E3 2019: Dying Light 2’s New Storytelling Is Punctuated


One of the most impressive games at E3 2019 is undoubtedly Dying Light 2, which is coming out five years after the first installment. Set in what’s being dubbed a modern dark age, Dying Light 2 gives players control of a character named Aiden Caldwell, who’s not only infected but also tasked with trying to restore water to the city. Techland’s hands-off demo of Dying Light 2 at E3 highlights all three pillars of the series – day/night cycle, parkour, and brutal combat – while also showcasing what’s new for the sequel, particularly the narrative sandbox.


E3 2019 featured brand new footage of Dying Light 2, the next game coming from Techland. The original Dying Light was a stellar blend of freerunning traversal with satisfying, brutal combat. In a lot of ways, it was one of the more visceral and daring games set in the zombie apocalypse. In your fight to survive against hostile humans and the infected, the overrun city of Harran was your playground, and the open-world world zombie-game was at its best when it let you loose in its vast open areas. It offered up several different encounters to uncover, and a lot of these situations often resulted in a series of events that felt surprisingly dynamic and in-the-moment, presenting some of the game’s best sequences. With the sequel, Techland aims to lean in further with the follow-up Dying Light 2.

Our demo begins with Aiden in the restroom of The Fish Eye, a tavern in the center of the city. Since he’s infected, he’s having trouble getting ahold of himself, but it’s important that he does so because he needs to find a way to turn on the water pumps and restore clean water to the city. And since there’s only one day’s worth of water left, tensions are high and Aiden needs to act quickly to solve the problem. At this point in the game, Jack Matt, Juan Rainer, and Frank are attempting to save the city, but things go awry when Frank is shot. And so, Aiden needs to choose to either stay with Frank or go after the people – who are in a truck – who shot his friend.At E3 2019, we got to see an extended hands-off demo that focused on the conflict between two major factions–a war between the communities of The Fish-Eye and the Castle. Though the concept of an open-world zombie apocalypse experience letting you have the run of the city is very much intact, there’s now a greater emphasis on weaving those sandbox elements into the actual story.

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Using anything and everything at his disposal, including a UV light, the developer was able to escape the area after climbing up multiple stories. Not too long after that, he caught up with the truck, took out the scout, and then forced the driver to take him to an island (essentially the water plant) where a character called The Colonel is located – and that’s the person Aiden believes can turn on the water pumps. A little song and dance of stealth and close-quarters combat, with some gunplay sparsed in-between, is showcased here, but in the end, Aiden’s choice to side with his friend Jack Matt instead of hearing The Colonel out leads to the open world transforming and opening up an entirely new region to explore.

Described as a “narrative sandbox,” Dying Light 2’s overall plot–centering on the story of infected survivor Aiden Caldwell–takes a more tangential approach when compared to the mostly linear plot in the original. The sequel takes place in a far more bleak and desperate setting as well, which the developers refer to as the “modern dark age.” Suffice it to say, things got a whole lot worse following the story in Harran, and now Dying Light 2’s location known as The City is likely the last major settlement on Earth. With little to no guns left, there’s a greater emphasis on scavenging items and crafting special weapons of your own. One of Dying Light 2’s more interesting weapons is a harpoon launcher that doubles as a makeshift club once your ammo is depleted.

  • Dying Light 2 is set 15 years after the first game, and it’s meant to depict what a post-apocalypse world would look like inside a major city, with various factions leading the way.
  • Stamina is hugely important in Dying Light 2. While players have numerous options when it comes to parkour, stamina is quickly depleted the longer it takes for someone to scale a wall, wall run, or push zombies away.
  • Improvised weapons are a key element of the brutal melee combat.
  • The city in Dying Light 2 is four times bigger than previous maps, and it contains seven regions, each of which is unique in their own way. (Our demo took place in District 2.) Some story choices may open up various regions, so not all may be available to players.
  • Considering that there are quite a few narrative paths players can take, there are multiple endings in Dying Light 2, though there isn’t one “true” ending as there are in other RPG titles.
  • Parkour has been improved upon. In addition to quality of life upgrades, players can interact with practically any part of the dynamic environment, as well as using zombies to parkour. Simply put: there’s always a way out of a situation.
  • Dying Light 2‘s story is single-player and co-op. Players who join a friend’s game will be taking part in their story.
  • Zombies have some personality to them this time. Their behavior is reactive to players’ moments.
  • New equipment has been added into the game to transform the parkour system, such as a single-handed paraglider. Even the grapple hook can be used in most situations.

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