- Format: Xbox One (version reviewed), PS4, PC
- Unleashed: Out now
- Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive
- Developer: Techland
- Players: 1 (offline), 2-4 (online)
- Site: http://dyinglightgame.com/?lang=en_UK
- Game code provided by PR
Mere mention of the phrase ‘zombie game’ is enough to set the eyes a-rollin’, and not without reason. Nonetheless, we found Dying Light to be one of the most pleasant surprises for years. Although it’s a great self-contained adventure, DLC followed, with The Following being the first major expansion. Boasting a map said to be twice the size of the original game, not to mention a driveable vehicle and a brand new storyline, it has the mouth. But does it have the trousers?
These are certainly intricate and attractive trousers that we’re looking at. The aforementioned vehicle is a dune buggy, which you get your bloodstained hands on as part of one of your very first story tasks. Its inclusion should be ruinous in a game with a heavy emphasis on parkour movement… but it’s not. It fits in snugly. It’s a great (and welcome) way to cover huge distances in a short time and, yes, you can smash through zombies while driving it. There’s a new skill tree too, which will help you upgrade your buggy to be faster, tougher, and generally more cool.
If you were wondering, yes, you can bring your character from the base game into this expansion. Weapons, abilities, XP, items, everything. Just as well too because, although you can jump straight into The Following if you want, those who do will find it noticeably tougher than the rest of us. No punches are pulled. Without some decent weapons and a nice stash of money and crafting materials to begin with, zombies and humans alike will make things as difficult as possible for you.
As for the story, it concerns a lead that takes Crane outside of Harran and into the midst of people seemingly immune to the virus thanks, they claim, to the blessing of a cult known as the Children of the Sun and “the Mother”. Needless to say the truth isn’t quite that simple, and there are two (theoretically three) endings. Don’t expect flowers and sunshine at the end of the road, whichever way you turn…
There are new weapons to be had along the way, including a crossbow which proved to be our best friend most of the time. It only holds one bolt at a time, and takes precious seconds to reload. It’s silent, though, and great for headshots. The new missions? They are many, and they are good. Aye, they generally equate to “go get this thing” or “go kill everything here”, but they are presented in a way that hides this fact well. It also helps that most of the missions can be tackled in any order you wish, and in fact you can reach the ending leaving most of them untackled. The basic idea is that you raise your trust level with the cult by helping it and its followers out, and each time you reach a certain level of trust you’re given access to the next story mission. It says something about the quality of the missions, in fact, that we completed a few side quests before realising that neither were the one to push the story along.
While the buggy has been extremely well implemented, it’s not quite perfect. You need to scavenge fuel from abandoned vehicles (presumably you keep it in your pockets), but we never found that to be a problem. What can be irritating is that, before you indulge in some serious upgrading, the buggy is disappointingly fragile. One bump or nudge too many, and your speed takes a serious hit. You better hope you have enough screws on you to fix it. Then there’s the inevitable decision to place certain objectives kilometres apart due to the buggy’s presence which, despite the multitude of things to kill, explore and scavenge in between, can be a little tiresome if you’re just in the mood for advancing the story.
Online co-op and zombie invasions return from the main game (though, again, the final stretch of story is singleplayer only). A new way to occupy yourself outside of structured missions – and earn extra blobs of XP in the process – is to complete ‘Bounties’. These are essentially mini-challenges for the kind of thing you’d be doing anyway, such as smashing through zombies in the buggy or climbing over a certain number of ledges and objects. Entirely optional, and not exactly thrilling; but nice to have nonetheless.
If you buy the Dying Light ‘Enhanced Edition’ you get this, the base game, and the other more minor DLC released thus far. That’s a brilliant package for anybody new to the title. If you’ve already been through the main game, is The Following worth £15.99? Absolutely. Even if you hammer straight through the main story that’s 10-12 hours of play for you, with plenty to do afterwards. It’s got the same great atmosphere, the same stark division between the manageable day and the lethal night, and the same sense of a zombie apocalypse done right. Rotting corpses never felt so fresh.