Dying Light 2 Stay Human Review
Player(s): 1 (single player), 2-4 (online co-op)
Extra Features: Online co-op play
The original Dying Light was a huge success with its parkour movement and zombie-killing gameplay. The game took Dead Island’s gameplay and leveling system and ran with it (literally up walls and across rooftops). Dying Light 2 has a new lead character and a bit of a different feel to its gameplay. The gameplay is still very familiar but its overall faster and you have more options. The world is bigger and you have even more things to do. The game took me 53 hours to complete and that was mainly from doing the main story. The side quests were most likely only about 35% complete, so this game is just about as long or longer than the first game. Dying Light 2 is developed and published by Techland.
Let’s get to the story setup. Harran, the city from the first game, had no survivors but the Global Relief Effort (GRE) managed to create a cure for the zombie virus that supposedly ended the zombie pandemic. The GRE experimented with the virus in secret and a mutated variant escaped from the lab and infected the whole world, even more rapidly than the Harran variant, in an event known as “The Fall”. The new strain has no cure, but its effects can be suppressed with Ultraviolet light. Much of the world’s population now lives in the city of Villedor, which is split into three factions: Peacekeepers, Survivors and Renegades. Dying Light 2 takes place 22 years after the events of the last game. Players take on the role of Aiden Caldwell, a pilgrim, who travels between human settlements. Aiden is seeking out his lost sister Mia.
Dying Light has a very slow and linear beginning but it eventually picks up with open world gameplay like in the first game. Aiden takes a bit of adjustment to get used to. He is overall nimbler than Kyle Crane from the first game. Aiden is just as skilled as Crane with his parkour movements along buildings and other objects. Because of his faster and more fluid movement, I often had to look down when moving across narrow objects to make sure that Aiden’s feet was still on the object. After a while, I did get adjusted to his overall movement. Aiden’s overall movement makes you truly “feel” the character you are controlling – it has a very immersive feel to it.
Just like in the first game, you start out extremely weak and have to level up your skills. Finding Inhibitor containers will allow you to level up either your health or stamina. Leveling up either one will increase the gauge associated with each and also allow you to unlock more skills related to the category. You still gain skill points by performing specific actions such as parkour moves, attacking enemies and performing quests. Aiden has many of Crane’s moves and he also has a good bit of his own exclusive moves as well.
The gameplay still cycles between day and night just like in the first game. Zombies are more dangerous at night and the chases from the first game once again come back. Zombies called “Howlers” come out at night and if they see you, they will send out a signal to other infected in the area which will start a chase. Either fight off the zombies that give chase or escape from them to end the chase. This game actually has areas of tall grass and other out of the way places that you can hide in to escape from zombies and use stealth. There are a number of places that you only enter at night since they are occupied by hordes of zombies during the day.
The gameplay is not all about killing zombies however. You’ll also face off against human enemies at times. The gameplay against human enemies has been upgraded a bit this time. Human enemies will eventually block your melee attack, so you can’t just go into them swinging all the time. You can block just before they hit Aiden and parry their attack then perform a leap off of them and dropkick to hit other enemies in the area. You can literally create a domino effect with this strategy since enemies that are hit with the dropkicks will stun just like they were hit by a parry. There are many more combat options available for both zombies and humans when compared to the first Dying Light and it keeps the gameplay much more interesting (especially against humans).
At night and in dark areas, Aiden’s infection will start to take over and you will have a certain amount of time before it takes full control (ending your game). Through the use of inhalers, you can fight off the infection until you get back into the light or find some ultraviolet light. UV light can also stun zombies and eventually kill them. You gain a UV flashlight that can stun all zombies and there are also UV glowsticks that can be tossed to drive back zombies. Zombies that step into UV lit areas will eventually fall over and start to smoke before they die from the light. This mechanic (stunning enemies with UV light) was in the first game, but it didn’t seem as powerful and useful as it is in Dying Light 2.
The first game mainly had melee-based weapons with only a few guns. Dying Light 2 totally ditches the guns in favor of nearly all melee weapons, although you do have the option to carry around a bow later in the game. Weapons break easily so you always have to keep an eye on their durability. Weapons can also be upgraded to boost their stats and give them extra attributes such as venom (slowly drain health from enemies), fire (set an enemy on fire), electric (shock an enemy) among many others. Some upgrades will simply boost the weapon’s attack power or durability. There is a great number of combinations that you can come up with and you can gain more customizations by buying them from merchants or getting them in side quests. Crafting is also back and it plays a huge roll in the game. You can craft a number of items such as healing, inhalers, and other status boosts items. Blueprints for crafting weapons and weapon modifying can also be upgraded by visiting a merchant. Dying Light 2 is still very loot-based. You’ll be opening up countless cabinets, closets and many other areas while scavenging for supplies.
