E3 2019: Dying Light 2 Preview
So many options for dealing with parkour zombies.
06.12.19 - 3:59 PM
After Dying Light 2 premiered at E3 last year, Techland are back this year to showcase even more of their parkour, open-world adventure game. The studio showed off a presentation and brand new gameplay demo at this year's show, and the focus is very much on choice and consequences. This is not a simple matter of choosing when to venture out and/or fight the infected — day or night — at all. In Dying Light 2, major plot events and even locations can be opened or completely closed off based on your decisions, and those choices are not just limited to conversation options. There is even greater choice in how you approach the infected, as they retreat during the day and can only be found in "dark zones" until nightfall. Whether you seek them out is your choice, unless you happen to be traveling nearby and they hear you...
In an effort to improve and evolve from the last game, the focus in Dying Light 2 is on influencing the fate of the city through not just the player's interactions and dialogue, but through gameplay itself. In a city with major factions competing for space and resources (and more urgently, a depleted water supply), Aiden (the main character) is meant to give the player the chance to utilize their moral compass. You choose when and how Aiden interacts with any given group, and even when things seem to be going a certain way, there are opportunities to steer the course of events in other directions; consequences go beyond joining or directing any one faction.
The mission in this current demo, tracking a truck after an attack and meeting a character called The Colonel, is also vastly altered by gameplay elements themselves. Small matters like how you get to your destination (we were treated to a stressful fall into a large "dark zone" full of zombies after choosing to sneakily jump in a certain direction and missing) and how much time you allocate to your objectives can change how the scenario plays out. What was supposed to be a calm negotiation between groups for water access turns into a stealth mission, showing off some of the game's many tactical options, including a hookshot and wall running, along with a preview of the game's weapon system. There are a variety of armaments to choose from, or possibly steal, all with different reliability; you can also use crafting to make your weapons even better. It's also good to know that if you happen to pick up a gun, you can use it as a bludgeoning weapon when you're out of ammo. The atmosphere is truly tense, and once Aiden finds his way to the Colonel, it's clear that other choices could have possibly resulted in a very different demo.
After the demo, we sat down with Marc Albinet, one of the Game Directors working on Dying Light 2, who had a lot to share on just what has changed since the first game. Customization has improved tenfold since the first game, and you have the ability to steal weapons from other enemies. Weapons can break after too much use, so you need to be able to adapt on the fly and make the best out of every situation, and some customization will make your weapons both more durable and stronger. You can also customize how Aiden looks, even right down to what weapons and gear you can see on him, from grappling hooks to parachutes.
In terms of skills, Aiden learns a variety of different abilities throughout the course of the game. There are seven main districts, and in each one, Aiden will learn different skills to help him progress through each area. You don't spend skill points to improve each ability; instead, your skills improve as you use them. This means you can choose not only how to change the story, but also what your version of Aiden specialises in. There's always more than one way to progress through the game, so even if you don't have access to every skill, you can utilize your other abilities to make your way through each area.
For a game with a huge number of choices, one playthrough of Dying Light 2 looks to be between 15-20 hours, but this doesn't cover everything the game has to offer. Albinet confirmed that one single playthrough will only show around 50% of the game's content, so it's worth going back and picking different options and scenarios just to see what parts of the world and gameplay open up.
Dying Light 2 is due for release in Spring 2020 on Windows, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The amount of freedom available to the player is staggering, right down to how you progress through the game. We're bound to learn more in the coming months as Techland wind up for the full release, and we look forward to seeing just how much Aiden's actions affect the entire experience early next year.
Written by Alana Hagues and Hilary Andreff