Dying Light, the long-anticipated followup from the developer of Dead Island and Dead Island: Riptide, is seeing its fair share of comparisons to its original series, many of which are warranted. Techland has made no claim to complete difference from its early foray into the zombie-killing genre, but it obviously claims Dying Light to be different enough from Dead Island to be its own franchise. What isn’t warranted are the slew of comparisons the game will get to Dead Island 2.
When Techland broke off to develop its own game, Deep Silver grabbed whatever developer they could muster to continue the franchise – Yager Development, in this case. Although there have been reports that Dying Light was originally intended as a Dead Island sequel, a member of the Techland team confirmed for Hardcore Gamer that this isn’t the case, and Dying Light was “an original title from its very beginning.” Now that Deep Silver has finally unveiled gameplay for Dead Island 2, it’s easy to see why Techland broke away from the series.
Both games are slated for an early 2015 release, so the comparisons are inevitable. My prediction: Dying Light will be better than Dead Island 2 in every conceivable way. Let’s compare the first looks and examine a few of the areas in which Dying Light already has the edge.
Some have dismissed Dying Light as “just” Dead Island with free running. Even if that were true, that is a big addition to the game, especially given the depth of execution Techland has displayed with the mechanic thus far. Anything that looks climbable is. Add that to Techland developer Maciej Binkowski’s claim that one out of four areas in Dying Light is bigger than Dead Island and Dead Island: Riptide combined, and that’s a lot of climb-ability.
Dead Island 2 is the same old dance. See some easily traversable debris blocking your way? Well you’ll have to walk around the entire city, because even the most basic climbing can only be done by jumping from platform to platform.
In all fairness, Dead Island 2 doesn’t seem to be to concerned with fleeing, because its zombies don’t seem half as hard as Dying Light’s, or even Dead Island’s. Dead Island 2’first gameplay footage is a compilation of funny ways to kill a zomibe. How about freezing its head and shattering it? What about cutting all its limbs off one by one? What’s missing is the sense of danger that zombies posed in Dead Island and will undoubtedly pose in Dying Light. In the Gamescom footage, zombies in Dead Island 2 stood around like morons, showing no response as the player wildly swung an axe in their general vicinity
Dead Island and Dead Island: Riptide were all about finding the quickest and most effective way to kill the zombies in your way, because any one of them could be a threat. Sure, you could do that with a bomb made out of deoderant and duct tape, but humor and creativity wasn’t the goal. Whether Dead Island 2’s weaker enemies were simply used to demonstrate weapon crafting remains to be seen, but Dying Light put their best foot forward, showcasing the depth and difficulty at the first reveal. Dead Island 2 followed up its traditional misleading cinematic with disappointing gameplay mechanics.
The threats are everywhere in Dying Light, especially in the game’s new day/night cycle, which causes zombies to change into deadly, free-running nightmares. Try freezing one of their heads, Deep Silver.
Campaign and Multiplayer:
This is where Dead Island 2 is the most lacking. As the folks at Yager Development revealed to IGN at Gamescom, there is no way to beat Dead Island 2 – in other words, the campaign has no meaningful closure. In place of a solid campaign are endless fetch quests – which can be done with up to eight people. Calling it “the world’s smallest MMO,” Yager Development confirmed that Dead Island 2 will appeal to players who just want to kill zombies without having to worry about anything like story or character progression, and it facilitates that with seamless drop-in multiplayer.
Dying Light on the other hand promises an in-depth story with four player co-op, more than 100 side-quests (the variety of which is to be determined) and special challenges on top of that. It also sports a Dark Souls-style invasion system, where players can become a zombie and terrorize strangers online. The charm of Dead Island was replayability; play through the campaign as one character and one play style, then try it again with a different one. It didn’t doom you to run around California endlessly, fetching gas for anyone who begs for it.
Honestly, I was surprised that Dead Island 2 was even being made, and now it’s being made into a shadow of the original while Techland is off creating the successor we all wanted. Who’s to blame? My money is on Deep Silver, a publisher with an established record of rushing games at the expense of gameplay. It will surprise me more if Deep Silver, Dead Island 2 and Yager Development can manage to turn out a solid, challenging sequel.