Dying Light 2 really ups the stakes when it comes to traversing a lawless open world where the undead have taken over. With the original Dying Light offering a clever blend of parkour exploration, brutal combat, and the survivalist focus of a zombie-survival game, the follow up to Techland's stellar open-world action-adventure offers its players more freedom in how they want to play--even letting them decide the fate of one of humanity's last cities. Revealed at the Microsoft Press Conference, the sequel plans to maintain the momentum from the original's post-launch success, while offering a more reactive and living world to explore.
During E3 2018, we had the chance to see an extended demo presentation of Dying Light 2 in action, showcasing its broader scope and focus on a more ambitious, adaptive narrative. Sticking with many of the core features of the original game, such as freeform parkour traversal, melee combat, and gradual character growth, the sequel goes a bit further by making some tough choices in a far more dire and bleak circumstance.
Taking place 15 years after the events of the original game, the viral outbreak has spread across the world, causing mass societal collapse. Set in one of Europe's last remaining cities, you'll take on the role of an urban explorer who will traverse the expansive city while butting heads with the many factions vying for control. While the main character can go it alone and play each side against one another, there will come a time where you'll have to choose a side to better your situation. But as one faction gains control of areas of the city, you'll gradually see the impact of your previous decision, for better or worse.
Referred to as a "modern dark age" by the developers, the last vestiges of humanity stay within the walls of the city with sparse resources and poor infrastructure. To make matters worse, several dens of infected remain, and zombies walk the streets in long abandoned districts of town. With electrical technology being a luxury, and firearms being few and far between, you'll have to rely on jerry-rigged close-range weapons and quick feet to stay on top of things. While the original game featured a largely standard storyline, the sequel offers a more interactive approach to storytelling. With Chris Avellone serving as narrative director, who's past works including CRPG classics like Baldur's Gate and the Fallout series, the player has a say regarding the direction of the story, and the impact it has on the world.
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During the demo, we saw the player come into conflict with a group of bandits who have managed to take control of one of the town's few water towers. Tasked by the neutral good faction known as the Peacekeepers, the main character had to make their way to deal with the situation. In this section, which was a pivotal moment for this particular district in town, we got to see more of the expanded melee and parkour gameplay. The new setting of the European metropolis is much larger than than the original game's multiple areas, which required the devs to come up with a more expanded traversal system. In Dying Light 2, you'll be able to slide under fences, use ropes swings, and round corners much easier while jumping over the rooftops of the city. There looks to be a far more freeform style of locomotion and platforming, which is impressive as the original game had some solid traversal mechanics. There are also a set of new platforming puzzle sequences that put you in more precarious situations.
Eventually, the player confronts the gang leader who controls the water tower. During important character interactions, you'll be presented with several dialog options that can decide where you want things to go. In this case, the developers chose the more noble option and fought the gang leader and his henchmen. Melee combat has also seen an overhaul, with enemy AI and their tactics proving to be more cunning and resilient--using several parries and dodges to gang up on the protagonist. Action looks just as brutal as the original game, and there's a focus on mixing up your parkour and combat skills to chain together attacks--such as using a hanging pipe to swing off and land a kick on an enemy.
After this sequence, the Peacekeepers gain control of the district and its water tower, turning the district into a safer place for citizens. While this seems like the "good" choice for a better community--and in some ways it is as there's running water for all citizens--the Peacekeepers also keep their territories under an iron fist. Any form of dissent or pushback from the populace will result in public punishment, or even execution. The developers also took the time show a different path for players in this situation. Choosing to side with the gang leader instead, the player becomes to the silent partner for the gang, collecting tribute as the bandits charge money for clean water from the depressed citizens.
Dying Light 2 looks to advance upon many of the core pillars of the original, while also adding in a surprisingly dense, and varied approach to its core story. While you can expect to find many of the pulse-pounding action sequences, and fast-paced traversal mechanics, there's definitely a more thoughtful approach to how it asks players to tackle the story. With the game being four-times larger than the original, Dying Light 2 could be a major upgrade from the original, and that in itself is a major accomplishment.
For more info on Dying Light 2, and all other games we had the chance to see during E3 2018, be sure to visit GameSpot's E3 Hub page.