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Dying Light 2 Stay Human Review

Dying Light 2 Stay Human Review

Dying Light was a surprisingly critically acclaimed game back in 2015. Serving as a successor to the Dead Island games, Techland’s Dying Light combined parkour, bone-crunching combat, and plenty of zombies to knock around in a game that was leagues better. We even gave the game a glowing review. Aside from the predictable main plot and crappy final boss, Dying Light’s gameplay pulled in a lot of players, clocking in at 25 million all over the world. Now, four years after its announcement and two delays from its initial early 2020 release date, we finally have Dying Light 2 Stay Human.

The game boasts a vast open world, expanded combat and parkour systems, choices in the story that impact the world in many ways, and a day-and-night cycle that turns the player from hunter to prey as soon as the sun sets. All of these are combined into a (potentially) 500-hour gameplay experience.

Now… Is it worth losing 500 hours to the zombie horde?

Welcome to The City, mankind’s last cluster of strongholds after The Fall 15 years ago. You play as Aiden, a Pilgrim who comes to The City in search of his sister Mia after she was taken by someone named Waltz. Of course, nothing is ever that simple. In order to find her, he'll have to deal with the factions that rule over The City, as well as the various monsters that lurk in the streets and on the rooftops, day and night. How you solve your problems is up to you, but be warned: your choices have consequences and will affect not only the people, but also the very world around you.

But hey, it's the end of the world. It can't get any worse, right?


Good night. Good luck.

The characters are pretty well written and well acted. Most of them aren't one dimensional, and some side missions are genuinely funny, sad, or heartwarming. The Survivor and Peacekeeper factions have their nuances, and you’re often not quite sure if you’re working for the better of two evils, or if it's worth screwing over genuinely good people. It makes you take a second to figure out if what you're doing is right — which is not helped when some decisions give you a timer. If nothing else, each faction you help has their own set of unlocks should you give control of major resources to them. For example, supporting the Peacekeepers will give you access to a semi-automatic crossbow and several arrow types, while supporting the Survivors will give you a chance to be revived upon death.

In order to survive in The City, you’ll need to be both fast and brutal, with Dying Light 2 heavily encouraging the use of combat and parkour. What I liked straight from the tutorial is that Aiden starts off stronger and faster than Crane from the last game. He has the basics of parkour down, and killing a single zombie won't take ages. However, you don't really start overpowered. Groups of zombies and bandits are still a threat, and while you can get to your objectives, you'll have to find slower, less direct paths. Great for new players, and better for players of the first game.

Combat is pretty simple; You can attack, block, parry, dodge, and more as you progress through the game. It is insanely brutal though; slow and dumb Biters would swarm around me, making things more difficult when fighting a boss zombie, Virals are fast and will tackle you down, and the ever dangerous Volatile… well, you should avoid Volatiles altogether. Although swinging your weapon around wildly is a viable strategy, you'll need to prioritise on the fly and take moments to think about how you'll survive each fight. Do you take out the Biters first so you can focus on the special infected? Maybe focus on Virals so you can have breathing room? Perhaps lead some nearby bandits to the horde and have them fight, and then kill whoever survives? Or do you just cut and run? Making me think like someone surviving the apocalypse is always a great achievement.

Although the infected were fun to fight, the human enemies were attacking one at a time and were underwhelming overall. I’d occasionally be attacked from out of my view, but usually I’d be waiting for the opportunity to parry or dodge so I could counterattack. However, that didn’t make these encounters any easier. They can take out chunks of health, throw knives, and shoot arrows from afar. Even facing bandits at lower levels, I still had to play it safe and wait for my opportunity to strike.


Choose your friends and enemies wisely.

As for stealth, it’s pretty simplistic. You just need to keep yourself out of the line of sight, don't keep your flashlight on all of the time, and make sure you aren’t standing too close to the enemies for very long. While stealth is necessary for some encounters, I’d usually end up getting caught and killing my way through places with enough light. In complete darkness, however, that’s where things get hairy…

Darkness is a serious threat, and not just when the sun sets. Not only do zombies become more aggressive, you can't stay in the darkness for more than a few minutes at a time. After Aiden is infected in the first two hours (which is way longer than the previous protagonist lasted), being in darkness for too long will cause a game over. Certain items can increase your immunity time, and increasing your health and stamina extends the timer permanently, but it adds another layer of stress you need to keep in mind when exploring dark areas, especially wherever there are chemicals present that accelerate the timer. These places are impossible to navigate without either your flashlight on (which agitates the many, many zombies in these locations) or reliance on your Survivor Sense, since they are often pitch black. You also need to keep an eye on the time of day, as both the sunset and sunrise can make your life a whole lot worse depending on what you're doing.

