Dying Light 2 Devs Reportedly Have “No Idea” How it Will Turn Out as Techland Sheds Staff
The once-hotly-anticipated Dying Light 2 has been the subject of a barrage of bad PR over the past year and a half, and now a new report is again shining a worrying light on the game’s development and progress. For those who haven’t been keeping up, Dying Light 2 was originally supposed to come out in early 2020, but in January of that year the game suffered a major delay, and has been without a release window ever since. Shortly after that delay, Polish reports emerged that the game’s development was a “total mess,” although Techland downplayed the details. The project has also been cycling through lead writers a concerning rate – Chris Avellone was ousted following harassment allegations and replaced by Pawel Selinger, who was in turn replaced by Piotr Szymanek late last year.
Well, according to a new report from TheGamer, which spoke to 10 current and former Techland staff, Dying Light 2 development is still in a state of chaos with most at the studio having “no idea what the final game will be, or what the story is.” Apparently, the player-choice-focused game we were promised and shown back at E3 2019 has been stripped down and simplified. The game’s story is described as a “Frankenstein’s Monster” as the project has gone through no less than five writing teams.
According to TheGamer’s article, a lot of the blame for Dying Light 2’s current state rests at the feet of Techland’s CEO Pawel Marchewka. Techland’s billionaire boss’ mantra is “design through iteration,” which sounds good, but in practice has led to constant changes of direction and scrapped work. Word is, Marchewka frequently meddles with development and is said to be obsessed with chasing industry trends. No new ideas are allowed to be added to Dying Light 2 unless another big studio, such as CD Projekt Red (a company Marchewka is reportedly infatuated with) has done it first. If Marchewka doesn’t like something, he often shoots it down in the crudest possible terms, simply saying “it’s shit” or even deploying crass homophobic language. According to one Techland developer, this has created a stultifying, creativity-killing environment.
Techland in general has this creativity-killing vibe. Since everything at the end is changed by the directors, every presented idea has to have plenty of references. If you have references from games Marchewka may not know about, you may as well not have any references, and anything slightly innovative or expensive is [off] the table immediately. Because of the culture inside the company, people quickly go into stagnation and give up on trying to innovate.
In addition to the revolving door of writers, Techland has been shedding staff, with 20 leaving in just the last few months. TheGamer’s report includes a number of comments from Marchewka himself, who tries his best to downplay the anonymous complaints, describing a development process full of “lively discussion” amongst “tightly knit” teams. He also insists Techland’s turnover rate is normal within a tough industry. Marchewka does admit some of the abusive language reported by TheGamer is unacceptable, without acknowledging much of it is said to be coming from his own mouth…
Techland takes the welfare of our staff seriously and we are always evaluating ways that we can learn and improve - that is the key to long-term success. We expect all our employees to set a good example and treat others the way they would expect to be treated themselves. To support that, we are starting a series of different training sessions [this year], including with specialists from outside our organisation.
While no report can tell the whole story, we’ve been hearing similar details about Techland from multiple sources for some time now. At this point, it’s pretty hard not to be pessimistic about the state of Dying Light 2, particularly considering the fact that Techland management still seem to be on the defensive about how the studio is being run. I suggest you check out TheGamer’s full report, as it contains far more detail than I can relate here.
Dying Light 2 has been announced for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, and PS5. The game is currently without any sort of release date. Back in early January Techland promised “exciting news” would arrive sometime soon, but we’ve received no update since.