In 2015, Polish developer Techland launched its survival horror game, Dying Light, yet again bringing zombie-killing action to the current generation of consoles and PC. With the oversaturation of zombies in popular media, I never expected Dying Light to be one of the best games of the year. Bringing familiar mechanics from the Dead Island series and mixing it with parkour traversal made escaping from zombies both in the day and night adrenaline inducing. It was a solid game that released at a time nothing else was coming out.
Now it’s three years later and Techland revealed the sequel, predictably titled Dying Light 2, at Microsoft’s Xbox One Showcase at E3 2018 flaunting some gameplay and its dynamic storytelling. We saw some extended gameplay of the game giving us a good look at what may be Techland’s most ambitious game yet.
Dying Light 2 is set in a fictional European city, simply named The City, 15 years after the zombie outbreak. It is the “modern dark ages.” There are no laws, no government, and a noticeable lack of firearms. There are many different organizations trying to take control of The City including a group called the Peacekeepers.
The demo shown showcased a mission where you help the Peacekeepers take over a water tower. You have two choices: you can either follow the orders of the Peacekeepers or sabotage that plan and help a few survivors you meet at the water tower.
The first outcome shown were the results of helping the Peacekeepers. As you make your way to the water tower, the parkour mechanics the game is known for got a noticeable improvement that gives the traversal more fluidity. In fact, there are double the amount of parkour moves available to you than the original that allows for this supposed fluidity.
When you get to the water tower, two strangers named Jack and Joe that are attempting to take the water for themselves. At this point, we are introduced to the combat mechanics which have also received a much-needed improvement.
Fighting in Dying Light 2 is very plotting as you’ll have to discern who the optimal target is and using the tools around you to take out the opposition. Not only will you use a variety of melee weapons, but you’ll also be able to use objects around you and use them to your advantage. In this case, the player threw a bucket that was lying around to stun the enemy and some piping on the ceiling to do an impressive parkour kick to finish off the mission. The devs did mention that they thought the last game didn’t mix the parkour elements with the combat and they wanted to implement that this time around.
This also showed that you’ll need to adapt on the fly in some instances. The way this scenario was solved was just one of many ways you could have approached the situation. Also, facing two enemies seemed pretty tricky. The demo also showed a sequence where you faced even more enemies at once. You could stand your ground and fight which may have its rewards for doing so but running away is also a smart and probably most viable option.
By helping the Peacekeepers gain control of the water tower, the city is transformed both visually and functionally. The vacant, unmarked area we saw previously is now marked by the new governing body that is now patrolling the area. The water is now free to everyone, including yourself, giving you access to fountains that heal you around the city. Traversing around the city is also more accessible thanks to some environmental changes.
However, there are some consequences to your actions. The Peacekeepers rule with an iron fist, punishing anyone who disobeys their laws. New groups have also emerged in the region bringing more opportunities to take the narrative in another direction.
This entire situation can go in an entirely different direction. If you choose to cut a deal with Jack and Joe, things are a bit messier and unkept. Now the citizens of the region have to pay for the water and you’ll have to use your own parkour skills to get around rather than use the structures that would have been there if the Peacekeepers were in charge. However, since you helped Jack and Joe claim the water tower and business is good for the two characters, you’ll get a cut of their profit as well as free water. Different groups have also emerged around the region as well.
Dynamic quest systems are not new in video games. There have been plenty of games where your actions change how a story plays out. However, Dying Light 2 seems it is taking that idea and furthering it to a crazy extent. It looks like the world will truly represent your actions in the most visible way possible. If Techland can deliver on this dynamic experience, there is no doubt this will influence games going forward.
Dying Light 2’s release year — let alone release date — is still largely unknown, however we will likely be seeing it on PC, PS4, and Xbox One; if Techland’s pedigree has already won you over, feel free to pre-order the game on Amazon.
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