Dying Light: The Following – Review

Title   Dying Light: The Following
Developer  Techland
Publisher  Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform  Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre  Action role-playing, survival horror
Release Date  February 12th, 2016
Official Site  http://dyinglightgame.com/buy/?mainsite

DLfollowingrev1*Note that this review is Dying Light: The Following and, as such, may include some minor spoilers for the base game.

Historically, I don’t ever go back to open-world games. Skyrim, Far Cry, and all their friends get played, I do the story, eighty percent of the side missions and have a jolly ole time in the process. I just don’t see the point in re-treading old ground. So imagine my surprise, when completing Techland’s Dying Light last January, that I kept dipping in and out of it throughout the year, trying challenges, re-doing missions and just having fun. This is partly because it was very deserving of the score I gave it and partly because the developers realised they had struck gold post release and immediately began to invest time and effort in developing the game further.

Dying Light: The Following is the culmination of that effort, following several well reviewed bits of DLC. Once more, you find yourself in the shoes of Kyle Crane who is attempting to find a cure for the disease that still plagues Harran, the city decimated by the virus. In the opening cinematic, Crane learns of a way out of Harran and into an area described as ‘The Countryside’ where persons bitten by the infected are somehow still alive and not turning into mindless flesh-eaters. The main story is very similar to the main game in terms of voice acting, animations and generally shit going wrong. The sizeable supporting cast once again getting second billing to Crane to the point where, at one stage, you meet about five or six people in as many minutes. Of course no-one can just tell you why this strange cult can resist zombie bites, despite the citizens of Harran literally dying to know but, alas, it’s a game about a free-running zombie killer – let’s not take it too seriously.


One of the biggest criticisms of the first game from plenty of people was that the main story was flat in comparison to the side quests. The Following doesn’t exactly break that trend but it at least injects some intrigue into proceedings and, thankfully, what it lacks in shock value it makes up for with an experience that certainly has a few pulse-pounding moments and generally higher stakes. That being said, the side quests are still head and shoulders above the main adventure, with an interesting blend of creepy, funny and downright clever quests to keep you busy. A couple even link together without ever highlighting the common denominator to you, and players will miss these subtle bits if they’re too busy darting around in their …buggy?

DLfollowingrev3Yes, your buggy, because things are quite different in this new and impressively sized map (The Countryside certainly lives up to its name). The claustrophobic streets and high-rise buildings of the Slums and Old Town, are mostly gone and replaced with sprawling, open fields, farmland and the odd local village. Sure, there are a couple of sizeable areas that could be called towns but, for the most part, you’re on the ground, rubbing shoulders with the living dead and that is not something you’re going to immediately feel comfortable with, having spent the last few hundred hours mocking shambling corpses for their inability to climb a fence. It’s not all bad though because, for all your weakness in the climbing stakes, you get a kick-ass buggy to drive around in. The buggy very quickly feels like a comfortable extension of your person and any concerns about it jarring the overall experience melt away quickly because Techland have made this thing as useless as a polished turd to start with. It breaks after a while, it can’t go very fast, it hasn’t got any weapons – the list goes on and on.

The clever, perhaps borderline frustrating thing is, you need this bucket of bolts to survive – the world is so open that it would take you hours to get anywhere without it and even if you could, there are hundreds of zombies everywhere. That’s not even counting the night encounters, which return as terrifying as ever, except you’ve got nothing separating you and dozens of Volatiles except some grass and the odd tree. No, this buggy maybe a worthless asshole to begin with but it’s a worthless asshole you need in your life if you intend to carry on breathing.

Thankfully the car can be upgraded, not just as part of the expanded skill tree but also its individual parts, which degrade over time depending on how careful you are with your driving. Credit to Techland for making the whole buggy experience as in-depth as they could without impacting the other mechanics in the game. When you finally get settled and accept its role in your arsenal (because you will use it as a weapon) you’ll have a whole lot of fun. It does feel strange, coming from such a heavy focus on parkour to doing very little of it. Although it is initially a little upsetting , you do have to come up with more inventive ways of not dying, and it could be argued that this is better than simply having more of the same. The Following retains the fun element from its parent game in all other areas, so the inclusion of a car and a massive open space to play in feels like a natural evolution rather than an addition just for the sake of it.


Combat still plays a huge role, with or without the car. You can only mow down the opposition for so long before you’ll need to get out and physically crack some skulls. Your rig can prove to be your tomb because of its open design, so keeping your hand-to-hand skills sharp is wise. Anyone who has put the time into the first game won’t find much new with the combat, which seems disappointing at first. However, tougher enemies now roam the lands, including the demolishers, who can prove tricky for even the smartest of players. The sheer volume of baddies on offer generally means that even if things can feel familiar for older players, you’ll never be short of something to kill. Even if you are a certified zombie killing machine, the car is going to force you well into harm’s way.

