At the crossroads between Dead Island and Mirror's Edge, Dying Light (DL) points the tip of his zombie nose in early 2015, offering a new title to the Survival-Horror genre. Developed by Techland, Polish studio at the origin of Dead Island and Call of Juarez, these gentlemen know the field of FPS and deliver us a new portion of zombies, opponents having decidedly always the wind in their sails.
While waiting for a possible Dead Island 2 in 2016, Techland offers at the beginning of the year a first DLC of Dying Light called: The Following (TF). Exploiting a new playground and especially the appearance of a buggy, let's take a look at what this DLC has under the hood.
The Games Managers team had a glimpse of it during the last Gamescom.
Test carried out on the PC version of Dying Light TF, after approximately 23 hours of play (100% history, 97% completion) and only commits its author.
- Neat game design and immersive atmosphere
- Rather solid construction: stable and with a graphics engine to match
- Correct sound design (excluding dubbing)
- Frantic gameplay & excellent handling
- The buggy: well integrated into the universe and accentuates the rhythm of the game
- Dense, rhythmic and fun coop content
- Final script twist better arranged than before
- Post-it scenario and cliché characters
- Very uneven, caricatural FR dubbing and dialogues
- Rares approximations the gameplay (grappins, hitbox)
- Inventory and crafting: not always ergonomic and sufficiently clear
- Too repetitive lockpicking
- Customization of the buggy finally quite limited
- Game design / Ambiance
- Technique / realization
- Sound design
The action takes place outside the city of Harran, location of the previous opus. We are thus witnessing a radical change of scenery, passing from the city to the countryside with its fields, farms and coastal reefs. The result is up to the urban settings previously explored. Where Harran offered a solid and consistent level of detail to illustrate a large city with its wealthy neighborhoods and nearby suburbs, its campaign features a refreshing, detailed, varied Game design and sublimated during certain periods of the day (setting sun near fields and farms).
The campaign also offers a level design much more horizontal than Harran. Urban environment requires, the various buildings and buildings offered a playground conducive to a vertical level design (especially the second part of the game), which is no longer necessarily the case with the wheat fields and other green plains that surround the river. city. In my opinion, this is not a fault since it is consistent with the use of a buggy. In addition, certain zones still guarantee the use of the "Parkour" system, in particular through certain quests.
The general atmosphere is naturally different from Harran and especially at night. Indeed, during the day we rub shoulders with a wilder environment underlined by an adequate sound design, as for the night ..., things get tough very quickly. Exit the many sources of light of a nocturnal Harran, it will suffice to find yourself in the middle of the countryside at nightfall to be totally in the dark. Only your torch will illuminate it two meters in front of you and again! The atmosphere becomes, in fact, more anxiety-provoking than before.
The whole remains as immersive as Dying Light "vanilla" (DLv) and we always take as much pleasure in exploring the places in search of resources and other more or less morbid secrets.
Once again, the achievement is solid but quite resource intensive, especially ultra. For a Gamer configuration (I7 + GTX 980 + 16 GB Ram), the game easily runs at almost constant 60 FPS. No crashes, no big bugs to report, thegaming experience is therefore rather smooth and pleasant.
Regarding the graphics engine, like DLv, the latter remains solid and offers a good overall rendering. The textures are of good resolution and allow to have detailed environments, fine architectures and correct facies (special mention for raptors and the Mother). The cast shadows are smoothed out and the management of lights and reflections remains coherent and dynamic. The aliasing is rather discreet on the whole and the engine offers a impressive viewing distance. The backgrounds are clean: no blur, no Wallpaper impressions and very discreet clips in the foreground as well as in the background.
Also note, a correct management but without more particles : dust, smoke, sparks and others will cross the screen and animate the environment in a credible way, without bringing real changes as Nvidia's Gameworks can do. Unfortunately no blatant tessellation, nevertheless the software is sufficiently detailed not to dwell on the question. Fluid management remains basic but does the job, between heavy rain, filter deformations (drops on the screen) and correct textures. However, we should not expect innovative simulations (particular eddies, splashing, ...).
Small caveats: chromatic aberration (AC). As a reminder, AC allows you to have blurred outlines broken down into several colors:
The effect of Chromatic Aberration
This effect is particularly visible in DL as a thumbnail at the edges of the screen. It won't be a problem for the vast majority of players, but personally I don't like this post process tool which tends to reduce the sharpness / clarity of the image (same for the grain filter).
