Our two-player demo of Dying Light's DLC has come to a halt. It's entirely the fault of our Techland guide, who, on spotting one player grabbing joypad, the other mouse and keyboard, mistakenly goaded us into deciding which control type was king once and for all. The setting's a farmhouse rooftop, weapon of choice the newly-acquired crossbow and the targets the heads of the milling undead in the yard below.
An on-screen score tracks the score count. Beyond the yard's makeshift fence a huge sandbox lays waiting for exploration. The ramshackle divide between civilisation and the wilds may as well be a 50-foot high wall, so fixated have we become to retrying the challenge over and over.
"Ummm... anytime you're ready," comes the polite nudge over our headsets. There's still plenty more to see, and only a short appointment slot to explore it in. We holster our weapons and leap into the fray, which devolves into trying to outperform each other with flying kicks to our shambling foes. We think we hear a slight sigh over our comms.
To be fair, the DLC's design breeds competition whether there's an on-screen counter or not. It could be The Following's greatest strength, as confidence in zombie control and parkour skills after six months in the main game turning the challenge to just, well... being better than the other person journeying with you.
We're out in the country investigating a zombie outbreak, and how it somehow ties to a cult worshipping a sun goddess (the cultists may be loony, but they've got some great artists amongst their number - illustrations adorn rocks turned shrines, and look good enough to consider as tattoos). There's a mystery that somehow also intertwines bandits and the undead to be solved out there in the distant horizon, but for now we're just stretching our legs and learning to play with the new additions.
We begin this demo slice climbing ledges in a cavern before quickly hopping between tiny outcrops along the side of a steep cliff face. The platforms are thin enough that we can only run along them in single file. We're supposed to be careful, but navigation quickly devolves into a race as we look to cut corners as the cliff starts jutting out at odd points, and testing the distance of our jumps to try and scrabble ahead of our colleague-turned-competitor. When we reach the edge of the cliff and spot the lake a hundred feet below, we follow our instinctive reaction and jump before our Techland guide's even drawn breath in a race to see who can hit the water first.
And so the competitive streak continues.
It carries on while we're running along the raised pipeline that stretches across farmed fields. Our feet may be within chomping distance of zombie teeth, but we're too busy trying to smoothly leap over pipe bends and keep ahead of our co-op buddy.
It carries on when we grab Uzis - as with the crossbow a nod to fan requests for ranged weapons - and storm another farm to steal a couple of buggies. We try for more headshots, more kills, more explosions. You'll be able to switch between the main game and this DLC at any time, though Techland recommend it's best played with higher-level characters. Experience not essential but necessary. Escalation comes through competition.
The buggies will be our main rides for the duration of the DLC, the wide open areas better with wheels, not shoes and parkour skills, to traverse. As you'd expect they've got decent suspension, and as you'd guess, jumping onboard and setting the next destination waypoint in the distance marks a number of glowing checkpoints on the road ahead. It's a race to the finish.
Zombies give a satisfying crunch when hit at high speeds, and a charge through a crop field obscures most of our vision, only briefly glimpsing the undead a split second before they go over our bonnet or under our wheels. We're still getting a feel for the power slides. At least, that's our excuse for letting our colleague get ahead of us for a brief spell. They leap over burning wrecks via a well-placed ramp. Then another, and another.
We charge down into a muddy bowl and a blue icon on the next rise suggests the finish line is in sight, but we can't break ahead. We watch our pal sail over the last jump and a split second later we're over as well, cursing our second place spot. As the buggy's nose curves back down towards the ground though we note we're landing into a sea of zombies, with several brutish specials wrecking vehicles. We're not sure who's going to be pancaked: them or us.
Before we land the screen cuts to black, a brief trailer plays and our demo ends. We lock eyes over the Techland rep's head and a mental note is made between us: the challenge will continue as soon as this DLC drops. That it's a free download for those who own the Season Pass - something unplanned in the original pricing for the multi-DLC pass - means we likely won't be the only ones racing each other over an infected wasteland.
The DLC will be free to Season Pass owners, and will be priced at around 15 quid on release. Check out our interview with the game's producer below, as well as highlights from it here.