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Custom Settings – The Long Dark

By on Feb 18, 2020 at 12:34 am. Filed in Guides under The Long Dark.

If you’re trying to make sense of the custom settings in The Long Dark, this chart will help keep track of what each category means.

Custom settings were a huge win for The Long Dark. I play there almost exclusively, opting to rid myself of Cabin Fever, and even crank the difficulty settings up beyond Interloper in some cases. The issue is, I’m often trying to figure out what mode a custom setting resembles. Is my loose item availability like Voyager or Stalker? Are my Wolf struggles like Stalker or Interloper? With this guide, you can keep tabs on which standard difficulty each setting ties into, and create your own custom scenario with confidence.

Custom Settings

Game StartPilgrimVoyageurStalkerInterloper
Baseline Resource AvailabilityVery HighHighMediumLow
Starting Time of DayNoonRandomRandomRandom
Starting WeatherClearRandomRandomRandom
Indoor Spawns PermittedYesYesNoNo
Survivor MonologueYesYesYesYes
  • Baseline Resource Availability: This modifies the base availability of resources. This helps to determine the level of challenge you will experience. When set to Low, certain items will not spawn, such as the Rifle, Revolver, Hunting Knife, and Hatchet. Players would need to craft an Improvised Knife and Improvised Hatchet at a Forge. A Medium setting will allow these items to spawn, but still keep loot somewhat scarce, allowing for a more balanced challenge.
  • Starting Time of Day: You may choose the time of day you want to start the game. Keep in mind you will have minimal clothing, so starts late at night or in the early morning can be more challenging. You can also leave it randomized.
  • Starting Weather: Choose the weather conditions you wish to experience when you spawn in, or leave it randomized.
  • Indoor Spawns Permitted: This setting will let the player choose if an indoor spawn is possible, but it does not guarantee one. Lower difficulties allow indoor spawns, while higher difficulties do not.
  • Survivor Monologue: This toggles audio cues from the character that can provide vital information to players. It can be annoying to be reminded of your condition when you’re already aware, but this is generally good setting to leave on.
EnvironmentPilgrimVoyageurStalkerInterloper
Length of Day Multiplayer1x1x1x1x
Weather VariabilityLowMediumHighVery High
Blizzard FrequencyLowMediumHighVery High
World Gets Colder Over TimeNoneLowMediumHigh
Wind VariabilityMediumMediumMediumMedium
Aurora FrequencyMediumMediumMediumMedium
Fire Overcomes Ambient Air TempYesYesNoNo
  • Length of Day Multiplier: Changing this setting will modify how long it takes to play through 24-hour period in The Long Dark. By default (1x), one in-game day is equal to two hours. Setting this higher (2x, for example) will slow down in-game time, increasing the number of real hours required to experience an in-game day.
  • Weather Variability: Will determine how often the weather will change. The lower the setting, the less likely to have a perfectly good day turn into a raging blizzard. At higher difficulties, the weather is more likely to drastically change with little warning.
  • Blizzard Frequency: Determines how frequently a blizzard will hit. If you’re looking for a chill experience with lots of exploration, go with a lower setting. Blizzards can also be turned off entirely if you simply cannot stand them.
  • World Gets Colder Over Time: This setting will determine if the temperature outside will drop as the playthrough progresses. This can provide for a more challenging end-game experience, as players will need high-quality clothing to stay warm as the days pile up. This setting can also be turned off.
  • Wind Variability: Adjusts how frequently the wind changes direction. By default, all difficulties are set to medium. Lowering this setting means the wind is less likely to change direction. When the wind changes direction, it can impact player temperature and even cause campfires to blow out.
  • Aurora Frequency: Another setting where all difficulties are set to medium. This will alter how often the aurora appears at night. When the aurora appears, certain in-game mechanics change, such as laptops with lore being active, lights turning on, and animal behavior.
  • Fire Overcomes Ambient Air Temperature: When turned on (Yes), all fires will burn above freezing, meaning the player will be able to warm up. When off (No), a fire may not provide enough heat to allow players to warm up depending on the fuel used and the temperature in the immediate area.
HealthPilgrimVoyageurStalkerInterloper
Calorie Burn RateLowMediumHighVery High
Thirst RateLowMediumMediumHigh
Fatigue RateHighHighHighMedium
Freezing RateLowMediumHighVery High
At-Rest Condition Recovery RateHighHighHighMedium
Condition Recovery RateHighHighHighMedium
Hypothermia Recovery TimeLowMediumHighVery High
Frostbite RateLowMediumHighVery High
Cabin FeverNoYesYesYes
Intestinal ParasitesNoNoYesYes
DysenteryYesYesYesYes
SprainsYesYesYesYes
Food PoisoningYesYesYesYes
