I thoroughly enjoyed Techland’s “Dying Light” when it released early last year. You can see how much I liked it by checking out my review.
What I liked most about “Dying Light” wasn’t its parkour-style movement system, though that was definitely cool. It wasn’t the story or the seemingly endless weapon crafting options. No, what I liked most about the parkour-infused survival-horror romp was the high tension created once the sun went down and the zombie threat ramped up.
The game’s first major DLC expansion, the recently released “The Following,” changes things up quite a bit by introducing a large new area to explore and, more significantly, bringing vehicles into the mix. I was initially concerned that the inclusion of vehicles would eliminate those tense moments that made “Dying Light” so memorable. Let’s face it, zombies aren’t that scary when you’re running them over in your souped-up buggy.
But all it took was one ill-timed trip into the countryside to put my fears to rest.
While investigating reports of a missing person — one of many different quests you can take on in your attempt to gain the favor of the locals and get close to a cult that may have a cure for the zombie virus — I became separated from my buggy. “No big deal,” I thought to myself, knowing I still had my parkour skills and a rather hefty arsenal of weapons at my disposal to help keep me safe. What I didn’t realize, however, was just how far I had strayed from my ride. Or that the sun was about to go down.
As was the case in “Dying Light,” regular zombies become much more aggressive and special high-powered zombies come out to hunt after dark in “The Following.” Suffice to say, you don’t want to be exposed for very long at night (unless you really like looking at the loading screen).
After receiving a warning that nighttime was imminent, I hurriedly began making my way back to my buggy. Darkness had fallen as I reached my destination and I quickly climbed into the driver’s seat and took a moment to relax. That’s when the first volatile — one of those special zombies — latched itself onto my cart. Out of instinct, I hit the gas and tried to shake it off, all the while it was attacking me as I drove. At some point, I was able to dislodge the creature but not before it caused massive damage to my character.
My brief moment of respite was interrupted by two more volatiles making a beeline toward my buggy. I again hit the accelerator in hopes of outrunning my pursuers, trying desperately to reach a safe zone before they could catch up. I zigged and zagged through fields and forests, driving through fences, over railroad tracks and crashing into seemingly everything in an effort to elude the threat that was nipping at my tailpipe. Finally the safe zone was within sight and I breathed a sigh of relief. As I exited my buggy, hopped the fence to safety and waited for the sun to rise, any fears I had about “The Following” were put to rest.
Indeed, “The Following” is filled with the same white-knuckle zombie-slaying action that made “Dying Light” so much fun.
And the big addition to the game, the aforementioned buggies, feel right at home in the world of “Dying Light.” As with weapons, you can salvage items to craft new parts for your buggy, allowing you to upgrade and maintain everything from the tires and suspension to the engine. As you increase your driver rank, you can add more offensive-minded upgrades such as a flamethrower to your buggy and give it character with a customized paint job or a bobblehead for the dash.
The best part about the buggy, however, is that its use is largely optional. There are a few missions that require you to get behind the wheel, but for the most part you can leave your ride parked and explore on foot. After some initial hesitation, I grew rather fond of the buggy as the actual act of driving is quite fun. Mowing down zombies never got old and it was nice to have a way to cover ground quickly, because the new map, The Farmlands, is huge.
The Farmlands is larger than Harran (the setting for the core game) and offers a nice mix of terrain, with pastures, seaside towns and sheer cliffs waiting to be discovered. The open design of the map makes for a great playground for the buggies, but “The Following” still presents plenty of opportunity to show off your parkour skills.
“Dying Light: The Following” takes everything that was great about the original game and seamlessly adds an entire new world to explore and a fun new way to explore it. This is the definitive “Dying Light” experience and shows the franchise still has plenty of life left.
“Dying Light: The Following”
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Available for: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Rating: M for mature