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E3 2018: Dying Light 2 Is Not Your Typical Zombie Game

I was a huge fan of Dying Light when it came out in 2015, so I was pretty excited when I saw the announcement of the sequel at Microsoft’s Press Conference on Sunday. Including the brief demo showcased at the conference, I got to witness another hands-off demo of the game being played live.

Yes, these are zombie games, but not your typical ones. Players traverse an open-world environment utilizing parkour aided by smooth controls. Dying Light 2 aims to continue this trend, though with a greater emphasis on player choice.

In the first title, the zombie virus was contained to a single city. Now the virus has spread around the globe, and has been for 15 years. Judging by the demo, it appears that zombies don’t appear as much during the day as they did in the first game. The main enemies during this time are thieves, bandits, and potentially the Peacekeepers if you get on their bad side. As you progress through your adventure, you’ll be tasked with making key decisions that will dramatically affect the environment and your play style.

For example, the mission in this demo was to activate the water tower. Two smug criminals are at the top of the tower preventing it from being turned on. If you kill them, you’ll have access to water at various fountains to heal yourself and the Peacekeepers will control the area. However, the Peacekeepers have extremely strict rules and little tolerance for lawbreakers, so expect to see some violence and protest in the streets. If you side with the criminals at the top of the tower, they’ll sell the water and attract more undesirables in the area. Still, you reap some benefits in a share of the water sales and some extra sidequests.

With Chris Avellone (Fallout: New Vegas, Wasteland 2) at the narrative helm of Dying Light 2, the developers at Techland also brought on sidequest writers, whose experience includes that of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt‘s Bloody Baron quest. Safe to say the game will have a greater focus on narrative, but the gameplay is what ultimately makes Dying Light special.

Parkour is your ultimate key for survival, and Dying Light 2 expands upon the system with an enhanced physics engine and more methods to get around, such as swinging across a rope and using a knife to stab a poster thus decreasing your fall speed. As the level designer demonstrated while playing the demo, the possibilities are everywhere. The demo took place entirely throughout the day so we didn’t see many zombies, but going inside a dark building during this time will bring you tons of them. He went inside one of these buildings to demonstrate, and he managed to escape by jumping to a chandelier, swinging to the second floor, and escaping as it hit the ground.

If you see a gathering of bandits with UV lights set up in an area, then chances are there is some valuable loot nearby. As the player tried to take out a few of them, they came swarming and his only option was to run with his signature parkour moves. He was the best Dying Light 2 player after all.

Dying Light 2 is set to release in 2019. After what I witnessed in the controlled demo environment, I look forward to actually getting my hands on the game!