Dying Light 2 Will Hopefully Be Techland’s Masterpiece
Techland’s next zombie-infested endeavor, Dying Light 2, will be the most slept on game in 2020…if it releases this year.
Somewhere in the early aughts, there was this incredible resurgence of zombies in media. Whether it was movies like 28 Days Later (which debatably started this reinvigoration), comics like The Walking Dead, or games like Dead Rising, zombies were everywhere. It was really neat for a while, but like all good things, it inevitably became an oversaturated market. There were quality zombie stories still being made, but there were vast amounts of zombie garbage flooding what is typically beloved.
2015’s Dying Light was one of those pieces of media, launching somewhere near the tail-end of this revival of the undead. It also released during a time where no games were coming out in January 2015, which is usually noted as the reason this game did as well as it did. But I think that doesn’t give Dying Light enough credit. Out of the many survival-horror games that have launched during this generation, Techland’s parkour zombie adventure is one of the best.
Even as that zombie storm has calmed, Techland is still dedicated to telling stories with the undead at the pit of its plot. Dying Light 2 is the next iteration that will have you swinging, climbing, and jumping around the infected and dilapidated cityscape.
When the sequel was announced, I was excited, but it wasn’t something I needed to play this instant. It didn’t receive the same reaction when I saw the Star Fox team in Starlink. Just as a reference, I legitimately slammed my fist on a glass table I screamed with joy when I heard the Star Fox gibberish from the Ubisoft press conference. But I was still pretty excited.
It wasn’t until I saw some footage of Dying Light 2 (which is now available to the public) and spoke to the developers at E3 2018 where I was convinced this was more than just a sequel to a really good zombie game. If it makes good on every promise, this game may be one of the most influential games of the year (if it comes out in 2020).
Dying Light’s gameplay hinged on its parkour movement. Along with its day/night cycle, it is what differentiated it between other zombie-focused experiences. Despite that, its movement always felt clunky and stiff. There were hardly any moments where my movements felt natural. Much of my gripes with its movement deal with both its controls, which I mentioned just felt stiff, and its environmental/art design.
Remember when games were just different shades of brown? Dying Light was one of those games. I guess that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the environments were intensely drab to the point where finding a good line was incomprehensible, especially during some of the more tense moments of the game.
As seen in the footage above, which features much of what I saw at E3 2018, still presents a sort of drab aesthetic. The ruined city is a bit grey, but still brings a lot of colors, making it a bit easier to mentally lay out a path you can traverse through. Also, the parkour movement seems to have much more of a flow than its predecessor.
My only concern is how some of the animations, like the roll and the mantle, will affect gameplay in Dying Light 2. If it’s snappy, a la DOOM‘s (2016) glory kills, I think the traversal will be a massive improvement from the first release. If not, then hopefully the game is balanced to adhere to that. Regardless, from the footage shown, I am pretty sold on its gameplay.
However, it wasn’t really the game that sold me on Dying Light 2. It was how the choices you make actually change the world, both visually and functionally. I have always been a sucker for RPGs that give the player a feeling of choice. Games like Fable, Mass Effect, and Telltale’s The Walking Dead may have a couple of pre-determined endings, but each choice has weight, and you feel it pressing on you with every decision you make.
The example of this that has been shown for Dying Light 2 involves a group called the Peacekeepers, two shifty-looking brothers, and a water tower. The Peacekeepers want you to help them take control of the water tower, so they can give water to the citizens of The City. When you get there, two brothers are attempting to take it for themselves.
Choosing to help the Peacekeepers will open a new area with structures built to make traversal less strenuous, as well as giving you access to water around The City at no price. It’s a pretty nice gesture, until you find out this group ruthlessly punishes anyone who disobeys them.
However, helping the brothers has its own benefits and problems. In doing so, the brothers begin selling the water to the citizens of the region. You’ll also have to rely more on your parkour skills rather than the structures that the Peacekeepers would have built if they had control of the water tower. The benefit is that you get a nice cut of their profit, as well as free water. Both outcomes will also introduce new groups around the region giving you even more opportunities to progress the narrative in the way you see fit.
We’ve seen dynamic quest systems in games, but Dying Light 2 is taking things to a whole other level with this. The differences in how The City evolves is unbelievable. How your choices truly affect everything from the environment’s landscape, to the citizens’ everyday lives is so astonishing. If Techland can actually bring this experience to fruition, I legitimately believe it can change how choice-based RPGs are approached.
While DualShockers has been flooded with features this week spotlighting the staff’s most anticipated games of the year, this puts me at a weird spot. Recently announced in the past few weeks, Dying Light 2 will be delayed to an unspecified date, for which I have some theories.
The first reason is a bit obvious. Techland has stated that Dying Light 2 will be a cross-gen game. Currently, the platforms that have been announced are PC, PS4, and Xbox One. I think it is safe to say it will also be coming to Xbox Series X and PS5. Maybe the delay is in part because the Polish studio wants to wait until the next-gen consoles launch. It would certainly put more eyes on Dying Light 2, especially if it surprises like being a launch title for the new consoles.
Personally, I think Dying Light 2 releases in 2021. Think about the games that are launching this year: Cyberpunk 2077, The Last of Us Part II, DOOM Eternal, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Marvel’s Avengers, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Ghost of Tsushima, Resident Evil 3 Remake, and this is just what has been announced so far. Who knows what surprises 2020 will hold. In a way, it would be smart of Techland to save Dying Light 2 for a less saturated year. It worked for them the last time with the first game, so why not repeat that?
Dying Light 2 is currently in development for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, with no release date at this time. You can pre-order the game now over on Amazon.
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