Tuesday, November 16, 2021
A few weeks back, for the first time in what felt like forever (thank you COVID-19), we headed into London to get our mitts on one of next-year’s most anticipated games, Dying Light 2: Stay Human. More importantly, we didn't just get to play it for a bit, but actually had the chance to spend a significant amount of time with Dying Light 2 ahead of its February 2021 release. Having been immersed in the game's open world of 'The City', getting knee-deep in zombie guts for a solid four hours, here are seven really cool things that we liked about the game.
Choices Are Never Straightforward
We've played so many choice and consequence games in our time that you could argue that we've developed a proper affinity for them. Yes, folks, we are addicted. And for the most part, choices in video games usually fall into two camps: the good choice; and the bad choice. Well, folks, in Dying Light 2, things aren’t really that straightforward. What we experienced during our hands-on featured plenty of shades of grey to ponder. The police faction is a little bit totalitarian, but does serve in keeping the peace, preventing trouble kicking off, while keeping people from starving to death. In fact, a lot of them are nice guys. The survivors, on the other hand, are just people trying to live in the 'new Dark Ages', but there are some proper dicks and sadistic knobheads in their ranks. So, who you choose to align with is not a matter of picking between the good guys or the bad guys - it’s never really straightforward, and we're big fans of that.
The Faction Control System Is Pretty Neat
Choice and consequence aside, what also plays a massive role in who you side with in Dying Light 2 is the faction control system. And, I’ve got to say, it’s actually quite cool. When you have to make choices between factions throughout the game, you’ll get actual, tangible rewards that will aid you in your quest. It’s not just a case of: “oh hey, these people like you now!” Should you side with the survivors, as we did during our hands-on, what that actually means from a gameplay perspective is that the region will now be safer from the onslaught of infected, and, in the area controlled by the faction you've sided with, will now be easier to traverse via an abundance of ziplines. If we’d have opted to side with the Peacekeepers, rather than ziplines, you’d have car bomb traps placed around their occupied areas. As you go through the game and side with different factions, those rewards change, too – it’s a bit like a tier system. For instance, the second tier of the survivors’ rewards place ‘airbags’ in all survivor-occupied zones, to assist in your free-running. Who you side with will not only impact the story, then, but will also have a series of gameplay rewards and other implications, to boot.
Nighttime Is More Meaningful
I don’t know about anyone else, but when darkness rolled around in the original Dying Light, we definitely tried not to go outside. It was far too stressful, and genuinely quite terrifying. In fact, we'd just go to sleep so we could mooch about in the day and avoid the nighttime altogether. According to Gameplay Designer Tymon Smektala, we were not alone in that. For Dying Light 2, developer Techland has taken extra steps to ensure that players don’t just hit the hay when darkness looms. In Dying Light 2, during the daytime, zombies will be hunkered down in buildings, away from the sunlight, meaning you definitely don’t want to be spending too much time indoors. At night, buildings are largely empty, and players are free to explore them; it’s actually the perfect time to head inside for some of those sweet, sweet rewards. These come in various forms, whether it’s the Dark Hollows, which houses valuables and old world money; or Forsaken Stores, where you’ll be able to find rare crafting parts. Think of Dying Light 2 like I Am Legend. It’s exactly the same. Do not go indoors during the day, stay away from the darkness, and don’t go outdoors when darkness falls - stick to the indoors. That added incentive to go exploring at night, to see what the buildings around The City hold, what loot you can scoop up, what rewards you can seek out, is a bit of a game changer, in all honesty. And we’ve been assured by Techland that there are plenty of treats hidden away in the local buildings around The City, so the risks of going out at night now will likely net you with some just rewards.
