Image via Techland

Dying Light 2 is slowly morphing into the original Dying Light

Volatile beyond belief.

The jury is still out on whether Dying Light 2 has successfully outpaced its humongous predecessor, the original Dying Light. The really curious bit is that Dying Light 2 has slowly been inching closer to the sort of experience the original game delivered back in 2015.

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Now, it’s immediately important to understand and appreciate the fact that Dying Light 2 certainly did improve upon the original game in many ways. Simply by virtue of its setting, it’s a more interesting and fully realized experience: something that paves its own way, though clumsily at times, stumbling across the rooftops, not unlike a zombie of sorts.

Certainly, there’s a vision behind Dying Light 2. Here’s a game about a post-apocalyptic community of zombie pandemic survivors. Survivors who live on rooftops and parkour their way through life willy-nilly with a neo-medieval approach to community and society. It’s incredibly interesting stuff, even if only in concept, and it stands out even in a genre as overflowing as zombie FPS games are.

In comparison, the first Dying Light was far more generic. On paper, the gameplay is technically the same: first-person melee-centric parkour adventure. The difference is in the setting, as Dying Light takes place in a roughly Istanbul and Wroclaw-inspired region in the mid-aughts, with fairly modern technology, gear, and broader societal sensibilities.

Image via Techland

Is Dying Light 2 compromising on its vision to behave more like Dying Light?

The biggest practical difference between the games’ respective gameplay loops isn’t something that could’ve necessarily been put into words early on. Both titles are action RPGs to some extent, with the engine crunching numbers and applying maths in the backend. The end result of swinging a machete at a zombie in Dying Light was subtly different from what you’d get by doing the same thing in Dying Light 2. This is hardly a scientific comparison, of course, but the physics of the experience often didn’t feel right in the sequel.

Once again, this is not easy to convey if you haven’t spent hours playing both of these games, as we are talking about moment-to-moment combat behavior and minute changes in the feel of your avatar’s in-game actions. The one thing that paints a very clear picture, though, is the two games’ respective update histories.

Notably, Dying Light enjoyed a very long and prosperous post-launch content schedule. The game received numerous substantial free and paid content updates up until the sequel’s release, but none of them introduced major new mechanical changes and revisions.

In comparison, Dying Light 2 has been getting big, game-changing updates on a very regular basis. The Good Night Good Luck update, for example, introduced a revised parkour mechanic that’s “designed to cater to seasoned veterans of Dying Light 1,” making the running and climbing substantially less floaty. It also made nights more dangerous – as they were in the original game.

Image via Techland

The Community Update #3, on the other hand, allowed players to repair their weapons, dismantle mods, and made it so that human enemies dropped their own gear after being taken down. All returning features from the first Dying Light, with a few notable novelties thrown in for good measure as well.

Finally, underlining our argument is the latest Firearms Update, which does precisely what it says on the tin: introduces a variety of guns into Dying Light 2. Many of them are literally returning models from the first Dying Light, functioning in much the same way. Now, the really curious bit here is that pre-release Dying Light 2 developers went out of their way to explain why the game was almost entirely gun-free. This wasn’t a random omission but something entirely deliberate and meaningful: a key feature that separated Dying Light 2 from its predecessor. Now, you can take that same H&K USP expy you carried in the first Dying Light and continue blasting zombies in Dying Light 2’s previously gun-free post-apocalypse.

Now, it’s important to note that none of this is a critique, necessarily. Thanks to Techland’s continued work on Dying Light 2, the game now feels and plays better than ever, and it’s more kinetic and satisfying in moment-to-moment gameplay. It’s just that a substantial number of these improvements came about thanks to the developer looking back at the original Dying Light. The Gut Feeling update, for one, specifically added a variety of gore and violence features that were commonplace in the first game, such as the ability to cleave zombies into pieces.

More improvements are coming down the line, of course. Techland has a comprehensive plan in mind for Dying Light 2’s future updates, with the Firearms Update being the first major step forward in that regard. It just seems like Dying Light 2 might have given up on its brave, original vision of an experience that stands on its own two feet, choosing instead to look back on all the things its predecessor did oh-so-well.


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Author
Filip Galekovic
A lifetime gamer and writer, Filip has successfully made a career out of combining the two just in time for the bot-driven AI revolution to come into its own.