Techland surprised everyone in 2015 with Dying Light, a game that combined elements of Dead Island and Mirror’s Edge. The result was something unique, fresh and downright fun. Now, a year later, Techland is back with Dying Light: The Following, a brand new expansion for the original game. Does The Following add enough quality content or is it a broken down wreck?
Dying Light: The Following picks up directly after the original. Kyle Crane and his allies at The Tower are running low on Antizin when a mysterious man shows up in Harran, raving about a place where everyone is immune to the zombie virus. Crane, determined to save his friends, uses the man’s map to enter this mysterious land only to find himself wrapped up in a mystery. The Following’s story is a huge step up from Dying Light’s predictable plot. There’s real mystery and intrigue surrounding The Following’s events that will keep players glued to the multi-hour adventure. Kyle Crane still lacks depth, but the tale he’s thrust into is full of tension and a twist that few will see coming. It’s a much more satisfying tale this time around and won’t leave you disappointed.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of slogging Crane has to get through to get to the meet of the story. The locals aren’t friendly to outsiders, meaning Crane has to play errand boy in exchange for information. A good chunk of The Following is dedicated to performing borrowing sidequests, which either boil down to fetch quests or go somewhere to kill zombies/bandits. A new meter ranks your standing with the locals, with a few story elements popping up as you progress. These moments are interesting and add to the mystery you’re trying to uncover. Things get better towards the end, but the opening can be a real slog. The new location is a stark contrast from anything in Harran. This land is huge and is fundamentally different from any of the locations in Dying Light. Buildings are replaced with wide-open fields and vegetation. There are a few towns here and there, but for the most part you’re going to be out in the open. This fundamentally changes the game dynamic away from parkour, and towards an exciting new feature; driveable buggies. Dying Light: The Following finally gives players the keys to a car, and it’s a blast. It’s a lot of fun as you mow down zombies, participate in races and strap weapons to your ride.
The buggie also introduces the Driver skill tree. Perks in this tree allow players to customize new parts and customization options for their ride. Also, just like with weapons, players will need repair and upgrade their buggie. Players can now scavenge other vehicles for repair items and fuel, which they’ll need to do if they plan on keeping their vehicle. Like weapons, drivable buggies can become super cool weapons of destruction, though it will take some time and patience to get all the necessary equipment.
In addition to the new location, story and drivable buggies, The Following adds plenty of new farm-themed weapons. Ever wanted to chop off zombie heads with a scythe? Go for it. Want to silently take out enemies from a far distance? Try out the new Crossbow. The Following even adds in a new activity: destroying Volatile hives. Not only will destroying these net a ton of experience, but also decrease the amount of Volatile zombies roaming the map.
The Following isn’t flawless. Anyone hoping for any improvements to the gameplay will be left sorely disappointed. Every gameplay mechanic from Dying Light returns in The Following with absolutely no changes. All the controls, animations and skill trees are the same. If you’ve ever had a problem with Dying Light, then you’ll have the exact same problem in The Following. The expansion does introduce a new issue with spawning. The buggie is your best friend in The Following as you’ll frequently have to cross large spans of land. In The Following, if you die, there’s a chance you’ll spawn at a nearby watchtower, and you’ll be far away from your buggie. Getting from point A to point B in Harran never felt like a chore because the parkour was so entertaining. The Following doesn’t have that luxury and traversing the land without a vehicle can quickly become a chore.
Visually, The Following is not a stunning masterpiece, but still manages to look good. The wide-open, grassy landscapes are a beautiful contrast to the Slums and Old Town. Driving at top speed alongside the coast shows that even though this is a one year old game, Dying Light can still look good. Unfortunately, The Following reuses a lot of models and textures from Dying Light. Don’t be surprised to run into numerous characters and zombies who look identical.
The term “expansion” has a dirty connotation to it nowadays. Some developers only give players a few maps and weapons, but Dying Light: The Following puts these types of expansions to shame. For $20, players are getting a beautiful new land to explore, a mysterious and intriguing story, and new gameplay mechanics. The buggie is a fantastic addition that gives players something genuinely new to do in Dying Light. The Following has its quirks and can be a bit tedious, but this does little to diminish the overall package. The Following expands Dying Light in a meaningful new way, giving fans something fun to salivate over.