Dying Light 2, now pinned for a tentative Spring 2020 release window, made quite the splash at E3 2019. Not only did it look great there, the developers at Techland even revealed only about 50% of the game will be discovered in the first playthrough, mainly due to the new ability to change both the narrative and the world itself with the player's choices.
Speaking to GamesIndustry, Lead Designer Tymon Smektala revealed that the latter feature, molding the game world through the player's decisions, wasn't initially planned for Dying Light 2.
It started simpler. When we were analysing Dying Light, we realised we had created this game that was quite sandboxy. It gives you a lot of options on how to solve the gameplay problems. However, the narrative was very linear. Also with the narrative, which was not so cool, the main protagonist [Kyle Crane] was making a lot of decisions that were quite controversial. There were a lot of times in Dying Light where you wanted Kyle to choose something but the scriptwriters had decided something different. So the dream with this game is that we could give you the same amount of freedom in the narrative as we have in the gameplay.
We were initially only thinking about the narrative. But with the technological advancements of our new engine -- the C-Engine -- we realised we were able to do more. So for instance, what if these decisions didn't just change the narrative, but the sandbox space itself? We started working on it and we realised it was a powerful feeling for the player because they make that decision and they discover the world around them has changed due to it.
They can climb to the top of the highest building, look around and go: 'Wow, I made this. What surrounds me is the outcome of my choices.' This really excited the heck out of us, and it was an idea that wasn't designed for the project from the start. But around two years ago we realised this is something we can and should do.
Smektala also said that despite the claim mentioned above, it is not exactly as if there are two games worth of content in Dying Light 2, even though it is indeed bigger than the first entry.
This is a AAA, high budget, open-world game. People will expect it to have a lot of content. Yes, we have to do more than in a regular game, but it's just us making reasonable decisions over what should be part of the choices and consequences and what shouldn't be. It is bigger, but it's not crazy. We are still, subjectively, like a small studio. It's about 300 people. It's not Ubisoft, where there are five studios of that size used to create Assassin's Creed or Far Cry. We did do more content, but not really two games, because that would be too much for us to do.