While not perfect, we're big fans of Dying Light around here. Zombie games aren't uncommon across platforms but there's a lot in this one that pulls you in. There's some pretty intense moments throughout and a large game world to explore and kill things in. And it's about to get bigger. Much, much bigger.
Say hello to the newest expansion, Dying Light: The Following. And it's huge. We had the chance to get some hands-on time at Gamescom recently, and we think you're going to like it.
While The Following is an expansion, it's by no means reliant on having finished the main game in order to play. But it's not a standalone, either, and Techland is assuming that anyone playing is already familiar with the games mechanics (and you need the main game to be able to play it at all). There's nothing massively new on that front. You can still run, climb, craft weapons, kill stuff just as you always could. But there are new weapons to use, some of which we've had chance to try out.
Video above contains a montage of raw footage from the demo shown to press at Gamescom 2015
So, what's it all about? What's the backstory?
"The Following is a story driven expansion pack and the untold chapter of Kyle Crane's involvement in the Harran zombie outbreak. Players will leave the city walls and travel to a new, vast region. A land that is much more open and that transforms the well-known gameplay pillars of Dying Light into a brand-new experience. An important part of this experience is commandeering all-terrain buggies and enjoying the game's creative brutality and freedom of movement in high gear."
"Kyle Crane finds himself in Harran's outback where a mysterious cult has used the outbreak to rise to power. Your main objective is to infiltrate this mysterious group by completing tasks and missions they see as worthy of their cause. To do so though, you'll first have to gain the trust of the locals, which will be no small feat in itself. This is a very closed society that needs to keep its secrets. The non-liner progression system means players will pick and choose what quests they will take on to buy their way up into the cult's ranks, where both cunning and brute force will be needed to succeed."
So, while we mentioned there's no real reliance on having finished the main game, there are benefits to it. Since Crane is the protagonist here, you can carry across your experience and skills from Dying Light into The Following. Likewise any loot from The Following can be taken back into Dying Light.
Touching quickly on the new weapons, and at Gamescom we could try out the new Crossbow and Sub-machine gun. And I'm a dab hand with a crossbow if I do say so myself. There's something satisfying about firing off a series of well placed headshots with the 'bow. There'll also be many more ranged and melee weapons included in the final product.
Vehicles are also new in the form of dirt buggies and due to the scale of the map they're going to be essential in getting around without being killed. It also addresses one of the few criticisms we had of the main game. Our own Jonathan Dollison said this in his review of Dying Light:
"While distance can be fine for a typical open world game, this one could have used a fast travel option. All the running contributes to a long playtime in which you feel like you have done very little. My own completion time came in at 28 hours, with very few side missions completed. One could easily have a 40-50 hour experience with Dying Light in order to complete everything."
He's absolutely right and its this which we see as one of the biggest reasons you'd want vehicles. The map in the main game is also perhaps less suited to vehicles anyway, but the massive expanse that is The Following would be impossible to traverse safely without. The experience of driving isn't bad, either. You're thrown into a first-person viewpoint and these things are pretty speedy. They're also great weapons in themselves. Oh, and check out the final few seconds of the video above. That's where the demo ended for us, flying through the air in a buggy into a ridiculous sea of zombies.
How big is the map then? The developers told us that it's the same size as all the maps in Dying Light combined. And it's 'just' an expansion, remember. One glorious, enormous expansion. There's a lot of open space this time around which contributes quite heavily to the scale of the map, but they're still open spaces teaming with undead nasties waiting to eat your face. Game time they're claiming is around 10 hours if you don't take on any side quests, but with a map this size its conceivable you'll spend longer than that in it.
And making the most of the new world, the new non-linear progression system provides a little more freedom to play how you want to play.
"Take control of your fate and tackle the missions laid before you as you choose. The newly introduced Trust System will have you earning the respect and confidence of The Following's cult leaders by completing tasks and missions they see as worthy of the cause. When and which tasks you take on is entirely up to you. But as you earn more trust, you'll be granted more imperative tasks along with access to dark cult secrets which will help unravel the mystery that has taken hold of this once serene land."
You can also play through The Following with your buddies. The Gamescom demo was set up for two-player co-op as seen in the video above, but the final release will support 4-player. Just like the regular game.
How much is all of this going to cost then? It'll be available for 14.99 Euros in Europe (prices may vary region to region). That is, unless you're a Season Pass owner, in which case you'll be rewarded with The Following for absolutely free. Techland made it clear to us at Gamescom that they want to reward the gamers who put their faith in Dying Light in this way by not asking them for any more money.
So, in closing, what do we think? For fans of Dying Light, The Following is a must buy. It's got everythiing that's great about the main game with a vast new world to explore, new weapons to kill stuff with and new ways of getting around. All wrapped up in a new story where you're able to pick and choose which missions you want to fulfill in order to gain the trust of the local cult.
We played through the early stages of The Following at Gamescom and left impressed. Vehicles alone make such a difference in getting around quickly, and at the asking price it feels like great value, too. There's a lot that's gone into it, and we're very much looking forward to playing through the finished article.