You have access to tools that are used to supplement both combat and stealth: UV light bars to give you some breathing room, noise makers to draw attention, coins to separate individuals, and throwing knives to interrupt attacks and set off environmental traps. Each of these tools can be upgraded using trophies earned from killing special zombies. They offer a lot of options when approaching encounters, and I found myself quickly switching what items I had equipped every time I either needed to infiltrate a dark zone or take out a giant Goon.


Just another day in The City.

However, maybe fighting and stealth isn’t an option. There will be cases where running is your only choice. That’s where the parkour system comes in, and it is very fun right from the beginning. While you do need to unlock the ability to dash, your default speed is fast enough to feel good and allows you to make most jumps easily. However, by the midgame you essentially become Spider-Man, able to make it across the world without touching the ground.

One of the newer aspects of parkour in Dying Light 2 is climbing. You can climb up a lot of walls and objects as long as they aren’t completely smooth, and it is made even easier and faster once you get the ability to run up and along walls. However, climbing requires a lot of stamina. Run out, and you fall off the wall to the ground below. This forces you to actually stop and study whatever you're going to climb, and figure out how to reach your destination safely — almost like how a real rock climber would do. It can be finicky at times, but it was still fun to figure out these climbing puzzles.

However, your parkour skills will be put to the test whenever a Howler is alerted at night. A chase will start, making every zombie in the vicinity gun for you, including the ever-dangerous Volatiles that will instantly kill you if you manage to escalate the chase to higher levels. You either need to hide or get to a safe zone with UV lights covering them to end the chase. Chases really test your knowledge of the movement mechanics and the area, they’re really fun but I never go out of my way to be chased.

As for upgrades, well… There's a lot to be upgraded. Both Combat and Parkour trees level up individually, with two separate XP bars to fill in order to earn a skill point. You earn XP by playing the game or completing quests. Every jump, slide, and dash gives you Parkour XP. Every kill, hit, and dodge earns Combat XP. I actually really liked the system; by playing the game normally, I was working towards more skills. When I was ignoring the main objective and started looting places or killing zombies for the loot, I was contributing to my next skill point. By the time I reached midgame, I had quite a few skills that I regularly used like Soft Landing and Whirlwind.


Hunter by day...

To increase your health and stamina however, you'll need to find inhibitors scattered throughout the districts, and they are often in dark and dangerous locations. You are given the rough location of them when you're 50m away from one, and when you're close enough, using Survivor Sense will reveal its exact location. Actually getting to them is the challenge, doing so necessary as you progress. You must have a certain amount of health and stamina in order to unlock the more advanced skills, and some areas require a minimum amount of stamina needed to traverse through.

You can also upgrade your crafted tools, modifications, and even your Nightrunner equipment like the paraglider and grappling hook. You’ll have to kill and loot specific zombies or find rare pieces of technology in order to obtain the items needed to craft them, but they’re well worth the effort. For completionists, however, this is a nightmare. There are a large number of recipes, most of them having a max level of 10. If you want to make the most of these tools, you’ll be required to kill several hundred special infected.

As with the previous game, going out at night doubles your XP… as long as you survive. Die at any point, and you'll lose the XP. It’s a nice risk and reward system and, combined with some events and areas that require you to come at night, it makes getting to safe zones and sleeping all that more important.

Now onto The City itself. For a post-apocalyptic landscape where you’ll regularly see dismembered limbs, rotting corpses, and intestines on the floor, the city is really nice to look at from afar; getting to a high place and just staring out at the horizon is a reward in itself. There are a variety of locations, from the humble residential buildings of Old Villedor to the skyscrapers of Downtown, so you don’t really get bored. The interiors are copy-and-pasted though, a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things. However, The City can also change depending on the choices made, either to your benefit, or your detriment. So keep that in mind when making your choices.


