It’s time, once again to run, jump and hide from the zombie horde in Techland’s Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition. With a vast new area to explore, a vehicle to drive and polished visuals this may just be the excuse the you’ve needed to return to Dying Light.
The Following continues the zombie-parkour gameplay from 2015’s Dying Light, offering players another huge area to explore. It’s available as either a downloadable expansion (which is free to season pass holders) or as a standalone package, Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition, which includes the original game and all the previously released DLC.
With Dying Light: The Following, developer Techland takes the viral approach to explain the zombie outbreak. In the original game the Harran virus has been contained within the sealed-off city. The player, Kyle Crane has been sent in by the Global Relief Effort on an undercover mission to retrieve a sensitive file. On arrival he is bitten and infected by a zombie. What follows is a journey through the power struggles of a city under siege with the occupants doing what they must to survive.
With a slightly more serious approach to the zombie apocalypse, Techland does away with the heroics of modern zombie action games and instead encourages players to leave the living dead well alone…most of the time. Confrontations with the undead (or infected as they are called in the game) are best kept brief and as a one-on-one affair else you get overwhelmed and end up with your brains served up for dinner.
The emphasis is on survival, as players scavenge for items. These items can be used to craft makeshift weapons and other items, such as medikits, that make life easier in the zombie infested world.
For the most part, the infected take a leaf out of classic zombie movie director George A. Romero’s playbook. The slow shambling zombies, known as biters, can easily be dodged, kicked down and jumped over.
There are a few other, more lethal variants, most common being the recently turned virals who are more akin to the fast moving infected from the 28 Days Later movie and its sequel. Then there’s the Hazmat suit-wearing gas tanks, the exploding bombers, splitting toads and huge hammer-wielding goons.
Both the original Dying Light and the expansion feature a full day/night cycle, with night-time being a very dangerous place indeed. Not only do the regular biters get more aggressive, the night is patrolled by the extremely powerful volatiles. Hard to kill and lethal in their attacks, it’s better to run from a volatile than confront them.
Dying Light: The Following continues the story with a way out of the infected city of Harran and a quest to find people unaffected by the bites of the undead. The huge map is twice the size of the maps in the original game, swapping the dense buildings of Harran for open farmland and forests.
The Following can be started at any time, with your Dying Light character getting transferred over (and back again into Harran again, if you wish). Your character really needs to have achieved at least survival level 12 before starting The Following. Kyle Crane needs to be beefy to survive the infected roaming the countryside.
All your skills levels from the main Dying Light transfer over to The Following, which also adds a ranking system based on your standing with the Children of the Sun, the bizarre cult that seems to be immune from the Harran Virus.
To get around The Following’s vast area, Techland have added a drivable buggy into the mix and an associated driver skill level tree that allows you to upgrade your buggy. Parts and fuel can be scavenged from abandoned vehicles.
Driving is a large part of The Following and to properly achieve this the developers have provided players with a buggy that handles nicely and is really fun to drive. Much mirth is to be had ploughing down the mindless zombies as they stand huddle together in the fields. Night driving is even more exhilarating as you are chased from safe zone to safe zone by the crazed and nigh-on indestructible volatiles.
As with Dying Light, The Following can be played with three other players. Something I’d say was essential to survive on the higher level settings. Using the same system as Dead Island, other players can just hop into your game (if you wish them to) and you can search for other player’s games to join, yourself.
Visually Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition is an absolute treat. For The Following, Techland released a patch for all owners of Dying Light cranking up the graphical fidelity. The game looked great on release, but looks amazing now. The open countryside of The Following perfectly balances the sprawl of Harran. On PS4 the game runs at breakneck pace with hardly a frame drop in sight, making the buggy racing sections of the game handle like butter.
I’ve got to mention the game’s audio. Fans of classic zombie movies will love the score which features many familiar cues from the movies from the 1970s. The game’s sound design is pretty special. As well as the ambient music, the sound effects really do their job, from the panting screams and wails of the infected to the juicy splatter sound as you mow them down in your buggy.
Dying Light: The Following is a testament to the original game. A truly unique take on the zombie game, Dying Light is both exhilarating and nerve-raking. The game’s recent graphical overhaul and the gameplay tweaks makes it look and play better than ever. The game-changing additions in The Following makes one of my favourite games from 2015 likely to be one of my favourite games for 2016 as well. If you’ve been away or never played Dying Light before you really need to check out Dying Light: The Following or the complete Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition.