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Dying Light 2 Review: Extremely mixed emotions

dying light 2 review
dying light 2 review

We waited. In two days, another Polish long-term construction will be released. Almost four years have passed since the official announcement of Dying Light 2, during which time Chris Avellone managed to leave the development, and the game itself was postponed several times. If in our preview we were very optimistic about the final quality of the project, now we simply cannot do without comparison with Cyberpunk 2077 and CD Projekt RED. Is it all bad with Dying Light 2: Stay Human? Did Techland, like their colleagues, overestimate their strengths or did they release a product that embodies all expectations? It will be difficult to answer these questions, but first things first.

It should be noted right away that Dying Light 2 is not a very familiar project for Techland. Of course, the Polish studio feels great in the field of the zombie action genre. But their new game of sorts is a significant step forward. Dying Light 2 doesn’t just build on the elements of the original and the zombie world. The sequel moves into a slightly different genre – the post-apocalypse. At first glance, it may seem that the new game is practically no different from its predecessor, but it is not. Here one can feel the development of the world itself and of humanity, which is forced to live next door to the dangerous dead, rejecting all hope of any salvation.

In fact, the new concept of Dying Light 2: Stay Human is an exceptionally correct decision from the developers. In order not to tire the players with the story of survival once again, we are thrown into the early post-apocalypse, where the past foundations of the world have already begun to be forgotten. Such a transition has a tangible impact on the entire game, which at first seems like the perfect continuation.

Vivid characters and consequences of decisions

The story of the sequel revolves around a completely new hero. Dying Light 2 is also separated from the events of the first game by the fact that the epidemic has captured the whole world and zombies have been freely walking the streets for more than twenty years. Many cities were destroyed, and people, in a sense, returned several eras ago. Water has become a valuable resource for which people can sell themselves or commit atrocious crimes. The protagonist Aiden is not some kind of chosen one or a new mission, he is just trying to exist in a new world, knowing almost nothing about what was before the zombies.

Aiden has only one goal – to find his sister, from whom he was separated at an early age. In Dying Light 2: Stay Human, the overall story has become more personal. Pursuing clues related to our sister, we come to a ruined metropolis, where sincere trust is not worth waiting for. For twenty years, the familiar community has been divided into several factions. All of them seek only to survive, but each does it in his own way. It will depend on us which faction to support and which side to choose.

The main innovation of Dying Light 2 was the system of decisions and consequences of the player’s choice. In the game itself, it is clear that the developers really tried to emphasize this component. Freedom of choice extends not only to the plot – quite often it will be possible to choose in side quests. The choice sometimes does not affect anything, and sometimes it will determine the fate of the character or somehow change the city. During the passage, you will have to balance between the available solutions, it is unlikely that you will be able to win back your personal position. By and large, you will still operate within certain restrictions.

It cannot be argued here that the choice of the player is not valued. In some places, the player’s decisions lack some kind of globality. Most often, we refuse or agree with something and then move on to various plot branches that will lead us to just a couple of global endings. Who we will see in the final will also depend on the actions taken, but for someone the scale will obviously not be enough.

In Dying Light 2, the absence of Chris Avellone is felt, but the developers clearly tried to work out the script. In comparison with the first part, the plot has become much “stronger”. There are more colorful characters in the story that are interesting to interact with. They play an important role in the narrative, revealing their personal stories, making us empathize. Gradually, we learn that behind the appearance of the two characters, played by stars David Belle and Rosario Dawson, there is a very difficult drama. And this is not all the characters that are interesting to follow. Knowing the world of Dying Light 2 and its inhabitants is sometimes more interesting than going further in the story.

The same can be said for side missions. In Dying Light 2, it is very difficult to find the same type of quests, in the spirit of go fetch or go and kill. This, of course, is present in one way or another, but completely second-rate side effects have been identified as a separate activity group, which allows you to focus on the story or gameplay. Techland made it so that when you pass secondary tasks you will not be bored. In the game, they complement the overall story more or focus on the global problems of the zombie apocalypse. At first glance, a simple task can turn into a chain of tasks with an investigation about poisoned water, which will turn into an unexpected ending.

Separately, you need to praise the developers for working out the small details of Dying Light 2. The game has a kind of open world that seems to be as alive as possible. The streets are filled with zombies, but humanity continues to live. They build their communes, organize campfire gatherings and listen to music in the bar. The atmospheric part is made at a very high level. Every detail, whether it’s a simple conversation between NPCs in a bar or a sudden survivor on a rooftop, is all about immersion.

Dying Light gameplay only gets better

Gameplay changes in Dying Light 2: Stay Human may not be noticeable at first glance. Even in special trailers, where the developers focused on improvements to the gameplay component, it is very difficult to discern the difference from the first part. Although in fact, Techland did the right job on the bugs. At the heart of everything Dying Light 2 is still endless collection of resources, killing zombies and parkour, only every element has been improved.

First of all, the developers completely abandoned firearms. The player’s arsenal is completely focused on melee weapons, their modifiers and various devices. In general, there were more different gadgets and weapons, in addition, they began to be divided into conditional classes, like equipment. Armor has acquired different characteristics. Equipment can increase your resistance or reduce the consumption of stamina, which, by the way, is now not only spent in combat, but also consumed during parkour.

The consumption of stamina for performing various actions does not interfere in any way, beautifully and effectively parkour through the whole city, just at the very beginning of the game they will try to teach us to move intelligently. The protagonist cannot hang on a ledge indefinitely or climb a building. Dying Light 2 provides several times more movement options, so you will need to plan your movements. Although the subsequent pumping and an arsenal of gadgets will allow you to almost completely ignore this limitation and explore the city from different angles to your heart’s content.

