Dying Light 2: Stay Human, the review of the open world full of zombies and parkour



The guys at Techland are finally ready to bring to market the suffered and long-awaited Dying Light 2: Stay Human, here is our review

Of all the difficulties that have surrounded the development of Dying Light 2: Stay Human we have spoken at length in our previous article on the game: a full-bodied hands-on linked to a press tour in Warsaw that allowed us to finally get our hands on this troubled sequel. Already on that occasion we expressed some concerns about the cleanliness of the game and the general balance of the parkour experience and combat. But, at the same time, we were lavished with many compliments on the quality of the open world and, somehow, on its originality that, despite starting from a handful of post-apocalyptic clichés, managed to have its own identity.

Now that there are less than 48 hours to the release of the game on the market, we are finally ready to get into the details of an overall assessment of this dense and complex work done by the guys at Techland after a review session that kept us glued to the product for more than 40 hours discovering lights and shadows of a project that, it is evident from the first minutes of the game, must have undergone numerous and drastic changes of program with cuts and rethinks that must have crossed every department of development.

What you’ll find in your hands, if you decide to proceed with the purchase, is a sort of roller coaster ride: there is always a long, long climb to do, before you can scream of the enjoyment experienced by descending at breakneck speed, making laps of death and spins. And this metaphor we will try to explain better in the course of this review of Dying Light 2: Stay Human.

A pleasant story but full of holes

A nice toast is never refused in Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Dying Light 2: Stay Human takes place chronologically 20 years after the events of the first chapter. Change the protagonist, change the city and somehow change the physical and mental state of the survivors and the infected, with obvious repercussions on the whole setting and the tone of the events told. All this has an obvious consequence: this sequel can be played and addressed by those who are completely unaware of the background and what happened in the debut title of the series, but obviously those who are aware of the background will enjoy some small historical reference and appreciate the evolution of the world created by Techland.

A brief introduction at the beginning of the game allows you to become familiar with the post-apocalyptic world, with the military nature of the virus that turns humans into zombies and with the new social structure of the survivors, while to make us familiar with the gameplay and Aiden Caldwell, the Pilgrim that we will find ourselves to control, we will think a good tutorial and a whole series of tips that will accompany us for most of the game, as we take possession of weapons, gadgets, movements of parkour and face all the various activities.

Initially it won't be easy to choose between Survivors and Peacekeepers

Much of the story takes place within the fortified confines of Villedor, for friends the City, one of the very last strongholds run by the few survivors where a semblance of normal life can still take place. The urban settlement is the backbone of the open world of Dying Light 2: Stay Human, even if the developer has adopted a technical trick to not have to manage the entire game world all the time by breaking the structure of the town into two parts. A first portion of Villedor is in fact composed of 4 districts and will keep us company for a very long initial phase of the game, while the so-called Central Line that we will reach later, is divided into 8 districts. Both areas can be navigated freely, but to go from one to the other we’ll need a quick trip through the subway.

The story told in the game is long, sometimes even compelling and with some nice twists, but it is also the first reference of everything that went wrong during the development of Dying Light 2. Now, it is clearly not our goal to do dietrology and take in hand the old proclamations of the development team at the time of the partnership with Chris Avellone, but just the first few hours of the game to begin to feel a feeling that will then tend to sharpen as we go forward in the narrative arc to hit us with violence at the time of the epilogue: there is always something that does not fit.

A huge infected is ready to charge us

The reactions of some characters, a series of changes of scenery and points of view, a lot of dialogue, the chronological order of events, up to the very motivations behind a long series of choices and actions of the co-protagonists are often unclear, not to say unjustified or inconsistent with the course of events. It constantly seems that parts are missing, that something has been brutally cut or is never explained with full knowledge of the facts by those who participate in the scene. Even the motivations that drive our antagonist, which of course we will leave out for spoiler alert, seem superficial and not very credible in more than one context.

This feeling of “unfinished” is also reflected in the concept of causes and consequences, so long highlighted in the communications of the development team, depending on the choices made by the player during his experience with Dying Light 2. Clearly there are effects related to our behavior, but often run out in the immediate, leading us perhaps to perform small portions of a mission instead of another, or to cause the removal of a particular character. There never seems to be a real change to the course of the plot that seems then “nailed” on a single track written and scripted by the developer.

