As an experience, I found Dying Light’s main story to be an intriguing yet brutal and blood ridden introduction into a genre that always held an uncanny knack of pulling me in due to my love for all things horror. The compelling storyline and wealth of various activities to be undertaken inside the demanding walls of the games fictitious setting Harran had me clocking up to 50 hours of intense sprinting, weapon swinging and vaulting off tall buildings all in a quest to find a cure to stop the vicious outbreak that had seen humans turned into feral, lightning quick flesh devouring monsters.
Dying Light: The Following: PC, Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Release Date: 9 February 2016
Price: £15.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
Constructing a new kind of fear
With a constant flurry of updates and expansions since the games original release back in January of last year, Techland have always prided themselves on building upon the original title, always looking to further heighten the experience without ever really extending on the games enthralling storyline, that was until now. With the introduction of ‘The Following’, Dying Light has traded in the derelict slums and run-down buildings that lie within Harran’s City walls for fast paced Buggies inside a vast, open and somewhat mysterious world of the neighboring countryside and farming community.
The Following possesses a simple yet effective set-up. Shortly after the conclusion of the base game, a mysterious man stumbles into the City of Harran seemingly out of his mind, he begins waxing lyrical about a place beyond the City where humans are completely immune to the virus, an area where a single bite from a Zombie does not mean instant death, a undead existence, destined to roam the world forever hungry for the taste of human flesh. Protagonist and general all round do-gooder Kyle Crane continues on where he left off by receiving a map from the unknown outsider that will lead him out of Harran and into the neighboring lush plains of the countryside. A place deeply shrouded in mystery, where a secretive Cult might just possess the key to ending the outbreak, bringing an end to the chaos once and for all.
Placing a spin on proceedings
The Following sees the use of the popular Parkour system from the main game take a backseat to the latest form of navigation – Off-Road Buggies. Fans of the base game might have been fooled into thinking that the different route taken by Techland might have been a risky one, in fact, it serves to reinvigorate the game and provide some pure excitement. No longer will Kyle Crane rely solely on sprinting and clambering frantically up buildings to escape a baying mob of Virals, instead he is now able to hop inside the games Buggies and use the easily upgradable machine as a weapon against the tides of undead.
The use of vehicles to plow through crowds of zombies in Video Games isn’t a unique one, Capcom made good use of it throughout the Dead Rising series with upgradable, deadly and comical vehicles used very effectively against the undead to rack up kills. Even the most ardent of gamers would admit to getting a kick out of destroying a horde of zombies while strapped into a vehicle with spikes attached to the outside of the wheels, heck even Techland opted for something similar in Dead Island. Vehicles and zombies have gone hand in hand down the years and that forms as a guarantee of sorts that The Following would be just as successful.
The Followings landscape is so vast (twice the size of the base game) that farmhouses and more importantly, safe houses are few and far between. Enemies have been tweaked to add to the overall fear factor, appearing faster and more menacing than ever before, it becomes extremely tricky to put a safe distance between yourself and a pursuing enemy, breaking the line of sight can prove tricky even inside the cockpit of a Buggy, there is always the sense that you are never one hundred percent safe. The vehicles, much like real life take damage with every brush of a rock or sudden bump in the road which can quickly see you out in the cold needing to repair the damage frantically, this is the last thing you need when a deadly Volatile is fast closing on your tail.
Being able to drive in The Following also see’s the inclusion of a new Skill Tree to work through in the form of Driver which can help players unlock vital parts to make the Buggies more effective out in the field. The outer cage can be reinforced making it harder for any would-be attacker to get in and at you and believe me, they will try. As well as this, there are weapons to be added that can make fields of zombies shudder with fear. Mines can be dropped behind the buggy to see off any chasing pursuer with a loud bang, UV lights can be attached for better driving at night and battering rams work their way through bodies like a hot knife would do through butter. In fact, every detail of the Off-Road Buggies can be tweaked to player preference including paint jobs and comical bobbleheads to help you ride in style.
The Cult Of Personality
Vehicles aside, The Followings real meat remains within the storyline, which sees players take on the role once more of undercover operative turned friendly samaritan Kyle “I just want to help out” Crane who, after making his way through grimy sewers, past mysterious cave paintings and out into the rolling green farmland must locate the source of this would be myth surrounding human immunity. One thing to note upon making my way off a sheer drop into a pool of shimmering blue water and out into the open land was the abundance of flesh eaters. I half expected to be greeted with empty acres of green fields, the odd tractor and rows of crops, not an avalanche of the undead that seems at times to never end. Harran as a City posed a scary destination with its tight winding alleyways and streets not to mention the dark lit buildings oozing with cheap jump scares yet nothing could have prepared me for the onslaught I would face while surrounded by a landscape of natural green beauty.
While investigating the local community and meeting with some rather typical yet unforthcoming townies who don’t exactly take to Kyle, it becomes quickly apparent that I would have to gain the trust of the people around the community in order to get closer to the truth and infiltrate the mysterious masked society known only as the “Faceless”. Those familiar with Dying Lights set-up will by now be very familiar with how this all plays out – to get the answers Kyle seeks he must endure tasks laid out by various locals however, instead of bogging the expansion down with a repetitive and mundane quests it actually makes life more entertaining and gives the expansion real meaning as Kyle takes to the Buggy to zip around the landscape, the added fear of the unknown and enemies always nearby make each quest a significant one. Venturing into the Post Office to collect a Toy for a small child led to me becoming the local Postman for one quest, leading on to some humorous pass the parcel moments further down the line.
Later on, while progressing through the main story, I was handed a crossbow which could fire different types of arrows ranging from Electric to Explosive and then Incendiary. The Crossbow allowed me to sit back at a safe distance Norman Reedus style and pick off zombies without the threat of being mauled, not mention watching on as an Explosive Arrow disposed of a large batch of the undead with finesse, launching the crowd of flesh eaters high into the bright blue sky with aplomb. The Following really feels like a worthwhile expansion and certainly adds to the already glowing aura that makes Dying Light a really fun and compelling title.
Dying Light The Following lifts players out of the mean ravaged streets of Harran to offer up a completely different world filled with new characters and a gripping storyline along with new side quests. While the Bozak Horde and other previous DLC for the game added extra activities and a competitive nature, The Following pushes the story in a whole new direction filled with twists, turns and conspiracy theories, seriously…what’s not to enjoy!.
The landscape is awe-inspiring, differing shades of green line the surrounding fields making this a place worth exploring while also providing enough danger so that you will forever be on guard. Off-Road Buggies offer players and fans of the base game a unique and different form of navigation that is not only ten tons of fun but also great at taking apart the one thing that wants to take you apart. It doesn’t exactly level the playing field but it certainly helps to somewhat even out the sides, with an abundance of upgrades to tune each vehicle into a fast paced, killing machine that even zombies would want to give a wide birth to.
Who knew the Countryside could hold such mystery and terror…