Somehow I didn’t get the chance to parkour around Harran when Dying Light first released a year ago. Luckily that changed when they re-released the game along with the fantastic expansion The Following a week ago and boy, what a week it has been.
Naturally I started with the vanilla game. I was Kyle Crane, an undercover agent who HALO’d in the devastated city of Harran where a nasty virus has turned most of its population into hungry deadly zombies. My job? Infiltrate among the survivors and find a person of interest and steal every bit of the research on the virus. But in an interesting turn of events, you uncover the real secret agenda of your employers so instead of fu*cking over the survivors, you join and help them. And that cast, the survivors, were a very interesting group of people.
As you progress through the story, these relationships develop further and you start caring about them. So you’ll run around Harran doing favours for them, help them set up safehouses, blow up zombie nests, procure medicine, weapons etc. Then you’ll encounter the main bad guy, which ticks every box on the “being a bad guy” form. Even though you understand since the beginning of the game, what will your journey be like, who’s bad and who’s good and how it is going to end, it was very satisfying to see this story unravel. A few intriguing twists and turns and a couple of emotional moments kept it engaging till the end. It is a very big improvement from the other Techland game Dead Island which in terms of the story sucked b*lls.
Now the story was good, but the reason you’ll want to play Dying Light is its gameplay which is f*cking stellar. I don’t know any other game that has done first person perspective parkour this engaging and interesting. Yes, yes, Mirrors Edge did it first, but I am not talking about an “on rails” parkour level design. Brink, just no. Dying Light is a playground, a beautiful and masterfully crafted playground. Everything you see, you can climb it. From small shacks and poles to large buildings, antennas, towers, bridges. And I have to give them mad props about the excellent design. See, everything that is there is climbable, but what’s excellent is the way how everything is placed. You can pretty much run across the rooftops jumping from poles and tubes to power lines without even touching the ground. Things get even wilder and more f*cking awesome once you unlock the grappling hook. Oh boy, the fun I had with the grappling hook is just unparalleled.
The other half of the gameplay is the combat and I have to admit, it too is f*cking stellar. It is very similar to the one Dead Island and it’s “sequel” had. Melee weapons rule, but the bow and the guns do quite a damage too, but are not as fun as the melee ones. Metal pipes, wood planks, baseball bats, axes, pickaxes, swords, knives etc. you name it, there’s a high chance you will find it in Dying Light. Use it a lot and you’ll break it, break it a few times depending on it’s colour grading from piss-poor normal to exotic gold and that’s it for that specific weapon. Luckily you will find a ton of weapons in Harran and the extensive crafting system allows you to craft some devastating death dealing weapons.
But that doesn’t mean that mowing down the zombies is an easy task. Nope. At the start of the game, you’re puny and a couple of hits from a zombie will result in a death. Having better weapons improve your situation, you’ll begin to decimate and decapitate zombies, but still if you get mobbed, that’s it. That begins to change the more you level up. Everything you do in the game in terms of parkouring around and bashing zombie skulls earns you experience points. Level up in these skill trees and you unlock new skills. Higher agility and toughness, higher damage, flying dropkicks, whirlwinds with a heavy weapons etc. are some of the skill on your path of becoming a legend. And you definitely need these skills in order to survive the day, but especially the night.
Everything changes at night. First off, you can’t see sh*t. Second each and every zombie is better, tougher and deadlier at night. Every noise you emit will attract deadly fast zombies aka Virals, but the biggest threat at night are the Volatiles which I also like to call just nightmare fuel. They are just so scary, but not the usual generic jumpscare scary. No, you see them in your minimap and you see their cone of vision. The scary part comes when they notice you and start rushing towards screaming nightmarish sounds and you just run for your life, but you know you are soo f*cked. And the ability to turn your head while running to just see this scary monster following you, basically seeing death with your own eyes is just the cherry on top. Later in the game, levelled up and donning a shotgun they are less scary, but still scary enough.
Other than the normal zombies, Virals and the Volatiles, there are some other types like the kamikaze one which instakills you if near enough, the “frog” who spits acid, the devastator or the long lost cousin of The Thing from F4 as I like to call it and a couple of others I don’t want to spoil. However they are not the only enemies you’ll come across, you’ll find also against bandits which half the times will obliterate. Guns are highly advised against them, otherwise just run, let them have the supply drop or kill the survivor.
