Dying Light: The Following Review
Dying Light did an amazing thing to me: it took multiple genres I had no interest in and made them fun. Lots of people stated in their original reviews that Dying Light borrowed a lot from other games, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I was never one for zombie games, but the parkour dodging, weapon crafting, dynamic time, and general storyline kept me coming back. While it hasn't been number one on my playlist since my original review, I can say that Dying Light succeeded in many ways. It even got me over my online-multiplayer slump, out playing in a community instead of just using my PS Plus subscription to get freebie games.
When the chance to review The Following dropped, I jumped at it. Any chance to get back into the game was welcome. I'd strayed from the game due to other attractions and some personal family issues, but knew that it'd be great to see it through and have more to play. The Following is a great expansion. If you're in it solely for the story, you might come away feeling it was short and disappointing, but those who are in it for the experience will be pleasantly surprised.
The Following starts out when a mysterious stranger shows up, hysterical, at home base in the city. He mentions a strange cult of individuals who seem to be immune to the zombie epidemic. Given the slow erosion of supplies, it seems there is no choice but to investigate to see if there can finally be an end to the madness. After a short stint in the sewer system, you break into a world far different from anything you expect in the original game. Rolling hills and flat countryside replace the compact buildings and industrial hovels found in the base game. Gamers must completely change their course of action through the game to succeed. Where originally you could escape the shambling dead to the rooftops, now you only find open fields, and the enemy can close in quickly with nowhere to hide. To make up for this shortcoming, a whole new skill tree has been added in regards to your adeptness with a buggy, which you can upgrade much like the other weapons, to become an ultimate killing machine.
In The Following, there are plenty of sidequests to keep you busy, some more entertaining than others. I particularly enjoyed the scenario that finds you with a few items of mail and deciding to deliver them, a last breath of the old world to people living in tragedy. Many were wonderfully hilarious and not to be spoiled for those heading out on the journey, but taking the time to research these sidequests will add to your enjoyment of the game expansion. Again, your mileage may vary depending on how quickly you want to plow through the main storyline, but slowing down and appreciating the sidequests really gives you value. There are times that you have to do some sidequesting to unlock the next story mode mission, so that at least presses you to take a shot at them.
The Following warned me when I started that the game was for advanced characters that had made some progress in the original game, but as I stated, it had slid off my radar, so I was inadequately prepared at first. The enemies were simply too strong. I learned that you can swap back and forth, importing your character as you see fit into either storyline. This is a great option, as now if you get stuck on either storyline you can simply port over and get some new levels or materials to further your crusade. I guess that The Following is better played after experiencing the original storyline, though, because personally having yet to see all the plot twists of the first story, I'm confused as to how the infection has gotten outside of the walls of the city meant to quarantine it off from the rest of the world, and how it seems to be no big deal. If you're new to the game, get through the original storyline first. You'll get invaluable equipment (such as the grappling hook) that will make improbable puzzles or jumps seem much more logical once you are fully equipped.
While the developers have modified the digital store to make it simpler, I can see it being a bit confusing now, especially for physical disc buyers. The original game is no longer available digitally on the PSN store or the Xbox Marketplace, while all the DLC is still there. The new "Enhanced Edition" has everything in it (Bozak Horde, Cuisine and Cargo, extra skins, and The Following), so you do not need to buy any DLC. All the DLC appears as linkable options on the storefront to the Enhanced Edition though, so someone not paying attention and wanting the full experience may end up accidentally rebuying something they technically already own. If you're hitting up Amazon, you can get the original disc for $35, with the season pass at $29.99, which will cost more than the "enhanced edition." Amazon is also selling a digital code of the original for $19.99, so that would balance out with the Season Pass as a full purchase. If you already own the digital edition and haven't purchased the Season Pass, it may be time to consider it, as the season pass truly saves money in the long run, with The Following costing $19.99 on it's own. My only gripe was really a first world problem: by getting an "Enhanced Edition" code for review, it was a new "base game." My 'net speed is slow. I downloaded the "single player" experience as is allowed on PSN first, but with Dying Light's dynamic drop-in multiplayer, it wouldn't let me play until the MP was downloaded. Then, there was an update file. I thought I could start reviewing once that happened, but then the game stated it needed to install. Not a top menu install like you're used to, but an in-game install percentage that slowly worked it's way up when I went into the game, preventing me from even playing the original game from inside The Following's menus. I got the download code for review on Friday, and it was Wednesday before the game would even boot up. Sure, this has a lot to do with Sony's odd download structure and my backwoods internet, but if your cheapest option is going for the Enhanced Edition, it may be wise to seek out a disc-based edition or be prepared to wait a bit. On the plus side, I will say that I was able to delete my original Dying Light and everything worked fine, and they managed to shrink the file size, having 100% of the DLC installed (including the massive Following acreage) at 24.37GB as opposed to the 25.07 that was reserved for the original title on my system. The team seems dedicated to the title, what with the streamlined file size showing optimization, plus the recent announcement that they will continue supporting the title over the next year with new DLC.
Dying Light is like going to the ice cream store and getting bits and pieces of your favorite flavors all mixed into one. While you may not get anything you would call original, the mixture of flavors is a new taste experience that you might enjoy more than the sum of it's parts. Dying Light's leveling tree, zombies, and weaponcrafting may seem old hat on their own, but mixed in with the parkour vibe, has offered a fun story and gameplay since Day One. The Following adds more of the same, perfect for fans of the original, but gives it a countryside twist, something you don't see much in games from this genre. I've always wanted to see something like Grand Theft Auto: Backwoods Edition, where they put emphasis on small towns, and this gives me a little flavor of what that could be like. Appreciation for open scenery and worlds that really changes up how you approach your enemies. The driving is a trip, and very well done for what some may consider a tacked-on extra. Maybe one day we can cruise that buggy back to Harran and tear through the streets? I can only hope.
A digital download code for Dying Light: Enhanced Edition was provided by the developers to review The Following expansion.