Dying Light 2 Is a Visceral and Emotional Improvement of the Original’s Formula
With such an ambitious narrative and tighter gameplay than before, Dying Light 2 has quickly catapulted itself to near the top of our most anticipated games list.
I heard my coworkers rave about Dying Light 2 after they checked it out at E3 last year, but I never really understood what all the fuss was about. I had played the original around its launch but fell off soon after despite Techland’s lasting support for the game. That being said, after checking out an extended hands-off demo of the game at E3 2019, I am completely on board to play Dying Light 2 once it launches for PC, PS4, and Xbox One next Spring.
In addition to being incredibly polished from a technical and visual standpoint, the parkour and combat systems seemed to have been tuned to near-perfection in Dying Light 2 and are embellished by a varied world and interesting story progression. While it remains to be seen how everything will come together in the final game, the portion of Dying Light 2 I saw in action was impressive as not just a zombie game, but a visceral and emotional narrative experience that had real weight to it.
When the demo began, player character Aiden Caldwell was beginning to feel real symptoms from being infected by what eventually turns people into zombies. After drinking a bit of water, he found out that the last bit of water in the region he resides in will run out tomorrow. Frank, a mentor figure to Aiden, is trying to organize a meeting with a man called the Colonel who has seized control of the water pump facility.
That being said, he needs the help of two other leaders from the Scavengers and the Peacekeepers in order to successfully convince the Colonel to help them. Things seem to be going well, but things go awry when one of the Colonel’s men supposedly shoots Frank while Aiden isn’t there. What followed was the one of the most thrilling slices of gameplay I have ever seen at E3.
Aiden started to fight the Colonel’s men and was equipped with a powerful bat modded with electricity. With this weapon, Aiden was easily able to knock off the heads and limbs of his opponents in gruesome glory. After killing all the men, I met up with Frank and the leaders of the Scavengers and Peacekeepers encouraged me to chase the Colonel’s men, while Frank wanted me to stay. The group I saw this hands-off demo with decided to chase the supposed killer, so we had to chase the car throughout the rooftops.
In the original Dying Light, parkour was fun but somewhat slow and disconnected from everything else. This is not the case in Dying Light 2. Players can switch between parkour and combat on the fly in situations like this. I not only saw Aiden use an enemy to cushion his fall, but to jump on one to boost himself on his ledge. This added mobility would be fine on its own, but players have some new tools at their disposal as well too.
A grappling hook can be used to climb up or cross large gaps and there is even a paraglider so players can glide from rooftop to rooftop more easily. The route the developer used during the demo allowed them to show up all of these abilities, so they eventually caught up to the truck.
Inside, Aiden intimidated the driver into getting him into the pumping facility. The area was heavily guarded, but thanks to the driver’s help Aiden got through mostly undetected. Unfortunately, the driver did sound the alarm while he was halfway up the building. In order to get to the Colonel, Aiden had to fight some of his men with limited melee weapons and sneak around use vents.
Aiden eventually reached the Colonel, who said that the other factions were actually double-crossing Aidan. The player ultimately decided to not believe him in our demo so a fight with one of his strongest men ensued. After turning on the pumps water returned to the city and actually revealed a whole new area, a place that could have been completely avoided if different choices had been made by the player.
Dying Light 2’s demo was certainly thrilling, but it also showed that the game was a zombie game that visceral and more focused on the human narrative than most other titles. While games like World War Z or Days Gone use giant hordes of zombies front and center to scare the player, Techland uses them more methodically, which makes them more of a threat. Most of the enemies in my demo were humans, and the decisions made took place in a morally gray area, which adding to the surprisingly emotionally human feeling of this zombie game.
With such an ambitious narrative and tighter gameplay than before, Dying Light 2 has quickly catapulted itself to near the top of my most anticipated 2020 games list, so I can’t wait to see what the full game has in store.
Dying Light 2 is currently poised to come to PC, PS4, and Xbox One sometime in an already crowded Spring 2020. DualShockers also interviewed Producer Kornel Jaskula about the game, so you can expect more on the game from us in the near future.