Yes, apart from the main story missions and interesting side missions, there are random encounters you will find around the map. Maybe a scared survivor trapped inside a house, a survivor mobbed by zombies or bandits, supply drops “protected” by bandits or mobs of zombies. The thing is there is already a ton of “important” stuff to do in Dying Light like the story missions and side ones, then you have the insane amount of challenges of parkour, weapons, killing etc. the random fetch quests, exploring and looting everything, you get the idea. A week later and I still have a ton of stuff to do to get that completionist trophy.
I guess that’s about it regarding the vanilla game. Now since it’s a re-packaged like a GOTY edition, the Enhanced Edition has all of the DLC and expansion pack released to date, the biggest one being The Following. Nowadays we rarely see expansion packs like The Following. It offers more of the same and then some. It introduces a new large map called The Countryside, adding the total to 3 with Harran and Sector Zero being the other 2.
It is big, bigger than what the vanilla offered, but since it’s the countryside most of it is comprised of vast open fields filled with zombies unlike the urban jungle that was Harran or the high rising cityscape of Sector Zero. What I am trying to say is that, the amount of cover and stuff to climb just to be safe is extremely limited. However there is a new quick and maybe not-so safe way to get around the countryside. Introducing the amazing buggy.
Small, yet quite fast and powerful, the buggy fits perfectly into the world of Dying Light. It feels like an extension of Crane, it’s not OP not by a longshot, but it get the job done, most of the time. Often, however, the parts breaks down since they use the same durability system as of the weapons, or you are out of fuel which leaves you open to get buttf*cked by the hordes of zombies, since the noise attracts them, remember? So you have choices to make, jump out and deal with 4-5 maybe more Virals and a dozen of normal zombies or run away and pick them off one by one from afar? Or do you Kurt Bomb the sh*t out of them as they approach the buggy? You are presented with these interesting choices and if you are playing on a higher difficulty than normal, these small choices truly matter.
The more you drive it, the more zombies you roadkill and the more races/challenges you complete, the more XP you earn on the Driving Skill Tree. Following the same logic of the other skill trees, the more unlock the better the buggy becomes, more health, more speed, more weapons such as mines, electrified cage etc. Yeah, it kinda transforms into a little tank which is fabulous.
So what else is new in The Following? Well, I haven’t talked about the story, like at all, even though it is really well written. An infected survivor comes to Harran with tales of people on the Countryside somehow immune to the virus so you as Crane decide to go and investigate the matter. Once there you meet these survivors and by doing favours for them, much like in the main story, you start earning their trust and start to uncover the real story. It is a great tale with some interesting twists along the way, why and how are they immune, who is the Mother etc. these secrets start to unravel the more you progress through it. Other than that, there are a lot of side missions to complete, very hard Volatile nests to destroy, new challenges and a new mechanic/system in the form of bounties. Vault over X number of Zs, Kill X number of Zs with Y weapon etc. are some of the bounties to expect. The thing is, like the vanilla game, The Following has a ton of content and while the main storyline takes around 10-12 hours to complete, all of the other stuff doubles or even triples that amount. It is an expansion al right!
Like in the vanilla game, The Following can be played up to 4 players co-op. Now I played a lot with my brother, just the two of us against the world and the experience changes in a very interesting way. Solo or alone, the game is tense especially at night since death lurks just around the corner. In co-op that tension fades away, leaving the room to juvenile fun. I mean while playing with my bro every couple of minutes or so we would just stop to mess with the zombies, dropkicking them, setting them on fire, making up challenges like who cuts more limbs or heads etc. Stupid stuff like that transformed the game from a serious and very tense experience to a stupid, in a very good way, and stress relieving one.
Since this is the Enhanced Edition, all of the small DLC are included so you also get Be The Zombie, where you become a Volatile and invade another player world with the only goal of hunting and gnawing him down, and there is also The Bozak Horde, which as you can guess by the name it an arena/horde survival mode.
Summing everything up, Dying Light The Following Enhanced Edition (damn that’s a long name) is a fantastic package. Both of the stories are really good, the gameplay is stellar and it looks and runs fantastic on consoles. You owe it to yourself to parkour around Harran and dropkick zombies off bridges or cut them with an electrified burning Game of Thrones inspired sword or run down hordes while setting them on fire with your little buggy. Dying Light is a playground, the kind where you have a ton of stupid fun especially with friends that bring a big smile to your stupid face. Thanks for reading!