Just over a year ago Techland released one of their most ambitious projects ever, Dying Light. Not only did it mesh two very strong genres, action and horror, but it also did a great job integrating many difficult game mechanics. Its focus on melee combat, parkour and all-out zombie warfare, made Dying Light a significant entry into the zombie library of video games. Now, amidst all the DLC drama that usually floats around, Techland has released a new expansion and a “GOTY” version, titled Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition. Is this new expansion with your money?
First up, I won’t dive into Dying Light. It is part of the edition, but Jarred already covered it a year ago and considering all the torture he had to endure to review it, I don’t want to outshine his work. This review will focus primarily on The Following expansion pack. You can read the original review here.
Kyle hits the countryside
No, not me, that sub-heading would be a reference to Kyle Crane, our hero that refuses to take no for an answer. Following the events at the end of Dying Light, Kyle and Lena (one of the main characters in Dying Light) meets a man who claims people in a nearby settlement are immune to the plague. Since they’re running out of Antizin (a type of temporary treatment for the infected), Kyle decides to investigate this claim. His journey in The Following begins on top of a mountain overlooking lots of farmland. There he meets a group of survivors who tell him about a cult, The Children of the Sun, who might have a cure. And that’s where I’m leaving the story.
The moment you step out onto the mountain overlooking the new area, you just know this place is going to be huge. And it really is. There are acres and acres of farm land, a small town, loads of tiny houses, beaches, dams, a mountain, an island, a haunted house (I’m pretty sure that was an easter egg, though) and a lot of other stuff. This expansion is not small and it’s not the usual 3 hour grind I’m used to. In fact, it took me 13 hours to finish, that’s 3 hours less than it took me to finish the main game. It is PACKED with content and it is by no means a crappy cash in; Techland worked on making this a hit, and it is.
Bring on the buggy
To combat the massive size and scale of the world, the buggy was introduced. It’s a small vehicle that doubles as a zombie slaying machine. It’s difficult to drive around in at first, but once you upgrade it and keep it healthy, the buggy makes a wonderful and handy tool to keep in your arsenal. There are some challenges around the buggy, like Bilal’s races, but it’s also useful in story missions, specifically chases. You can also mow down hordes of zombies that are in your way, to make sure things are a little easier for you. The only snag is the wear and tear. Just like your weapons, the buggy and its parts need to be repaired. Scavenging for goods will prove useful. You’ll also need to scavenge fuel – this is a survival horror after all. The good news is, there are hundreds of wrecked cars that you can scavenge from, so it’s never really an issue.
A balancing act
One of my fears about the expansion, and the use of the buggy, is that it would take over from the mechanics that were established in the main game. While there is more focus on using the buggy, it doesn’t take away from the “run, fight and climb” that we all grew to love. It supplements the game rather than making it outshine others. Don’t get me wrong, the buggy really is insanely useful, without it, you’ll be running for ages.
What didn’t quite work for me was the difficulty. I found the start of the game insanely difficult. You’re pitted against bandits armed with guns, very early in the game. Although you do retain your level and skills, you might not have ammo, or a gun, to fight them. I lost quite a few times before getting it right. The zombies were fine, it’s the human enemies that seemed unusually difficult to kill. Another toughie were Volatile Nests. By eliminating these, Volatile activity at night decreases. The problem is that destroying them is incredibly difficult to do solo. It almost feels like you’re forced to deal with them in co-op. I’m not a co-op fan, so I didn’t like this at all.
Keeping all the good stuff
Difficulty issues aside, the expansion expands on all the good from Dying Light. It’s still gorgeous to look at, even the zombies, and there weren’t that many bugs this time either. The sound effects are still top-notch, with volatile howls and zombie moans taking the lead as the main source of my goosebumps. Night time is still pretty freaky, even though I don’t find it that scary. Trying to out-manoeuvre a volatile only to get mauled by some other zom, well, that’s night-life for you. The main story isn’t fairly long, but there are a lot of distractions in the form of side missions, bounties, buggy (the vehicle) racing challenges and the usual scavenging.
All in all, Dying Light – The Following is a great expansion. It’s well executed, huge, filled with content and develops the game even further. It’s not quite a sequel, but it’s definitely something you should get if you enjoyed the main game. And if you haven’t played it, this edition includes both the main and expansion, which is great value.