Build your own world.
Techland’s E3 demo Dying Light 2 showed off its gunless, scrappy, European-esque city that echoed its vision for a “modern dark age”, and its main focus was how the player can change that city based on their choices. What I saw looked to be an ambitious sandbox with a ton of variations, one that is theoretically completely adaptable to the Dying Light world you want to build.
Of course, it’s still an Infested-filled city that forms our playground for parkour. There are now twice the amount of moves Dying Light 2, but Lead Designer Tymon Smektala reminds us that they’re “very difficult to master”. We were shown off Dying Light 2’s new ‘parkour puzzles’ – areas where you’re tasked with pulling off a number of moves before your stamina runs out – and they looked deliciously challenging.
But the main thrust of the demo was to show off how your alliances to Dying Light 2’s various factions change your city, and therefore, your experience. Our protagonist climbed a water-tower, a coveted source of health, as he’d heard that an emissary – the people the factions send to cut deals – had disappeared. At the top, a couple of bandits tell him that the emissary had met an untimely end, and a conversation wheel allowed our protagonist to choose whether to avenge the emissary, and therefore align himself with the dead man’s faction, or cut a deal with the bandits.
Techland chose to avenge the dead man, therefore aligning the protagonist with his faction, The Peacekeepers. Fast forward to three weeks later, and the area around the water-tower is now clean and regimented, under the rule of the Peacekeepers, complete with free running water and various pullies and slides that we can use to traverse with ease. However, says Smektala, nothing in Dying Light World 2’s world is black and white. “The Peacekeepers rule with an iron fist. Anyone who dares to steal food will be hanged without trial. They will punish anyone who disobeys their laws, which might even be you.”
As we look out over Dying Light 2’s vast open world, we notice various faction flags are now unfolded in the distance. “You can tell that there are new groups emerging in that region. You can visit these places which will take the narrative in a completely new direction. But this could also look so different.”
To prove how different it could look, Techland showed us what the world would look like had we not avenged the emissary, and instead cut a deal with the bandits. The city was now much filthier, with no shortcuts, and no free water. However, the bandits had set up a business selling water on the black market, and we were in on the deal. “We can continue t work with those guys and who knows where that will take you,” says Smektala. “The whole region has changed. Other types of groups have emerged now, like a tribal black market. “This is the first game of its type where the choices change the look of the world itself. Your choices allow you to create a different version of this city.”
There are, theoretically, thousands of combinations when it comes to world-shaping, but Smektala stresses that there are plenty of rules in Dying Light 2 to keep the consequences of your actions clear at all times. “When you play a sandbox game, that sandbox gives you rules and you understand those rules. Like in Zelda, there is a boulder on top of the hill so you understand that if you push that boulder on top of the hill, so we’ve done the same. Those guys, for example, like those guys. That guy hates all of the infected so he wants to kill all of the infected.
“You can make the world exactly how you want it to be.”
Lucy O’Brien is Games & Entertainment Editor at IGN’s Sydney office. Follow her on Twitter.