Dying Light 2 was one of the most anticipated games to make an appearance at E3 this year. With a lengthy gameplay demo, we've seen exactly what the open-world zombie title has to offer. We also got the chance to speak to the game's lead designer, Tymon Smektala, who told us more about the sequel's narrative, the decision-based gameplay, and how parkour mechanics have been refined.
The game takes place 15 years after the original in a new city which is the last surviving human settlement on the planet. The protagonist, Aiden Caldwell, is in search of a cure for his infection which in turn gets the player involved between warring factions and in environments where game-changing decisions have to be made.
"You make choices by making decisions as you play," Smektala tells us, describing how the experience is largely shaped by player decisions. "Choices can also be made by interacting with open world elements, encounters and activities. For example, if you start helping specific groups of survivors, they will start reacting to that. They still start installing things in the city like line bridges and zip-lines which allow you for easier traversal, as well as helping in combat."
Talking more about traversal, the game's parkour system has been given a complete overhaul, as the designer explains the switch to a new in-house engine, C-Engine. This engine was built from the ground up to integrate more seamless and dynamic movement in the game's parkour mechanics, which will allow you to grapple with more objects:
"The new technology allows us to introduce moving elements, ones which break when you run through them, or swaying elements."
Fast, fluid movement will be a very integral part of the game, as the city in which it's set is made up of seven different regions. The designer explains the importance of the mechanics when traversing across these varying environments:
"Each one has specific parkour DNA or parkour characteristics, and there are areas where the grappling hook is very useful because there are plenty things you can attach it to or swing to the other side of the street."
The crafting system has also been given a rework, where access to specific blueprints is dependent on the choices and consequences of player decisions. In addition to elemental damage, there are even more special modifications you can add to weapons through crafting components, such as a mod which forces enemies to drop weapons with a well-timed block.
Another mechanic making a big comeback is the UV flashlight for use in single-player.
"You get access to UV flash, which is basically your get-out-of-jail-free card when you're surrounded and are panicking. You can light it up which saves your ass for a couple of seconds," the designer explains.
Depending on how safely you choose to play the game, you can also add UV lighting to street lamps to ward away creatures of the night and improve the city life for NPCs.
The game's E3 demo is referenced in regards to the action vs. consequence gameplay. Different types of enemies will only be revealed when certain interactions are made. By the demo's example, draining an area submerged in water will uncover new creatures which weren't previously active on land. The designer promises players a wealth of outcomes:
"You will see about 50% of the content in just one playthrough, so this encourages replayability and co-op play."
Dying Light 2 is releasing on PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One in early 2020.