Wednesday 7 December 2016

Dying Light – The Following review: Back from the undead

Dying Light: The Following (PS4/XOne/PC); rating: 9/10; Age: 18+

Published 23/02/2016 | 12:53

Dying Light: – The Following
Dying Light: – The Following

REANIMATED corpses still litter the streets of Dying Light, a zombie survival horror with a parkour twist. More than a year after the original’s release, the benighted city of Harran shows no sign of losing its appeal to players, thanks to a steady stream of updates.

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Now comes DL’s biggest ever jump-start in the form of The Following, a €20 expansion that doubles the size of the map and, crucially, introduces high-speed buggies. You will still require the original game, which isn’t changed fundamentally by the add-on. You will also need to considerably levelled up to take the powerful enemies in The Following.

Dying Light – The Following: Mowing down zombies never stops being fun
Dying Light – The Following: Mowing down zombies never stops being fun

Where many expansions would be content to insert a handful of extra missions and open up a few hundred square metres of fresh territory, The Following shifts gear dramatically.

In the hunt for the zombie virus cure, now you’re exploring expansive farmland instead of Harran’s claustrophobic alleyways and precarious roofs. You rely on Mad Max-style jalopies to criss-cross the countryside, ploughing through the undead at enjoyably hairy speed.

Dying Light – The Following: Customise your buggy
Dying Light – The Following: Customise your buggy

The plot focuses on Harran’s hinterlands, spinning a tale of a cult seemingly immune to the virus. In doing so, it downplays what made Dying Light attractive in the first place – the exhilarating parkour, the effortless traversal by day, the panicked sprinting at night when the aggressive zoms emerge.

But The Following’s buggies prove a thrilling substitute – at least once you’ve upped your skill levels to make them more driveable and durable. The expansion suffers from the original’s flaw of a slow, grinding start, with vehicles constantly needing repair and scavenged fuel. But as your upgrades kick in – flamethrowers! mines!  – the game hits a satisfying groove that smooths away Dying Light’s still-rough edges.

Nothing beats the sadistic carnage of mowing down the undead with your bumper.

You still run a lot of favours and fetch quests for the various factions. But there’s less emphasis on short-lived melee weapons and more prominence given to firearms and a fantastically useful crossbow.

When you tire of the main plot threads – a typically twisted conspiracy theory – there’s always the road races and challenges, which can draw in other online players for a amusing spin around the countryside.

With developer Techland promising to support Dying Light with updates throughout 2016, this reanimated corpse just got a new lease of life.

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