Broken RibsYesYesYesYes
Rest as a ResourceYesYesYesYes
Fires Prevent FreezingYesYesNoNo
Wake Player When Freezing Near a FireYesYesNoNo
Birch Bark Tea CraftingYesYesYesYes
  • Calorie Burn Rate: Will determine how quickly you become hungry. When this setting is lower, players will find it’s quite easy to keep their calories up. When this setting is lower, it’ll be more difficult to prevent starvation.
  • Thirst Rate: How quickly the player loses their hydration meter. The higher this setting, the more water required in a day to prevent dehydration.
  • Fatigue Rate: Determines how quickly a player becomes exhausted and will need to sleep. This is set to medium for all difficulties aside from Interloper, which requires players to stay on the move more.
  • Freezing Rate: When set lower, colder temperatures will not cause players to start freezing as quickly. When higher, players will start to freeze more quickly, meaning they are unable to stay outside as long in colder conditions.
  • At-Rest Condition Recovery Rate: Modifies how much condition is restored for each hour of rest. When set to High, players can recover more health while sleeping, assuming all their core needs are met.
  • Condition Recover Rate: How much condition is recovered when all core needs are met. Higher settings make the game easier as players recover condition much faster.
  • Hypothermia Recovery Time: How long it takes to recover from Hypothermia. Lower settings mean a faster recovery, whereas higher settings mean it takes longer to recover from the Hypothermia condition.
  • Frostbite Rate: Determines how long it takes to get Frostbite. A lower setting means it will take longer to get Frostbite on parts of the character’s body that are exposed to the cold.
  • Cabin Fever: When the player suffers from Cabin Fever, they may not sleep indoors for 24 hours. This condition can activate when a player is spending too much time indoors. Turning Cabin Fever on makes the game more difficult.
  • Intestinal Parasites: When on, eating Wolf or Bear meat cooked with less than Level 5 Cooking skill can cause Intestinal Parasites. When off, players can eat any type of meat they want without fear of this affliction.
  • Dysentery: Determines if players can get Dysentery from drinking non-potable water. Leaving this off would make the game drastically easier given the role hydration plays in the game.
  • Sprains: When on, players can sprain limbs while traversing steep terrain, or from some animal attacks. By default, all difficulties leave this setting turned on.
  • Food Poisoning: Affects whether players can get Food Poisoning from eating low-condition items. This is on by default for every default difficulty in The Long Dark.
  • Broken Ribs: Sets whether the Broken Ribs ailment can be applied to the player. Currently, players can only get broken ribs from a Moose attack.
  • Rest as a Resource: If turned on, players will wake up when fully rested, and be unable to sleep when fully rested. When off, players can sleep as much as they want, even if their energy levels are maxed out.
  • Fires Prevent Freezing: When on, players can become colder sitting near a fire, but they can’t ever begin freezing. This makes the game easier, and is a setting disabled on higher difficulties.
  • Wake Player When Freezing Near a Fire: When on (Yes), players will wake up if they start freezing while sleeping near a fire. This stops you from freezing to death in your sleep while near a fire.
  • Birch Bark Tea Crafting: This allows players to craft Birch Bark Tea, which can provide hydration and some calories when consumed. Consuming it will restore some condition for two in-game hours.
GearPilgrimVoyageurStalkerInterloper
Item Decay RateLowMediumHighVery High
Loose Item AvailabilityVery HighHighMediumLow
Empty Container Chance ModifierNoneNoneMediumHigh
Stick, Branch, and Stone Respawn FrequencyVery HighHighMediumLow
Starting Gear AllocationVery HighHighMediumLow
Rifle AvailabilityYesYesYesNo
Revolver AvailabilityYesYesYesNo
Harvestable Plant AvailabilityHighHighHighHigh
Reduce Container Item DensityNoneNoneLowHigh
  • Item Decay Rate: Changes how quickly items lose condition over time. A low setting means you’re more likely to find higher-condition food later in a playthrough.
  • Loose Item Availability: Affects how much gear spawns outside of containers in the game world. You’ll find less loose gear with a lower setting.
  • Empty Container Chance Modifier: Modifies the chances a container will be empty. Higher settings mean less overall resources in the world. Even when set to off (None), some containers may still be empty.
  • Stick, Branch, and Stone Respawn Frequency: Changes how often these resources will respawn in the world. At higher settings, you’ll find more of these resources on the ground.
  • Starting Gear Allocation: Higher settings mean the player will spawn into the world with more and better gear. Lower settings mean less and lower-quality gear to start with.
  • Rifle Availability: Sets whether the Rifle can spawn into the game or not.
