- There are three primary games modes within The Long Dark.
- Story Mode
- Sandbox Mode
- Challenge Mode
Story Mode is the episodic main-game contained within The Long Dark, and is the only version of the game which contains an overall plot and NPC's.
Sandbox Mode is an open-play game mode, where the only goal is to survive for as long as possible. There are no quests to complete, and no NPC's to interact with (other than wildlife.)
Challenge Mode is a goal-oriented game mode that takes place on the sandbox-mode maps. Each challenge presents the player with a different challenge or hardship to overcome, but otherwise takes place in an open world environment.