3 factions fighting over a fistful of rubble

A well-armored Renegade

Villedor is a territory in continuous war: not only against the infected that roam the streets and inhabit most of the urban structures, but also and above all between the three factions that fight each other with no holds barred in search of a fragile balance always about to blow up.

In Dying Light 2 in fact, most of the events that will see us protagonists will lead us to interact and even take sides with the Survivors or the Peacekeepers: the first aim at the slow reconstruction of a social structure without too many rules but that allows each inhabitant to perform simple jobs so as to ensure the subsistence of the human species, the second are heavily militarized and push on the martial management of activities and urban settlements. These two alliances can barely stand each other trying a timid attempt at co-existence. Then there are the Renegades: partially structured thugs who want total anarchy and who, for reasons we initially ignore, have begun to attack indiscriminately the structures of the other two factions after a long period of relative peace.

While the Renegades represent in some way a sort of common enemy that we will have to limit ourselves to fight at every opportunity, Survivors and Peacemakers with their leaders and prominent figures, will be the groupings that will offer us the missions to be carried out and with which we will relate for the entire game. But even in this case you feel the hollowness of the system of causes and consequences of which we spoke a little above. Despite trying in every way to take sides against the Pacificatori, a whole series of steps of the main plot we will still do them in their company, beccandoci also praise and appreciation as if nothing had happened, and the same goes for most of the characters with whom we interact. If we eliminate a few sporadic cases, favoring a faction or a co-protagonist will never determine a substantial change in the story, leading for example to the inability to have interactions with the alliance harassed.

In Dying Light 2: Stay Human there will be many special infects

But then, you might be wondering, what does it mean to side with a faction in Dying Light 2? It simply means assigning them the nerve center present in each district: a water tower or an energy production plant. Once we have conquered them by completing some environmental puzzles, we will in fact be called to “grant” it to the Survivors or the Peacekeepers and this will determine a permanent bonus applied to all other districts assigned to the same faction. In the case of the Survivors we’ll earn ropes, airbags and other ammennicles that will make parkour easier and more effective. Favoring the Peacekeepers instead we will find installed traps, weapons and fortifications that will allow us to get the better of the infected during our wanderings through the streets of Villedor.

There will also be numerous windmills that we will have to climb and activate with very clear reminiscences of the first Assassin’s Creed and these will serve to unlock a series of safe havens managed by the faction that controls that district, and to highlight the various points of interest that identify the many secondary activities that you can do.

The gameplay

Although the focus is on melee weapons, in Dying Light 2 there is no lack of bows and crossbows

And so we finally get to talk about the gameplay of Dying Light 2. The game, we remind you if it is not yet clear, is an action game with a first-person view with a strong component of ruolistica and a soul lighter adventure. It can also be played entirely in co-op up to a maximum of 4 players. All grafted onto an open world structure that pushes hard on exploration and crossing the city by making the most of handholds and ledges to perform in parkour. In addition to the main plot there are a sea of side quests and optional activities to be carried out in addition to tons of loot to find and retrieve. Imagine it as a combination of an Assassin’s Creed and a Mirror’s Edge but with zombies in the middle to bore us. We spent 42 hours to finish it, but we can imagine that it is really possible to invest more than 100 hours in the title to see all its contents.

Just the infected represent one of the two enemies that we will face for the entire game, with the other opponent represented by the Renegades and some sporadic group of thugs that sometimes thickens on the rooftops and streets. The presence of these opponents is regulated by the day/night cycle on which the daily life of Villedor is based: during the day the surviving population will tend to carry out its main activities and, sometimes, to venture into the alleys of the City, taking advantage of the fact that most of the zombies are hidden inside the structures with those few who wander around the streets strongly weakened by sunlight. At night the situation is reversed with the humans entrenched in their safe havens and the infected swarming the streets, sometimes even arriving on rooftops, ready to chase and attack anyone who comes within range, strong in their numbers and unprecedented violence that animates their movements.

This dynamic has deep roots in a number of gameplay aspects: aware of the fact that most of the interiors will be emptied of zombies during the night, many research and recovery missions, as well as most of the secondary activities that contemplate the collection of resources, will be carried out at night. In this way Dying Light 2 manages to naturally stimulate the player to abandon the safety of daylight in favor of darkness, in order to get their hands on the best equipment and earn a whole series of extra bonuses that we will activate by carrying out our raids at night and that will have direct repercussions on the unlocking of talents.

