Dying Light 2: Everything we know about the next zombie parkour game Dying Light 2


Dying Light 2 looks even better than the original. And the original was pretty great—Techland's first zombie parkour game left a lasting impression, and received decent post-release support. In 2016 there was The Following DLC, which let you roam an expansive countryside while smooshing the undead beneath an armored buggy, and a battle royale-esque spin-off followed. 

Dying Light 2 was originally announced at E3 2018 with a snazzy trailer, but details after 2019 were sparse for a long time. It was delayed in January 2020, near the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and now we finally have a release date for Dying Light 2. Techland is indeed kicking it out the door before the end of 2021.

A report published by TheGamer doesn't paint a rosy picture of the company culture at Techland. Employees complained about the “autocratic” management style of CEO Pawel Marchewka, over-reliance on external consultants who lack experience in the games industry, conflict at the production level, a high rate of staff turnover, and micromanagement, all of which has collectively had the effect of stripping the game of a “coherent vision.”

Here's everything we know right now.

When is Dying Light 2's release date?

Dying Light 2 launches on December 7, 2021, Techland announced during a gameplay reveal in May.

At the Microsoft E3 2019 conference, Dying Light 2 originally had a spring 2020 release window. In January 2020, Techland announced that the sequel had been delayed. They didn't initially mention a new release window until March 2021, saying that the game would release before the end of the year.

Here are the Dying Light 2 gameplay videos we've seen so far

In May 2021, Techland showed off a new seven-minute gameplay trailer. This one is an overview of Dying Light 2's story, factions, and nighttime.

The long demo shown behind closed doors at E3 2019 was worth the wait. The demo is an impressive showcase of Dying Light 2's ambitious expanded parkour systems, combat, and choice-driven story. We also see new traversal gadgets, like pulleys that zip Aiden to a rooftop, a swinging hook, and a glider.

Dying Light 2's premier trailer from 2018 gave us a snapshot of what to expect from the game's branching storyline, where entire parts of the city will change based on your choices. Check it out above. 

Another Dying Light 2 video focuses on stealth, showing off improvements Techland has made since the first game. Aiden and a partner sneak through a dark hospital, keeping quiet and low to the ground to avoid being noticed by the infected.

Dying Light 2 will support ray tracing

Lead level designer Piotr Pawlaczyk told MP1st that Techland are excited about ray tracing effects. “For players who prefer visual experiences,” he said, “we have prepared the Quality mode which, thanks to the use of ray-tracing, has significantly improved the quality of the scene, with an emphasis on environment lighting. In quality mode players will observe greater accuracy of e.g. volumetric effects and many other frame post-processing elements. The ray-tracing itself is then the basis for generating, for example, physically correct shadows.” 

There will also be a performance mode of course, “which focuses on a high frame-rate (60FPS + optionally with VRR), making the experience of fast gameplay elements such as a course or combat even more smooth.”

Here's what Dying Light 2's nights are like

(Image credit: Techland)

The original game's awesome day and night cycle mechanic is back. Infected will roam the streets at night, forcing you to make for the rooftops. We asked creative director Adrian Ciszewski how the day/night system works. “Humans rule the city during the day,” Ciszewski said, “but the streets are overrun with Infected at night. The floor is lava, basically. You should stay on the rooftops. If you jump to ground level, it's gonna be painful. You'll be pursued and encounter Screamers.”

Screamers, returning from the original Dying Light, can disorient you and alert other enemies to your location. There are reasons to go out at night, however. “If you travel the world during the day,” Ciszewski said, “you're gonna see a lot of Infected in buildings—almost like I Am Legend—who are asleep. They're waiting for night to go hunting. So when they go out at night, they leave those interiors almost empty. And that's an opportunity for you to visit these places.”

While the infected are out on the streets, their Dark Zone nests will be emptier. It's worth making a trip there, you'll just have to survive long enough to break into one. 

The superpowered volatiles are returning, too. As always, they'll chase you in a dead sprint, forcing you to get crafty with your UV flashlight and some environmental tools.

Dying Light 2 doubles the parkour moves from the original

Techland says it has doubled the parkour options this time around. In the demo you can see this with Aiden's wallrunning, but there are also more subtle moves. Aiden can seemingly vault through the tops of doorways, slide under tables, and use a loose pipe as a pole vault.

