Dying Light is a game that has managed to cling onto players for over six years now. Unlike their previous effort, Dead Island, Dying Light has had a real sense of staying power as tonnes of free DLC came out and players explored that open world over and over again.
There are so many aspects responsible for this, but a central one is just how great its world is. Now that we’ve received some solid information on Dying Light 2, it’s time to go back into that world again to see what makes it so irresistible.
Why Is Dying Light’s World So Good?
I urge you to boot up the game for yourself and set yourself this challenge. Stand on a rooftop, pick a location and get there without touching the ground.
The open world is one that has come to us through meticulous design. It hasn’t come to us through the incessant need to make it as large as possible.
Every little choice feels intentional. That end goal is to make a world that is actively fun to explore. In Dying Light, you don’t need a horse or car because the act of moving itself is part of the fun.
Your knowledge of its mechanics grow alongside Kyle Crane’s mastery of parkour. It doesn’t give you that skill set upfront, instead opting to have you learn how to jump, climb and sneak.
As you get more comfortable with the world, so too does Kyle. You become more methodical as you get more carefree. The world turns from a disastrous apocalypse into a theme park.
That theme park is filled with little nooks and crannies - new ways to explore all it has to offer. This only adds to the combat, something that is admittedly not as good as the movement.
Luckily, it makes up for its lackluster combat by making traversal your single biggest asset.
Why would you bludgeon that zombie when you can kick him off a roof top, throw him into spiked wire or electrocute him and all his buddies?
While jumping around is fun, it is made better by a world that rewards that exploration. You don’t have to use the environment to electrocute baddies when you could loot your own weapon and upgrade it with robust mechanics and looking for upgrade parts is rewarded with great exploration.
Getting into some areas is only half the battle when they're loaded with tonnes of secrets, easter eggs and lootable containers.
These easter eggs represent the most important thing about Dying Light’s tone, its willingness to be silly and throw realism out the window. Its sense of realism is only used to heighten the horror; it isn’t a justification in itself and that is an important distinction. Fun operates above all.
What Does This Mean For Dying Light 2?
Moving to Dying Light 2 Stay Human and it has a lot to live up to. Recently, an all-new gameplay trailer arrived and it immediately starts in the right place, having our main character jump from building to building, only to squash a zombie on their way down to the ground.
Despite reports of poor management and the threat of delay hell, the trailers have started in a very good place. The tone feels darker this time around, with all-new factions and some genuinely spooky environments, but Dying Light’s core design philosophy pops up yet again.
As the Aiden Caldwell runs through the streets, you can clearly see all the different paths you can take in each route.
The picture above shows five different paths he could take to escape the two zombies approaching him. This is what Dying Light’s open world is great at.
It doesn't just give you a world with lots of options, it gives one that is fun to explore. I don’t want to just take one path there, I want to try out every one.
Where the top of the van might lead you up the side of the building, the log allows you to stay on the floor and the portion to the side allows you to go in a building or hug the wall.
The night only furthers this sense of exploration, allowing you to explore an ever-changing world.
The decisions you make shape the world around you and that allows for even more to do. Being set predominantly on top of buildings, Dying Light 2 is designed to explore from the skies and combat on the ground, setting a distinct dichotomy, allowing you to play how you like.
"Our aim was to have a real sense of freedom that along with our world, constantly made the player ask, “Should I fight or should I avoid this?” Maciej Binkowski, lead game designer
This freedom is essential to the design approach at work in TechLand and if the gameplay trailer is anything to go by, they appear to be getting it right.
Hopefully, we'll get to see more of this open world, and all the baddies, sometime soon