E3 2019 Preview – Dying Light 2, Choose Your Own Adventure

Its not a big surprise that the game that got the most attention was Cyberpunk 2077. Between it being the next massive installment from CD Projekt Red, an extremely detailed RPG, and of course Keanu Reeves, it’s natural it would be getting the most attention. Throw in a bit of controversy with a transsexual poster and you got a perfect recipe for journalists to write about. I must say, Cyberpunk 2077 looks fantastic and I loved the gameplay I saw, but one of the best showings I witnessed was Dying Light 2. Not only is it a sequel to one of the best zombies games of late, it has really grown in mechanics and story telling.

The vibe I got from the Dying Light 2 demo is that its story is essentially a “choose your own adventure” book. The preview showed off a lot about its updates on the gameplay and story telling, and while a mission was shown off, the characters meant little to me without more context. I won’t bother getting into those details because I doubt they will matter to you either. What should be getting you hyped and interested in this title is the fact that your decisions have real impact and will drastically alter your game. I know a lot of games have told us that and only a few have really pulled it off well, but I think Dying Light 2 is bringing it to another level.

Dying Light 2

Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble, and if I stay it will be double.

In the demo, there were multiple choices you can make. They varied in importance and how much it will change the game, but all had a cause and effect. The demo starts with a conflict between your friendly faction and a rival. The rivals have come into the base and a scuffle breaks out giving us our first look at the combat. On the surface the combat looks very similar to the first, using make-shift looking weapons and attaching mods onto them for added damage or effects. After the fight ends it turns out your leader was shot and you must make a decision to chase after the escaped attackers or stay with him and possibly save his life. Now, I have no connection to this character at this point, but during the full game perhaps this decision would be harder.

The demo decides to follow the escaped attackers and now you must user your parkour skills to follow the van. Here we got to see the impressive advancements to this system between the animations and additional moves. Being able to grab onto a door frame and kick through the opening will make escapes and breaking through enemies blocking your way much easier. Pushing a zombie off an edge with you and landing on them will reduce fall damage from greater heights. Jumping through construction sites offer additional ways to move around like ropes to grab and swing on, scaffolding to jump through, and lightly boarded walls can be broken through. Unfortunately, construction sites can also be dangerous as we saw our hero fall through a weak floor into a dark basement filled with zombies. Defensive parkour comes in handy here being able to kick, shove, slide, wall run, and jump on and over the zombies. You also have a limited use UV flashlight that will stun the zombies in their tracks.

Dying Light 2

You can’t always rely on it, but the UV Flashlight can get you out of a pinch.

After escaping from the pit of death we get to see more additions to how we will move around the world. The grappling hook will be an extremely valuable tool to have not only for opening up additional paths, but also for quick escapes. Couple the grappling hook with the new glider and you have yourself a quick way to travel across long distances. As we are gliding above the buildings you can notice that some of the buildings roofs are covered in grass. The developer said that you’ll be using the roofs for agriculture and that you’ll be able to decide what to grow. They didn’t go into any details on that, but mentioned they’ll have more on that later.

As you get close to boarding the van, you get a radio message saying your leader has died. This will greatly change your home base and other things that your leader was doing. This news could also effect your decisions with the escaped rival you now need to interrogate. Depending on what you say and how you treat this person, when you arrive back at his base you’ll be able to convince him to not raise the alarms allowing you to sneak in. Otherwise, you’ll need to blast your way in. Apparently this rival clan controls the aqueduct that provides water to the survivors and your base is on the verge of dehydration. Regardless of how you get to the pump room, you’ll be confronted by the leader of the rival gang. He tries to convince you that he has a reason for not releasing the water and your now dead leader is manipulating you. You either decide to trust him and change the entire course of your game by killing the people you have become close with. Or you release the water.

In the demo they showed us what happens when you release the water and I was shocked and what I saw. As the water drained, it revealed an entire section of the map that wasn’t accessible before that is covered in moss and underwater grime. Not only that, but it also unleashed an entirely new type of enemy that was fished based. It was just a tease, but we saw an arm with scales, webbing between the fingers, and spiked defenses. This option will drastically change your story, missions, enemies, and locations to explore and it is completely missable depending on what you would have chosen throughout this mission.

This is what intrigued me the most about Dying Light 2, what will my decisions change about the world and story. The decisions have massive effects and apparently you’ll only be able to experience 50% of the game with one playthrough. Very much like the “choose your own adventure” books, what you pick could have you skip entire sections of story, characters, enemies, weapons, and even parts of the map. This puts true weight on your decisions and I can’t wait to see how Techland leverages this against the player. It’s like having a Quantic Dream type branching story, but with fantastic gameplay that has evolved the already solid gameplay from the original.

Developer: Techland

Release Date: Jun 30, 2020

Platforms: PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One