E3 2018: Behind closed doors – Dying Light 2

Dying Light 2 is a bolder, bigger sequel with a lot of attention paid to player choice. In a behind closed doors session lead designer at Techland Tymon Smektala talked us through a section of Dying Light 2 and the world that players will find themselves in. Dying Light 2 has been in development for a long time in secret. Dying Light was released 3 years ago and reached an audience of 30 million players with half a million players still logging on weekly to play the game, even so long after release.

The sequel started with an idea: the setting is called the modern dark ages. It has been 15 years since humanity lost its war against the infected and the world is a dark, lawless place with no morals and no governments. The world has collapsed and you are trying to rise it out of the ashes. The game is set in a fictional European city, a place that was once rich and beautiful is now the last place on Earth still struggling against the infected. Dying Light 2 keeps the parkour, melee combat and day and night system of the previous game while adding variety and extra systems into the game. Improved parkour with new movies, parkour melee attacks, more weapon mods and more are waiting in Dying Light 2.

In the day, the infected hide away from the damaging sunlight, or they die or become weak degenerates, which can be disposed of easily. The game is still brutal, with axes cleaving zombie heads clean off. While the infected hide in dark nests, bandits roam the streets, making it dangerous. In the dark of big buildings, there is loot to go find, but there are many infected in the way. Sometimes it is better to explore these buildings at night when the infected go out into the street. Light, noise and proximity cause the infected to wake up and a chandelier falls into a shop full of infected and mannequins.

A new element in the game is the narrative sandbox, where choices you make while playing the game could affect the entire city. From pushing a guard off a high tower to siding with criminals and letting them sell fresh water to those around them, there will be many choices you have to make or are forced to make when failing missions, that will change the structure of the city. In the gameplay demo (which is set early on in the game) the player chooses to give control of a water tower to the peacekeepers, brutally killing the bandits in the tower.

Shooting time forward a bit, the developers show how the city has changed, with alterations to the skyline and nearby buildings. More infrastructure has been added to help the heavily armoured Peacekeepers get around and hooks and chutes help you get around the city easier. The areas are also patrolled by friendly forces and the water fountains work, where you can go replenish health with a drink of cool water. On the downside, Peacekeepers have heavy hands and strict law enforcement processes that seem to have forgotten that trials happen before a verdict is reached, hanging people for crimes based wholly on the word of a Peacekeeper. To help with the task of writing a narrative with so many moving parts Techland is making use of the talents of Chris Avellone to get the story flowing and shape the dark world. The writers who did The Witcher 3‘s Bloody Baron questline are also on board to help flesh out this city and its various stories.

Then the developers switched to what things look like if you side with the bandits. In this city, the area is in shambles and you have to find your own way around with no new infrastructure being added to the city. People are forced to wait in line and pay for water to survive and new elements have moved into the area as the Peacekeepers have left this region of the city to its own devices and ruin. In their place, there is a massive black market now, a place to get whatever you want to buy. Because you helped the bandits create this new business, you can collect a cut from your new business partners.

The game now has a stamina bar for parkour elements, allowing for parkour puzzles. One such puzzle is getting to the top of a water tower, a perilous trek up the inside and outside of a barricaded structure. Players will have to manage their stamina by moving as little as possible and completing tasks in a short period of time. Waiting too long while hanging on a ledge drains stamina, as does lifting yourself or jumping to a nearby handhold or ledge. Finding a quick route to a ledge to regenerate stamina is key, meaning looking around to find the best way forward or upward. Dying Light 2 has double the number of parkour elements, allowing for new ways to get around the city, like swinging on ropes, knife slides down advertising banners and using trees as emergency stops on the way down.

Oh, and if you like numbers, the game is four times bigger than all of Dying Light’s content combined.

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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