Collecting loot by rummaging everywhere is a fundamental action in Dying Light 2: Stay Human

At the same time, however, going around at night activates a further danger due to Aiden’s infection: if in fact we are not irradiated by the sun or an ultraviolet light, our immunity will begin to decrease and will always be well indicated by a timer in overlay. Once this countdown is over, we’ll start losing health until we die. In this way Dying Light 2 manages to adequately manage our nocturnal raids, preventing us from being too reflective and forcing us to look around constantly in search of a source of saving light or gadgets and items that can restore part of our immunity.

Just talking about the progression of our avatar, we will have to deal with two different areas of enhancement. On the one hand, there’s a fairly classic equipment management that includes the usual collection of weapons, clothing, consumables and throwing items with level and rarity. And there is also a traditional crafting with projects to buy and the resulting products that can be created, provided you have the necessary reagents. Then there are 2 peculiarities that we personally have appreciated but probably will be discussed: our general level will determine that of the objects that we can find and buy. In other words, it will never be possible to get our hands on an offensive tool that we will not be able to use because it is above our values. The moment you level up (and this happens very slowly by carrying out missions) automatically change all the items in the vendors and crates scattered around the city. Secondly, the weapons are consumed and can not be repaired in any way. There are bonuses that we can apply to increase their longevity, but they are all destined to break with use sooner or later.

The paraglider will be an essential element to move quickly in Dying Light 2: Stay Human

The second element of progression is related to the talents. Compared to the first Dying Light, Techland has lost on the way a branch of ability since now we will have only two available: one focused on combat and the other on parkour with a good selection of perks that we can unlock by investing the talent points obtained as we, in practice, we fight or we go around the city. The more efficient we are in these two areas of the game, the faster we will gain experience in that branch, then we will get a talent point related to the activity, which we can then invest in that tree. The perks are many, even if you notice a strong imbalance between some really essential and others that seem to be there more to make numbers than for real repercussions on our way of playing.

However, there is a very interesting variable that will somehow keep our progression at bay: the inhibitors. These are very special collectibles scattered in crates and safes well hidden in the most risky or inaccessible areas of Villedor. These will serve to boost both our vital energy and vigor: the stamina we consume by performing any parkour move and using weapons. Some talents can only be purchased if you have a certain minimum value of health and vigor and, in this way, the game will also keep at bay our ability to go to higher level areas without first being powerful enough since, for example, we can not perform in long climbs until we have recovered enough inhibitors and then improved our vigor.

The fight

Even in situations of numerical inferiority, you won't struggle too much to get by in Dying Light 2: Stay Human

So if at the structural level, the progression and for what concerns the density of the open world we can be adequately satisfied with a number of smears that we must take into account, it is in the combat that lurks a part of the most glaring problems of the game along with those relating to the plot. The game, exactly like its predecessor, provides almost only a melee action with a long list of blunt and sharp weapons. There are also bows and crossbows and numerous throwing objects, but the heart is given by the constant alternation between close-up attacks and quick movements or escapes using parkour.

The main problem is in the opponents that, in addition to never represent a real challenge complex, give rise to a type of combat very simplified, almost arcade, also accomplice the lightness of physics that intervenes to exaggerate the power of our blows and the consequent leaps of the opponents. The moves are many, it is true, but except for a couple of special enemies that are part of the ranks of the infected, you can get away very easily simply by attacking and dodging with basic moves and even when surrounded, you will not struggle to get the better of exploiting the serious deficiencies in the reactions of opponents.

Climbing is the order of the day in Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Deficiencies that are clearly visible even in stealth, implemented all’acqua di rose by Techland and that practically never becomes an option really actionable if not in those contexts of the plot where the game makes it practically mandatory. Enemies very easily forget about us, do not take into account the bodies of his companions on the ground and often remain dumbfounded if we target them from afar to the sound of arrows. Moral of the story: launch at full speed into an opponent’s camp without worrying about tactics or strategies or secondary access, always gives good results and this involves a lowering of the quality of the challenge offered by Dying Light 2.

Aiming immediately at the highest difficulty level of the three available can help, but basically the very nature of the progression that stimulates grinding through loot and the performance of secondary activities, tends to make our avatar quickly and easily become stronger than the level required by the missions further increasing that feeling of excessive power that accompanied us throughout the game.