In a very Three Musketeers move, players can dig a blade into a banner and use it to glide down to the street level. There's also some ropes and cables to swing from, whether it be from one building to the next or onto said banner. In the gameplay premiere trailer, we also see the player jumping from a building and onto the back of a moving truck.

Parkour is for more than just evasion and traversal, though. When the player confronts some smugglers, we see him jump up, grab onto a pipe hanging from the ceiling, and power kicking some poor schmuck off the edge of the building. You'd think a cutthroat wastelander wouldn't put his back to certain death, but here we are.

It'll have an upgradeable paraglider and grappling hook

The first game's grappling hook returns in the sequel, and will be joined by other traversal tools including a paraglider. These gadgets can be upgraded in different ways depending on choices you make in the story. 

“During their exploration of the open world,” said lead level designer Piotr Pawlaczyk, players can use additional tools such as a paraglider or a grappling hook, which further diversify their movement in open spaces and discover the world, regardless of whether they follow the main storyline or complete all side missions. Every flat space should make you feel like “dancing on controllers”, thanks to all the geometry we put on your way. Also you can creatively use parkour in your combat and when we add to those two the next one – choices & consequences – when you can unlock new facilities, it changes your gameplay, supporting your parkour fighting skills and giving you new activities – specific for the chosen faction.”

Dying Light 2's map is four times bigger than the original

But what good is all the player-driven choice in the world if you don't have somewhere badass to hop around? Dying Light 2 switches out its predecessor's grimy favela for the aforementioned 'modern dark ages' European city, four times larger than the original's map. It looks closer in style to the tighter Old Town portion of the original Dying Light than the wider slums, but with everything cranked to 11. There's a whole mess of banners marking faction territories, windmills covered in solar panels groan with years of disrepair, and some crumbling clock towers. Some soldiers like the Peacekeepers wear armor that looks like the Knights of the Round Table meet Mad Max. Despite the increased population in this city (compared to Harran), nature has still reclaimed portions of the buildings and streets.

Oddly enough, there's even a structure that looks suspiciously like the Arc de Triomphe, but it's got what looks like a black market operating around it serviced by elevators made from the shells of school buses. 

Dying Light 2's setting

(Image credit: TechLand)

Lead designer Tymon Smektala discussed the “modern dark ages” setting with Digital Foundry, saying that they had partnered with Chris Avellone to define the world and its rules. (Avellone is no longer contributing to Dying Light 2 after he was accused of sexual misconduct by several individuals.)

“It's a setting that explains, presents a world where the civilisation has gone back to [the] dark ages,” Smektala told Digital Foundry. “Right now, everything is brutal, primal and merciless. Chris Avellone helped us to define that world, define the rules that govern it, and [helped] define the factions that operate in the city.”

Techland is also joined by at least one member of The Witcher 3 writing team: Karolina Stachyra, known for her work on the Bloody Baron questline.

Though specifics on Dying Light 2's plot haven't been revealed, the developers have given us some broad strokes of what we can expect. Set 15 years after the first game, your mission is to retrieve an object which could 'change the future of humankind.' A source of clean water? A way to turn the Wi-Fi back on? Your guess is as good as ours. But you're not alone in this grim locale. Far from it, actually. The city is full of multiple human factions, each of which will vie for your assistance, cooperation, or death.

Dying Light 2's story is around 20 hours, but it has 'more than 100' hours of total content

In an interview with Prankster101, Dying Light 2 lead game designer Tymon Smektala shared some details about the game's length. While the main story will take around “15 to 20” hours to complete, wrapping up everything will take closer to 100 hours or more.

“It is very hard to measure in an open-world game. How long it actually takes to complete the game because of the things that happen between points A and points B of a quest, so basically it’s up to you how you play it,” said Smektala. I imagine this metric is also bolstered by Dying Light 2's diverging story choices and the natural replayability that comes from choosing a different path.

Dying Light 2 has narrative choices, here's how they work

One of Dying Light 2's big changes is how the city around you will be transformed (both physically and tonally) once you ally with one of several groups.

Our own Steven Messner saw a hands-off demo that showed this branching world building at play. A group of NPCs have managed to gain control over a water source, putting an air of uncertainty over the future of the surrounding communities. The Peacekeepers, a group of law and order obsessed folks, sent out an emissary to see what they could do to get the water for their people, but because this is a computer game, the emissary has gone missing and it's up to you to figure things out.

