Prior to playing Dying Light there was really no way to bring up the game without mentioning Techland's previous zombie work - Dead Island. After playing a vertical slice of the game, however, it is clear that Dying Light brings something that is surprisingly different to the table. This isn't simply a case of building something on top of the foundation that was there (that's what Dead Island: Riptide did), instead it offers a very different game that's sprinkled with some of the elements that made Dead Island a hit.
While the big new thing that Techland are showing off in the brief E3 hands-on demo is the character progression - how you unlock new abilities and moves - what we took away was just how different the traversal options and the day and night cycle make the experience. Trying to avoid the Volatiles (ridiculously strong, fast and clever night-time enemies that will swarm you if they detect you) at night in order to achieve objectives that may be too dangerous during the day with bandits out and about adds layers to the experience we hadn't previously imagined. Maybe the traversal is best described as a first person Assassin's Creed experience as it feels a bit more freeform that what was the case with Mirror's Edge. Taking out your typical infected enemy isn't really a challenge, they're mainly there to offer similar kinds of destractions as zombies in Dead Rising, but there are many more challenging enemies that await us in Dying Light.
One thing about adding RPG elements to action games is that it often only means doing more damage. You simply upgrade your strength or health to deal more damage and your ability to take it. In Dying Light the character progression really evolves the way the character moves - you climb faster, you have a host of new moves in and out of combat and in many ways you feel like Mirror Edge's Faith only with a fully fleshed out combat system and lots of infected to take out.
Towards the end of the demo we get to traverse Old Town with an advanced character. Plenty of new combat moves, faster climbing and ridiculous jump are a great fit for this more vertical part of the game. While the outbreak has affected this part of the world as well, the beauty of the old buildings is still very much present and make for a different and rather refreshing atmosphere. It's not all boarded and shanty houses.
Dying Light will offer weird weapon combinations, strong first person melee combat, and naturally co-operative play - and zom... infected. However, this is really where the comparisons with Dead Island should end as this game offers a different atmosphere and more importantly very different gameplay thanks to the added mobility. While our mobility makes facing the zombie apocalypse a lot less stressful, the Volatile, and various other enemies help increase your vulnerability and we came away impressed by the atmosphere on offer here. Adding three co-op buddies to the mix may change that in the end, but Dying Light sure looks set to offer up something different than Dead Island.