PC System Requirements

Test Configuration

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
  • RAM: 32 GB DDR4
  • Operating System: Windows 11 64 bit

Minimum Requirements

  • Processor: Intel Core i3-9100 or AMD Ryzen 3 2300X
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or AMD Radeon RX 560 4 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Operating System: Windows 7
  • Disk space: 60 GB

Recommended Requirements

  • Processor: Intel i5-8600K or AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Operating System: Windows 10 64 bit

An approximate technical compartment

Villedor undoubtedly has its own charm

And we arrive probably the biggest Achilles heel of Dying Light 2: its technical sector. In this case we had expressed more than a few concerns at our previous meeting with the game, but having had in his hands for dozens of hours has given us yet another demonstration that this project has had a path of development incredibly troubled.

Despite the power of the PC with which we tested the game, we struggled to run it even at 30 FPS due to the support for DLSS by NVIDIA and AMD Super Resolution that arrived only in conjunction with the release of the game. Despite having the new monitor MSI Optix MPG321UR, one of the first displays to arrive on the market with 4K resolution and refresh rate at 144 Hz (of which you can read the review shortly), we were unable to run the title beyond 1440p resolution with the graphics settings not at maximum and with only basic Ray Tracing. Even in this situation we encountered huge slowdowns in the most crowded contexts and more generally an abundance of system crashes that have left us interdicted on more than one occasion. Among other things, the title does not provide free saving but relies exclusively on automatic checkpoints that insist on a single profile slot.

While leaving aside the serious problems of optimization (and by the way we feel to maintain a reserve for the old-gen console versions that we could not test), Dying Light 2: Stay Human looks dirty and sloppy with many missing animations, sometimes absurd movements of infected and humans who try to exploit jumps and verticality at will with results that do not respect in any way the laws of physics, and especially a very rough management of collisions that often results in frustration and a feeling of lack of control. Sometimes in the fights we will feel like we do not properly understand why a parry or a dodge did not come in, or we will stand there wondering how the hell did a particular enemy to reach us and hit us so quickly. But it is especially in parkour that we feel the greatest consequences of this approximation.

The City is often the scene of major acts of violence even among humans

Running through the city is the pivotal element of Dying Light 2’s fun, but on too many occasions we get stuck somewhere, we bump, we stumble, Aiden doesn’t cling to the correct surface or, on the contrary, he hangs on when we try hard to get him off. Maybe during an escape or a chase. And this is not good because too many times it generates frustration: it never makes the player feel really in control of his movements, of the flow of parkour.

And it is clearly a pity because in terms of level design and vastness of the environment, the work done by Techland is commendable. We really appreciated the structure and especially the verticality of Villedor with its skyscrapers to climb, the geometry perfectly structured that makes it pleasant both the movements on foot and those aboard the paraglider or maybe using the best grips with the grappling hook. Even the characters that we meet on our way, while not shining for polygonal count or quality of expression, are still credible and well animated except for the standard models very often duplicated at very little distance from each other.

Very good sound effects and pleasant musical accompaniment that sometimes takes body and substance during the most violent encounters. Finally, we point out that Dying Light 2: Stay Human does not present a dubbing in Italian: only the texts are in our language. And even in this case, unfortunately, the promotion can not be with full marks as there are numerous translation errors, even gross, and several spelling mistakes.

Comment

Dying Light 2: Stay Human is the living emblem of the I’d like to but I can not, that aim too high that sometimes can fall ruinously. Let’s be clear, this is a game that can be very fun and rewarding, with a good progression and an overflowing amount of content that will excite all fans of the first chapter. It is, however, evident in too many contexts that something in the course of development has not gone right and this has forced the team to make cuts in the story, approximations in the physics engine and the management of artificial intelligence, as well as forced him to spend less time than expected in the cleaning and optimization of the code. If you are looking for a dense action, original and knows how to stand out in the sea of open world in recent years thanks to some peculiarities, you can launch on this game, but take into account our criticism as you will necessarily pass over a number of issues.

PRO

  • Villedor is vast and presents an interesting geometry with a great verticality
  • Between side missions, optional activities, collectibles, loot and the main storyline, the game will keep you busy for a very long time
  • Despite being based on some post-apocalyptic clichés, it can offer an original and interesting point of view
  • There are problems in balancing difficulty and progression
  • Too often it didn’t make us feel like the creators of what was happening on screen
  • There was a need for further cleaning and optimization
  • Have you noticed any errors?
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.