Yep, play survival mode. You’ll make your own full, emergent story just by trying not to die.
Play a few games on Pilgrim difficulty, on the Mystery Lake map.
Then take the difficulty up to Voyageur mode, the second step up. This one offers a reasonable – but still VERY difficult challenge. But it isn’t as brutally punishing as the two top difficulties. And on Voyageur, wildlife will come after you.
I played gamepad for a long time, and went back to M/K, because when a wolf is running at you and you have to try and hit it on the head with a rock, that fidelity can be pretty important. Both function fine though, so whatever you’re comfy with.
Survival mode all the way, the challenges are also very very good at teaching you the game once you get your feet wet. The story mode is the least engaging of the modes for me.
I just use the Voyageur setting. It provides a nice balance, I think. Probably not a good idea to go above that if it’s your first game.
A lot of survival mode is learning the map and stuff like that, so both of the non-hardcore difficulties are really viable; I wouldn’t get too hung up on difficulty as you’ll probably die multiple times starting out no matter what you pick, until you get more familiar with the mechanics etc.
The wolves haven’t bugged me too much, but they do throw a lot of ammo and flares at you, which helps. I’m not sure if I like the enrage pack mechanic yet. The jury is out. It’s different… but I don’t know if different is better or worse.
For difficulty selection, I enjoy them all for different reasons. If you just want to se how far you can go, but still have a little challenge, play on Voyager. If you like killing wolves, then play on stalker. If you like fighting mother nature and all her freezing rage, play interloper. All three give you a different experience. If you are looking for a better description of each difficulty level, this isn’t it… but it is funny:
I like the loot levels of Stalker, but the wolf levels of interloper, so I kind of wish there was a middle ground there, and you can get that by doing custom, but it isn’t tracked on progress meters.
Right now I’m doing the 4DON run and have made to to night 4!! Woo! Night #1 I spent running all over coastal highway gathering supplies. I felt I was in pretty good shape with the rifle, lantern, lots of candy… yay me! I parked that night in the Dam for night #2. My plan was to go from the dam to Mystery Lake, and I made it, but only barely. I had to follow the tracks because of visibility and there were red eyed wolves everywhere. I went from 22 bullets to 2, got assaulted twice, tore all my clothes up and limped bleeding into the cabin where I licked my wounds and cowered the rest of the night. Night #3 was much more productive as I was able to avoid all but 2 green eyed aurora wolves and stockpiled wood for the blizzard to come tonight.
Lower difficulties are essential to learn the maps, which is absolutely required on interloper. One thing I loved about the survival mode of this game, is that it had its own built in progression. Map knowledge, and your time spent in game, really contributed to you getting better at surviving harder difficulties.