Dying Light 2: Stay Human Hands-On Preview – A Pilgrim’s Guide to Villedor

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Late last week, Wccftech was invited out to San Francisco among other journalists and influencers to take an extended look at Dying Light 2: Stay Human on both PC and PlayStation 4. This was our first travel outing and preview event that didn’t require Parsec or some other streaming tech to get a proper hands-on and the effort was certainly put to good use. Among the all-day preview event for Dying Light 2: Stay Human, we were given the opportunity for up to four hours of hands-on with a month-old PC build in addition to a one-to-one interview with Techland's Lead Game Designer Tymon Smektala and hands-on with a PS4 Pro build at our own leisure.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human’s demo focused on the city of Villedor where the player, a Pilgrim named Aiden Caldwell, slowly makes a name for themselves in this ruined city that they were first cast away from after being infected and not carrying around a Biomarker to track their infection levels. Aiden’s journey takes him to track down his missing sister Mia, who has yet to make a proper appearance in the gameplay session. In the city of Villedor, Aiden starts out at a low rank with no standing in the city, nor does he have any skills on his own to survive save for an innate ability for parkour that’s useful to traverse the vertical cityscapes.

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Much like the first game, Dying Light 2: Stay Human’s parkour is the main way to stay alive among the landscape of zombies, volatiles, and human antagonists alike. Melee weapons make up the majority of Aiden’s arsenal, from makeshift weapons of both one-handed and two-handed varieties as well as a bow, the sole ranged weapon I could discover in my brief hands-on session. Numerous thrown weapons also rounded out the abilities to include throwing knives and molotov cocktails, which were perhaps tuned to be a bit too effective in the demo. Environmental objects such as spiked traps and thrown improvised javelins give some extra fighting power but only pop up from time to time throughout the densely populated open world. While Aiden’s skill tree was much a work in progress, some additional powers such as a beefy jump kick to launch zeds off rooftops or straight into those spike traps.

The hands-on demo was broken up into two sections of Old Villedor, the first with trying to build up with either the Peacekeepers or the Survivors in order to progress. After the murder of a PK commander, Aiden’s progress is blocked until he discovers the culprit and either brings them to justice or some other method that aligns with the player’s morality. Personally, I discovered the perpetrator after discovering a carved-off chunk of skin in the culprit’s closet and used that as the decisive clue to this murder mystery.

Exploring the city of Old Villedor felt more alive among the city rooftops where gardens flourished and yellow-tinted footholds filled the entire landscape. On the ground where zombies and renegades are numerous, it’s the city rooftops that offer you at least some respite, though enemies can just as easily find their way up above. However, with the aid of parkour, it’s that much easier to navigate around the enemies and get yourself to safety. In the current build, it’s hard to say whether the slice of Old Villedor was smaller than anticipated and I’m going around in circles or if I had seen the same honey and chamomile garden copy and pasted three or four times during my free run throughout the skyline. Even the same chain-link cage with three lootable suitcases reappeared in multiple locations throughout the adventure, each containing its own stashes of loot. Some of the more rare events, like an overrun transport vehicle, can be picked open (with the same mechanic as the first Dying Light, save for not being able to detect which direction to turn your pick with the controller vibrations) and reward the player with unique swords and cosmetic gear. Some of the gear hinted at archetypical classes like tank and melee brawler that could be put to good use in the multiplayer co-op campaign.

The second part of our Dying Light 2: Stay Human preview fast-forwarded time a few missions until some time on the rooftops where we were introduced to both the paraglider tool as well as Rosario Dawson’s character. Both seemed equally integral to the world at large, and I was impressed with a major role that she was able to pull off with plucky grace. Our session didn’t last much longer beyond the introductory missions to her group and the Fish Eye bar she frequents due to the interview we had scheduled with Tymon Smektala, but we were able to face off against the Renegades and overtake one of their bases, offering it up to either the Survivors or Peacekeepers. Whichever faction we sided with brought new abilities to the city, such as more objects to interact with or traps to lay throughout the city.

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We ended our night of Dying Light 2: Stay Human previews with a brief section to jump into the PlayStation 4 Pro build running off one of their debug consoles. What we saw was largely the same experience at a relatively constant 20-25 FPS. Barring some severe need for anti-aliasing, the last-gen version of Dying Light 2: Stay Human should be enjoyable by those that want to enjoy the zombie parkour action and can’t pick up a new console or RTX graphics card. In time, I hope to see Techland increase that frame rate to a more steady 30 FPS, especially on the PlayStation 4 Pro, but I can understand any limitations on the older hardware with Techland’s new C-Engine.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human is currently slated for a release on February 4th, 2022 across both generations of PlayStation and Xbox consoles as well as PC (Steam, Epic Games Store) and even Nintendo Switch through cloud streaming.

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