In a sub-genre as tired as the undead, the original Dying Light dropkicked open a door of possibilities. Techland’s step away from the Dead Island franchise felt sent to die with its late January 2015 release date. So, when the game launched to critical praise and stronger-than-expected sales, the studio was a bit stunned. From here, the game’s fanbase was willing to let Techland take the wheel with off-the-wall ideas; the team had already proven itself.
There may have been a few bumps in the road, but the foundation that the first game laid out was more than enough to give fans a reason to come back for more. Techland’s realization that the future was at its fingertips is exactly what led to the birth of what Dying Light 2 has come to be.
Based on what we have seen so far, Techland seems to be shoveling ambitious idea after ambitious idea into its sequel magnum opus. The promised narrative consequences are, without a doubt, Dying Light 2’s crown jewel in terms of the game’s additions to the series. Entire sections of the game’s map and unique enemies may be locked away for an entire playthrough with a single button press. Others have toyed with this idea in other choice-based games, but what Techland has here laughs at the feeble attempts of gaming’s past. One might think locking away a game’s worth of content behind one choice is a waste of time, as many players may play through the game without seeing the blood that went into a chunk of development time.
Techland says it is not interested in the experience as a whole, trusting loyal fans to go back and experience what they might have missed out on. For them, it is about the experience of having an impact on its world at large. Making a change in a society trying to rebuild itself after the end of the world is the zombified heart of Dying Light 2’s bright promises.
If the proposals teased so far are not revolutionary enough to whet your appetite yet, keep in mind Dying Light 2’s story is, arguably, probably only a small percentage of what makes up the entire game. In the original title, locations were largely boring, foreign city streets filled with drab aesthetics, but what sat perched above the hordes of zombies was the ability to use parkour as a means of traversal and combat. Dying Light was never about the story, characters, or the world in which it took place because Techland made a zombie game that made clobbering the undead as fun as it should be. This same mantra holds true in Dying Light 2, where parkour-based gameplay returns with a few noticeable upgrades. In fact, the studio says it has “doubled the number of parkour moves.”
We could spend hours going over all of the parkour enhancements teased so far, so just know that traversal options in the game appear to be more dynamic than anyone could have hoped for. Better yet, it looks like the game has also seen some needed visual improvements, too. Combat follows a similar trend where everything just looks like the next logical step in the series’ evolution, but the differences shown so far seem to primarily highlight the way the combat feels rather than new inclusions.
Dying Light 2 is poised to be the game developers dream about: unshackled, unsheathed, pure creativity. With Square Enix set as the game’s publisher, the team even has the backing of one of gaming’s biggest names. In July, OnlySP published a story where Techland commented on some of the thoughts it had going into Dying Light 2’s development: “From the first game, what we got was confidence to believe in our ideas.” From first-hand experience, I am elated to report that Techland’s joyous confidence is stupid-contagious. Everything we have seen so far could certainly turn out to be empty promises, but my gut is telling me that Dying Light 2 is going to be one of 2020’s most special games, specifically because of the promises that it will be able to keep. As someone who loathed many of the problems that plagued Dead Island, I cannot wait to get my hands on Dying Light 2.