Dying Light 2 takes place 20 years after the first game. You play as Aiden Caldwell, a pilgrim who takes on missions throughout the game world and travels between settlements. Aiden’s main goal in Dying Light 2 is to find his sister Mia but he must survive against both zombies and humans while also fighting to not turn into a zombie himself. Techland has spent the last 7 years building a playground zombies and other enemies that present the player with so many possibilities.
This is a spoiler-free review, but we do have to say that we really enjoy the campaign. We tried to play the game as streamlined as we could but there is so much to explore and enjoy in Dying Light 2. The game starts out a little slow but that is par for the course in a game with unique mechanics like the ones found here. You have to spend a little time getting used to the controls. Once you get past the first hour or so, things really start to open up and the story gets more interesting. There are a ton of characters that you are introduced to, and they have some really interesting personalities and stories. Some of the dialog along makes accepting side missions worth the time. I won’t say that Dying Light 2 is as intricate as Skyrim but the world is expansive and there is a multitude of stories to experience. I can definitely see many people spending hundreds of hours in the world.
A new addition to the Dying Light 2 campaign is the branching decision trees. There are two factions that you will encounter and there will be times when your choices will determine your relationship with either faction. The Peacekeepers or PKs are like the military/police in the game. They are supposed to clean the streets of zombies and protect the people of the town. You also have the people of the Bizaar which are a group of survivors that came together to create a safe space for the people of The City. Early on, it may seem that there is a clear choice between good and evil but everyone here is trying to survive. You have to choose sides, but nothing is cut and dry. Your first few choices may seem like they don’t make much of a difference but they can change your experience down the line. When it comes to how those decisions affect the game world, making choices that favor the Survivors makes traversing the world easier while choosing to help the PKs will give you an advantage in combat. This may be the main area where you will see the consequences of your decisions.
If you are new to the Dying Light series, movement is the name of the game. Walking and exploring on the street levels are definitely a thing but that is not what makes the game exciting. Everything that you know about traversal from the original game is here but there are definite improvements. Tools like the grapple hook and the parachute/glider are a ton of fun to use and they really aid in tackling objectives in different ways. There are times when I just spent time running around the rooftops and completing some of the time trails. You will be unlocking new movements and abilities your entire time of playing the game and they quickly begin to feel natural.
When it comes to leveling your character, there are two areas of focus. One tree focuses on health and combat while the other focuses on stamina and movement. In order to unlock and progress your skill tree, you have to find inhibitors that are scattered throughout the world. Some are easier to access at night since they are located with buildings and others you find during missions. Once you unlock parts of your skill tree, you have to use your abilities in order to obtain points. If you play the game a lot during the night, you get an experience multiplier. I really enjoy games that grant experience while using skills.
When it comes to gear and weapons, there are countless variations at your disposal. Again, Dying Light 2 is all about choice and that is applied to the gear as well. If you want to focus more on stealth, there is gear that can amplify your skills in that area. If you just want to run around the world and constantly engage in combat, look for gear that focuses on Brawler abilities. These traits can also be situational. Some of the stealth attributes may not be as important at night when there are more zombies out and about and you have a limited amount of time before you need to find safe zones.
Dying Light 2 delivers an experience filled with unique traversal, interesting characters, and a ton of areas to explore. You can choose to streamline the story or spend hundreds of hours exploring the expansive map. Fighting hordes of zombies and humans never feels stale and in the long run, this is the most important thing. Once you make it out of the opening hours of the game, the mechanics really start to feel fluid. Stealth is a welcomed addition to the gameplay loop. Depending on your expectations, the story can go either way. The branching decisions may not feel like they have too much consequence but they can change the way that you interact with the world.
So who is this game for? If you were a fan of the first Dying Light game, you will feel right at home here. For some, the story might not hit but you can spend hours just exploring this world and there are interesting characters to meet. Even though this was not a part of the review, the co-op will be a big deal for many players and it looks like it will be a lot of fun. If you want to just focus on the main game, you can get through in about 20-30 hours but there is a lot more time you can spend with the game. I would definitely say that this is game is worth checking out. You can get your hands on Dying Light 2 Stay Human for $59.99.