...Hunted at night.

Throughout the world, there are challenges, activities, and side quests you can discover as you run. One of them are windmills, which not only indicate a potential safe zone, it is a climbing puzzle similar to the infamous “Ubisoft towers”. I bring this up because windmills have a stamina requirement in order to climb them. This is not arbitrary; you will need those extra points in stamina to climb them without falling onto the pile of rubbish bags underneath. I like this system, as it teaches you more about the climbing system and how you can apply it in other parts of the world. Now if only the game left the pile of rubbish underneath the windmill or teleported me onto solid ground once I turned it back on… I had more deaths from fall damage than to the actual zombies.

There is a co-op mode for up to four players, where you and your friends can go out and survive together. Now, at the time of review, I was unable to test out multiplayer, but as far as I can tell there is no mode to become a zombie yourself, unlike the last game. A shame, but I can see why it might be removed.

Performance-wise… well, it's hard to say. My PC isn't the best one money can buy, with 8GB of RAM, a 2070 graphics card, and an AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 8-Core Processor. If you don’t understand what this all means, I was playing on the minimum specs needed to play the game. I was playing with 1920x1080 resolution on Low quality with no raytracing. I don’t know if it's just my computer or the game itself but the framerate was really inconsistent. My game was running at an average 24–35 FPS, and it absolutely tanked in combat or just running around.

There were multiple instances of pop in, some audio issues, and every skill point I got caused the game to freeze for a second, making me worry it would crash. Even starting up the game would take a minute, freezing on the logos before getting to the main menu. Maybe it's better on higher-end PCs, or the console versions, or maybe because the Day One patch wasn't released at the time of review, but for me Dying Light 2 struggled to stay at 30 FPS, only reaching 60 FPS in menus—and even then that was inconsistent. It didn't make the game unplayable for the most part, and again this could just be my PC, but I expected something a lot smoother. Just in case, I'll leave out performance from the verdict. I will assume the game is running perfectly for everyone else.


Props to whoever was in charge of lighting. Really well done.

As far as glitches go though, I have seen a few bugs; Zombies clipping through the floor, floating objects, occasional ragdoll shenanigans… These are easily overlooked and are common in games like this. However, I did encounter a few items I couldn't pick up because they were clipping into something or I wasn’t at the right angle. It was annoying as I had to abandon some really good loot sometimes.

I also managed to find a potential softlock.

You see, early in the game there was a windmill that required 300 max stamina to complete, so I decided to leave it for later. After 30 hours of playtime and getting into Downtown, I had that stamina, so I used fast travel to head back and complete it. I then realised I hadn't unlocked a fast travel point in the Downtown district so I was trapped in the old area. I had to go back to where there was this big chase sequence from the car factory to the tunnels, where I gained access to the new area. The door was locked, so I began trying new ways like trying to cross the chemical zone which acts as the border between Old Villedor and Downtown. That didn’t work, so I went back to the train tunnel and tried to swim there. I died horribly, but I did respawn back in Downtown. And wouldn't you know it, it unlocked the fast travel point! I somehow didn't activate it for whatever reason. Why it didn't unlock when I arrived is beyond me, but I hope that's fixed in the future, or maybe it was just me being stupid.


Stay Human

Those were all my complaints about the game. Is it worth 500 hours of playtime?

Well, considering I’m aiming for 100% completion, with a main story that you can knock out in significantly less time, it’s safe to say the answer to that question is yes.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human is a massive improvement to the original, with better traversal and combat mechanics, and stressful encounters that test your ability to fight or run. The story is pretty well written, with characters you’ll either like or despise, and with choices that will impact your playthrough. I highly recommend it… unless my performance issues are shared among other players. For that, stay informed of any future updates and make sure to file bug reports. But as for the game itself, it is fun, plain and simple.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human is coming out on 4th February, 2022 and will be available on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

9.50/10 9½

Dying Light 2 Stay Human (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human is a great sequel to a pretty good game. With fun traversal mechanics, combat encounters, and agonising choices in the story, it could be very much worth the playtime.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Dylan Pamintuan

Dylan Pamintuan

Staff Writer

An Australian-born guy whose trying to show everyone why games are awesome.

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