How do you measure the value of a game to you?
Is it the amount of hours you spend? The amount of hours you could spend? How you feel when playing? Perhaps it’s some other way entirely.
Dying Light 2 unexpectedly found itself in the headlines for being overly generous with its content. The famous ‘it takes 500 hours to complete all of the game’ managed to both excite and intimidate gamers.
That’s because there’s a lot of side objectives. Dying Light 2’s world is jam-packed with things to do. Saving people from blockaded buildings. Finding the right herb for a remedy. Killing a target. That’s on top of a 30 hour story.
So it’s a game that will keep you busy for a long time and that’s in the midst of a host of new products on the market, ranging from shooters to RPGs. I guess where I’m moving towards is this – can you say that what’s on offer is quality?
The answer is mostly yes. Techland have moulded, crafted, and designed this world over years and you can see the level of investment they’ve put into it. Dying Light 2 is not just your typical zombie killer, the story beats are told by some amazing talent like Jonah Scott (who reeeaaally sounds like Nathan Drake) and Rosario Dawson, plus the parkour element is incredibly satisfying.
I might even be bold enough to say – this is the open world Mirror’s Edge you’ve been hoping for. But with zombies, blood, and more wasteland, less futurism.
If this is your first time with Dying Light, don’t worry. As someone who bounced off the original pretty heavily, I didn’t find myself lost or confused at any point. The story is pretty self-contained, focusing on Aiden, a Pilgrim – an outcast survivor who explores the world – as he goes on a mission to find his sister Mia.
It’s been years since they’ve seen each other and their upbringing wasn’t exactly loving. But in a world full of a restless undead, some of which are ferociously oversized and hungry, it’s not going to be as easy as getting from A to B.
And it doesn’t help that people who on one hand seem to offer to help Aiden then, of course, turn out to have their own ulterior motives and goals which don’t always necessarily align with his.
It’s probably the weakest element of the game, truth be told. The whole back and forth quickly gets a bit tedious. Can you trust them? No you can’t. Oh, but here’s a new character can you trust them? Probably not. And someone else, are they trustworthy? Unlikely. I get it’s the kind of world you’re in but you’re whizzing through all these characters at such breakneck pace, you’ll find yourself forgetting about most of them and probably tuning a bit out of the story because you half know where it leads.
And that’s the thing that might surprise you most about Dying Light 2 is that there’s a lot of humans running around, fighting over territory, ready to bludgeon you over the head with a club or knife you in the back. There’s so many factions at play, I genuinely started to lose count.
Sure, there’s zombies too, but mostly when you venture out at night do they rear their head and absolutely kick your ass. Seriously, don’t go out there unless you have to or until you’re ready. It’s brutal!
Dying Light 2 mostly has a good flow, though. Your inventory builds up overtime with new gear for your body that adds benefitical statistics like health regeneration, improved weapon degradation, parkour XP and dexterity. You’ll really need to build this up to last out there, but to be honest, you may also be better off just running.
See, one cool thing Dying Light 2 does is give you Parkour XP everytime you run or jump, so it always feels like you’re improving and developing every step of the way. Likewise, every time you use a weapon or get involved in combat, you’ll earn XP for that. It’s a really dynamic way to keep you active and feels authentic in your personal development
There’s also tons of resources out in the world, so crafting helps you make use of them, whether that’s creating health bandages, molotov cocktails to throw at infected and even lockpicks to bypass previously impassable areas. You can also build UV lights which help ward off the infected, but also your own personal infection.
Oh yeah, about that. Whenever you do go out at night and roam around, you’re immediately on a timer because you have your own infection threatening to take over your body. Once that timer goes down, the infection takes over and it’s game over. So there’s no time to stand around in Dying Light 2, not even least because of the hordes that will chase you down.
That’s why you need UV lights to help guide your way but also once you’re under them the timer resets and you’re back to square one. Of course, you’re free to roam around as you wish in the day time without penalty.
That can, of course, be frustrating. Dying Light 2 is punishing at times and even though you’re still getting tutorials on how to play and do certain things 20 hours in, you can quite easily go off the beaten path and find yourself cornered by some of the game’s worst. Fortunately, it is fair to say the game pretty much supports however you want to play and the world works around you rather than forcing you to do things before you’re ready.
And that really is where Dying Light 2 shines. It’s a massive sandbox world where you can hop between rooftops, swing between ropes and eventually hover in a parachute. Exploration is fun, but to be honest, I avoided combat wherever I could because I just didn’t click with its melee focus. Actually, I found myself quite often wishing I had a gun (even if that wouldn’t be a sensible option in a world where creatures respond to noise)
When fighting you can block incoming attacks, then counterstrike when they’re dazed, but you can also use parkour to hop over an enemies head and dropkick someone behind him. When it comes off, it looks really slick and stylish, but considering it often relies on multi combinations of buttons, implementation is a little bit clunky and you probably pull it off less than you’d like. Overtime you can also add further moves to your arsenal which are equally cool.
Dying Light 2 is a dark game. Fatalities are grisly, with you easily decapitating some foes with your hatchets and mini-axes or slicing open their bodies in some uncomfortable ways. The sights you’ll come across in the world can turn the stomach and more often than not, you’ll find your heart pumping in your chest when you see some of the things chasing you.
But there’s also some surprising puzzle solving to be done at points. For real, it feels like such a long time since I’ve had to try to stretch wires across an abandoned building just to get the power back on.
Dying Light 2 is vast, enjoyable and definitely worth playing. It’s hard to recommend against some of the titles it’s currently up against (and likely others to come) but what it offers is mostly polished content with a solid gameplay flow. Repetition rears its head quickly, though, combat regularly frustrated me, and I definitely found myself more tuned out than in with the game’s story.
+ A world full of things to see and do that will last you ages
+ Parkour and exploring is genuinely enjoyable
+ Gameplay flow is nicely implemented
– Story loses itself quite early on
– Melee combat just didn’t work for me
– Missions start to feel overly familiar and repetition quickly rears its head
Dying Light 2 is out now on Xbox, PC and PlayStation
Played on Xbox Series X
Code Kindly Provided by Techland