Along with main story missions, you’ll also be able to engage in many side quests. This game has LOADS of content to explore and take part in. Side quests in Dying Light 2 are even better than in Dying Light 1. It’s noticeable that they have more of a self-contained story this time with actual unique cutscenes and long conversations and some of them even deal with the main plot of the game. You can side with two different factions by performing tasks for each of them throughout the story. The two main factions are the Peacekeepers and Survivors. The Renegades (third faction) are mainly your human enemies for much of the game. Performing tasks for factions (such as activating power) will give you different attributes for that side of the city such as zombie traps (Peacekeepers) and better parkour objects (Survivors).
The game has many choices to make that will affect the game’s story and also lead to unique missions based on your choices. The game will slow down and you’ll hear a type of heartbeat during vital choice decisions. The game is full of extra dialogue that you can get by choosing certain choices while talking with others. Main choices are highlighted in yellow and optional choices (extra dialogue) are highlighted in white. Choices can lead to main character deaths and bonus fights. Even the ending is influenced somewhat based on your choices through the game. From what I see, the game has two endings, but let’s just say “multiple endings” just to be sure since this game most likely has a bunch of unexplored content. Just like the first game, much of the campaign can be played with up 2-4 players through online co-op play. The co-op is drop-in/drop out.
The graphics are way better this time. The environments are absolutely beautiful and so full of life. You’ll go into some forest areas with tons of trees and shrubbery. City streets are nearly abandoned except for the slow shuffling of zombies and wind that carries debris and garbage down the streets. At night, you can hear voices of people in pain and screams from several blocks away. This game is dripping with horror atmosphere! Zombies are your main enemies and once again they come in different forms. You’ll face off against pretty much all the same types of zombies from the first game. There are also a few super-powered normal zombie encounters in this game. And yes, Volatiles still make an appearance and they are even more deadly in Dying Light 2.
Also, I played this game on Xbox Series S and Xbox One X and the two are nearly identical. Both of the consoles seem to run the game at a smooth framerate (I’d say around 40fps) and they look identical. I did notice a bit of skipping in the framerate when falling from great heights in the Xbox One X version. The Xbox One X version also has MUCH greater loading times when compared to the Series S version. Other than these two instances, both Series S and Xbox One X look and play nearly identical.
The first game had some great sound and so does the sequel. The main menu theme is really good and there are many other great tracks in the game as well. The game has some memorable characters and the voices help to really bring them to life. Aiden, Lawan, and Hakon really stand out and the rest of the cast is quite good as well. It is very noticeable that the Aiden’s voice actor (Jonah Scott) sounds a lot like Roger Craig Smith’s Kyle Crane at times. The first game had a problem with repeating character design but the sequel has solved that problem for the most part. The majority of characters (even minor characters) all look unique.
The only true flaw that I find with this game (and it’s a big one) is that there are many random game bugs that can spoil the gameplay. I got many issues with sound bugs to where the sound would completely cut out. I would have to go back to the main menu and quit the game in order to get sound back. I was greeted with an unpleasant loud buzzing upon going back to the main menu. One time, certain sound effects shut off. Sometimes character models will sink into the floor, zombies can float in the air after being defeated and I nearly got stuck in one area. To top it all off, the ending cutscene froze on me. Thankfully, I got to hear the dialogue during the ending cutscene but I had to go on Youtube to watch the FMV to see how the game ends (based on the ending that I got). I really feel that the item detection for picking up items could be much better also. I have to constantly wave the cursor around an item to target it in order to pick it up. In some drawers, I had to duck just to pick up some items.
Dying Light 2 COULD be overall better the first game in every way if it wasn’t for all the game’s bugs that you can find sprinkled throughout it. Most of the time the game bugs do not ruin the feel of the game, but they seem to appear at the most unpleasant of times. I really feel that a lot of this has to do with the game’s autosaving. Unlike the first game, you can’t save manually – the game will autosave at certain points and it doesn’t really give you much of a sign that it is doing so.
Flaws aside, Dying Light 2 has a lot of love and commitment put into it. It is a fantastic sequel to the original game that really surpasses it. Techland kept up their support with Dying Light 1 up until the very day that Dying Light 2 released so I’m positive that Dying Light 2 will be fixed, but for the moment, the game is brought down a good bit by random errors. Fans of Dying Light 1 will most likely be able to look past the majority of the game bugs and enjoy the game for what it is, but there is no doubt that they are very much there and can spoil the game for you. I greatly enjoyed my time with Dying Light 2 and will probably play back through it a few more times, though I might wait until the game is patched. It really pains me to give this game an 80% score (even with the bugs it is THAT good) when it would easily be over 90% if it was cleaned up.
+ Addicting gameplay and tons of things to do
+ Good overall soundtrack and sound
+ Side missions are even better than in Dying Light 1
+ Overall better than the first game in nearly every way (if it wasn’t for all the bugs)
- This game has a lot of random bugs that need fixing (even after the day one patch)
Final Rating: 80% - Dying Light 2 will surpass the first game someday, but right now it’s brought down by bugs that keep it from being truly spectacular.
Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.