Dying Light arrived early in 2015 and took the world by surprise. We all thought we needed another zombie game like we needed spray on hair in a can. But when we experienced the infected streets of the imaginary middle-eastern city of Harran with its mixture of parkour, survival skills and fighting combined with a kick ass story, our preconceptions were squashed. It is a very brilliant, enjoyable, highly inventive game and over the year it has had pieces of downloadable content to help make your time in Harran more enjoyable. But now in its new guise it’s taking you somewhere else.
The Following takes you out of the city and into the countryside. You can access the DLC from the main menu and it recommends that you be at least level 12 from the main campaign before you do so. I was level thirteen and I found it a bit tricky so I would certainly suggest you don’t bother if you are a lower level than that.
The main plot revolves around you leaving the city to search for a mysterious cult who seems to be surviving the zombie turning virus even after they’ve been bitten. The moment you climb a mountain and look across the vast countryside, you notice that it’s a big old chunk of land. This is not just DLC with a couple of missions added on. This is a full-blown piece of territory as big as the main cities in the first campaign. It’s also littered with the undead, in fields and roads and encampments and…well…everywhere.
You find missions from people in safe settlements and your journey begins. There is a clever way here of making you do most of the side missions, as the more you do of them, the more the main story opens up. The big difference from the original game is transport. Early on in the story you gain a wreck of a buggy that makes your journey across the wilderness an easier and more exciting one. You plough through the undead as you speed through the open fields and deserted roads. The buggy is easily damaged and needs constant repairing, which costs valuable resources as well as fuel taken from other vehicles. The buggy has its own upgrade system, and a whole new skill tree for you to max out. There are challenges ranging from speed checkpoints to how many zombies you can run over in two minutes. There are also races where you can gain experience and win more money. The whole driving mechanic works really well and even though it’s a different pace from racing across rooftops, bravo to the developers for trying to mix things up.
The story itself is very well told and keeps up the good standards that were started in the original campaign. The missions themselves are a great mixture of events that can tell quite unique narratives and move the story on pleasingly. For example, a mission about a father who keeps his child in a cave with all its toys and childhood drawings even though he’s turned into a zombie, is a fantastic piece of emotive storytelling. Other missions are hit and miss, but mostly hit as the game advances. Gameplay wise it’s much the same as before, but there are new skill sections called Legend and this gives you new abilities and skills that once again give this game extra longevity beyond its main story. Also, there seems to be loads of secrets and hidden areas to find in this piece of countryside and loads of outposts to conquer. I promise you’ll lose many hours once again in this huge world.
Graphically the game is still very strong and the characters are of a very high standard with each zombie always seeming to be a different individual. The main problem that occurred for me was the dying, which I seemed to do a lot. If I got cornered in this version it wouldn’t be long before I was brown bread and everyone was taking chunks out of me. Or if it were the doings of the bad humans, shot and stabbed to within an inch of my life. This isn’t a problem I hear you shout? You’re just rubbish. Yes you are right my friend I am. But after you die, you might respawn somewhere far away from where you have died, with no sight of your lovely buggy what so ever, it’s here that you really miss the safety of the rooftops back in the city. Running across open fields in amongst swarms of the undead and angry humans never seems to end up happy ever after. Also the lack of safe houses where you can rest and save your progress all seem to be too far apart from each other. But these minor gripes aside it still makes for one hell of a ride.
I haven’t had time to mention the brilliant co-op, or the 4 player competitive racing or the upgraded buggy that attaches flamethrowers to its weaponry. I haven’t even mentioned the twist in the finale of the story that really delivers a slap in the face, or the new crossbow that delivers that silent kill without attracting the rest of the hoard. I haven’t mentioned so much, because there is so much for you to discover.
If you are a Dying Light fan I urge you to venture back into the fold and take up your weapon of choice again. If you are new to the fold PLEASE get the Enhanced Edition and experience a fantastically crafted game.
Good night and good luck.