When Techland’s Dying Light released last year, there was suitable fanfare. However, many players – including me – couldn’t find much life in the game despite its intriguing premise. It certainly helped that no other major releases were planned at the time but it just felt like a “Mirror’s Edge meets Dead Island” title should have offered more. Techland never stopped supporting Dying Light since its release though and transformed the game into a surprisingly compelling loot-based hack and slash adventure set in the first person perspective. As Dying Light received more content and support, it began to transform into something fairly compelling. With the Enhanced Edition, this may be the most compelling reason yet that new players have to jump aboard.
But it’s The Following, the brand new expansion, which will determine if they – and hardcore players – should stay. Does The Following change things up for the better? Does it offer a wide variety of content to keep players busy? Does it help Dying Light reach its full potential?
"Personally, I found the story-telling in The Following to be slightly better than the base game but only because of the mystery element involved. There’s a feeling of ambiguity and suspicion that just keeps pushing you to find the truth."
As it stands, there’s nothing revolutionary about The Following. The campaign features Kyle Crane traversing outside of Harran into “The Countryside” to investigate a rumour of people not turning into zombies and being generally immune to the virus. Then there’s the Mother, the leader of a cult which supposedly helps people stay immune thanks to the power of prayer. As an outsider to all these activities, Crane will need to gain the trust of both the locals and the Faceless, priests to the Mother, to investigate this immunity and use it to save the people of Harran.
Personally, I found the story-telling in The Following to be slightly better than the base game but only because of the mystery element involved. There’s a feeling of ambiguity and suspicion that just keeps pushing you to find the truth. Your trust with the locals is actually represented by a new bar in your Skills tab – the more side quests, story missions and survivors you help, the more trust you gain and the further the story proceeds. The good news is that the experience doesn’t feel grindy. After the initial story missions, you’ll be left to your devices to complete activities and advance the story, which can be daunting at first.
But the sheer range of activities available in The Following offers a lot of choice. Random events occur, inviting you to save the odd survivor from either zombies or bandits. Merchants hang out in hunting towers selling rare items you wouldn’t find in shops (the towers are also a good source for weapons and items hidden in locked crates). Bolters roam the countryside, demanding you to chase them down and collect their livers (yes, it’s for a quest).
"Obviously the biggest new addition to the series is the buggy. Suffice to say, the handling of the vehicle is great – when traction and braking are damaged, you’ll actually feel it become tougher to control and manage, especially at higher speeds."
There are Volatile Hives to destroy, undiscovered locations, unsecured safe houses, missing persons, various mysteries, co-op bosses aka Freaks of Nature and so on to discover in the world of The Following. No, the quest design isn’t going to compete with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Fallout 4‘s best missions but there are some particularly memorable moments. Make sure you hold on to your lunch when investigating the park in the seaside town.
Obviously the biggest new addition to the series is the buggy. Suffice to say, the handling of the vehicle is great – when traction and braking are damaged, you’ll actually feel it become tougher to control and manage, especially at higher speeds. Like your weapons, the buggy can be upgraded with superior engines and wheels, though be careful when putting on high-tier upgrades. After a point, they can be damaged beyond repair, unless you unlock enough upgrades in your Driver skills tree and craft the same. Other awesome features include the ability to lay landmines behind your vehicle to shake off Volatile pursuers or install a noise alarm to act as a distraction.
As it stands, I can see many taking issue with there being too much driving in The Following. This is further exacerbated by the lack of a fast travel system. In Harran, it wasn’t a big deal because there were enough buildings to explore and safe houses to take refuge in, especially when it got dark. In the countryside, you’re often left scrambling to run away from Volatiles and reach the nearest safe house in time.
"The big question remains though – is The Following fun? In many ways, it heralds back to what made Dying Light so appealing in the first place."
While it does add an extra element of survival to the mix, it’s annoying when you need to head back to the farm to meet with Jasir and have to travel half the map distance to reach there. Also, take note when using the buggy to run away from Volatiles – in an entire countryside teeming with them, that tree you run into while trying to escape will only be all the more annoying.
The big question remains though – is The Following fun? In many ways, it heralds back to what made Dying Light so appealing in the first place. Hacking and slashing zombies is great, especially when you start off with higher-tier weapons and recipes right off the bat unlike the previous game. Some bugs do remain – floating corpses, for example – but the game is stable overall and looks pretty good. Dying Light still looks visually appealing a good year later and the wide open fields, deep dark caves and hordes of zombies at any given time still warrant a pause in The Following.
Techland may not have revolutionized the open world genre with Dying Light: The Following but it’s filled with fun activities. Parkour purists of the previous game may be left wanting but the driving and combat are solid, the storyline is fun – if not particularly inspired – and there’s tons of stuff for both fans and new players to enjoy despite a few annoyances here and there. If nothing else, I can say that The Following never had a dull moment even when I was scouring for supplies, rescuing survivors or investigating new areas.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Wide range of activities and areas to explore. Dune buggy proves new interesting mechanics. Interesting story and plenty of content to run through.
The odd bug here and there. No fast travel system. Lack of parkour may annoy some. Fairly typical quest design and plot development.