Zombie grumbling question, no obvious novelty against DLv. The biters and raptors offer a range of credible sound effects, especially when you are equipped with a good headset. The chuckles of birds of prey behind your back, when you are lost in a rapeseed field at 2am, it does its little effect! Ditto for the surrounding noises, representative of the places visited.
The blows delivered during the confrontations have a punch and each type of weapon offers different sensations: from the thud of a sledgehammer to the tearing of a saber to the explosion of a skull under its boot. It's a delight. The sound design associated with bullet time and other visual effects, brilliantly underlines the action and all the more reinforces the immersion.
Concerning the music, some themes stand out and have the merit of underlining the identity of the universe exploited by DL (main theme in particular). Several "Action music" are obviously part of the game and some give pride of place to percussion. Other pieces remain relatively discreet and, in fact, not very memorable.
Finally, know that Dying Light is fully dubbed in spanish, but we will come back to the negative points.
What characterizes the very essence of DL is its willingness to take the gameplay codes of its big brother Dead Island with the flexible and energetic movement palette of Mirror's Edge. Techland had a hollow nose because that is precisely what works best. Where Mirror's Edge found its limits by locking itself into a gameplay almost solely focused on maneuverability, Dying Light finds its strength and new fun opportunities with survival / horror gameplay bases whose effectiveness has already been proven in Dead Island.
So, what to do to bring a little new blood, a year after this stroke of genius? Win in frenzy, gain speed: roll over zombies.
The buggy is therefore the new attraction of Dying Light and this DLC revolves almost exclusively around it. The latter can be customized on two levels: its key parts (brakes, engines, etc.) and its appearance (paint, knick-knacks, etc.). A new skill tree is available to hone your piloting skills and equip your machine with various very useful weapons and gadgets.
The interest of the buggy isintensify the gameplay by making it more frantic, while still retaining the violent and ruthless nature of the franchise: more speed, more stunts, more zombies in pieces. With excellent maneuverability like the license in general, the buggy quickly becomes fun, but above all necessary to cross the new playground. The latter is larger than that of DLv, but also more empty. Techland has logically adapted the playing field for an all-terrain vehicle and thus avoid frustrating the player by going to scratch against a wall every two meters.
Otherwise, the buggy fits well into the game, with consistency with respect to its gameplay mechanics, in particular the crafting and farming of resources. The joys of mechanics are up to you by going to collect screws, gaskets and gasoline jerry cans to get the best possible part of what will become, at the end of the adventure, your competition mini tank.
Buggy at dusk
Dying Light The Following propose content rich enough for a DLC. Allow more than twenty hours to approach 100% completion in normal mode and 50 hours for the base game. Main and secondary quests, exploration, crafting, buggy challenges (races, massacre, ...), raptor nests to destroy, looting places and militarized zones to empty, skill tree to evolve, bosses to kill and other miscellaneous objects to collect, there is nothing to be bored.
The secondary content may seem a bit repetitive but everything is done so that the pace of the game does not falter, which tends to reduce this feeling of routine. The gameplay has enough possibilities to renew the approach and especially to progress quickly in order to chain the objectives.
Otherwise, the crossbow makes its appearance in Kyle's arsenal. Quite fun to use, it complements the arc itself interesting and moreover very fashionable in many FPS today. It's up to you to play the William Tell by adjusting your shots as best as possible thanks in particular to a coherent physics and a localization of damage well rendered. Shoot an arrow into the leg of a moderately strong zombie and he may collapse. Or make flammable arrows for a fun light and sound show.
Levels of Difficulty "Difficult" and "Nightmare" deliver a much stronger experience. The care kits no longer give back a part of your life instantly but only after a few seconds, the virulents are more numerous, the birds of prey no longer appear on the radar, the experience penalty in case of death is greater and the survival instinct as well as the ultimate passives (unlimited sprints etc.) no longer work in nightmare mode, good luck.
Zombies and wheat fields
- Lock picking
One of the main problems of Dying Light, it is above all its scenario, that it is its writing, its originality or even sometimes its coherence. Everything is sprinkled with dialogue and FR dubbing worthy of the best Z series. Even if this DLC offers a better ending than the base game, the whole thing weighs down! To better understand, let's break this review down into two points:
A city, a countryside, zombies of different categories and with specific skills, an arsenal to build ... It's no more, no less of the Dead Island. It is not illogical in the sense that Dying Light was originally thought of as a sequel to Dead Island. Techland decided otherwise, especially for the more dynamic orientation of its gameplay and its day / night cycle system. The references between the two titles are therefore logically very close. Why not go back to the basics that work? Difficult to put him on trial on this subject, especially since Dying Light sublimates everything either visually or in terms of gameplay.
