After numerous postponements finally appears in a few days, two years late, with Dying Light 2 – Stay Human the long-awaited sequel to the zombie parcours hit from Polish studio Techland. What lasts long, finally becomes good?
Update: Now with story
Dying Light Was praised by many at the time of its release. But the story was rarely mentioned in a bigger way. The developers at Techland wanted to change this and got Chris Avellone (u.a. Fallout-franchise) and some storywriters from CD Projekt RED, who are already working on the game The Witcher III: Wild Hunt with well-known support on board – and this was a wise decision. One of the big pluses of Stay Human is namely its story and how it presents itself.
In Dying Light 2 – Stay Human we first learn that the events of the predecessor are twenty years in the past and the world has virtually perished. A zombie virus has taken over and wiped out much of human civilization as we know it. All remaining humans are also infected with this virus, but can prevent or delay the outbreak of the disease by skillful use of their so-called biomarkers (i.e. bracelets that inform about the degree of infection in real time) as well as the consumption of certain mushrooms and the use of UV radiation – but more about that later on. In this bleak world, we now meet Aiden Caldwell, who is searching for his missing sister Mia. He is a so-called pilgrim, who – usually – doesn’t stay anywhere for a long time and leaves great distances behind him, exposing himself (unintentionally) to great dangers again and again. The "profession" of the pilgrims is not particularly popular with the people, but useful. Are pilgrims after all traveled far, can give an overview of other settlements and could for errands and unpleasant disputes sometime still become useful. This is reminiscent in some ways of Witcher from the video game series of the same name.
Quests, quests, quests
His search soon leads Aiden to one of the last, larger, civilized human settlements. This is called Villedor and is sarcastically referred to as "Paradise" by Hakon, a resident friend of the place. Once in Villedor, Aiden soon learns that there are, broadly speaking, two major factions: The Peacemakers and the Survivors. Both are always in conflict with each other, which Aiden can use for his purposes. In order to find his sister, the pilgrim must – contrary to what he actually wants and had planned – repeatedly interfere in the concerns of the inhabitants. In the process, however, he gets to know them better and better and learns numerous stories that come nicely packaged in quests.
These are often difficult to assess in their scope. Namely, sometimes quests end very quickly and abruptly, and sometimes they fan out further and further, rapidly gaining speed in the process. Basically, these are always the heart and engine of the sequel and (therefore) place great emphasis on the detailed fleshing out of the characters with their fates and their peculiarities.
Did someone say Open World?
Dying Light 2 is an open world game and doesn’t reinvent anything in this respect either. Villedor in its districts presents itself very classically in this respect. There are even "towers" that have to be/can be unlocked as bases. Here one notices very clearly that the beginning of the development and the conception of the game already lies some years back. This is also evident in the graphics of the zombie sequel. While the game is really nicely realized in places, you can tell that the main focus of development may have been on the last-gen consoles (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One). This doesn’t have to be a bad thing at all (even if we’re now starting to wish for games explicitly designed for next-gen).
The fact that Stay Human is an open world game is also clearly reflected in the developers’ recent announcement. According to this, you should need over 500 hours of playtime for the complete experience. While this may be true for those who want to complete the game 100%, for simply playing through the main storyline (incl. of some side quests) you need much less time though. We probably spent somewhere between 35 and 40 hours in Villedor.
To fully complete Dying Light 2 Stay Human, you’ll need at least 500 hours-almost as long as it would take to walk from Warsaw to Madrid!#DyingLight2 #stayhuman pic.twitter.com/Sk3KFpRJoA
— Dying Light (@DyingLightGame) January 8, 2022
Here you don’t need sunscreen
Aiden is infected with the zombie virus, just like everyone else in the world. This means that the level of infection has to be controlled again and again, otherwise an outbreak and an accompanying transformation into an undead would be imminent. An outbreak always becomes critical in the dark, after UV radiation should keep the infection in check. According to this, the inhabitants of Villedor have set up outposts with UV light throughout the town, which Aiden can save himself to. Because of this element, the gameplay often gains momentum at night and becomes (forced) fast-paced. This also leads us to the big gameplay feature, Aiden’s parcours abilities. These are especially needed at night, since zombies – unlike during the day not slow and sluggish – are very fast and strong at late hours, but mainly linger on the ground. Accordingly, it makes sense to swing or jump from rooftop to rooftop at night, climb up walls or push off on narrow house walls. The first person perspective took some getting used to at the beginning, but made the gameplay much more dynamic and immersive than the third person perspective could have done.
And when Aiden does crash, he usually has two options: Sneak by or seek a fight with the undead. Often, sneaking past is the wiser choice, as there are several different types of zombies. For example, one of them can summon several undead with her scream, which can lead to horde-like conditions. Aiden can now fight them with various weapons, which he finds in the course of the many quests (upgradable and improvable through Loot) – but beware: the weapons contained in the game break down over time, so combative players* should always carry a larger arsenal of weapons with them. Combat skills can be upgraded afterwards by the received experience points in a skill tree. The same goes for Aiden’s parcours skills. Also typical for an open world RPG, crafting should not be neglected. For example, bandages for healing can be made using raw materials to be collected. This always requires a recipe/guide to be found in the world.
Rating – 8
Dying Light 2 – Stay Human builds on the strengths of its predecessor (v.a. course elements) and adds a multi-layered plot with interesting characters – and is able to really surprise herewith! Those who can (still) relate to the apocalyptic setting (including the zombies) and the associated virus theme will enjoy this sequel. Anyway, we had a good time in Villedor! Points are deducted for the currently still existing bugs, whereby the current Day One patch has already improved a lot. The only thing that didn’t convince us at the moment was the co-op mode, which definitely still needs to be reworked and struggles with technical problems even on the Xbox One X.
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