Skill levels are a mechanic introduced in version .347 of The Long Dark and grants the player boosts to certain activities that they will accomplish. This can include getting better results, faster times to complete results, or even not requiring certain items in order to complete their tasks.
All of the skills start at Level 1 at the beginning of the game, unless a completed feat pushes it higher. No special skills come at the first level. Completing the required task in question will raise the skill in question. For example, cooking food will increase the cooking skill. Once the skill bar is maxed out, the next level of the skill is immediately obtained, and any subsequent uses of the skill will be done at the next level.
Skills may also be increased spending time reading Research Books that can be found throughout the game.
This skill deals with harvesting animal carcasses. At Level 2, the player takes less time to harvest meat from the animals, and harvest corpses that are up to 50% frozen by hand. At Level 3, they can break down corpses up to 75% frozen by hand, rather than using tools, as well as less time harvesting hide and Fresh Gut.
This skill has no effect on human corpses.
This skill deals with cooking food. At Level 2, the number of calories gained from cooking food increases. At Level 3, the player is able to lose no calories when smashing open cans, eliminating the need for a Can Opener or other tool. At Level 4, the number of calories is increased even further, making cooked food more caloric than its raw form.
This skill deals with making a Fire. At Level 2, fires will last longer than they normally would, and have a higher success ratio to start the fire. At Level 3, success ratio and length of fire increases again, and also, the player will no longer require tinder in order to start a fire. At Level 4, success ratio and length of fire increases even more.
This skill deals with ice fishing. At Level 2, the player is less likely to lose their line when fishing. At Level 3, the player is even more less likely to lose their line when fishing, and also decreases the amount of time between each fish that is caught.
This skill deals with shooting the Hunting Rifle At level 2, the player is more likely to get a critical hit, and using the Rifle Cleaning Kit is twice as effective. At Level 3, the player gets better vision when zoomed in with the scope, and cleaning the rifle is three times as effective.
Only rifle shots that hit a target will count towards improving the skill. Cleaning a rifle will also allow the player's skill to increase.