When you find the water smugglers, you can choose to exact retribution on them with some old-fashioned murder, allowing the Peacekeepers to waltz in and spruce the place up. The streets will be a bit safer, water will flow for the locals, and some environmental additions will make parkour easier. Unfortunately for trouble-doers, the Peacekeepers will rule with an iron fist, practicing their favorite pastime of hanging anyone they deem a criminal. Maybe they'll turn against you someday. 

If you side with the smugglers, the area turns ruthless, where the desperate are charged for drinking water. Your grateful partners will cut you in on the profits, however.

More practically, depending on which faction you choose, you'll see corresponding banners and colors splash a bit of life (or misery) into the region. The Peacekeepers will unfurl their banners over buildings, erect a bunch of outposts, and build walls. Smektala was quick to clarify that your struggles won't always be between just two factions, and it won't always be as simple as a 'join us or die' dialogue prompt, meaning achieving or failing a mission objective might result in some unexpected power shifts. As is usually the case in post-apocalypse tales, there's always a chance that you'll just make things worse.

Some narrative choices can be reversed, but not easily

(Image credit: Techland)

Speaking to Official Xbox Magazine, lead designer Tymon Smektala explained how choice reversal isn't a simple reset button. “It’s not like you can like go back to the moment of that decision and just change it,” Smektala said. “You need to do some additional stuff, like complete a couple of extra missions, to fix the things that you think you wronged. But apart from those rare instances, all of the decisions are permanent.”

Make no mistake, choices still carry significant consequences. Most decisions can't be undone, but it was important for Techland to allow for reflection in some cases. “So sometimes in crucial moments for the narrative where we feel there’s a space for you to think back and realize that maybe what you decided to do wasn’t the thing you really wanted to do, even if that’s not a 'good' thing… there are a couple of instances where we give you a chance to rewrite those decisions,” Smektala said.

Dying Light 2's delay will help Techland expand its story

It was a bummer to hear that Techland had to delay Dying Light 2, but the bright side is the studio is using that time to work on the game's story. “Delaying the game opened opportunities to nail down the story part of the game, choices our players can make, as well as up the level of open world opportunities that player will face,” lead producer Eugen Harton told Official PlayStation Magazine. “Building this world takes time and we want Dying Light 2 to be the evolution of what we started with in the first game.”

That's great to hear, even if it means we might not get our hands on Dying Light for a while yet. Based on what we've seen, it should be worth the wait.

Dying Light 2's combat should offer more crafting variety

Speaking of combat, the same first-person melee looks like it's still our primary way of bashing heads in. Just like the last game, it looks like you can combine weapons with certain elements to add a little flavor to your swing. We've seen tomahawk axes with what look like electrical cords, plus a street sign cut in half. 

Smektala has said the crafting is being expanded, and that there will be around 50 new combos you can apply to weapons, but you'll also be using the environment to fight back. We've seen the player whip a bucket at an enemy's head, creating an opening to shove him off the roof.

The black market seen atop that Arc lookalike will sell you weapon blueprints, drugs that give you extra powers, or just more brutal tools of torture. Stealth will also play a larger role in Dying Light 2, with bushes and trash bins to hide if things get grisly. You'll also be able to sneak up on enemies for quieter kills.

Development has been described as “total chaos”

Following news about its lead writer leaving, there were concerns about Dying Light 2. A report claiming that its development has been “total chaos” hasn't helped.

Techland responded to fans speculating that Dying Light 2 was trapped in “development hell” and would never be released by admitting that, “we announced the game too early” and claiming it definitely wouldn't be canceled.

While we waited to hear about the sequel, Dying Light continued getting DLC

(Image credit: Techland)

Techland released a new DLC in 2020 for the original Dying Light game, a fantasy horror adventure set inside an arcade cabinet. Hellraid is actually based on an older Techland project by the same name. 

Even so many years after Dying Light's release, former Techland senior PR manager Ola Sondej told Gamecrate that “We don’t think of Dying Light—Hellraid as the final DLC and we plan to continue our support for Dying Light.”

Techland hope to give the sequel a long tail of post-launch support as well. “Thanks to our fans, Dying Light is still alive and we constantly improve this title”, said lead level designer Piotr Pawlaczyk, “Just like we want to do it with Dying Light 2 Stay Human and every future project.”

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