Dying Light 2 Stay Human

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Techland
Release Date: Feb. 4, 2022


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Dying Light 2'

by Redmond Carolipio on July 5, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Dying Light 2 is a novel vision of the post-apocalyptic experience will bring everything players would expect from a new, radically improved installment in the series.

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The original Dying Light back in 2015 felt like the perfect "first game," where you can tell Techland was on to something big, but one game might not have been enough to contain all of the ideas. Dying Light surprised me with the openness of its world, the complexity of its combat and eventual metamorphosis from a devastatingly hard grind at the start into a flowing, action-packed experience no other zombie survival game had replicated.

I had the same feeling with the first Assassin's Creed, or even the first Uncharted — imperfect, a little funky in some areas, but the frame for something awesome was clearly there. The next one should be great — and it was.

The early look we got a Dying Light 2 at E3 2019 carried the aura of a breakout star. It remains one of the best things we saw at the show, and if this isn't quite the "final form" of what Techland is trying to achieve with the series, it felt close.

Dying Light 2 is set decades after the events of the first game, and you are now in the shoes of Aiden Caldwell, a survivor living with the infection of the virus introduced in the last game. This gives Aiden a sort of daywalker/Blade quality, as he is hashtag-blessed with amazing agility and chillingly effective combat power. These are useful skills to exist in what Techland is describing as a "modern dark age," where things like water and power and supplies are hard to come by, so mankind has been dialed back to survival of the fittest.

The map we saw consisted of seven regions, each of them with its own identity and potential for different play dynamics. Our demo started off with a meeting at the Fish Eye Tavern, where Frank, the proprietor, has organized a meeting between two local factions to help grease the wheels and perhaps get the water turned back on in the area. This being the post-apocalypse, people are fighting amongst each other and sometimes, resources are under the control of others. In this case, the water is being controlled by someone called "The Colonel."

Of course, the meeting goes south, and we got to see some of the improved and gory combat, which showed Aiden relieving people of their heads and limbs at will. Then we got to see some of the trademark parkour work as Aiden had to chase down a moving truck that's driving away from the city.

I thought we were going to see some kind of vehicle action in the name of pursuit, but instead, we get another new boost to Aiden's free-running skills in the form of a grappling hook and paragliding ability. Anyone who saw the demo with us got to see Aiden function as a first-person, infected and parkouring Batman, whipping from building to building, through narrow spaces and even pulling off a "Bourne Identity" move where he tackled an infected being off a high ledge and used its body to cushion the fall. Eventually, our demo driver caught up to the truck and confronted the driver. His name was Steve.

Steve helps illustrate the biggest feature of Dying Light 2, which is the concept of what Techland dubbed the "narrative sandbox." Basically, it's moral compass time. Players are going to have to make a lot of choices that can have ripple effects throughout the gameplay. Some of them will be smaller-scale and can make things easier for you on a given mission, while other choices can affect hundreds of lives and even reshape some of the map.

Let's start with Steve, the driver of the truck we just chased down and a part of the camp of the faction who controls the water. You can either let Steve live and perhaps trust him to help you get into the camp and eventually reach The Colonel, its leader, or you can kill him and figure out some other way to get him. In our demo, Steve lived and held up his end. We saw Aiden get in, and with some effort, eventually encounter the Colonel.

The Colonel then presents Aiden with one of the game's weightier choices. He won't let you turn on the water for the people, since he says doing so would open up his area to even greater threats, including enemies that would come in and raid everything and everyone. But he also says that if it's water you still want, he knows a better way to get it, but you'd have to do him some favors. This highlights Aiden's "drifter" place in the world — he has no "side," per se, but he is very useful to everyone, and it's up to the player to shape who he is. For this demo, Aiden just wanted to turn on the water, so he engaged in combat with the Colonel's minions (the Colonel escapes) and activates the pumps.

Here is where you see how the choices of players are more than simply good versus evil. Once the water is turned on, the people are happy and another area of the map has been revealed, free of its watery and flooded confines. However, draining the area now also unearths a once-submerged cluster of infected. Also, for this demo, it appears the Colonel is right: People are coming to pillage, now that they have a way in.

This new dimension of choice, along with the improved combat and stunning visual potential, as well as the option for up to four-player co-op, could make Dying Light 2 one of the more complete and anticipated titles out there when it's time to launch. As of now, that looks like 2020. It can't come soon enough.

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