Developer Techland struck gold with 2015’s Dying Light — giving players a smart, fast-paced action zombie game that felt good to play. The original was home to more than 70 million players, so it’s not surprising that a sequel is in the works. Three years later, at E3 2018, Dying Light 2 was announced, and was originally planned to release at the end of 2019. After numerous delays, it’s still unclear when it will actually release, but that doesn’t make us any less excited for it.
It seems to be an ambitious continuation that will improve upon many of the ideas introduced in the original, with more to do and more player agency. We still have much to learn about Dying Light 2, but based on E3 trailers and behind-closed-doors showings, there’s a lot we do know. Let’s break down everything we know about the upcoming zombie adventure, Dying Light 2.
Who are you?
You play as Aiden Caldwell in Dying Light 2, a protagonist who has the ability to use parkour free-running to his advantage. Much like the first game, you can run, jump, climb, and traverse the environment, while completing jobs for NPCs you meet. Aiden will have to interact and side with factions in The City, where the game takes place. The City is a European location that serves as the game’s setting and is four times larger than the map of the previous entry. It’s unclear how Aiden’s personality will compare to Kyle Crane’s from the original Dying Light, but considering the sequel takes place two decades later, it’s safe to say you’ll be playing as a much more experienced protagonist. Techland hasn’t revealed much in terms of story to keep it a surprise.
Player choice will be more integral than before
While player choice was a part of the original in 2015, Dying Light 2 will be doubling (or even tripling) down on it — offering a slew of different ways to tackle missions. As part of a showing at E3 2019, we got to see a taste of how deep the decision-making can go. In the demo, a fortified base was placed on a water dam, which you can choose to infiltrate. You can choose to bust in Rambo-style or sneak in to avoid being seen. Or you can opt to skip the section entirely. If you do decide to take over the dam, you’re able to flood certain sections of the map — changing the layout of it for the duration of your game. There’s a bit of risk/reward in doing this, though, as it will allow other sections of the map to become accessible. Be careful, as infiltrating this base will change your status with the faction that had possession of the base, which will impact your playthrough, as well. It’s unclear if you’re able to mend your relationship with factions, but we imagine they won’t be friendly after you take them out.
Not only can you choose how to tackle certain sections of the game, but you can completely ignore some of them, if you choose. We’ve seen and heard promises of player choice being meaningful in games before, but Dying Light 2 seems to be designed around letting you do things exactly how you want. Techland said you’ll have to play through the game multiple times in order to see everything it has to offer.
In regards to correcting decisions you’ve made, the game’s lead game designer, Tymon Smektala, said, “It’s not like you can like go back to the moment of that decision and just change it. You need to do some additional stuff, like complete a couple of extra missions, to fix the things that you think you wronged. But apart from those rare instances, all of the decisions are permanent.” The sequel will feel much more like an RPG than before — where you’re in the driver’s seat, making (tough) decisions.
It’ll take you 100 hours to complete everything it has to offer
In Dying Light 2, you can blast through the main story in around 15-20 hours, according to Smektala. However, it has so much to offer, with the possibility of many missable jobs based on your choices. Because of this, Techland says it will take over 100 hours to see everything in the game, which will require multiple playthroughs.
As explained by Smektala, “It is very hard to measure in an open-world game. How long it actually takes to complete the game because of the things that happen between points A and points B of a quest, so basically it’s up to you how you play it.” Smektala explains that there are “emergencies” that pop up as you make your way to your next objective. It’s up to you if you’d like to stop and address them, but doing so will take more of your time. This, by the way, is way more content than the first game, so it seems Techland is expanding upon the original in a huge way.
Gliders are just one of the new toys at your disposal
One of the coolest things we got to see during its E3 2019 showing was the implementation of a glider — basically turning you into a pseudo-super hero at times. You can chain the glider into your route as you run through the city, allowing you to get around much easier and safer. Not only that, but you’ll have access to a grappling hook that you can use to pull yourself upward toward buildings. If you combine the two gadgets, you’re able to zip around like Spider-Man as you slaughter zombies. It sounds like something that shouldn’t exist.
As for your arsenal, Dying Light 2 will have access to over 50 additional weapons than in the original — and you can make them by combining items. You’ll gain access to blueprints, just like in the first game, but this time, stealth items will be more integral than before. In the E3 2019 demo, you’re able to use a gun to take out enemies from afar, and then use it as a melee weapon when it’s out of ammo. It seems your weapons will be more effective than ever before, but your foes will be smarter.
Is there multiplayer?
Much like the first game, Dying Light 2 will feature online cooperative multiplayer, with up to three other players. You’ll be able to invite them to your world to complete missions or other tasks, but it’s unclear what — if any — changes will be added that improve the online experience. With player choice being such a focal point, Techland encourages you to see the consequences of other players’ decisions in their “versions” of the world. Likewise, they can do the same when they enter your world.
In the first game, you were able to compete against other players in PvP matches. While we aren’t sure how or if this will be handled in the sequel, Smektala says “there’s a huge multiplayer component aside from [the] co-op mode.” It’s likely we’ll see some version of the beloved PvP action make its return in the sequel.
When can we play it?
As much as we wish we had an exact release date for Dying Light 2, it unfortunately doesn’t even have a launch window. Earlier this year, it was delayed indefinitely out of its original spring 2020 time frame. It’s unclear what specifically is going on with the game’s development, but we’re hoping it launches this year, still. There seemed to have been some internal turmoil at Techland, as evidenced by the rumor of it being bought by Microsoft (which was refuted), and the changing of publishers for the upcoming game. Originally, Square Enix was to publish Dying Light 2 in the Americas, but now Techland will be taking the reins as publisher.
Along with that, the company tweeted in January that Dying Light 2 would need more time:
Here’s the Dying Light 2 Development Update. pic.twitter.com/CKMkAe2eD7
— Dying Light (@DyingLightGame) January 20, 2020
“We were initially aiming for a Spring 2020 release with Dying Light 2,” said Techland CEO Pawel Marchewka, “but unfortunately we need more development time to fulfill our vision. We will have more details to share in the coming months, and will get back to you as soon as we have more information.” It’s likely that the COVID-19 pandemic also had its hand in the game’s delay — combined with developmental troubles.
However, lead game designer Smektala had some promising words about Dying Light 2’s development. “There’s a whole team at Techland that works on the announcement of the release date for the game and every piece of info that accompanies it,” Smektala said. “And I know they want to surprise players, so I don’t want to spoil it for them or our community. The only thing I can say is please trust us — it’s the last stretch for this project, and we need your support.”
While that doesn’t tell us much, it’s an optimistic viewpoint, albeit a PR-friendly response. Perhaps its release date will be much sooner than expected. Dying Light 2 is still coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with plans to also bring it to next-generation consoles, according to Techland’s Chief Technology Officer Paweł Rohleder. For now, we’ll just have to play the waiting game to find out when we’ll get to play it.