  • Revolver Availability: Sets whether the Revolver can spawn into the game or not.
  • Harvestable Plant Availability: All difficulties are set to High by default, so adjust the setting (lower for less, higher for more) to suit your desired plant availability.
  • Reduce Container Item Density: Modifies the amount of gear found in a container that is not empty. You can still find empty containers, but ones that contain gear will be influenced by this setting.
Wildlife SpawnsPilgrimVoyageurStalkerInterloper
Fish Spawn ChanceHighHighHighMedium
Wolf Spawn ChanceLowMediumVery HighHigh
Timberwolf Spawn ChanceLowMediumVery HighHigh
Deer Spawn ChanceVery HighHighMediumLow
Rabbit Spawn ChanceVery HighHighMediumLow
Bear Spawn ChanceLowMediumVery HighHigh
Moose Spawn ChanceLowMediumVery HighHigh
Time to Wildlife RespawnMediumMediumMediumMedium
Reduce Wildlife Population Over TimeNoneLowMediumHigh
Wolf Spawn DistanceMediumCloseCloseClose
Predator Grace PeriodNoYesNoNo
  • Fish Spawn Chance: Affects how many fish you will catch while fishing.
  • Wolf Spawn Chance: Helps determine the Wolf population in The Long Dark. Lower settings mean less wolves.
  • Timberwolf Spawn Chance: Sets how many Timberwolves will spawn into the game world. Higher settings mean more Timberwolves.
  • Deer Spawn Chance: Changes how many Deer will be found in the game. Higher settings mean more Deer, and thus less trouble finding food.
  • Rabbit Spawn Chance: Alters how many Rabbits will spawn into the game. As with the previous settings, higher means more.
  • Bear Spawn Chance: Will determine how many Bears you find in the game, which can impact how easily players can traverse the world.
  • Moose Spawn Chance: Decides how many Moose will appear in the world. Moose are rare as is, so a higher setting means less difficulty finding a Moose.
  • Time to Wildlife Respawn: Wildlife in The Long Dark have set respawn times. A lower setting means wildlife will respawn from death faster than a higher setting.
  • Reduce Wildlife Population Over Time: Alters how much wildlife populations decline as the days pass. For a greater challenge, set this higher.
  • Wolf Spawn Distance: If set to Close, Wolves can spawn closer to a player exiting a building. If set to Far, Wolves will not spawn close to players exiting a building.
  • Predator Grace Period: When on (Yes), players will not see predators (Wolves and Bears) for 24 hours after beginning a new game.
Wildlife BehaviorPilgrimVoyageurStalkerInterloper
Wildlife Smell RangeLowMediumHighHigh
Scent Increase from Meat and BloodMediumMediumMediumMedium
Passive WildlifeYesNoNoNo
Wildlife Attacks During RestNoYesYesYes
Wolf FearMediumMediumMediumMedium
Timberwolf MoraleHighMediumLowLow
Wildlife Detection RangeMediumMediumMediumMedium
  • Wildlife Smell Range: Modifies the range that animals can smell the player. A lower setting means wildlife cannot smell the player as easily, allowing players to get closer to animals without being detected (by scent).
  • Scent Increase from Meat and Blood: Affects how strong a player’s scent is based on if they’re carrying raw meat, guts, or blood. Higher means animals can detect a player carrying raw meat, guts, or blood from further away.
  • Passive Wildlife: If on (Yes) wildlife will not attack the player unless it is provoked. Basically, if you shoot a Bear or Moose, it might attack you, but otherwise you’re safe with this setting enabled.
  • Wildlife Attacks During Rest: Affects whether outdoor sleep could be interrupted by an animal attack. This setting is on (Yes) for all difficulties besides Pilgrim, which has Passive Wildlife on anyway.
  • Wolf Fear: Determines how likely a Wolf is to flee from the player during an encounter, making Flares, Torches, and Stones more effective. All difficulties use Medium by default.
  • Timberwolf Morale: Higher settings mean Timberwolf morale will decline faster, whereas a lower setting means it will be harder to scare Timberwolves away using weapons and items.
  • Wildlife Detection Range: If set to Far, players can get closer to wildlife without being detected, meaning easier hunting and less chance of being attacked by Wolves and Bears.
Wildlife StrugglePilgrimVoyageurStalkerInterloper
Struggle BonusHighMediumLowNone
Struggle Condition Damage ModifierNoneNoneNoneHigh
Struggle Clothing Damage ModifierLowLowLowHigh
Struggle Damage SeverityLowMediumHighVery High
  • Struggle Bonus: High means you will have an easier time fighting off a struggle with a Wolf. Low or None means a harder time fighting off a Wolf.
  • Struggle Condition Damage Modifier: None or Low means less damage is taken during a struggle. A higher setting means it’s easier to take massive damage (or die) during a struggle.
  • Struggle Clothing Damage Modifier: Modifies how much damage your clothing takes during a struggle. Lower means less, and higher means more. Note that even setting this to None doesn’t mean zero damage to clothing in a struggle.
  • Struggle Damage Severity: Affects the types of damage taken from struggles, such as blood loss, clothing damage, sprains, and more. High means worse afflictions are more likely.

