Although still very much a traditional zombie game, Dying Light 2 is attempting to embed itself in the RPG genre by focusing on systems-led design.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, the game’s Chief Creative Officer Adrian Ciszewski expanded on Techland’s aim to translate RPG choice into action-oriented gameplay.
Firstly, he explained that helping particular factions will directly affect zombie population numbers in the open world. Whenever a player impacts how a faction behaves, it will drive zombies to different areas. For example, if the player helps the Peacekeepers in clearing out the streets, then zombies will be driven into a new location.
The zombie’s migratory nature can cause extreme knock-on effects. By stabilising one area of the city, a player may inadvertently push another into chaos. These new areas may hold important side quests or vendors, and the influx of zombies may decimate the local human population.
However, by being aware of this dynamic world state, players at a lower level can manipulate the system to explore tougher areas early. Players can drive zombies into areas or increase living people’s interest in an area to implicitly herd zombies. Ciszewski explains as follows:
“So, in one part of the city, for example, there might be a lot of zombies—even during the day—because there are no people. But, if you make people interested in this location, there won’t be as many zombies, so the difficulty level will drop. It’s up to you, as you have the tools to manipulate these things.”
The result is a system that ignores the genre’s reliance on level-gating, as well as creating tangible consequences. Player choice will affect not just the area they inhabit at a time, but the way in which they interact with the city.
With Chris Avellone on board, Dying Light 2 has taken a more refined direction than its predecessor. When exploring a world thrust into a “modern dark ages,” players will need to be constantly aware of consequence. Exploring this idea further, Ciszewski stated that:
“[Techland’s] vision for choices and consequences is different. We’re creating a sandbox experience on the gameplay side […] We’re thinking about choices and consequences as a gameplay, as a narrative sandbox—not just picking a dialogue choice in a cutscene and branching the story.”