase will be protected over the long term.
This won’t affect most people reading this as you already own THE LONG DARK, and nothing about your ownership will change. You will keep everything you have, and you will still get all five WINTERMUTE episodes including Episode Five when it unlocks sometime in late 2023 (current target; subject to change).
Since we have split the game between Survival and Story Modes, we were able to create a standalone Survival-only version of the game, and so along with the release of TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY, we will also launch a new Survival Edition, which comes in at a lower price point and only includes Survival Mode. We look at it as an “entry point” into THE LONG DARK. From Survival Edition, you can get the WINTERMUTE Episodes as DLC, and/or you can buy TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY. And if you want it all, you’ll be able to purchase the QUIET APOCALYPSE BUNDLE.
Basically, we are trying to create as many good options for our customers as possible, both creating opportunities for new players to come in at different price points, and also protecting our existing players’ investments and experience of THE LONG DARK. We think this is part of nurturing the ongoing growth of THE LONG DARK as a game, and as an important part of Hinterland’s business moving forward. We also hope to use these changes as an opportunity to test and learn new things about how we might launch and support future games at Hinterland.
Unfortunately, your current Survival saves WILL NOT work with the game once it has been updated. This is true even if you don’t buy the Expansion Pass.
The reason for this is that we’ve made many changes to the Save system, and the underlying architecture of the game itself, to improve, future-proof, and optimize it, and these changes mean that all “old” saves (meaning from a version of THE LONG DARK from before the Expansion Pass launch) will be incompatible with the new Save format.
A few more clarifying points:
- All unlocked Feats, Feats progress, and Achievements will be carried over to the Expansion Pass and updated Survival Mode. You will not lose these!
- All previous WINTERMUTE save files and general episode unlocks will continue to work in the updated Story Mode.
For anyone who has the game on Steam, you will be able to continue to use your current Save Games on an older version of the game, using our Time Capsule feature. You’ll be able to keep your “old” save games going using the older Time Capsule build (any build before the Expansion Pass release, actually). But since this is an older version, you won’t have access to any of the new content or enhancements that are going into both the Base Game, and the Expansion Pass.
Our recommendation is that if you have a Survival run you’d like to finish up, try to do so before the Expansion Pass launches. If you want to continue playing it, you can do so using Time Capsule. But you’ll only get to experience the new content, any of the improvements and optimizations, by creating a new game using the updated foundation that comes with the Expansion Pass release.
Unfortunately, Steam is the only platform we can offer the Time Capsule feature on. Players on other platforms will want to complete their in-progress Survival runs, then start new games when the game gets updated at the Expansion Pass launch.
We understand that this isn’t ideal. Unfortunately, we haven’t made many changes to the Save system in many years, and we’ve found players having a growing number of issues with old saves due to this. The clean-up was necessary for the future growth of THE LONG DARK and for the quality of game experience for all our players, and although we know some of you will be upset at having to abandon your saves, we’re hopeful that you will find excitement in the idea of starting fresh and experiencing the early phases of a Survival adventure all over again.
WHEN IS IT LAUNCHING?
We’ll share the launch date in the coming weeks, but you can expect TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY to launch on Steam and Epic Game Store in December.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER PLATFORMS?
We’re focused on the Steam and Epic Game Store launches for this year, with Xbox and PlayStation coming in late-January/early-February, and Switch coming sometime in March. Other smaller stores and platforms will be added as we’re able.
Why the delay? Since it’s so much easier and quicker for us to update the game on Steam and Epic, we’re focusing on them so that when we come back after the holidays, we’ll be ready to submit the game to the console platforms for release. So much has changed about the fundamental structure of the game, we just felt safer launching on a more limited number of platforms at first, in case any issues arise. We’ll do our best to keep the timing gap between platforms as short as possible.
If you like what you’ve seen here, we encourage you to Wishlist the Expansion Pass so that you get a notification when it goes live later this year. We’ll also be running a pre-order campaign closer to launch.
We haven’t forgotten about Episode Five! We’re focusing our communications bandwidth on educating and promoting TALES FROM THE FAR TERRITORY for now, but after it launches and the Expansion Pass campaign is underway, we’ll provide an update on our plans for wrapping up WINTERMUTE. It’s been a big story so far with a lot of threads to tie up, so Episode Five is going to be substantial. Already feeling sad to leave the story of Mackenzie, Astrid, the hardcase, Perseverance Mills, and the rest of it, but all good things must come to an end.
WHAT ABOUT HALLOWEEN?
We’ve been so busy rebuilding the game to accommodate the split, and adding all the content and features going into the first Expansion Pass Drop, that unfortunately we just couldn’t also make time to prepare anything cool for Halloween this year. Sorry about that.
THE LONG DARK PLAYER COUNT UPDATE
It’s been a little while since we shared player counts for THE LONG DARK. Here are the latest cumulative numbers, platform by platform. (We’ve rounded the numbers a bit.)
- Steam (paid): 4,000,000
- Xbox (paid): 750,000
- Xbox Game Pass (subscription): 2,000,000
- PlayStation (paid): 500,000
- PlayStation+ (subscription): 1,300,000
- Switch (paid): 68,000
- WeGame (paid): 125,000
- Epic Game Store (combo paid + give-away): 1,500,000+
That brings the total player count for THE LONG DARK to over 10 Million Players. We also have over 1 Million players actively playing the game every month, and we’re excited to see this monthly active player number go up even more as a result of the Expansion Pass rejuvenating player excitement for Survival Mode.
It’s pretty exciting for us to see these numbers for our quiet little (very) solo Survival experience. Thanks for all your support and being part of making this happen.
As mentioned in the last Dev Dairy, I’ve stepped back from daily leadership of THE LONG DARK to focus on Hinterland’s next games. We’re working on some exciting new things and I can’t wait to share some early news some time next year.
Thanks for reading all this, and for your ongoing support of Hinterland and your interest in what we’re making for you. Hopefully you found some stuff in this dev diary that gets you excited about the future of THE LONG DARK, and Hinterland in general. We can’t wait to share more details of all the various things we’re working on in the studio. Until then, keep your eyes on our various communications channels including our Official Community and our Mailing List, and if you think the Expansion Pass sounds interesting, we encourage you to Wishlist Here.
More news soon!