Now that you’ve got a firm grasp of the custom settings and what each one means, be sure to visit The Long Dark topic on Guide Stash for more high-level content to help you survive the quiet apocalypse.

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Bill Lavoy
Editor in Chief

Bill inadvertently fell into the world of video games in 2013, initially creating YouTube content for Prima Games, where he began writing on a full-time basis throughout 2014. In late 2014 he also joined USgamer, going full-time there as a Guides Editor in 2015. Throughout 2015 Bill developed a successful guides program focused on quality content and strong SEO. In July of 2016, Bill made the move to Greenlit Content as a Senior Editor, joining Shacknews as Managing Editor in August 2017, while simultaneously transitioning to the role of Editorial SEO Specialist for Greenlit Content. He still holds both positions today.

The Long Dark (2017)
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How Far Will You Go to Survive? Imagine the lights go out, never to return. Bright aurora flare across the sky, and all humanity’s technological might is laid to waste, neutralized in a kind of quiet apocalypse. Everything that has shielded humanity from the disinterested power of Mother Nature is suddenly wrenched from us, dropping us a few links down the food chain. Food and water are scarce. The roads are no longer safe. And winter approaches… Welcome to The Long Dark —an immersive survival simulation set in the aftermath of a geomagnetic disaster. Experience a unique first-person survival simulation that will force you to think and push you to your limits with its thought-provoking gameplay and mature storytelling.

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