Dying Light: The Following Review – Improved Zombie Slaughter

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Dying Light: The Following sets an example of how game expansions should be done, and almost feels like a proper sequel rather than DLC content. Set in the outlying countryside of Harran, it provides a vast landscape entirely different from dense urban regions of the city. With vast stretches of open road, the expansion leans on its newly introduced vehicle gameplay, which sets it apart from main game’s parkour-focused action. Players are free to jump into it at any point in time, as The Following is accessible from the main menu screen, however I’d recommend diving into it at least halfway through Dying Light. Progression carries completely over, so time investment in the main game pays off, and provides you with better equipment and skills. With addition of the buggy, The Following integrates well into the existing framework, and new elements feel like they’ve always existed in the first place. An interesting plot and a vast open world set the back tone for this expansion, which proves to be an excellent improvement over the main game’s central mechanics. With a diverse set of additions, this expansion is worth taking a look if you enjoyed Dying Light’s diverse set of action and survival mechanics.

Developer: Techland; Publisher: WB Games

Released: February 9, 2016; Reviewed on: PC

Testing specs: Core i5-6500 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070

Available via: Steam

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The Following sees Kyle Crane scrambling to get out of Harran in search of a mysterious cult heard to be immune to the zombie virus. Not much later on, you’re dropped into a gorgeous countryside map, which provides a welcome change from the greys and browns of the main city. In a desperate attempt to help people of the Tower, Kyle has to turn to locals for help, although information doesn’t come for free. This sets a somewhat different progression curve to the main game, as instead, players complete side missions to gain trust of the few survivors in the countryside. Completing side quests fills up Crane’s “trust status” of sorts, and with each new achievement, he gains further access into the cult. It may seem redundant at first, and games in the past suffered same faults, but The Following somehow manages to pull off perfect pacing. Story quests ramp up tension significantly, and each is expertly crafted. These reveal the information about the cult, and Crane gets an opportunity to become part of the Children of the Sun, however it is the mysterious “Mother” that really stands apart.

With a major plot twist that I didn’t even see coming, The Following concludes with a bang at the very end. The ending was very satisfying, and revealed the mystery behind the Mother, however I don’t want to spoil that for new players. Main plot completed, there are side quests and additional challenges to do, which you may have finished already throughout the game’s campaign. Some are really difficult, and go as far as to require a certain level of planning. Volatile nests, in example, are best attacked at night and even then, pose a formidable threat as regular zombies become more resilient to damage as the sun sets down. The nests, usually located in caves and tunnels, are filled to the brim with the undead, and daylight is extremely dangerous. Volatiles are far more numerous during the day, and patrol their locations. Taking those on alone always results in player death, as I’ve found out. The Following ramps up the post-campaign difficulty curve much higher than the main game, and in addition to Volatile nests, adds powerful boss encounters. They are essentially more powerful versions of special-type enemies, only with the size and health bars turned up to eleven. I won’t recommend tackling these alone either, unless you have a powerful arsenal of weapons at your disposal. These additional events require a more thoughtful approach, which brings The Following further into the survival horror territory.

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In his quest, Kyle stumbles across vast open fields outside Harran, where the game introduces new means of travel. Specifically, it is a buggy that allows for quick travel across the entire region. In the country, your only means of traversal is your trusty vehicle, which requires constant maintenance and repair so it can run smoothly. This adds an additional salvage element to The Following, as endless abandoned cars now become a looter’s paradise for buggy parts. It’s very easy to get used to these new systems, as they are masterfully integrated into the crafting and repair mechanics of the main game. Further, an additional skill tree becomes available that’s solely designed for the buggy, and with it, comes the option to gradually unlock customization options. The more players drive around, they get to fit their vehicle with upgrades like the nitrous, spikes, and even flamethrowers. In effect, the fragile vehicle at the start can be transformed into a Mad Max death machine by the end of the DLC, which makes driving around all the more satisfying as you collect upgrade material.

With the benefit of the buggy also comes a drawback of a huge map, however, and there would be many times I’d wish for a fast travel option to get around. Dying Light didn’t need it due to dense urban streets that allowed players to parkour around. With vast fields and long stretches of open roads, travel in The Following sometimes takes way too long, especially if a tracked quest is on the other side of the map. That said, it isn’t a small drawback, as driving skills are earned solely from using the buggy. A fast travel option would render that obsolete, but it could be helpful to a certain extent. The vast countryside is filled to the brim with activities, ensuring players don’t get bored throughout the short, but sweet campaign. With all side stuff completed, The Following clocked me in for a good 30 hours, which is exceptional for a game expansion pack.

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Some side quests even deserve a special mention in my review, although beware of spoilers if you are a just coming into this expansion. The Following has numerous military crates scattered around the vast maps, which contain high-end equipment and blueprints. These can only be unlocked with special key cards, which are also hard to find and each crate requires a different access card. This necessitates careful exploration, and while military crates can generally be found in abandoned convoys, the cards to unlock them are scattered at random. Exploration junkies will really dig this element, which may appear as tedious, but works really well to encourage players to explore. Another quest, similar to a treasure hunt for high-end weapons in the base game, involves exploring various locations in the DLC to obtain a weapons collection from someone who’s hidden it all over the world. Again, this encourages exploration to a large extent, including searching for clues once the first quest is unlocked. These add a lot to The Following’s already excellent content on offer, and makes it an excellent piece of additional content.

The Following really adds a big worth of new content to Dying Light, with a brand new map and a further expanded feature set than we’ve seen before. Through new elements that integrate well into the existing gameplay framework of Dying Light, this expansion increases the value proposition of the main game. A far more interesting plot kept me engaged all the way through, which is not something I can say about the main game; and features much mystery leading up to a worthwhile finale. The addition of a vehicle is very welcome, although the map tends to feel too large at times. With more excellent side quests to boot, and demanding activities, The Following plays more like a sequel, which makes it even sweeter as a slice of DLC content. The expansion is available to get into from the start, however investment in the main game tends to pay off when starting the expansion, which is something I’d recommend doing. The Following greatly expands on Dying Light’s existing framework with a new map and a buggy, and better writing and questlines make it a far more engaging experience. If you enjoyed Dying Light, i’d certainly recommend grabbing this expansion.

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