Techland presented Culture of gaming and other media outlets with an extended look at Dying Light 2: a “hyper responsive” open world, and post apocalyptic survival/action title. Players in Dying Light 2 take the role of Aiden Caldwell, someone who is technically infected by the zombie disease ravaging the survivors of humanity.

So, how does it play? How does it look? What exactly does Techland mean by a “hyper responsive” open world? Here are my thoughts below.

Gameplay

Starting with the gameplay, the first thing that stood out to me was the navigation and movement through the open world. Aiden really doesn’t have any cool gadgets, so he has to rely on himself and the environment to get where he wants to go. Techland tackled this by implementing what appeared to be a really well done parkour system to navigate the open environment. Things like vaulting, wall running, pipe and fence climbing are ever present. Although, there were a couple surprises as to how far the system could really go. One scene shown off presented a boarded off window on a building, but several of the boards had deteriorated and fallen off, creating a gap that a human could just barely fit through. To my surprise, players will be able to go through these little gaps, as the presentation displayed Aiden swinging himself through the gap, and entering the building. The freedom granted by the parkour system reminded be a lot of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s climbing system, even down to the stamina consumed while climbing. Although not specifically confirmed, Techland did say that character upgrades would be possible, so I presume that you’ll be able to upgrade your stamina bar.

Past the navigation, a fair bit of combat was shown off. Primarily melee focused, the combat appeared quite intense. Positional damage has been implemented, so for example if an arm was struck with a blade, it would fall off. The degree of dismemberment depends on what kind of weapon you use. One criticism I do have, and it might have been for demo purposes, is that it seemed like you would only really have to fight one enemy at a time. What I mean by this is despite being in a group of enemies, it seemed like enemies with melee weapons would just attack you one at a time. Almost Assassin’s Creed 2 style. This “1v1” style seemed present when surrounded by human enemies, but also present when faced with a horde of zombies. But, to the zombie’s credit, they rush you rapidly enough that cutting through them one by one might not be the best idea, so utility usage like the UV light may be necessary to create an escape route.

Near the end of the presentation, one ranged weapon was demonstrated for use by the player. Freshly grabbed off a downed enemy, Aiden picked up a spear gun, which was capable of killing enemies in one shot. Also near the end of the demo, a sort of boss battle was shown off. Aiden was faced against a heavily armored opponent, and the enemy was able to withstand or counter most normal attacks being thrown at him. To defeat the boss, it required the use of comboing the parkour movement with attacks in order to increase the power behind the player’s swings. Using this method, Aiden was able to dispatch the boss. This seemed to encourage players to get creative, and while this method of combat was only shown off for this one sequence, I can’t imagine why this mechanic wouldn’t be present for the other combat scenarios.

Choices And Story

As previously mentioned, one of Techland’s largest selling points for Dying Light 2 is the hyper responsive world. What they mean by that is that almost every choice the player is presented with has not only story ramifications, but also environmental ramifications as well. The environmental effects may not be limited to just the clear choices made during the story or side missions. Although somewhat tight lipped, the game director all but confirmed that certain actions in the world may help out various factions, and by doing so, their presence would be ever apparent, and the changes that they bring with them is for us to find out.

Relating to the story choices, some major ones and some minor ones were shown off. Certain choices are on a timer. The first minor choice we were presented with had a timer attached to it, but the major choice at the end of the showcase didn’t have a timer. Techland was adamant to say that even the minor choices can change the environment, but in more well, minor ways. While the major choices will significantly impact things. While we were only given a teaser for this part, the result of the major choice made at the end of the presentation resulted in an entirely new area being opened up, as well as new, more powerful enemies to be faced with.

Techland’s goal is for everyone’s Dying Light 2 world to be different in at least some ways from others. No two players should ever get the same experience. Furthermore, the choices had an immediate and obvious affect of locking out the other side of content. Hours and hours woth of content will never be accessible in that play through because of a decision made by the player. This isn’t to say that the game begins to become short on content, but rather the choices made will lockout significant parts for that play through, because quite simply, that’s not the path that was chosen by the player, and the chosen path has plenty of content as well.

Graphics and Style

Dying Light 2 is a very pretty game. The photo-realistic graphics are solid, and the game quite easily looks like a modern product. Style wise, Dying Light 2 seems to nail it as well. The ruined buildings and style of outposts and bases used by the survivors are all consistent, and seem to match well with the world. One interesting point is how reminiscent of medieval castles a lot of the outposts and structures occupied by the survivors.  This medieval style became obvious when pointed out. For example, the latter half of the mission previewed took place in what was almost literally a castle surrounded by a moat, and accessible only by drawbridge.

Another stylistic choice apparent is the light and dark aspects of the environment. Naturally or artificially lit areas are almost guaranteed to be occupied by humans, while areas shrouded in darkness are almost guaranteed to contain zombies. This contrast is played with a little bit gameplay wise. As previously mentioned, one piece of utility is a throwable UV light, that stuns zombies when exposed to it. This is just an example of how consistent Techland is with the rules it establishes in Dying Light 2.

Past this, there’s not too much more to say about Dying Light 2’s style, from what we were shown at least.

Final Thoughts

Dying Light 2 seems to be a very well executed game, and aims to push the boundaries of what’s possible with open world story telling. I must admit I remain a bit skeptical of the choice system, as I do favor games that despite choices, still convey an overarching story. But that’s absent in Dying Light 2. Instead of trying to tell at least some semblance of a pre-determined story, Dying Light 2  is all about letting the player make their story. The gameplay is visceral, fast and smooth. Some minor quirks aside, it seems to handle very well, and I look forward to the release of Dying Light 2. 

For more E3 2019 Coverage, keep it here at Culture of Gaming where we’ll bring you more written as well as video content from the show floor.

Special thank you for Performance Lab for sponsoring our trip, as well as a thank you to Techland for showing us Dying Light 2.

 

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