One of the many exciting announcements at the Xbox E3 2018 presentation was the unveiling of Techland’s Dying Light 2. Set in a new city, this ambitious title aims to take everything from the first game that worked and pairs it with a branching storyline that’s been penned by multiple talented writers. Chris Avellone, formerly of Obsidian Entertainment, is working as the Narrative Designer for Dying Light 2. I was invited to see an extended live demo of gameplay at E3 2018 behind closed doors and I’m very excited to talk about what I saw. Piotr Pawlaczyck, Lead Level Designer at Techland, played the game while Lead Designer Tymon Smektała narrated everything happening. Here’s my Dying Light 2 impressions!
Dying Light 2 Impressions
Dying Light 2 is set in what Techland is reffering to as the “modern dark ages” of the world. Humanity has somewhat stabilized within the City but that doesn’t mean life is pleasant. On the contrary, the harsh Peacekeepers rule with an iron fist, punishing the tiniest offences with execution. The alternative is completely lawless gangs who hoard any form of resources or weapons. Beyond that, the infected hordes still exist however, they’ve been mostly confined to the hollowed out, dark buildings and aren’t a threat on the streets…during the day, anyways.
As mentioned above, Chris Avellone is helping to write the story and it shows. He’s being assisted by a team of other talented writers, including members of CD Projekt Red who worked on the infamous Bloody Baron questline in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The branching paths shown in the gameplay footage directly affect the city and whether or not certain characters will still be alive. The developers also confirmed that the game would have multiple endings.
To deliver the best range of movement and combat options possible, Techland has doubled the number of parkour moves in the player’s skillset. While firearms, crossbows and the like exist, the focus is definitely still on melee combat. New is the addition of physics based puzzles; during the demo, when jumping onto a crate suspended by rope, it swung realistically from the impact of the player character. This might seem like a small change but it exponentially increases the options available to the player. Stealth is also a big focus this time, as if you need to go into a dark building during the day, you’ll need to be careful and not make and noise to attract the slumbering hordes (unlike Piotr, who brought a chandelier down during the gameplay demo).
While the day/night cycle from the first game is back, we didn’t get to really see it in action, as the demo ended just as the sun went down. The world of Dying Light 2 is four times the size of both the previous game and its expansion put together. The vast city appears to stretch on and on into the distance and I’m very curious to see how long the average playthrough will take.
Dying Light wasn’t a slouch in the visuals department and its follow-up isn’t either. Considering the vast size of the city, there’s an incredibly impressive level-of-detail (LOD). When on top of a huge skyscraper, you can see foliage, windmills and hand-drawn signs far into the distance. These scenic vistas will also naturally change given the current state of the city, with Peacekeeper banners flying in areas they control and ramshackle buildings home to mercenaries popping up in the more lawless sections of the city.
The first game took the world by surprise and has garnered an incredibly loyal fanbase – during the press briefing, Techland informed us that over 500,000 people still play Dying Light on a monthly basis. Because of that, the developers have been trying to deliver a sequel that improves on all aspects. If this demo is a clear picture of the full game, they’ve got a good chance at succeeding. It’s a project of a very ambitious nature and one that I’m very excited for, especially since Techland did a great job supporting the first game, providing challenges, free and paid DLC and more. Dying Light 2 is set to release sometime in 2019 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.