Dying Light: Zombie Survival

This is our biggest project yet; our previous game is nothing compared to this. Our QA testers work 25-hour days and our programmers walk on water.” Developers may tell you any or all of the above, but Techland, a team that’s learned vital lessons from 2011’s Dead Island, makes a convincing case.

It’s one we're presented over the course of a five-hour hands-on at the developer’s studio in Poland. We’re in the shoes of Dying Light protagonist Kyle Crane, Global relief Effort (GRE) employee in the walled off city of Harran. It’s a clashing of East and West Istanbul on a bad day and more detailed than anything in Dead Island. Cars burn by chicken wire football pitches, embers dance on the wind, mouldy billboards promote a 2014 athletic event that never was, and thousands of distressed birds flock high above. after a brief cutscene (no spoilers now) Crane groggily awakes in a high-rise building.

Tall order
The Tower is one of few safe zones. you can sleep here, advance time, purchase weapons and choose missions. The only problem? The residents don't like you. To win their trust you'll have to get your hands dirty, and so begins the tension between Crane the company man and Crane the runner. He's essentially a post-apocalyptic double agent.
“We discover not his mum, but a bucket resting on a pile of sandbags With a smiley face draWn on it”
Time to join new pal rahim for some parkour training in a not so health and safety conscious construction pit. an important lesson, because before long you’ll be wall-running, butt-sliding, and even drop kicking. It's remarkable how much this changes things up: whereas the comparatively inert Dead Island was filled with artificial barriers, Dying Light gives you the means to go anywhere.

Back to the Tower, prologue finished, emergent missions flow in. Crane passes a group in the corridor knocking furiously on a door. “Bahir! Open up!”

Feeling charitable, we use a lockpick on the door to find Bahir paralysed on the floor. He’s bought dodgy medicine off a street vendor, so we decide to pay a little visit.

On the way the Tower’s doctor, Lena, is after medicine of her own by way of crazy hermit Gazi. “Get chocolates and a movie for mother,” he orders when we reach his dilapidated shack. We raid a garage for the items, in the process setting off an alarm and battling back a dozen biters with meaty swings of a nailed plank. upon returning to Gazi, we discover not his mum, but a bucket resting on a pile of sandbags with a smiley face drawn on it. The outbreak has strange effects on people…

Troll hunter
you might argue the effects are strongest on Crane as he develops fighting skills, crafts weapons and medicine, and freeruns across a massive open world that holds a lot more secrets than five hours can uncover. and that’s to say nothing of the four-player drop-in campaign co-op, and the intriguing Be a Zombie mode. Techland tells us the latter allows you to invade a friend’s game as a powerful zombie and run wild. undead trolling? Perfect.

The developers seem sincere when they bring up problems with the glitchy, stiff Dead Island. Dying Light isn’t perfect difficulty spikes and fetch quests remain but the bulk of issues are addressed in thrilling fashion.

Developing Dying Light
We pick Techland’s brains

On zombies…
“The Virals have this little human spark in them that sometimes when you hit them they ask for help, and then when you think they’re going to be alright they jump you.” Maciej Binkowski, Lead Game Designer.

On weather…
“The population of zombies changes depending on the weather. But the most important part is noise, so you might get away with using firearms in storms.” Maciej Binkowski, Lead Game Designer.

On movement…
“I don’t really look at Dying Light as another zombie game. I look at it as a game that changes FPS games, how you feel about being in the world and being able to move through it.” Tymon Smektala, Producer.

On the setting…
“We were trying to make it as Middle Eastern as possible, then we realised that’s maybe not the right way to go… We don’t really want to go too deep into the issues that come with it.” Tymon Smektala, Producer.

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