Dying Light: The Following
Announced in May 2013, the original Dying Light was released in January 2015 for Microsoft Windows, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One by developer Techland. It was well received as you took on the role of Kyle Crane, an undercover agent sent into the Turkish city of Harran during a viral outbreak that has caused the Harran Defense Ministry to quarantine the entire city. Inside the city is a maze of buildings and favela type cities that you navigate via parkour running and jumping. Unfortunately, the outbreak has caused the dead to rise and attach anything they can get their teeth on. You spend your time between trying to help survivors and deal with the local political leader gone bad.
Dying Light: The Following is the standalone expansion to the original, and was released on February 9th. I have to admit I’m hooked. Even after playing the entire first game and completing the expansion I still find myself spending time with this gem either doing side missions or just zombie bashing.
The story for The Following picks up relatively soon with our protagonist Kyle Crane still in Harran helping those who are trying to survive, while trying to still find a cure, scavenge supplies, and and maintain a stock of Antizin. Antizin is the drug given via injection to keep people who have been infected from turning, and sadly for the Harran, it’s getting very scarce. Kyle and the survivors happen across an injured stranger who, in his delusional state, claims there’s an infection free group of survivors where he came from. Kyle follows the stranger’s trail back to an outback type countryside where he finds the source of the rumor for immunity. A group, called the Children of the Sun, claims their leader “The Mother” is the source of this cure through belief and loyalty. She is followed by a select group, or inner circle, known as the Faceless. Kyle is reluctant to believe, but given the dire straits his friends are in he’ll venture anything to save them. To earn the cure Kyle must prove his worth with the Children of the Sun by completing missions and proving he’s not just an outsider.
Everything they’ve done for this expansion has been a winner in my opinion. First off the countryside is completely different from the tall buildings and tight corridors in the cityscapes of Harran. The area itself is roughly twice the size of both the maps in the original Dying Light combined. Sprawling farmlands as far as you can see with limited cover, or even cars to hide on top of. There are few safe zones and limited number of hunter’s blinds you can climb up for a breather if necessary though. Herds of zombies are everywhere and you have to use your smarts vs. abilities to get you where you need to be… until you get your buggy. That’s right folks, you now get a fully customizable buggy to help you traverse the massive landscape and smash lots of dead things.
The buggy itself, has its own skill tree that let you upgrade different perks and abilities. Anything from a shock cage, to a scoop on the front, or flamethrowers; basically anything twisted you want to do a zombie they’ve given you the ability to use in car form. With the buggy does come some new challenges. First off you need to constantly be on the lookout for fuel and parts. The buggy follows the same principle as the weapons you craft; they will eventually break down and need to be repaired. Sadly if you take your starter ride and try to cut a bloody swath through every group of zombies, or the harder armored giants, you quickly find yourself very dead (as I did), or that your car is broken down and you’re surrounded trying to repair your engine and escape. The buggies come even more into play at night when the hunters come out and the zombies become faster and harder to kill. The night hunters can literally flip your ride over or jump on it as your driving and attack. Since the “Be the Zombie” has carried over also you’ll find invading players will try and keep you from your vehicles or take them out quickly. Thankfully, the game still support 4-player co-op so at night a group of 4 with decent powered buggies can actually make an impressive stand at night. Personally, my buggy has an ability which temporarily turns it into a UV safe zone, while my buddy has one with a car alarm that can be remotely set off to attract zombies, then another to flambé them with torches when they get too close.
Like I stated this game still supports your save from the original Dying Light and also the ability to play with friends (up to 4). It’s the same drop in and drop out mechanic we’re familiar with, but the new expansion adds a difficulty called Nightmare that makes it almost a requirement for some help from your homies. Night time last considerably longer, creatures are faster, more deadly and the little bastards will dodge your melee attacks like they’re doing a River Dance. This wouldn’t be so frustrating except that on Nightmare mode everything you do physically costs stamina. So before on Normal difficulty you could run head long into a group of zombies swinging away, now you need to pick your strikes lest you find yourself out of breath and unable to run or climb from those gnashing teeth. Why would you subject yourself to something like that? Well, on top of the difficulty making you want to punch a kitten it does offset this by dropping more rare items, weapons, and parts. Think of the difficulty similar to Diablo. The normal mode is good, but if you want the best and rarest items you need to play a harder difficulty.
Now a new story, vehicles, maps, and missions are all great, but Techland has done a few more things here. Not only are there said vehicles, but the expansion introduces new characters, a new story campaign, new weapons, side quests, daily challenges, and even some new gameplay mechanics. Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced Edition includes this expansion, the original Dying Light game, and ALL of the downloadable content released for the original game. I simply can’t recommend this game enough. So if you’re into zombies, carnage, and things that go bump in the night, the new enhanced edition of Dying Light: The Following has something for you undead lovers to really sink your teeth into. Happy hunting.