I don’t know about you, but the original Dying Light was most likely, my favorite zombie game of all time. This is because the developers, Techland, did things with this game that no other zombie games did before it. What made it so great was the huge open world, the ability to climb almost any building on the map via amazing parkour mechanics, dynamic day and night cycles where the nighttime gameplay was terrifying, and the ability to mod ordinary junk into powerful hybrid weapons. Not only that but Techland supported this game with free updates and DLCs for several years after its release along with an expansion pack. Fast forward to 2022 and Techland has a brand new sequel out, Dying Light 2, that builds upon the past success of the original game, with a new city, a new central character, new game mechanics, and new zombies to again haunt your nightmares.
As a disclaimer, I’d like to thank Techland for sending us a preview code for Dying Light 2 a few days before release so we could check it out. Since I haven’t had hundreds of hours with it yet, this is only Part 1 of the review based on several hours of gameplay. I will provide a Part 2 later down the line to see if my initial impressions hold up and if the game is still fun after 100+ hours.
Dying Light 2 follows a completely different protagonist from the first game and is set 20 years after the events in Harran. In this game, you play as Aiden Caldwell, a Pilgram who has survived another virus outbreak, but this time one that has spread across the world. Aiden has been traveling the land in search of his missing sister Mia and has wound up in a place called, The City. This is a place where not only do you need to worry about the seriously infected, but also the people who live here too because, in The City, everyone is infected.
And that concludes all that I can tell you about the story because, in Dying Light 2, Techland has emphasized that the game is more story-driven this time around, in addition to the action and adventure. Not only that, but the story also changes based on decisions Aiden makes throughout the game. Speaking of which, I should point out that some of these decisions you have to make are really hard, morally, where all the choices just seem like a bad idea, but you have to pick one regardless. All I know is that I’ve had to go against my word a few times already.
The first portion of the game doesn’t take place in a city and instead takes place on the outskirts. This area is mainly used as a tutorial of sorts and gets the player up to speed with the basics of the game. Here you’ll learn how to Survivor Sense, which is like a radar for items of interest. You’ll learn how to craft basic items, how to use blueprints, how to equip items and weapons, and how to perform some basic parkour moves. You even have some encounters with the infected and will learn basic combat moves and defense. All of this is in preparation for when you reach The City. This portion of the game is a bit on the slow side, but it’s needed because Dying Light 2 controls are different from your normal FPS so it takes some time to get used to. You’re also pretty weak at this stage in the game.
Once you reach The City, this is where Dying Light 2 becomes much more exciting. While most zombie games have you running around at ground level, in this game, you’re free to also travel vertically and up to the rooftops. This makes for a much larger area of exploration as well as much more exciting chases and escapes. This is the essence of what made the original Dying Light so much fun and different. However, starting out you’ll be stuck with just basic climbing mechanics. You’ll need to play a lot more to unlock more advanced moves as well as more stamina to climb higher. The same also goes for your combat skills. You’ll need to unlock these as well.
Lastly, you’ll also need to upgrade your health and stamina. These are pretty low at the beginning and you honestly won’t be able to survive long if you encounter a horde of infected. To do this, you’ll need to find GRE Crates and grab the Inhibitors out of them. These so far for me have been pretty hard to find are usually located in areas where I honestly am not ready to go yet on my own.
Other gameplay elements in Dying Light 2 include materials gathering, crafting of items and weapons, and weapon modding. Weapon modding is actually a big thing and is carried over from the original game. This allows you to make some pretty crazy-looking weapons based on your style of play. Of course, exploration is huge in Dying Light 2 and the game holds lots of secrets for those who are brave enough to venture into the dark.
Speaking of which, day and night cycles are an important part of the game. Some missions can only be completed at night time while others during the day. At night, the infected seem a lot more dangerous and there are some infected that only come out at this time. Not to mention the fact that you too are also infected and can not be in the dark for too long or you too will turn. So time management is very important and being able to monitor how much time you have left before needing to return back to a UV light source to stop the infection.
Back to the weapons, are there guns in the game? I’m honestly not sure. In the early portion of the game, I still haven’t encountered any. I’m still just using melee weapons and have not found any ranged weapons yet, other than a throwing spear and some crafted throwing knives. I know that there are bows for instance as I’ve seen some instances of purchasing arrows or arrow mods, but I have not seen anything about guns. If there aren’t any guns, this would be a slight departure from the original game that did have them.
Like the original game, Dying Light 2 looks amazing. Of course, this could be because I’m playing this on a PC with an RTX 3070 and have Ray Tracing enabled. I’m also currently playing it in 1440p (2K) resolution as well.
Anyways, The City is a huge place with lots to explore with lots of variety in terms of the environment. I love the fact that many of these buildings you can actually go into and explore and there’s always something to discover, fight, or run away from. There’s never a dull moment and The City is teaming with life and death.
The lighting in the game is also really good and that’s in part due to ray tracing. The glare of the sun and the low glow of fire looks so good. Nighttime is even more impressive and really gives you the sense of just how horrifying it is to try and survive at night. It can get really dark and even your trusty flashlight won’t help ease your anxiety.
Next up is the audio and it’s just as satisfying as the visuals. If you wear headphones like I do, you’ll be treated to some really terrifying stuff. The moaning of the dead around you and the snarls and growls of the infected really help immerse you into thinking you’re actually being attacked. It’s neat too because just by how the infected sound, you’ll be able to tell if you’re still safe or if it’s time to get the heck out of Dodge.
So after roughly about 16 hours of play, I’ve barely scratched the surface of everything Dying Light 2 has to offer. There’s just so much more to the story that I have yet to uncover and I’m nowhere near Aiden’s goal. Luckily, I’m hooked. This game definitely has me coming back day after day. I’m happy that they didn’t do anything terrible to screw with what was already a fantastic formula and the latest additions seem to add more to it. I’m hoping that there will be some ranged weapons later down the line as well as vehicular combat.
Of course, I’m also hoping that Techland supports this game as much as there did the original because that was one of the things I completely loved about it. I should note that the version of the game I’m playing is still considered a pre-release version as I am told that there will be a day-one update with several improvements and additions. However, as it is right now, the game is fantastic.
So with that said, I still have a ways to go in terms of completing Dying Light 2. Apparently, there’s about 500 hours worth of content and I’m only about 10-11 hours in. Although, the devs said there are only about 20 hours of actual story content, 80 hours of side quests, and the rest is exploration and collectibles. Say goodbye to my social life for the next few weeks.
Disclaimer: Received game from developer and/or publisher for coverage purposes.
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