Monday, February 29, 2016

Dying Light: The Following (Xbox One) Review

I played some Dying Light a few months ago with two friends, and enjoyed my time with the game.  I wasn't able to put much time into it, having to review games and all, so I was happy to get a review code for the Dying Light expansion called The Following.  Trouble is, they recommend that you be at least survival level 12 to "have the most enjoyment" out of it, so I first tried to get myself to that point so I could dive into what sounds like a big expansion for the game.

However, I couldn't resist jumping into it.  Or I was nudged for taking too long to get to it.  Either way, I dove in, hopefully not woefully under-prepared.  I can't really say one way or the other, since it felt just as hard as the base game, with all the things that irked me there.  Getting to the first camp wasn't too bad once I was able to see the way, but a lot of the other stuff was hard.  First off you have to infiltrate a camp and steal a car.  Thankfully, you don't have to kill anyone, but can just steal the car and leave.  I was able to do that after only a few deaths.

So I jumped back to the base game to buy a gun.  That put me on equal footing to the bandits, and I was able to go back and finish them off.  It works really well for fighting them and making any zombie in your visual range run up to fight you.  Thankfully, the game allows you to jump back and forth between the two saves with the same character.  Admittedly, the grappling hook should make a lot of things easier, so if you can, have that before jumping into The Following (hence the survival level 12 thing).  If there was no death penalty, I would have had it by the time I played it.

Still, I had difficulties with the game.  Enemies tend to travel in large groups, spawn nearby or behind you while you deal with their friends, and generally be a nuisance whenever you are trying to do something.  There's even quests to destroy Volatile hives.  It's safer to get there during the day, but then the hive itself has more enemies and is harder.  It's very possible that I'm bad at the game, since combat tends to be hard for me.  Even so, I imagine it's also better to have a friend of three when tackling quests.

The map for The Following is really big, as befitting for an expansion.  The main story structure reminds me of Gat Out of Hell, where there are only a few missions, but you must raise your reputation by doing other things, like sidequests or delivering air drops.  There are a lot of side quests and other things to do in the area, which will take a long time to complete.  I could easily see people spending 20 hours to do everything, and even longer if you are by yourself or under-leveled.  The main quest is pretty open, allowing you to kind of pick what you want to further your reputation with the locals.  While the base game was in a city, the expansion has a lot more open space because of the best addition to the game...the vehicle.

Early on you gain access to a buggy that you can upgrade and drive around the map.  It has a few different parts that you can equip to it and have to repair.  While a bit strange from an outside perspective, it fits in the game very well.  It's kind of like the weapons, although they don't wear out nearly as fast.  There is also a skill tree for driving, and abilities you can use in the car, like a mine dropper, nitro boost and a flamethrower!  Honestly, I just prefer to drive into all the enemies, but a lot of the other things had their uses.

Trouble is, I feel like they kind of went out of their way to suck some of the fun out of the vehicle.  Many places you drive have some kind of obstruction to your view, such as high grass, trees or other similar things.  This in turn makes it easy to run into things, which is easy enough with how unwieldy the buggy can be.  The part that really annoys me is the parkour virals.  They were annoying enough before, but now they can jump on your buggy and hang on.  Or, just punch it which makes it lurch to the side or slide around when you try to turn.  I somehow don't think they should be strong enough to punch a car and make it move, but clearly the developers think otherwise.

If you liked Dying Light, The Following is a great reason to jump back in.  It gives you a huge area to play around in, with lots of new quests, and the car to mow down infected.  Even if I'm terrible at combat, I would recommend playing with friends to make it the most fun and smooth experience it can be.  I got annoyed at various points, but I'd say it was worth the price of admission, as you get a lot of extra content.  Plus it is really fun and cathartic to run over lots of zombies.

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