Verticality Is Ace and The Paraglider Is Awesome
One of the major elements in Dying Light 2, according to the devs themselves, is that they’ve tried to make The City more of a vertical playground than Harran was in the original game. It’s safe to say that Techland has achieved that. The further you get into Dying Light 2, the more vertical things get, and as a result, there’s a slew of vertical puzzles, and death defying rooftop chases, too. That’s the one thing the studio doesn’t stress, that the higher you are, the harder you'll fall. That’s very much apparent in the early game, without the perks to improve your 'falling ability', but as you get further into the game and into the heart of The City, you’ll net yourself a paraglider, and, oh boy, not only do things get more vertical, but they also get a lot more fun. Going from parkour acrobatics into a paraglide across a chasm to another rooftop, again and again, might just be the most fun you can possibly have in Dying Light 2. There are even huge air vents as well, which you can use to gain some altitude, so you really can leap between the rooftops of some fairly tall buildings. I will add the caveat that it will take a while to get used to – the verticality that is – as we found out numerous times during the game's opening hours. Ouch!
The City Is Incredibly Diverse
What The City loses out on originality when it comes to its name, it makes up for in its diversity as a dense urban sprawl. Comprising a diverse selection of biomes and cool areas, Dying Light 2 provides plenty of wondrous places to discover and explore, whether it’s picking through abandoned stores, once-populated apartment buildings, or even meandering around the large central survivor hub, situated in a large church. There’s an incredible amount of greenery and plant life, too, as well as bandit camps; swanky accommodations; rubbish tips; deadly radioactive chemical zones; wide open plazas; narrow, dimly lit passageways; and that’s before you even get into the heart of The City. It's in The City that you'll find places like abandoned sub-stations, skyscrapers, construction sites, rooftop settlements, and so on. The City is shaping up to be a bit of a jewel in Dying Light 2’s crown, and we can’t wait to explore it even more this coming February.
It Feels More Like An RPG Now
While the original Dying Light had certain aspects that bordered on being RPG mechanics, Dying Light 2 goes one-step further and actually ups the RPG ante. In the original game there were outfits, player perks, crafting, and the like, but there's wasn't really anything you'd associate with the level of depth you'd expect from an RPG. Dying Light 2 most certainly has genuine RPG mechanics. Players can now equip their character with various pieces of attire, each of which have their own stat boosts and bonuses, so you can effectively create different builds, whether you want to focus on heath, stamina, combat proficiency, and so forth. Weapon sockets make a return, but weapons fall under tiers of rarity, with unique perks and stat boosts. And while there was crafting in the original, it seems slightly more in-depth and granular for the sequel. No longer will it take only common plants to craft a medikit; this time around you’ll need to seek out honey and camomile - found only on rooftops in the vicinity of orange-hued trees – to craft them. The takeaway point is that everything in Dying Light 2 has more depth to it, meaning if you’re a sucker for a good RPG-mechanic, like we are, you’re going to love the sequel.
It Still Feels Very Much Like Dying Light
Despite all of the new RPG mechanics, Dying Light 2 very much feels like a Dying Light game. It's still all about busting parkour moves across an open-world and messing up some zombies, regardless of the new mechanics. The new choice and consequence elements; the verticality of The City; the new faction system; the RPG aspects... despite all of that new stuff, Dying Light 2 is all still all about the parkour and infected mayhem you can cause. As such, you'll recognise numerous elements from the original making a comeback. Things like bigger and more dangerous infected being one example, although this time there are loads more of them. The zombie star system returns, and there’s still a skill tree that determines your burgeoning parkour prowess, which increases as you play. If you're nervous that Dying Light 2 might be too much of an RPG for your liking, or that the verticality might shift the dynamics of the game too much, fear not - Dying Light 2 is first and foremost a Dying Light game, and, importantly, that isn't lost amid the surfeit of new and ambitious mechanics.The sign of a good sequel is to take the pre-existing components of the original and flesh them out, while retaining the soul of what made the original so loved. And, in that regard, Dying Light 2 certainly seems to be shaping up to deliver on that promise.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human launches for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC on 4th February 2022.
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