Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox One, PS4 | Developer: Techland | Publisher: Warner Bros., Interactive Entertainment | ESRB: M | Controls: Mouse/keyboard, Controller
Dying Light: The Following seamlessly tacks on a fleshed-out story with features that fit naturally into the new location. With Antizin supplies dangerously low and the people of Harran growing even more desperate to survive, Kyle Crane heads for the countryside to follow rumors of a group of people – The Faceless – who are immune to the virus and, perhaps, even find a cure. Seems like a total pipe-dream, but he has no other option.
Before beginning the expansion, you are forced you to play through the prologue of the base game. This will allow you to become familiar with the story in Harran and how Dying Light: The Following, as a continuation, fits into it. Also, it will give you time to become familiar with the gameplay as every skill point you earn in every category will transfer over to the expansion. Even though parkour is not as important, you will still need to utilize your agility in various areas of the map. The best parkour action you’ll find is in a town-like cluster of apartments and shops far away from the farmlands.
It’s recommend that you level up your survivor skill tree to 12 before beginning expansion – with good reason. The infected roam freely in the pastures, your enemies have guns, and there are fewer places to hide. I ignored this recommendation and started with a survival level of 5. It’s not impossible to start the story this way, but be prepared to die. A lot. You’ll have to get really crafty with how you take out your enemies, infected and bandits alike. I’d have to lure one bandit away from the pack and beat them with a police baton until they were dead so I could take their gun. Or stand crouch on top of a van where they couldn’t reach me and strike them from above. Sneaking, distracting, and taking the time to formulate a plan of attack will – hopefully – make you die less; losing survivor points is devastating.
While in the countryside, your main objective is to gain the trust of the residents so that you will be recognized by The Faceless and ultimately welcomed into their fold as a Disciple. The story itself makes use of an interesting progression; it begins linear, but after you finish your first main mission for Jair, you will have to complete several side missions to first be noticed by the faceless, thus breaking the linear format. This back-and-forth pattern continues until the last mission.
Those looking for a multi-layered main narrative, like Kyle Crane’s status as a secret agent for the GRE in the base game, might be disappointed. The Following has a short campaign, maybe seven to nine hours, and a straight forward storyline. However, this is only an expansion, so much of the enjoyment will come from having played the base game and connecting with the characters. It’s not just Kyle Crane that needs saving, it’s people still in Harran, like Lena. However, the expansion does little to expand on the base game’s ending and, if you were also disappointed by that, you might be disappointed again; Dying Light: The Following‘s ending doesn’t come to a full resolution and, to some extent, is open-ended.
In terms of the expansion’s most crucial feature, the buggy, I am always skeptical of games that feature driving. Sometimes, the controls are basic to the point of cumbersome and take a while to master. The buggy in this instance is no exception. With WASD and the spacebar for the controls, those who have a hard time with driving in-game could find themselves frustrated with the mechanics and loathe the idea of having another object to monitor for fuel and maintenance. However, the buggy is the fastest and safest way to get around; with a map that large and a lot of flat farm land to cover, you can’t parkour your way through the grass. The trick for those who have a hard time driving via keyboard – for me, anyway – is to take your hand off the mouse. I was instantly able to control the buggy and began to have fun driving it; mowing over the infected never gets old.
Aside from the ability to upgrade your buggy with better parts and custom paint jobs, players have the ability to recall their buggy to any safe house. However, there are times when you will die and respawn in a hunting tower far away from your buggy, forcing you to trek across the countryside in search of it. If it’s night time, good luck. Having to trek back and forth from side of the map to the next can also get repetitive.
The day/night and weapon/vehicle decay mechanic that carries over from the base game continued to break immersion for me on occasion, particularly when dying several times in a row or failing a timed mission several times in a row. For example, when racing in my buggy to shut off the water valve before all the pies exploded, even though I was able to restart the mission, time continued pass normally, and my buggy was damaged to the point of almost not being able to get me across the map within the time limit. I was nervous about being able to finish the mission, given that the autosave started me right when the timer appeared on the screen. The passage of time and wear and tear on weapons makes the game more realistic, but to start the same mission several times over and have that progression continue puts an awkward kink into the mechanics that make the game unique.
Overall, Dying Light: The Following is a great expansion that gives players both familiar to and new to Dying Light a fresh experience. Once mastered, the buggy is an extremely fun ride and great for outrunning Virals and Volatiles. The story may come to an unsatisfying end, but the overall narrative breathes new life into a genre that has been overdone in popular culture.
This review copy of Dying Light: The Following was played on PC via Steam and was provided by the developer.