The first Dying Light was an open world survival game based mostly on smooth parkour-inspired movements, brutal hand-to-hand combat, and a unique day-night cycle that features action-packed gameplay style and more careful camouflage throughout the day. based style at night to avoid the much stronger and more aggressive volatile zombies.
Based on my four hours of playtime with a preview build of Dying Light 2, it’s certainly more of it, but developer Techland has obviously put a lot of effort into addressing many of the problems from the previous game while completely reinventing some fundamental pillars of design – Ultimately, building a game that so far feels like the natural next step for the franchise, and feels like something that establishes its own unique identity.
Dying Light 2: First practical preview screenshots
The first thing I really noticed about Dying Light 2 was its world. The original’s open world was a highlight as it was designed as a playground for your parkour skills, but it was so realistic that it didn’t have any real visual style. That changes in Dying Light 2, set 20 years after the collapse of society. Humanity has fallen back into a modern Middle Ages, and nowhere is this more evident than in the bazaar, which serves as the primary safe zone in Old Villedor, the place where most of my gaming session took place.
The bazaar is actually just a big church in the middle of Old Villedor that a group of survivors made their home by fortifying its walls, adding small farms and turning the inside into a real makeshift town with shops, armories, hand-painted wooden signs – along with scattered UV lights to ward off the infected. Much like any of the big cities you’d see from the Fallout series, the bazaar oozes its own culture and personality, between the images of the church, the sweaters and hoods worn by its residents that are very clearly medieval Chainmail look, and the near utter lack of technology that drive the modern dark age theme home.
The world outside of the bazaar also looks very different. There’s a really big dichotomy with the ground floor and top floors of Old Villedor. On the ground floor it is a wasteland. There are tons of zombies, brown and gray stripes and all remnants of an abandoned society. However, if you look at the rooftops, you’ll find greenery as far as the eye can see, with trees and overgrown grass all lining the roofs of the ramshackle buildings, as well as survival camps that can be powered by rickety windmills that will help keep you safe To create zones with UV light that fend off the infected.
I was also able to look at a later neighborhood called the Central Loop, which traded the smaller residential buildings of Old Villedor in favor of gigantic skyscrapers that could only be traversed by the new paraglider, zip lines, and pulleys.
Whatever environment I played in, I had a lot of fun getting around. Jumping feels a bit more floating this time, which took a bit of getting used to, but ultimately enabled very precise platforming and very cool, death-defying jumps over gaps in the roof that always felt very satisfying, especially when running. There’s no sprint button, so basically you gain speed by keeping your swing high, which provides a nice incentive to make your parkour as smooth as possible.
The fluidity of movement is only part of the puzzle. Dying Light also stands out from other similar zombie survival games because of its brutal hand-to-hand combat, which feels largely the same here in the sequel. Speaking to Tymon Smektala, the lead designer on Dying Light 2, he told me that one of the goals this time around was to combine parkour and combat so players wouldn’t just run to an encounter, stop, kill all enemies, and then continue their way. To that end, one of the earliest skills you can get in Dying Light 2 is the ability to skip over an enemy and kick another in the face, causing them to blow up. Unfortunately, I’m not delved deep enough into the skill tree to really be able to say how successful Dying Light 2 will be in achieving this specific goal, but nonetheless, the fight seems impactful, action-packed and, thanks to a ton of creative options, an extensive arsenal of modifiable melee weapons, craftable tools and upgradeable skills.
The only thing that has changed completely from the previous game is the day-night cycle. Smektala told me that they realized that a lot of players didn’t get involved in the night in the first game for various reasons. Some found it too hard, too scary, or didn’t really understand why they should bother.
To address this, Techland is making the incentives to explore during the night clearer and clearer. During the day, many infected people hide in buildings, which makes them very dangerous to explore. At night, however, the infected will go and take to the streets, with the interiors largely unguarded and the valuables found inside being much easier to find. Then there are side missions that can only be completed at night, and special open-world events such as GRE Anomalies, which are mini-boss fights against powerful infected people.
In addition, hanging around at night is not quite as dangerous or scary as in the past. Volatile substances no longer just roam the city – or at least not in my experience. Instead, there are special infected so-called Howlers that will alert the Horde of your presence if they spot you, triggering a GTA-like multi-stage chase that will force you to either run away and break the line of sight or get up and fight until there is no one left to hunt. However, the longer you stay within the reach of the infected, the more your tracking meter will fill up, with each new level bringing more and more dangerous threats until it finally comes to level four, where you are in big trouble.
The final pillar of Dying Light 2’s design that wasn’t there in the first game is that its choices have ramifications, both in terms of story and actual gameplay. I came across several points during my playing time where I was offered the choice to side with one faction or the other, and while I can’t really tell how much those choices have affected the overall narrative, they seemed pretty dramatic. Like deciding whether to share valuable information with the survivors at the bazaar or to return that information to law-enforcing peacekeepers.
You can also capture certain facilities and choose to give control to the peacekeepers or the survivors, each choice having its own set of benefits and advantages. When you give control to the peacekeepers, you are rewarded with some sort of combat-related advantage, such as: For example: ziplines that make it easier to ride on the roof in the area. The more you join a particular faction, the more powerful the perks you will acquire.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human – Dying to Know Screenshots
All in all, I had a lot of fun with Dying Light 2 during my time. My four hours of gameplay were pretty much exclusively focused on main quest content, so unfortunately I didn’t have much opportunity to take a look at the multitude of side quests, side activities and challenges, but at first glance it’s clear that Dying Light 2 will be a huge game that will also be playable cooperatively again. We’ll soon see how it all plays out when Dying Light 2 releases on the PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series consoles on February 4th, 2022.
Mitchell Saltzman is IGN’s editorial producer. You can find him on Twitter @JurassicRabbit