The vast fictional city of Harran became a parkouring paradise, and a great set piece for the tight, responsive first-person combat and exploration mechanics of Dying Light. The Following DLC takes things in a different direction, replacing urban streetscapes with royal farmlands and most importantly offers the thrill of driving a customizable buggy.
Something that all of us can agree on, that while getting around Harran was enjoyable, it was deflating to see so many abandoned cars and buses in the streets that were inactive. Of course, there were some engaging moments, such as setting off car alarms and watching a friend get swarmed by a horde of zombies, but I knew that the moment Techland adds drivable vehicles to the game, Dying Light would become one of my all-time favorite zombie shooters.
Not only does The Following add a sizable new landscape to explore, but the narrative picks up right after the end of the original game. Playing through the original game in its entirety isn’t required, but you’ll have to get at least through the prologue of Dying Light before venturing across the new environment. Considering how much I enjoyed the original game, you may want to play through it to get a better understanding of the overall history of Harran and the game mechanics, even if the new story is self-contained.
The Following follows protagonist Kyle Crane once again, as he learns about people that are immune to the virus outside of the quarantined city walls. With Antizin (the only medicine to combat the effects of the virus temporarily), Crane heads to a small opening that leads outside the city and into a bright and open rural countryside. The narrative from there focuses on a secretive religious cult called "Children of the Sun." Crane must help the survivors living out in the countryside to learn more about the cult, and the source of the immunity to the virus. It's full of surprising events and twists I never saw coming, making it more satisfying that the original narrative.
As long as you’ve played a good chunk of the first Dying Light, you can carry over your character’s progress and inventory in The Following. This neglects the need to strip you of all your skills and gear and doesn't force you to restart your character at level one. It was a nice change of pace to be able to continue my character exactly as I had him at the end of Dying Light. I found myself relying on killing zombies (and non-zombies) with ranged weapons, much more than I did when I spilt zombie blood across Harran. With the open landscape and lack of easily accessible rooftops for a quick escape, I’ve felt more vulnerable, forcing my hand to use ranged weapons. Of course, nothing is as satisfying than taking a flaming butchers knife and splitting a zombies head down the center.
Getting around the countryside is enjoyable thanks to the buggy, which can be summoned to your location from any safe house. With it comes a new skill tree to level up, focusing on skills that make your new four-wheeled best friend a deadlier extension of yourself. Night once again feels dangerous, but once you equip UV lights, and maybe a flamethrower for good measure, you feel satisfied with your time spent upgrading the buggy. Just like your weapons, buggies have equipment that will eventually break, requiring you to spend resources repairing broken parts. You’ll spend a good chunk of time scavenging for parts and gas to keep your buggy running in peak condition.
On the downside, merely driving the buggy off-road causes deterioration, which is especially odd for a vehicle specifically built for accessing said type of terrain. Perhaps Techland will decrease the rate at which it deteriorates in a future patch, as you do not want to break down in the middle of a field with a horde of zombies chomping at the bit for a piece of you.
Just as you can equip Crane with new outfits, your buggies appearance can be changed as well. It doesn't affect the game, but I do appreciate games that include "fluff" such as new outfits or paint jobs. The entire buggy crafting system feels like a nature evolution from Dying Light.
Dying Light The Following is a first-person masterpiece, expanding the already great gameplay from the original, combining it with the joy of driving a buggy. Optional races are available throughout the map, if you feel the need to compete against your friends. The parkour elements have not been entirely forgotten, but it is evident that the focus in The Following is driving the buggy. Four-player online co-op is still the best way to experience The Following, and it is one of the best cooperative experiences this generation.
Note: The Dying Light: The Following review is based on a digital PC copy of the game, provided for review purposes.