I have got to hand it to Techland for their undying support of the original Dying Light. For a game that came out in January 2015 to still be getting DLC is damn impressive. Part of the reason’s probably due to the delay of Dying Light 2, when had to be postponed multiple times.
Well…there’s no more delay.
I’ve been playing Dying Light 2 over the Lunar New Year holidays and here’s what I think of the game.
What is Dying Light 2?
Dying Light 2 is a first person action RPG. It’s playable in single player or via co-op. It’s developed and published by Techland and is available on PC, the Playstation consoles and well as both the Xbox Series X and Xbox One.
Our copy was graciously provided by Techland themselves. Thanks a ton Techland!
Dying Light 2 takes place years after the original game. While the original virus that ravaged Harran (the original setting) was cured, a different variant of it was inadvertently let loose onto the world, which of course brought on the zombie apocalypse.
In the years following, the remnants of mankind’s retreated to whatever bastions of safety they can find. One the last safe cities in the world is Villedor.
You play as Aiden, a Pilgrim (think of them as couriers who brave the zombie wasteland and travel between settlements to deliver supplies and news), who heads to the city of Villedor in search of his sister, Mia.
With a completely new setting to explore, Villedor is a breath of fresh air from the brown and drab setting of Harran in the first game. Villedor’s architecture’s more varied than Harran’s too, with taller buildings, even in the beginning areas of the game.
On the Xbox Series X, everything moves at a steady clip. There are two options; performance and graphics but performance is the one I used for the majority of the game. I’d rather have a silky smooth framerate at the cost of visuals than sharper visuals at the cost of frames.
One thing I’d have really appreciated was a way to tone down the head movement in the game. With all the rolling, and swinging and dodging and whatever it’s hard to keep your lunch. I actually got motion sickness the first few hours in the game until I got used to it. If you’re prone to motion sickness, be warned.
Controls also take some getting used to. The RB is used for jumping, which a bit different than regular games. I don’t particularly like the sidestepping is about half as fast as moving forward though. It gives the game an irregular feel, despite it being much more realistic. There’s no way to make all movement the same speed, so you’re stuck with it.
On Performance mode, everything is hunky dory. The game seems to stick a solid 60FPS most of the time, though I’ve noticed that there are some stutters in the latter part of the game, when you get to the new city. Perhaps its all the high rise buildings that’s causing it.
For the most part, Dying Light 2 is like a beefed up, upgraded version of the original. That’s no issue to me whatsoever, having loved the first game. If you’re thinking of getting the sequel, chances are the first’s made a good impression on you too despite some questionable design decisions (which I’ll talk about later).
There is a new major mechanic in the game that’s not in the original though. The Infection timer. Aiden’s infected by the Harran virus and because of that he can’t be out of the sunlight or UV lamps for long periods without succumbing to the virus. That means nighttime excursions have an added difficulty this time around….which makes them even more fun.
Sneaking around at night is where the game truly shines. Nighttime is the best time to sneak into Dark Zones, which holds rare items and gear. Unfortunately, to get to those Dark Zones, you need to traverse the dangerous streets, which are filled with deadlier infected, including the more powerful ones. While you usually have the option of offense in the daytime, fighting a large crowd of infected at night is something to be feared and avoided. Running away from them is the only logical option if you’re detected…and it’s a harrowing option to boot.
Being chased by the infected at night is terrifying. The howls and shrieks as you run desperately away will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, especially if you have a great surround sound system. There’s nothing like hearing the sounds of the infected coming from right behind you to keep the blood pumping!
That’s why I love exploring at night! Not only do you have to contend with the active infected, you also need to make sure that Aiden’s not taken over by the virus. You stave off the infection via consumables (which you can craft, find or buy) or by finding a UV light and staying under it for a couple of seconds, which resets the virus timer.
Thankfully, the timer gets more time added as Aiden grows stronger so you can stay in the darkness longer but it never completely goes away. It severely curtails your freedom in the beginning (and seems a bit too strict) but as Aiden grows stronger, and you get more ways to deal with the timer, it becomes less and less of an issue.
The way Aiden grows more powerful is by finding Inhibitors.
With three of these, you can raise either Aiden’s HP or Stamina by 20 points. Skills are unlocked when you meet their HP or Stamina requirement so you can’t just beef up one stat and hope to unlock everything.
Inhibitors are usually found in GRE crates, which are scattered throughout the city. They’re quite rare though thankfully the game gives you a heads up when you’re near one. While a couple can be found anytime, quite a few are hidden in areas that are only accessed during story or side missions.
It’s a good mix I think, giving you some freedom to beef yourself up but not letting you be too powerful.
Speaking of missions, the ones in the game are pretty cool.
Sneaking around an infected hospital, staying alive in an abandoned subway station as zombies swarm you, getting food for a kid’s zombie parents…they’re pretty innovative and varied. The story missions also determine how your adventure plays out as you’re given choices on how to reply and which factions you side with. The way you reply and what you do of course affects the game, such as having more friendly units on patrol and even the quests you get.
