You'll love it if:
- you like shouting Parkour! every 5 minutes.
- you want huge open world with tons of meaningful activities.
- you want many creative ways to slay infected.
Not for you if:
- you liked the harsh, tense combat of Dying Light.
- you are scared in the dark.
- you hate going fast and shouting Parkour! every 5 minutes.
Dying Light 2 review – Xbox Series X – Sponsored – pre-release and after release impressions
This Dying Light 2 Xbox review is highly influenced by my impressions of Dying Light that I played on PC. Does it hold up to its predecessor with its new features and world? Do I recommend it as highly as Dying Light? Is it worth it’s full retail price?
TL;DR: Yes, yes and definitely yes. But some minor changes might feel off compared to Dying Light, and there are some technical issues.
Dying Light 2 Review – Setting
Dying Light 2 is a continuation of the events in Dying Light 1. You don’t need to have finished Dying Light in order to understand what is happening in Dying Light 2. The intro cinematic explains everything to bridge the gap between both games and explains everything for new players. It does have some subtle references to Dying Light. Characters make a short return and some dialogue remarks about them. A good pun about climbing towers also makes its way early into the game that gave me a good chuckle. While it’s nice to have that Dying Light knowledge, it certainly isn’t a must.
Even a brain-dead zombie doesn’t like spoilers – Dying Light 2 Review – Story
Techland has asked us to remain dead silent about the story. More so about the choices you as a player make that shape the future of Villedor. Dying Light was a linear experience with no choices and a story set in stone. Dying Light 2 has several choices that can lead to different endings. Each meaningful choice comes with a timer that limits your time to think about the consequences and forces you to go with your guts.
The story itself starts off great. The mystery surrounding Aiden and his sister Mia, the experiments Aiden underwent as a kid and what happened to Mia. Aiden’s sole purpose is finding his sister and he has travelled 1500 km by foot in order to find her. All based on a rumour that the GRE professor Waltz is residing in the last city on earth, Villedor.
The story has its ups and downs. The acting and unique personalities of the main characters make up for the dull parts. But it’s certainly not the highlight of Dying Light 2.
Dying Light 2 has three factions that you interact with. One of them, Renegades, you interact with by using whatever weapon you have and apply it to their face. The other two factions are friendly but in conflict with each other. You are that middle ground, the neutral party, some kind of infected Switzerland that can’t stay neutral for long. Certain points in the story have you choose between these two factions. Shaping how the world is going to look like as your choice changes what outposts get built and what side-quests you get.
In neutral zones you can take over huge water towers or electrical supply buildings, after solving that puzzle you get the choice of who gets power or water. Each time you choose, the corresponding faction unlocks more features in that zone. More defensive tools or zip-lines, capability of using the best crossbow in the game or a free revive when you die. Some choices are technical as in what to unlock, other choices are narrative driven by whom you trust or want to help.
The World of Dying Light 2
Dying Light 2 starts off in the mountains and open fields outside Villedor. I can tell you, nature doesn’t offer the parkour experience Haran in Dying Light gave you. It serves well as a tutorial setting and is quickly left behind as you enter the first real zone: Old Villedor.
*Insert office parkour meme here* – Dying Light 2 zones
Old Villedor is the crème de la crème for all your parkour needs. Once again, it’s tailor-made with parkour movement and combat in mind. The rooftops and streets below feel like separate levels. The rooftops, a free running course with the occasional bandits, the streets, a mix of infected and bandits.
The City Center of Villedor has more high rise buildings and wider streets. These offer more difficult routes for parkour. Although upon entering the City Center you unlock the Paraglider. A crucial tool for traversing there. I prefer Old Villedor as its design is really amazing and 100% focussed on parkour movement and getting around that way.
While in the City Center, you feel forced to use the paraglider. There are vents blowing air upwards to jump-start your glider. Some areas are only accessible with it. And it felt so easy, jumping off a building and gliding towards the objective. By doing that, you just miss a lot of the beauty this world has to offer.
As small as a pond but as deep as an ocean
The Old Villedor and Central City zone are packed with stuff to find and do. As I mentioned earlier, there is already a difference in the level that you play on. The rooftops offer some form of sanctuary from the infected. Certain rooftops with yellow trees offer the crafting materials needed for making healing items, often protected by bandits. There are windmills that are climbing puzzles and offer power to a small portion of the city when you complete them. Small outposts with traders and side-quests pop up as you restore power.
The street levels are filled with infected, random activities that pop up as you get near. Entries to stores filled with crafting materials or valuables. Abandoned military convoys and supply trucks with denser numbers of infected; or even a special viral guarding it.
There is just so much to do and it’s so easy to get distracted, hours fly by, and it barely feels like a drag or grind.
Hacking and whacking and smacking – Dying Light 2 review – gameplay
Most changes between Dying Light and Dying Light 2 are found in the gameplay department. More RPG elements, ranging from collecting gear with stats to levelling your health and stamina. Different combat and approach to crafting and repairing.
You either die an action game, or live long enough to become an RPG
RPG’s work so well, a lot of games and genres have taken over at least some RPG aspects. Shooters all have levelling mechanics; ranging from Destiny 2 to Call Of Duty and Battlefield. It just works to have a goal set out and reach those levels. Yay for small dopamine boosts.
