Zombie-killing fans have been hearing a lot about the purportedly very large expansion pack for this year's surprisingly excellent game Dying Light. But we haven't actually seen that much of it yet. Developer Techland put out a 15-minute gameplay video for the DLC today, and it looks, well, game-changing.
You can watch the whole thing, I'll break it down in greater detail below:
I don't use a word like "game-changing" lightly. Also, it isn't necessarily a good thing. The original Dying Light that quietly launched at the beginning of 2015 was a surprising hit thanks to a lot of interesting, provocative new features that set the game apart from the mindless zombie killing of its Dead Island forebearers. Things like the tense, claustrophobic action of fighting against hordes of terrifying undead monsters in a series of tightly packed urban centres:
The city of Harran squashed you and your enemies together like a bunch of sardines, leaving you with barely enough room to breath. You had to scramble your way in and out of the nooks and crannies of interlocking buildings, using any and every tool at your disposal to survive.
The city was the heart and soul of Dying Light, the thing that made all its myriad parkour-infused zombie-killing and zombie-running-away-from elements mix together into a wonderful, gory mess. Watching the new gameplay video, it looks like many of Dying Light's core mechanics are going to be slightly...adjusted for The Following.
First, there's the great outdoors.
The Following promises an entire new map that's supposed to be absolutely gigantic — bigger than all the stuff in the original game combined. It also takes you out of the city and drops you into the country, an outback ruled by a group of cultists claiming to have some highly suspicious-sounding immunity from the disease. Once there, you get your hands on some new weapons like a crossbow:
...and a submachine gun:
The Techland developers walking through the preview mention that they're "shifting the gameplay a little more towards shooting," which is understandable, seeing that all this wide-open flat space doesn't leave as much room for parkouring your way around.
And then there's the new dune buggy, which adds driving to the game. The devs say that you'll be able to trick out your buggies with stuff like UV lamps to repel Dying Light's extra-scary nighttime zombies, or spikes to make ramming your way through crowds of the undead a bit easier. Regardless of what you choose to pimp your ride with, I'm guessing there'll be a lot of running-over-zombies moments like this:
The devs also mention some cool extra little details like a new karma system that will be in place in the countryside. Depending on how you comport yourself, the human inhabitants of the country will grow to trust you more or less, which will influence their decisions to help you in your fight against the zombies and cultists. Strangely, the video doesn't include any nighttime gameplay.
All of these new goodies sound promising, especially if you're a big fan of the original Dying Light — which I definitely am. My one concern is that transporting the game also brings Dying Light back to a setting much more akin to those in the two Dead Island games Techland made — big, open spaces that made for a lot of uninteresting wandering around and bashing in the heads of bad guys.
Has Techland matured as a developer since releasing its two lacklustre Dead Island games? Yes, certainly — Dying Light is proof of that. I hope this means that The Following will manage to keep everything that's good about Techland's latest game, without bringing back any of the bad stuff from the developer's past.