In general, the possibilities of parkour have increased. Some abilities must first be unlocked in the upgrade menu, but after that you can climb anywhere on the map. Already the first part could boast of a rather pleasant movement around the game map – only the meager architecture of buildings and the abilities of the protagonist held back there. In the new city, such problems will not arise. It is literally dotted with various structures or ledges that allow you to extend the vertical movement around the city. The buildings themselves have also become very open, allowing seamless movement from the streets to the houses and back.

As for weapons, here the developers took the easy way. They focused on the possibilities of improving them with individual modifiers. Using blueprints and resources, you can install special elements on your weapons that will impose various effects on enemies, such as fire or electricity. There are more of them, and their effectiveness will increase depending on the level of the drawing, which will need to be improved separately. Alas, waving even with a pumped baton can quickly get boring, so you can actively use your parkour skills in battle. They were in the first part, but now they are not limited to simply jumping over the heads of enemies. Zombies and people can be pushed, thrown, knocked down and thrown at them with various objects, which the ruined city gives in abundance.

The main gameplay changes affected the night. If in the first part, it was simply dangerous to move around at night because of dangerous zombies, then in the sequel it is dangerous to move around at night in principle. According to the plot of the game, the main character is infected, it turns out that this is a fairly common thing in this world. In Dying Light 2, almost every character is already bitten and infected, but they do not transform in a way that the conversions can be contained. To do this, you need to be less in the dark. Now our movement at night will be limited by time, but this can be fought. To avoid the transformation, you can take special stimulants and recover under ultraviolet light.

This mechanic is most likely made for balance. At night, you can get more experience and complete some tasks with valuable rewards. The time limit makes passing at night more difficult. In addition, there were only more dangerous enemies at night. Along with this, it became more dangerous to explore all the dark areas of the city, which concentrated all the most terrible creatures.

Among the important mechanics, it is also worth noting that the player’s decisions indirectly affect the world. Again, there is nothing global here. Among the various activities, you can capture important buildings that generate resources for the city and give them under the control of one of the two factions. Such decisions will directly affect the gameplay. By supporting one side, you can get zombie traps and patrols of armed people on the streets, and the other will install cables and springboards on buildings. It’s funny that such decisions directly affect the style of the game, but no one will notice or comment on the very fact of their adoption. The factions will simply put up with your decision and will not react even if it was part of the main questline.

And what about Cyberpunk 2077?

From all of the above, it follows that Dying Light 2 is perhaps not an innovative sequel, but definitely the right one. The developers tritely improved the ideas of the original and slightly diversified the overall gameplay, without fundamentally changing anything. Nevertheless, the second part causes unsettling sensations and the inevitable comparison with Cyberpunk 2077.

Firstly, the game has extremely high system requirements for PC. The recommended settings indicate a GeForce RTX 2060-level video card with 6GB of video memory and this is without ray tracing. The game turned out really beautiful and the size of the city is surprising, but technically there is nothing special here. Visually, the world came out with a contrast, but additional effects only spoil the picture with distortions.

According to personal impressions, the game simply does not look like its requirements, you won’t even be able to somehow customize the graphics for yourself. The game has catastrophically few important graphic parameters.

The game itself, as it turned out, suffers greatly from optimization problems. The first hour of Dying Light 2: Stay Human on a GeForce RTX 2070 Super without tracing the best with scaling turned on was generally excellent, but then the FPS number dropped to 15 frames for no apparent reason. The problem strangely disappeared after a simple restart. Alas, the sudden FPS drops persisted. Throughout the game, they were not so strong, but from 60 FPS during the cut-scene, the frame counter dropped down to 30-40 FPS.

As an experiment, we ran a pre-release version of Dying Light 2 on a Radeon RX 560, which meets the game’s minimum requirements. The developers promised that the game would run at 30 frames per second, but we got only 20 FPS on the lowest settings.

Minor roughness and optimization problems are acceptable things, but remembering the release state of Cyberpunk 2077, the situation with the quality of Dying Light 2 raises questions. We constantly lost textures, objects hung in the air and some controls did not work. We immediately reported the bugs found to Techland and the developers quickly tried to help us. Just yesterday the game received a major patch that significantly improved the game.. We still managed to get rid of some critical errors, but problems with optimization and other bugs remained. On the GeForce RTX 2070 Super, there are small drops to 50 FPS and micro freezes occur, although the game is on an SSD. On the RX 560, the frame rate approached 25-30 FPS at FullHD resolution with scaling off. Unfortunately, despite the “console” nature of these frames, it becomes very uncomfortable to play, and then either the system is updated or the resolution is reset to 720p. The latter is not recommended (although it allows you to reach 60 FPS) as the picture in the game becomes incredibly soapy. I sincerely want to believe that buyers will not encounter all these errors, and the developers will quickly fix the remaining problems.


Conclusion

Dying Light 2: Stay Human causes extremely mixed emotions. On the one hand, this is the right continuation of an excellent parkour action game. The developers have worked on the story, the environment and the characters. It was really interesting to follow the development of the plot in the post-apocalyptic world and make choices. Exploring dilapidated buildings and fighting zombies was incredibly fun. But alas, all the advantages of the game were crossed out by bugs and poor optimization. If the developers fix all the bugs, Dying Light 2 could be the best co-op action game.

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