There had been two standout demos eventually yr’s E3. One was apparent, Cyberpunk 2077. The different took me without warning on the time although. I appreciated Dying Light, however Dying Light 2 arrived so much more ambitious than I anticipated, with Techland touting its divergent storytelling paths and evolving world.
That narrative continued at E3 2019. “It’s not about which ending you get, but how the city looks when you finish the game,” stated Techland as we wrapped up this yr’s hands-off demo—and for good motive, a whole district rising from underwater as concurrently a key storyline got here to a untimely finish.
Techland says you’ll solely be capable of see 50 p.c of Dying Light 2 in any given playthrough. I’m inclined to imagine them.
Our demo began in The Fish Eye, and instantly it’s clear Dying Light 2 is a tonal departure from its predecessor. The original Dying Light was, like so many zombie tales, about folks making an attempt to outlive in a newly hostile atmosphere—however Dying Light 2 is ready 15 years after the an infection. The apocalypse and even the post-apocalypse are over. Sure, zombies nonetheless infest town streets, however society has adjusted and even begun rebuilding itself.
The Fish Eye is a bar. A considerably seedy bar, however a bar nonetheless. People are laughing, celebrating, and protected. Life feels nearly regular, had been it not for the rundown décor and everybody’s rustic clothes.
Of course, the state of affairs’s extra dire than it appears. Arriving at The Fish Eye, our protagonist Aiden Caldwell angrily remarks to de facto chief Frank, “You haven’t told them yet?” to which Frank replies “What, that the water’s about to run out?”
Frank’s hoping to achieve a cope with the Renegades, bolstered by help from town’s different main factions, the Peacekeepers and Scavengers. Jack Matt’s Peacekeepers are armored in blue, a pseudo police pressure which cropped up in final yr’s demo. The Scavengers are a extra ragtag band, however useful in a battle.
And the Renegades? We don’t know a lot about them, besides they’re apparently butchers, even perhaps cannibals, and that they’re hoarding a enormous provide of water. Their chief, The Colonel, is holed up in The Castle—really some form of towering hydroelectric plant or water remedy plant by the seems to be of it—and The Castle is in flip surrounded by a deep moat.
Frank leaves the Fish Eye to barter with a dispatch of Renegades, hoping to resolve the water disaster. A shot rings out. Frank is shot, and once we attain floor degree we see him bleeding out on the bottom, the truck filled with Renegades screeching away.
We’ve reached our first determination: Stay and assist Frank, or observe the truck.
It’s a binary alternative, both push the analog stick left or proper. And it’s a tough alternative as effectively, the primary of many. These are a vital a part of Dying Light 2’s branching story, with some leading to completely different encounters, others altering the world in additional drastic methods.
Case in level: We chase the truck and Frank dies. Techland didn’t flat-out say he’d stay if we’d caught round, however did say the result would possibly’ve been higher.
It in all probability wouldn’t make for an enthralling demo although. Instead we had been led on a merry chase by the fleeing Renegades, sprinting from rooftop to rooftop to attempt to catch up earlier than it reached The Castle. Along the way in which we obtained a style of Aiden’s new traversal instruments, a grappling hook and paraglider. The former appears particularly helpful, permitting Aiden to each leap throughout bigger streets and swing-kick enemies in fight, offered in fact there’s a ceiling overhead.
Techland moved to a brand new engine for Dying Light 2, which necessitated rewriting all of the code for the parkour/pure motion system. Point being, you have got extra choices this time round, and people choices move collectively loads smoother. You can use zombies to interrupt your fall, when you observe one off a roof. You also can double-wall-run and wall-jump, and climb objects which are transferring or falling aside. It seems to be like myriad enhancements to an already spectacular system.
After a pressured detour by a darkened constructing—which, when you bear in mind from final yr, means it’s infested with zombies—we lastly caught as much as the truck and leaped inside. At this level we had one other alternative, leaving the driving force alive or killing him. Then one other briefly order, because the radio crackled to life and requested for an replace. There, we might both inform him what to say or inform him to not reply.
We made it into The Castle with out incident, for the reason that driver knew the password to get in—however leaving him alive additionally allowed him to betray us, honking the horn and alerting the remainder of the Renegades as we sneaked by the bottom. A base that seemed much more civilized than we had been instructed as a matter of truth, with manicured lawns and folks taking part in with youngsters.
“What’s with the butcher thing? All I see is regular people,” Aiden remarked, acknowledging the state of affairs was suspicious. After escaping pursuit and coming into The Castle, we even discover a lady taking part in piano. Cannibals certainly.
The Colonel then walked out, protesting his innocence and saying the Peacekeepers organized Frank’s dying to pressure the Renegades out of their fortress. It appears believable sufficient however for the needs of the demo we resolve to observe orders, turning on the pumps and sending water to the remainder of town—and out of The Castle’s moat, which is revealed to be a whole submerged district, now free to discover. Oh, besides some form of particular zombie bursts out of the bottom, with spikes on its arm.
And The Colonel was proper, by the way in which. The Peacekeepers invade the district, presumably killing him. The subsequent time we go to the realm, it’ll most definitely sport Peacekeeper blue, and include much more guidelines than earlier than. It’s in all probability not the trail I might’ve chosen.
I used this Techland quote up high, however I feel it’s price reiterating: “It’s not about which ending you get, but how the city looks when you finish the game.” That’s primarily a Dying Light 2-particular manner of claiming it’s the journey, not the vacation spot, however each our demos have confirmed the assertion true. At E3 2018 we noticed how altering who managed a water tower might change a district, a small determination having a rippling impact. This yr we noticed how a bigger determination might change all the cloth (and structure) of town.
Both are spectacular, and each contribute to this concept of Dying Light 2 as dwelling world. Plenty of builders say you’ll have an effect on their recreation, however few actually ship. Dying Light 2 is melding story and mechanics in methods I’ve not often (if ever) seen, and if they’ll pull it off I hope to see others observe. Open worlds have been static backdrops for nearly two console generations. It’s thrilling to see somebody lastly do one thing with certainly one of these sprawling maps.
Dying Light 2 is scheduled to launch in spring 2020.