In Dying Light, it felt natural to add some RPG elements. Collecting gear to tailor your play style for a more stealthy or ranged approach is now a viable option. Collecting booster shots allows you to upgrade your health or stamina, increasing either the HP bar or Health bar.
All your materials are belong to us
The crafting system now works with blueprints that can be upgraded for materials. Better crafting blueprints craft better healing kits or mods for your weapons. Weapon crafting is still as open and unique as it was in Dying Light. But you can no longer really repair your weapons. So eventually even your best item will break.
Adding a mod to a weapon increases its total durability and repairs it. So you go into this process of almost depleting its durability. Choosing your first upgrade, using the weapon with that upgrade until it’s almost depleted again. Adding your second upgrade, and so on and so forth. Well, until you fill up all three slots. After that, it’s gone forever.
Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee
You run and fly around Villedor like a butterfly, parkour and paragliding between buildings and infected alike. But when it comes to combat, you are a deadly force that mows down infected and scares off bandits.
Dying Light had meaty, scary and intense combat. Every swing mattered as your stamina took a hit with every bonk to the head of an infected. You avoided fighting when you didn’t have to and approached fights strategically, planned and always kept your eye on an escape route.
During my Dying Light 2 review period, I went to town swinging away like a kid in a hardcore moshpit. The combat feels less connective, as your weapons don’t bounce off heads or bodies. Aiden is stronger, better and faster than Crane due to his history, and it shows. Upgrade your stamina a bit, and you become a club wielding zombie grinder. Some liked the original combat, I like both. It makes sense that Aiden is stronger and that the approach to combat differs. But most of all, you just feel powerful instead of powerless.
Good night, good luck? Good night, good loot!
So if you are more powerful in combat, you can take on more infected. Nighttime becomes a playground with options. Certain areas like GRE anomaly sites, stores with valuables or quarantine zones become less populated at night. The infected wander out onto the streets and aforementioned locations, and their sweet loot are yours for the taking.
Night still carries its dangers with it, howlers will alert all infected when they spot you. Initiating a chase where virals pop out of every nook and cranny in Villedor. The rooftops are no longer safe, and you need to high-tail it towards the nearest UV protected spot. Your infection also gradually ticks down as long as you remain in darkness. If it progresses too far you will eventually turn, combine this timer with a higher threat of virals and your nights are still tense.
But taking on some virals, chasing bolters and completing night specific challenges; well these grant you some of those sweet materials you need for crafting and upgrading.
Performance was the only setting I found worth playing on
I can only talk about the Xbox Series X performance. From what I gathered, Dying Light 2 does not run well on the Xbox Series S, even in performance mode. It’s stuck on 30fps 1080p resolution and still can’t handle it. Be wary if you don’t own an Xbox Series X.
The Xbox Series X Dying Light 2 performance is good, OK or bad depending on what graphical preset you choose. Personally, the only acceptable setting was performance. It runs really smooth and still looks great. The world is still amazing to see and while some models become a bit flat, I prefer frames to extra facial shadows.
Quality mode has an insane amount of bloom and 30 fps that makes such a quick paced game unplayable for me. Resolution mode is a good in-between mix, but still doesn’t keep its frames consistently.
Most of my technical issues came with sound. Four times my sound just broke, using both speakers and headset it randomly just broke. That screech where you think your TV is dying, and you have to grab a shovel to end its misery. The only way to fix it was to reboot the game, luckily the autosave system is on point and I never lost progress.
Co-op and its problems
I decided to put the co-op section under the performance category. Because it either works for you, or it simply doesn’t. Combine it with the sound issue where I had to reboot and lose my co-op partner, you might consider not playing co-op at all. But if you have friends to play with, you might also consider this. Progression is not shared, and the story only progresses for the owner of the session.
This is a deliberate choice, mainly because you might make other dialogue choices than your friend. But you will have to replay everything you did together. Also, I had issues with accepting quests from certain NPC’s in co-op. Even when we both stood near the quest giver, he refused to start his dialogue or add the quest to the owner’s log.
Techland is dedicated to fixing any and all issues regarding performance, co-op and game breaking bugs for Dying Light 2. They promised a five-year dedication to this game, and it’s future DLC and modes. So I’m sure they will iron things out.
Closing words – I just want to wrap this up and go back to playing
I’m going to finish and publish this review and go back to playing some more Dying Light 2. Already I am considering a second play through with different choices to see how they affect the world and people. Make a new build and choose different upgrades. There is so much to do I simply cannot cover it all in this review. But it all just works well together, from crafting to taking over windmills and deciding what faction to support.
Dying Light 2 does not waste your time, it appreciates it. When you put your controller down, you don’t feel tired from grinding or burnt out, you just had a good time, and it’s past midnight already.
Looking for an open-world game on the Nintendo Switch while waiting for Dying Light 2 to release on that platform? Check out our Pokémon Legends: Arceus review to fill that open world gap in your life.
Thank you, Enarxis, for supplying BGeek with a key.