Dying Light: The Following Review – Zombies In The Country
- Developer/Publisher: Techland/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- Platform: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- PC version reviewed. Review code provided by the developer.
In 2016, after six seasons of The Walking Dead and tons of games in recent years, the mere mention of zombies is enough to make more than a few folks turn up their noses.
Just a few years back they were widely considered to be incredibly cool, but now a decent amount of setting fatigue managed to seep into the collective's mind. That's all the more reason to commend Techland for their work on Dying Light, a game that has been recognized by gamers and critics alike as arguably the best zombie title ever made.
The Polish developer is now back with Dying Light: The Following, a meaty expansion which brings a few additions to the gameplay formula. For starters, protagonist Kyle Crane heads into the countryside of Harran in order to infiltrate the titular cult which allegedly has a way to make people immune to the zombie virus; his friends in Harran are running out of Antizin and he has no other option left.
Producer Tymon Smektala told us that the countryside map in Dying Light: The Following would be twice as big as the original ones (Slums and Old Town) combined, and he wasn't kidding around. The playable area is truly gigantic and with far less buildings to climb on, moving from one side of the map to the other would have been a nightmare if it wasn't for the buggy, Dying Light: The Following's main addition.
As soon as you start using the buggy, you'll begin to level up another perk tree: Driver. This will give you access to important upgrades such as installing UV headlights, a Nitro boost, several kinds of weapons (flamethrower, spikes and more) and even a reinforced cage which diminishes the damage taken from the buggy parts.
This is quite important, since everything you hit with the buggy (including zombies) will weaken some parts until they need to be either repaired or replaced altogether; fuel is also required to power the buggy, of course.
As such, you will need to carefully scavenge abandoned cars for screws, wire, lubricants and fuel. You can eventually even craft (or buy) better quality parts, which will considerably improve the buggy's performance.
Of course, the buggy simply cannot go everywhere, which is when the good old parkour kicks in once again. It's still great to move with the grappling hook and freeform running in Dying Light: The Following, even though you won't do it as often as in the original game.
Combat will also be very familiar to those who played Dying Light. Melee is simply great, with slow-motion decapitations/mutilations and a great sense of weight carried with every move, while ranged weapons (including the new crossbow) are less satisfying to handle. I had forgotten how frenetic the action is when running away from virals (the zombie runners) and even more from volatiles during the night; it definitely is a rather heart-pounding experience, even more so if you enable the brand new Nightmare mode where nighttime is extended and zombies are even stronger.
As for the story of Dying Light: The Following, just like in the base game it's interesting enough to keep the player hooked without being really deep. Once it wraps up it's clear that there are loose ends here and there, but it's still better than the usual zombie game fare.
But the most fun can be had with friends while playing cooperatively. Dying Light has been voted by WCCFtech staff and readers as the best coop game released in 2015; the good news is that it just got better with Dying Light: The Following.
There are now several challenges to be activated, such as smashing the most zombies or hitting the most objects within a time limit. Moreover, there's a proper track where you'll be able to race against your friends with the buggies.
Other additions of Dying Light: The Following left me a bit cold, though. Bounties are basically daily quests that encourage you to perform certain objectives, but such a system is hardly useful in a game like this one.
Similarly, the Legend system is linked to "endgame" character progression. It will allow dedicated players to get up to 250 additional levels with related perks boosting health, stamina and damage; the thing is, you need to have fully unlocked at least one of the base skill trees in order to get access to the Legend system, and I never got that far by using my existing Dying Light character, even after completing The Following. As such, I'm not sure how many people will actually unlock the Legend system as you'd probably have to keep playing it for some time to get there.
By the way, my Dying Light: The Following playthrough lasted 12 hours and 40 minutes with a 82% completion (a few side quests and activities remaining). This is great value for the $/€ 19.99 price, and even better if you bought it while it costed even less - it's included in the Season Pass, which was originally priced at $/€ 19.99 (it's now at $/€ 29.99). Furthermore, an Enhanced Edition of Dying Light is also being released for free to all owners of the game, which is another testament of Techland's care for its customers.
A final note regarding graphics and performance. The press release of Dying Light: The Following mentioned several improvements in this area, though they weren't exactly easy to notice. In terms of graphics, the game still looks quite good despite being far from the heights reached by recent releases like Rise of the Tomb Raider and The Division beta.
The performance was flawless at 1080P (for some reason the UI was completely offset when I tried to switch to 1440P via DSR) with my GTX 980Ti, with no stuttering whatsoever. That's even with the draw distance pushed to the maximum, which definitely pays off with the countryside landscape; check out the gameplay video below.