The Long Dark developers have revealed long-term plans to split the title into separate Story and Survival games, but have said a majority of the changes will come on the development side.
In a development blog to support new Survival additions, The Long Dark’s Raphael van Lierop explained how the team have been working, “on a plan for how to tackle ongoing support for Survival Mode between now and Episode Five’s launch, and beyond.”
Details of the changes will be revealed in the new year, but he does say that The Long Dark is looking at adding, “a more sustainable paid update path.”
The first shift the team are working towards is splitting Story Mode and Survival Mode into two separate games. “This won’t affect your ownership in any way — everyone who currently owns The Long Dark will automatically have both games,” he says. “In fact, depending on how we handle this, the split may be mostly on the back-end and invisible to you as a player. This split is mostly about how we structure content and data in the game on the development side.”
Just for the record, any of our Survival fans who feel like somehow the game has been held back by Story — you need to study your project history a bit more. There would be no Survival/sandbox without Story mode. I'm kind of sick of reading this "take". It's just plain wrong.
— Raphael van Lierop (He/Him) (@RaphLife) December 8, 2021
Currently Story is a layer built ontop of Survival, but, “as the years have passed it’s become harder and harder for us to maintain this structure, and we feel it’s become overly limiting to our ability to continue to grow The Long Dark for the future.” According to van Lierop, the current setup means any change to the game results in lengthy tests across every aspect of the title, which delays updates.
“Our belief is that this (split) will help us better maintain the game and ensure a high-quality experience for our players. Our hope is that for most current players this split will be very ‘behind the scenes’.”
He then goes on to say: “Beyond this, our plan for 2022 and beyond is to introduce some form of a paid update path for Survival Mode. We’re still working out the details of this — and there are many! — but our primary goal in developing this strategy is to focus on: 1) fairness to our current players, 2) creating multiple entry-points so that players can opt-in depending on what they want and what they can afford, and 3) long-term sustainability for the development team.”
Episode 4 will be free to all players of The Long Dark and arrives almost two years after the game’s last chapter. Following the release of Episode 4, it’s reported that The Long Dark will conclude with the as-yet-unannounced Episode 5.