Its fragile state early on forces you to stop at roadsides, to go into buildings and to generally get back to scavenging. As someone who had maxed out all their skill trees, this was highly refreshing – the need to actually stop and scuttle around for duct tape, wire and screws. It’s a shame that the existing skill trees weren’t expanded but the new driving and legendary trees give players more than enough to focus on, especially if they haven’t already played the game to the length some die-hard fans have. Regardless of your level though, you’re going to be exposed, you’re going to go looking for more loot, more weapons and you’re going to get caught out at some point because, for all its similarities, The Following does shake things up in a few ways.

DLfollowingrev5Firstly there are more human enemies about – mostly bandits who have managed to survive and set up a base of operations. They are farmore common than before and they’re packing some new weapons, such as SMGs. They can be deadly but, if nothing else, they’re bloody loud and they will draw all sorts of problems your way. The frequency in which you come across them is both a welcome change and a pain in the backside. Secondly, the lack of parkour and massive open spaces puts you at such a disadvantage at night. By the end of the main game night time wasn’t as scary as it started out – you had skills, you knew the area, you were relatively safe – even on harder difficulties if you planned and had contingencies you could survive.

Here though, night time is a short, sharp, slap in the face; the cold bucket of water while you’re tied to the chair, wondering just how the hell you got yourself into this mess. Sure you’ve got a car – Volatiles run just as fast as cars, Virals jump on the frame, block your vision, start hitting you. You crash through a fence, knocking them off but that’s taken out your suspension and you’re only going twenty miles per hour, so you jump out and start running but you’re at least five minutes at a flat out run to the nearest town and that’s you dead.

Night time just got a whole lot harder and that isn’t even the half of it. Volatiles seem to have increased in number and it will be up to you to decrease their population by going into Volatile Nests and destroying them. Of course, during the day the nests are full of Volatiles so you can’t go in, which means the only time you can go in safely is, yeah, you guessed it. There’s that slap to the face again but bloody hell does it make for some tense gaming, when you’re trying to destroy the nest and the brood all rock back up, tired from a night’s killing.


Finally the safe houses are a little more sparse, making for some interesting decisions to be made when venturing out day or night. This will be a little frustrating for some folk – I’ve certainly found that I’ve lost experience points because I couldn’t get back to a safe zone before getting mauled to death but, overall, it reinforces the risk and reward system that made the first game so good. Another couple of factors that made the first game so memorable were the graphics and sound. Techland haven’t changed things up graphically – the character models look a little more detailed and I’m told that there are more variations of zombies (I don’t let the fuckers get that close to be honest). If nothing else, the characters look sharper, the scenery is gorgeous and your new ride looks aces. Dying Light was a beautiful game and this is no different.

The audio doesn’t disappoint either – with some really authentic sounds for the vehicle and a really meaty feel to most of the guns. The shotgun still feels a little pathetic but the majority of developers fail to get a shotgun sound correct so I’m not getting too hung up on it. Techland have introduced some new chase music and some better moment-to-moment music which doesn’t sound as repetitive as the first did after several hours of play.

DLfollowingrev7If all that hasn’t sold you on The Following or Dying Light generally, then just what you’re getting for your money should. People may not remember that Techland put another game, Hellraid, on permanent pause, partly because they weren’t happy with its direction and partly because Dying Light just did so much better than expected. They’ve invested so much time in the franchise and have a few different iterations of the game, that they actually released a flow chart to help you know what you need to purchase. Suffice it to say, if I’m basing this purely on The Following, you’re getting a pretty comprehensive expansion pack where the main story and side missions are going to last you anything between ten to twenty hours depending on your ability and difficulty settings.

I played the base game on normal, so picked this up on hard, given I had a maxed character. It didn’t matter one bit, I still got fucked up big style. Everything hurts just that little bit more when you notch the difficulty up. If you’ve not played the series before, I’d recommend normal and although they recommend being at least level twelve before starting the expansion, I would say just finish the main game and come in at whatever level you can manage to get to. The skills you’ll learn and the abilities you will gain will only aid you more here.


When it’s all said and done, with the story and side quests done, you’ve still got races to complete in the car, a map, bigger than the original game’s to explore and, of course, the co-op gameplay. Up to four of you can get together and face the hordes of zombies, dune buggies and all. It’s a riot, you shouldn’t deny yourself the fun of getting some mates into a game because laughter is almost guaranteed.

  • Decent story
  • Dune buggy fits into the gameplay well and doesn't feel tacked on
  • Loads to do and see
  • Might be a little too challenging for newbies
  • Some people will likely miss the parkour elements

If you loved Dying Light, you'll love this and if you missed it first time round there is no better time to pick up the series (and I strongly feel it's going to become a series). I think it says something about a studio when they announce the postponement of one game to focus on the growing community in another. Some developers would have just squeezed both in and had two lesser products. As it stands, the quality in The Following, much like its parent game, shines through and stands as an example of a developer investing in something that the community and developer alike have a lot of love for.

If you already owned the season pass, you get this for free. If you didn't, you can buy it and the other DLC. Either way, both parties get tons of free content for the base game, more challenges, and more difficulty modes. In an age of micro transactions, dodgy game development and questionable ethical practices, never has a horde of shambling corpses smelt so fresh.

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