In 2015, “Dying Light” became a surprise critical and commercial hit. Its developers think they can do even better in the sequel.
Announced on Sunday, “Dying Light 2” will continue in the same universe, 15 years after the events of the first apocalyptic action game. Previously, humankind fell to a viral infection that turned people into aggro zombies and things have only gotten worse.
Where the original game was set in the fictional European city of Harran, “Dying Light 2’s” lead designer Tymon Smektala said that the new game will take place in a different location which is “possibly the last surviving human settlement.” There players will try to bring hope to the struggling remnants of humanity, and try to survive.
In a closed door, hands-off demo at E3, Smektala described what makes the new game improve upon the original.
“Every system is tweaked,” Smektala said, referring to the movement system, the crafting system, combat, skills, and more.
“Dying Light” had a fluid system of parkour-like travel. It allowed you to climb, shimmy, jump, and navigate your way through a destroyed world. “Dying Light 2” will expand upon that, offering new moves and new ways to use your environment. It will also include a number of new parkour attacks. In the demo shown, the character launched himself at enemies through windows and over obstacles, using the layout around him as another weapon.
“Dying Light 2” will also have what Smektala called “parkour puzzles.” These are scenarios in the game which demand players used their learned skills and the environment around them to get from point A to point B.
Combat looks to be greatly improved as well, though it was pretty realistic and enjoyable in the first game. The combat shown in the demo seemed very dynamic, relaying on the player to anticipate attacks, find openings, and use whatever is laying around as an asset. The character in the demo had crafted a blade out of a now-useless street sign and the way it was used to block and parry looked complicated and satisfying. And at one point, the character threw a bucket at an adversary to distract them before rushing in for the killing blow.
As with the first game, “Dying Light 2” looks great. It’s a squalid, lived in city that has some touches of color and personality added to the extensively brown color palette from the original.
And the game will be a lot bigger as well.
“The map is four times the size of the map of the first ‘Dying Light,’ Smektala said.
Possibly the most interesting thing about “Dying Light 2” is the inclusion of choice and consequences. Calling it a “Narrative Sandbox,” Smektala said they were working with celebrated writer Chris Avellone (who worked on games like “Fallout: New Vegas” and “The Witcher 3”) to craft difficult, impactful choices for players.
The example shown in the demo was the decision to work with the Peace Keepers, a force dedicated to imposing order and getting rid of the Infected. If you choose to side with them, you will earn benefits like free health stations and new traversal options. But they will enact a ruthless sense of justice on the world. If you choose to side against them, you’ll have to pay for health, but you’ll get a cut of the business that crops up. There will supposedly be hundreds of decisions like this that change a player’s unique game.
The first “Dying Light” was marked by the differences in gameplay derived from its day/night cycle. The Infected are tamer and less of a threat when the sun is shining on them. At night they’re a different beast. The closed, hands-off demo that Techland hosted focused only on the day. He did say that the sequel would amp up the horror from the original game.
“Things will get a lot scarier,” he said. “This isn’t just a zombie game. This is a game about humans and the horror they can cause. ‘Dying Light 2’ will give you more options to play with that horror.”
“Dying Light” has had a long tail. Techland says that 500,000 people still log onto to play the three-year-old game every day. With “Dying Light 2,” Smektala hopes to continue that trend with a dynamic co-op system. Since every choice has consequences and changes the world in which your player lives, those changes will continue in co-op play.
“When you play in co-op, you will visit the cities, the ‘realities’ of your friends,” he said.
Techland has not given a prospective release date for “Dying Light 2.” Smektala said they have a 2019 target. It’s probably a safe bet that it won’t release until it’s had another showing in the Los Angeles Convention Center next summer.