Aiden, like Kyle from the original, starts out with a few basic parkour moves. Your repertoire of traversal options eventually open up to include a paraglider (that allows you to glide around and ride air currents) as well as the first game’s phenomenal grappling hook.
Aiden also has a multitude of locked skills (split into the Combat and Parkour skill trees) that’ll augment your character abilities as you level up. Some (like the ability to drop from heights without damage) are essential, while quite a bit more are highly situational.
That’s my first issue with the game.
I wish that the skills were much more useful in general.
A lot of them are decent, but much too situational to be generally useful. I’d also have appreciated skills that utilized weapons or crafted items, whether to buff or give them extra effects.
In fact, a decent number of skills (particularly the ones that enhance existing skills) are redundant.
Why not just fold them into the original skill and then use the slot for a unique perk? Do we really need a dropkick skill and then another skill that enhances it? Why not just make the two a single skill or the second skill unlockable after a specific number of kills with the dropkick?
Throughout my playtime in Villedor, I’ve been fortunate enough to not encounter a lot of issues. The only major bug I keep getting was the sound in my game cutting out and replaced by an annoying buzz or total silence. It’s happened a couple of times already but a quick reset of the game fixed it with no issue.
Speaking of resets, death isn’t a major thing in the game.
In fact, other than being teleported back to the nearest Safe Room, there’s no downside to it. Hell, there are even upsides. If the Safe Room you respawned in is near enough to where you died, chances are the enemies that killed you will still be there.
That means if you were fighting a particularly strong infected, it’ll still be in that location. Here’s the kicker, any damage you dealt will still remain! They don’t heal themselves! That means death is a perfectly viable strategy if you don’t want to use your healing or offensive consumables. Fight as much as you can, die and then return to continue the fight.
With fighting being such an essential part of the game, I’m a bit saddened that the fight options haven’t really expanded from the original game. It’s true that the melee combat is just as good as the original, but there’s certainly a lot of room to improve.
For starters, I haven’t found a way to throw weapons! You can get throwing knives but there’s no way to just chuck your weapon at somebody if you’re super desperate. Speaking of which, I’m dismayed that headshots don’t kill in one hit unless you’re up against a weak enemy or have a strong bow.
Guns too are pretty much MIA. I’d have figured somebody would’ve made jury-rigged rifles or something, considering improvised mines and grenades are readily available.
Melee combat all too often devolves into who can hit the other more, especially if you’re fighting zombies. You hit, hit and hit, dodge and repeat. Or you use high ground advantage and whack down anybody that gives chase. Fall damage is massive in the game and it’s much easier to just kick or hit enemies off ledges to their doom than to fight them fair.
There’s also dismemberment and you can use it to your advantage, but there’s no skill that enhances or gives you more ways to dismember enemies. It happens too randomly (though with much more frequency with bladed weapons) to be really useful but it’s still really cool to slice off appendages (you can slice somebody in half with two handed weapons!) in a fight.
In fact, despite there being a plethora of weapons, there aren’t any skills that enhance them.
That makes it hard to care about any particular weapon type, since there’s no skill synergy that might help.
Other issues from Dying Light also return in the sequel, such as weapon breakage and the lack of a repair option.
Weapons break a bit too easily, with no way to repair them. It’s a bit sad to see weapons you’ve kitted (you can install mods on them, with the rarer rarity weapons having more mod slots) out to the wazoo go up in smoke once its durability runs out.
It’s a bit counterproductive to be honest.
You spend lots of resources on mods for a rare weapon and then it breaks after a couple of uses. I actually stopped caring about rarities and abandoned the mods totally due to that. I just hit whatever I’m fighting with whatever I have on hand.
Dying Light 2 looks leagues better than the original. The newer, more vibrant settings certainly help, but the character models are no slouch too. Zombies and NPCs are nicely detailed and the blood effects are sweet too. Dismemberment and the judicious use of slomo to highlight kills add pizzazz to the whole enchilada.
The only issue I have with the game stems from the foliage pop-in in certain areas. Weeds and blades of grass will suddenly materialize out of thin air on what was empty ground as you approach. Needless to say, that kills immersion.
The Bottom Line.
Dying Light 2 is a great sequel to the original, though there are a ton of issues that hold it back from truly achieving its potential.
On the plus side, you have a fun new locale to explore, lots of stuff to do and satisfying melee combat.
On the other hand, the skills really could be better and the melee combat overhauled to add more depth to it. Ironically, these are the same complaints gamers have had since the original game. With years of feedback, I’m actually surprised that more wasn’t done to address these issues in the sequel. Perhaps with upcoming patches and DLC this will see some tweaks.
The bottom line is that Dying Light 2 has flaws. Then again, so did Dying Light. Both are still great games nonetheless and I really hope the upcoming expansions and free content add more to the game that eliminates its shortcomings and shores up its strengths.
Great overall but marred by shallow melee combat and boring unlockable skills.
- Melee combat is weighty and very satisfying.
- Decisions matter.
- Smooth framerate.
- Huge map, lots of interiors to explore.
- Repetitive melee combat.
- Unlockable skills could be better.
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