Dying Light 2 is the brand new parkour and zombie filled video game from Techland. This story driven ARPG title is set in a vast open world, a world that has suffered and been plunged into a modern dark age. From a city to explore, sides to take and many perils to avoid, players must master parkour movement and tactical combat to survive and progress. Dying Light 2 launches on Friday, February 4, 2022 – on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S – with this review based upon the PC version.
Players take up the role of Aiden a Pilgrim, which effectively means he travels doing good and delivering items far and wide, despite living in the time of a zombie apocalypse. This all explains how Aiden is as fast as he is. Still, over the course of the game he’ll only get stronger and faster. Much like the world, Aiden is slightly broken. He’s haunted by flashbacks of experiments performed on him and his lost sister, at the hands of a “scientist” called Waltz. His searches for his sister and the man responsible have brought him to the city of Villedor – which has certainly seen better days. This is where the adventure begins.
Despite Aiden’s clear proficiencies, with the parkour left in the hands of players it can initially feel like he should have been caught by zombies years ago – somewhat stumbling and clunkily clambouring. Progress on this front does take some getting used to. Slow but steady, this becomes much more fluid movement, both in combat and traversing the city of Villedor. Progressing in many games throws rewards like cannon fodder towards starting players, whilst Aiden is more drip fed. This is ideal for giving players that time with the basics to get to grips with them, somewhat master them, before adding in special tricks on top.
There is something incredibly freeing with the design of the map and, of course, the parkour. You see somewhere and it is going to be accessible. Not only that, 90% of the time there will be multiple routes to get there. So, you see a path and go for it, even if others are scrambling up and across a completely different path to get to the same destination. Games of “old” like Mirrors Edge and Assassin’s Creed attempted this but were a touch clunky and resulted in very specific movements needing to be made. Not in Dying Light 2, players just traverse as they fancy.
Well… players would if it weren’t for things trying to kill them. Something the original Dying Light captured was the stark contrast in safety any location might have between day and night. Once again there is a real reason to be afraid of the dark! During the day zombies won’t roam about, almost dormant apart from in dark locations. At night they’ll freely chase you down for their next meal. Zombies are, surprisingly or not, not the only thing trying to kill Aiden. With the fall of civilisation of course some haven’t gone down the route of the grey area Peacekeepers, forming an opposing faction. Like any zombie/action film you will easily guess who is an upper member of said faction – as while Dying Light 2 has a solid story that doesn’t pull all of it’s punches it can be a tad obvious.
From the very beginning of the game players will be earning XP and leveling up both their skills in combat and parkour. These two tech trees can be slowly unlocked by players for effectively using the skills overtime. Showing short clips of each skill players know what they’re getting – when it isn’t as obvious as “high jump”. A lot of the skills are initially locked behind others in a tree branch system – though each upgrades Aiden in a different and useful way. Be that the ability to take less falling damage, via rolling, to ways to chain attacks on enemies. Out of the two the combat upgrades are the more exciting ones. While improving your parkour skills is less flashy – via increased stamina and longer, higher jumps – it’ll keep you alive more.
Crafting is based on a blueprint system. With only a couple of clicks the player can either make single items, be that a UV lamp for keeping zombies at bay or a weapon mod, or consume all recipe ingredients possible to batch produce something. Which can be extremely useful for mass producing health kits – if you have plenty of honey and chamomile flowers. Weapon mods are certainly blueprints players will want to purchase from vendors, so any weapon can be upgraded. Weapons can be found littered around the world. Yet, players will find favourites and this is where crafting them can come in handy – especially as every weapon has a durability. Smash too many enemies, zombie or human, and it’ll break.
There are some pretty handy options built into the game, which go far beyond the standard subtitles and such. Streaming is a huge aspect of gaming these days and built straight into the game is a stream option to toggle on or off any licensed music, removing that grey area. There’s even an option to change the QTE minigames to allow players to hold instead of furiously tap buttons, though this seems to relieve some of that tension as you hammer the keys or buttons as fast as you physically can.
Pushing past the first couple hours of clumsy stumbling around and getting to grips with the parkour mechanics and Dying Light 2 becomes a pleasure to play. Being able to take any path from A to B is extremely rewarding, and it only improves as skills and such are unlocked. Players are kept on their toes, literally – at least in game, by the stark differences between day and night. There is a serious amount of content, with side missions and areas to explore on top of the meaty main campaign. Much like the original Techland has already promised years of content and, with 3 patches already released (including a day 0 patch) there is no doubting it’ll keep fans pleased and playing for hours upon hours upon hours.
(Editor’s Note: Dying Light 2 was provided to us for review by the publisher.)