However, this does not exclude the creation of a worthy scenario with endearing characters, and this is especially where the shoe pinches. We can not say that the originality is at the rendezvous with DL. Based on the basis of American nanar type: "I am a soldier sent to the front to find traces of a cure for the virus ravaging the surroundings", our modern-day hero finally manages to break his ankle and almost die at the end. two minutes ... the tone is set! After many adventures (comic), the adventure ends with a duel which is only a continuation of QTE frankly soporific and leaving room for the credits of the game.
One year later, The Following, deals with more ambiguous subjects: worship, a prophecy... in the end to deliver a very classic story overall, holding on to a post-it but which has the advantage of ending on a positive note with a final more surprising and fun than DLv.
I regret that Dying Light does not have a more visceral narrative with more ambitious script content, rather than being content to be a "Dead Island like". I understand Techland's choice to bring coherence between the tone given to the universe and the action that takes place there ... but in the end maybe they would have done better to tackle other horrific subjects and stand out from what already exists.
The cliché characters do not miss: Raïs and his team of villains worthy of Ken the Survivor, Jade the sexy girl and well made up in full zombie invasion and whose neck we end up breaking! (great humorous moment), the two learned brothers Bogdanov or Ezgi, the lesbian gothic ... it sometimes borders on the ridiculous. The FR dubbing accentuates the problem because they are very uneven: the intonations are sometimes hilarious, sometimes hopeless despite all the goodwill of Benoît DuPac (FR dubber for Kyle Crane and Glenn from Walking Dead). The original version is much more correct, with a more virile Kyle and much better restored accents.
The narration, meanwhile, falters during many quests without flavors given by the NPCs, themselves sometimes too far behind (including Ezgi, which could have been better exploited in this DLC).
The electrified interior
If we want to go into detail, we can raise some criticisms concerning very specific gameplay points, namely: a strange hitbox of certain attacks, in particular the mass blows of the Goon (Malabar) and the charges / rock throws of the Demolisher .
In addition, the grappling hook and freerun combo sometimes seems to get a little tangled in the brushes during rapid sequences ... but nothing too serious.
The inventory has not changed in this DLC and comes down to listing our objects in the form of lists. You should know that you will recover a lot of resources during the adventure and this list system does not seem to me the most ergonomic to navigate quickly. It is not however completely indigestible, I have seen worse. A grid might have had the merit of having faster access to the content of our inventory.
Ditto for the craft section, it could have been interesting to have more feedback on each item made, with why not a preview window of the added effect / appearance of the weapon.
La buggy customization remains in the end very light in terms of appearance. Other than retouching the color and adding a small figurine or a lucky charm next to the steering wheel, it's not amazing. The paintings are generally successful but I would have liked more customization in the interior and why not more offbeat or eloquent bodywork elements.
The nights are darker
The lockpick system is based on the same functioning as that of Skyrim or Fallout 4. In itself, I find it excellent, but it turns out to be far too present. Locked chests, that's not what's missing, whether in town or on isolated farms. Too often taking time for a more or less obvious lockpicking session tends to break the beat so frantic of the adventure.
It could have been interesting, either to boost a skill specific to lockpicking, like Skyrim or simply vary the means of forcing a lock. It's not like it's impossible to find a crowbar in this game!
Summary of Vietnam
Dying Light was one of my nicest surprises in 2015 on PC and its DLC confirms my feelings. Admittedly, his universe is not the most original, its scenario is worthy of a Z series and its characters would do better to become zombies rather than survive. But on the other hand, Dying Light is above all beautiful, complete and fun to play alone or with others. Violent and gory in action, flexible and quick in its handling, DL lays the foundations for a very pleasant FPS to go up to 100% completion. The Following is no exception to the rule and allows itself the luxury of bringing an interesting added value with its buggy.
This DLC completes the basic experience, without revolutionizing the whole but offers a welcome novelty sublimated by a map with credible and refreshing decorations. So indulge your carnage urges aboard your buggy and cross the Harran countryside at twilight on a more dangerous night than before.
And you ? What did you think of the adventure? What are your wishes for the next DLC?