Future Motion

Since the dawn of the Action-RPG era, I’ve craved for something that would blend free-flowing movement and a rich RPG system with kicking zombie ass. When Techland’s Dead Island released a few years ago, we got half of that, but it looks as if my wish could be fulfilled sooner than expected with Dying Light, Techland’s next big jump into the world of zombie survival. I recently had the chance to go hands-on with the game at the EB Expo and talk with the games Community Manager, Michal Napora, about how the game’s shaping up and the challenges that the team over at Techland have jumped through to get the game where it is now.

Jumping straight into Dying Light felt like home, seeing as though I’ve racked up hours upon hours within Dead Island’s tight grip. The controls are as responsive as you’d expect in a Techland game, and kicking zombie butt felt natural and impressively brutal. Targeting a zombies head with a melee weapon will have your character smash its brains open, and as a seasoned horror fan – that’s always the aim. Amongst that, the other weapons I was able to test out in the demo included a knife that set lesser zombies on fire, an axe that wielded electricity and not only sliced zombies in half, but electrocuted them in the process and also a handy pistol that I used at the end of the demo to take out a heavy. Dead Island’s vast array of modifiable weapons seem to be back in Dying Light, and I had an absolute blast testing out the weapons mentioned above on the poor zombies that came my way.

“The controls are as responsive as you’d expect in a Techland game, and kicking zombie butt felt natural and impressively brutal.”

Gameplay itself included a variety of factors, but one of the most fruitful and pleasing variants is one of the games main selling points – the vast amount of traversal that you’re able to accomplish. Holding down the LB button on the controller, I was able to scale buildings, grab onto ledges and swiftly move onto the next point with ease. It was akin to Mirror’s Edge’s sleek and fluid movement system and I absolutely loved being able to take on the mission I was on in a way that involved scaling buildings, running through pathways and scaling stairs. The amount of possibility in approaching a mission in Dying Light is massive, and will make for some interesting challenges and encounters when the game releases at the end of January next year.

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The mission I was assigned was to get to a seemingly insecure area and secure it, which involved taking out a healthy amount of zombies. As I made my way to the area, I leaped from building to building, brutally smashing zombie heads in my way, and as I leaped on top of a building and looked out onto the horizon before me, all I could do was take a deep breath and take in what was in front of me. Dying Light is a damn gorgeous game. Even within the depths of the zombie apocalypse, what Techland have managed to accomplish graphically is wonderful. It’s a shame that sacrifices are going to be made when it comes to the last-gen version of the game, but the team still have the main goal of making it as gorgeous as possible across all platforms, as Community Manager of the project, Michal Napora, said “look, the game isn’t going to look as good, it’s still going to be good, but not as good as say Xbox One or PS4 versions of the game… or even, you know, PC master race.” It’s something to consider if you are intending on picking up the game on the last-gen consoles, but as recent cross-gen titles have proved – the 360 and PS3 systems are still respectively kicking ass by themselves.

One of the biggest parts about Dying Light’s intrigue is the way the Day and Night cycle works, and how much it impacts the game. If you haven’t seen much on Dying Light, it’s tagline is “Good Night, Good Luck” – which feverishly relates to the way the weather system changes the shape of the game completely. While you’re out and about in the day, you can do as you please – the zombies will obviously still try and eat your brains, but they will be like classic Romero zombies – slow and easily distractable. When night falls however, everything changes. Zombies become more rampant, aggressive and dangerous and form into beings that truly test your willing to survive. It brings the best out of players, and while the increase in difficulty might be jarring for some, keeping it balanced and out of the rage quit zone was a goal that the team over at Techland understood and strived to maintain. Michal went into specific detail about this process, explaining that “you don’t want it to get to a point where when night comes it gets so hard that players attempt to wait it out until daylight returns. We wanted to make it challenging, not get people to rage quit and still kind of encourage them to do a bit of exploration at night.” I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to experience the terror that is nightfall in Dying Light, but I’m very excited to see what it has to offer when the full game releases next year.

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The thought of future content in the form of DLC’s and add-ons is still in the process of being thrown around, and I found it particularly interesting that Dying Light is amongst a group of AAA titles that haven’t announced a Season Pass-system for post-launch content. “There’s talk about it, you know” Michal said, “honestly though, before we go for DLC’s, we wanna make sure that the game is polished. We don’t want to sort of go – alright, here’s a half decent game and buy some half decent DLC’s for it.” The aim is to make Dying Light the best game it can be, as he finished off the question with “it’s like, let’s get Dying Light perfect, and once it’s out, that’s when we’ll go into DLC.” It’s an interesting move, and one that I certainly admire. It’ll be something that I’ll be monitoring after the game launches, no doubt.

Playing through Dying Light was an excellent experience, and having the chance to interview Michal gave a great insight into the humble beginnings and the realms of possibility within the game. I asked him to pitch me Dying Light with only two words, and his reply was “future motion”, relating right back to the excellent movement system. So that’s how I’m capping this preview off, and using that as the sub-title for the preview. This game represents future motion, and I can’t wait to see more of it in the future. Check out my full interview with Michal right here.

Dying Light launches on the 28th of January, 2015 on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC.