Dying Gentle 2 preview: Your decisions can change all the material of this zombie-filled metropolis

There have been two standout demos ultimately 12 months’s E3. One was apparent, Cyberpunk 2077. The opposite took me abruptly on the time although. I favored Dying Gentle, however Dying Gentle 2 arrived a lot extra bold than I anticipated, with Techland touting its divergent storytelling paths and evolving world.

That narrative continued at E3 2019. “It’s not about which ending you get, however how the town seems while you end the sport,” stated Techland as we wrapped up this 12 months’s hands-off demo—and for good motive, a complete district rising from underwater as concurrently a key storyline got here to a untimely finish.

Techland says you’ll solely be capable to see 50 % of Dying Gentle 2 in any given playthrough. I’m inclined to consider them.

Rage, rage

Our demo began in The Fish Eye, and instantly it’s clear Dying Gentle 2 is a tonal departure from its predecessor. The unique Dying Gentle was, like so many zombie tales, about individuals making an attempt to outlive in a newly hostile setting—however Dying Gentle 2 is ready 15 years after the an infection. The apocalypse and even the post-apocalypse are over. Positive, zombies nonetheless infest the town streets, however society has adjusted and even begun rebuilding itself.

The Fish Eye is a bar. A considerably seedy bar, however a bar nonetheless. Individuals are laughing, celebrating, and secure. Life feels nearly regular, had been it not for the rundown décor and everybody’s rustic clothes.

After all, the scenario’s extra dire than it appears. Arriving at The Fish Eye, our protagonist Aiden Caldwell angrily remarks to de facto chief Frank, “You haven’t instructed them but?” to which Frank replies “What, that the water’s about to expire?”

Frank’s hoping to achieve a take care of the Renegades, bolstered by assist from the town’s different main factions, the Peacekeepers and Scavengers. Jack Matt’s Peacekeepers are armored in blue, a pseudo police drive which cropped up in final 12 months’s demo. The Scavengers are a extra ragtag band, however helpful in a battle.

And the Renegades? We don’t know a lot about them, besides they’re seemingly butchers, even perhaps cannibals, and that they’re hoarding a big provide of water. Their chief, The Colonel, is holed up in The Fortress—truly some type of towering hydroelectric plant or water therapy plant by the seems of it—and The Fortress is in flip surrounded by a deep moat.

Frank leaves the Fish Eye to barter with a dispatch of Renegades, hoping to unravel the water disaster. A shot rings out. Frank is shot, and once we attain floor stage we see him bleeding out on the bottom, the truck filled with Renegades screeching away.

Dying Light 2

We’ve reached our first decision: Stay and help Frank, or follow the truck.

It’s a binary choice, either push the analog stick left or right. And it’s a difficult choice as well, the first of many. These are an essential part of Dying Light 2’s branching story, with some resulting in different encounters, others changing the world in more drastic ways.

Case in point: We chase the truck and Frank dies. Techland didn’t flat-out say he’d live if we’d stuck around, but did say the outcome might’ve been better.

It probably wouldn’t make for an enthralling demo though. Instead we were led on a merry chase by the fleeing Renegades, sprinting from rooftop to rooftop to try and catch up before it reached The Castle. Along the way we got a taste of Aiden’s new traversal tools, a grappling hook and paraglider. The former seems especially useful, allowing Aiden to both leap across larger streets and swing-kick enemies in combat, provided of course there’s a ceiling overhead.

Techland moved to a new engine for Dying Light 2, which necessitated rewriting all the code for the parkour/natural movement system. Point being, you have more options this time around, and those options flow together a lot smoother. You can use zombies to break your fall, if you follow one off a roof. You can also double-wall-run and wall-jump, and climb objects that are moving or falling apart. It looks like myriad improvements to an already impressive system.

Dying Light 2 Dying Light 2

After a forced detour through a darkened building—which, if you remember from last year, means it’s infested with zombies—we finally caught up to the truck and leaped inside. At this point we had another choice, leaving the driver alive or killing him. Then another in short order, as the radio crackled to life and asked for an update. There, we could either tell him what to say or tell him not to answer.

We made it into The Castle without incident, since the driver knew the password to get in—but leaving him alive also allowed him to betray us, honking the horn and alerting the rest of the Renegades as we sneaked through the base. A base that looked a lot more civilized than we were told as a matter of fact, with manicured lawns and people playing with children.

“What’s with the butcher thing? All I see is regular people,” Aiden remarked, acknowledging the situation was suspicious. After escaping pursuit and entering The Castle, we even find a woman playing piano. Cannibals indeed.

The Colonel then walked out, protesting his innocence and saying the Peacekeepers arranged Frank’s death to force the Renegades out of their fortress. It seems plausible enough but for the purposes of the demo we decide to follow orders, turning on the pumps and sending water to the rest of the city—and out of The Castle’s moat, which is revealed to be an entire submerged district, now free to explore. Oh, except some sort of special zombie bursts out of the ground, with spikes on its arm.

Dying Light 2 Dying Light 2

And The Colonel was right, by the way. The Peacekeepers invade the district, presumably killing him. The next time we visit the area, it’ll most likely sport Peacekeeper blue, and come with a lot more rules than before. It’s probably not the path I would’ve chosen.

Bottom line

I used this Techland quote up top, but I think it’s worth reiterating: “It’s not about which ending you get, but how the city looks when you finish the game.” That’s essentially a Dying Light 2-specific way of saying it’s the journey, not the destination, but both our demos have proven the statement true. At E3 2018 we saw how changing who controlled a water tower could change a district, a small decision having a rippling effect. This year we saw how a larger decision could change the entire fabric (and layout) of the city.

Both are impressive, and both contribute to this idea of Dying Light 2 as living world. Plenty of developers say you’ll have an impact on their game, but few truly deliver. Dying Light 2 is melding story and mechanics in ways I’ve rarely (if ever) seen, and if they can pull it off I hope to see others follow. Open worlds have been static backdrops for almost two console generations. It’s exciting to see someone finally do something with one of these sprawling maps.

Dying Light 2 is scheduled to launch in spring 2020.

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