Zombie fans rejoice! Dying Light 2 is finally almost upon us. After years of starts and stops and endless speculation about the sequel to one of the better zombie games of all time we can now finally expect Dying Light 2 Stay Human to drop on December 7th this year – assuming it isn’t delayed again. But with how much Techland has been talking about Dying Light 2 and how much information we currently have about the game it does seem like it’s truly about ready to come out of the oven, so even if we do get another delay, it probably won’t be a very big one. All that said, with everything that we know about Dying Light 2 at this point there’s plenty of reason to think it’s not only going to be a worthy successor to the original game in just about every way, but it could also, very easily, end up being one of the biggest games of this year if not the biggest. Techland’s open world action survival zombie game terrorized us and opened our minds to what we could expect from a zombie game back in 2015. the open-ended nature of the level design, The Mirror’s Edge style traversal, and of course the combat being just as customizable as it was visceral, were all things that made Dying Light an instant classic, and despite the rather long wait we’ve had for the sequel, it’s hard to not be excited about it.
There are a lot of things that make up the Dying Light experience but one of the bigger ones is obviously the parkour traversal. Dying Light 2 is promising to not only bring that back but effectively double it, with twice the amount of moves you can do as you move about the world. This includes an astounding 3000 unique animations, which hopefully aren’t just visual in nature but also help the traversal feel more versatile and fluid. With all of the different types of ledges, walls, and other surfaces that you’ll be dealing with as you move about, and of course all of the different angles that you can hit those things at, it makes sense that Techland would want to move the number of animations up to a much higher degree, but 3000 does sound like a lot – even in light of that.
I don’t think the point of knowing that is to look super closely at every little animation, though. Ideally, this is just something that subtly makes moving around the world of Dying Light 2 just feel more real, which isn’t exactly something the first game struggled with, but of course an improvement would still be much appreciated. Some of this might just be out of utility as well, seeing as the game will have more surface types and traversal tools like an improved grappling hook and makeshift bridges to contend with. So how this all shakes out is certainly going to be interesting to see. Given that the parkour challenge modes were some of the more fun parts of the post-game content for Dying Light, I suspect a good portion of this long wait we’ve been experiencing since 2015 has been geared towards expanding and perfecting the traversal so this will be one of the major elements of the game I’ll be looking at once I get my hands on it.
Of course, perhaps the more striking element of Dying Light’s gameplay was its combat. As one of the few games to really get first-person melee combat right, it did much more than that and actually had one of the better combat systems of the last generation by adding in a good amount of customization and a satisfying skill tree that always made you feel like you were progressing in a meaningful way. As far as I can tell from the information that’s been released at this point it seems like Dying Light 2 is more or less sticking to the script on that while adding in a bit more complexity with enemies changing up their tactics on you mid-fight, requiring you to alter your approach on the fly at times. Jump kicks, melee weapons, environmental objects, and projectiles all look outlandishly satisfying to use and that’s mostly because they seem to have taken a conservative approach with modifying the first game’s combat, and mostly left it in place. That said, you can choose to emphasize in different areas including mobility, brute force, and a more technical skill set that seems more geared towards taking full advantage of the game’s expanded crafting system. It looks like they’re doing each area of expertise justice with a lot of experience to be gained in each of them, so no matter how you choose to upgrade your character in the game, you’re going to have plenty to do and learn.
While the story of Dying Light was pretty good all things considered, it still purposely took a back seat to the traversal and the combat and was very linear in nature. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it does look like Dying Light 2 story has gotten a lot more attention this time around with branching narrative paths that are chosen by you deciding who to side with among the cities 3 main factions. Depending on which faction you align yourself with, you will have access to different safe zones and different technologies to aid you in other situations, and can also hinder your progress in certain respects, so choosing wisely with who to help and who to screw over is going to be a big part of the experience.
Last but not least of course is the zombies themselves. While it’s only been about six years since the last game came out, within the context of the story it’s actually been closer to 15, so of course the zombies that we got used to in the last game have mutated into different things now and have very different rules in some cases. The basic rules of the day and night cycle are still in place, and that means lesser, weaker enemies are out during the day while the more imposing creatures come out at night. But within those rules we’re going to see a lot more variety. A larger number of enemy types especially at night will be a sight to behold in Dying Light 2, with enemies that are much stronger and faster then what we’re used to from the first game. On top of that, Techland has said that individual enemies will have a different set of AI priorities than enemies in a group, which might remind you of something a little game called Days Gone tinkered with as it differentiated individual encounters with freaker hordes. They haven’t gone into a lot of detail on what that exactly will mean but the fact that they brought up that particular point really raised my eyebrows because that could lead to a lot of variety with enemy encounters and keep us on our toes much more than the previous game – which is saying a lot.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human is really looking to be a true sequel in every sense of the word. While many sequels these days come out and largely rest on their laurels by rehashing what the last game did, it really does look like Techland is having none of that. Assuming their new game is going to be everything that they’re cracking it up to be, it does look like it’s shaping up to be a real successor to a game that is already great, and that’s a recipe for success if I’ve ever seen one.
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