If you liked Dying Light, you're going to love Dying Light 2.
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It is late in the evening on the Tuesday before the review embargo lifts. The embargo is lifting in about half a day, and in typical fashion I'm waiting until the last second to put my thoughts to digital paper.

Having spent the past week playing Dying Light 2 Stay Human, I can confidently say that I am ready to give my verdict. That verdict being: Dying Light 2 is damn fun. Fans of the original will undoubtedly find a lot to love here, and there is a lot to love. I would say that with a few rare exceptions, Dying Light 2 is a fine follow-up to the original game. A game, mind you, that managed to receive something like seven years of continued support from the developers at Techland.

In fact, I want to do something a little different with this review. Typically, I save the negatives for the end of the review. I want to get those out of the way first just because I don't believe there are all that many that were particularly egregious.

For instance, while I did largely enjoy the game's overall story, I feel like the pacing was all over the place. Some events kicked off at various times that made me question how we suddenly arrived at this juncture. On the flip side, some stretches of the main campaign seem to go on for just a bit too long for my liking. Often, your character is bounced between other characters or factions, who then in turn task you with doing a series of missions for them just to progress in the story.

I will also say here that I missed the ability to throw my weapons. This ability, unlockable in the first game, is nowhere to be found in the sequel. There are several different throwable items in Dying Light 2 that include items like knives, grenades, and Molotov cocktails. However, there was just something special about chucking a fire-infused sword at a foe that I sorely missed here. I know at least one of my friends will be disappointed with this as it was almost all they did in the first game.

Weapons still have durability that degrades over time when using them in Dying Light 2, just as they did in the first game. You can only add durability back to a weapon if you add mods to it. You can't just keep repairing weapons in this game, which seemed a bit odd to me. You also can't keep swapping out mods with other mods to keep repairing a weapon either. Once a mod is in there, that seems to be it. You use the weapon to completion, then either sell it or let it break so that you can swap in a replacement at your earliest convenience.

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I was also a little bummed that there were no handguns, shotguns, rifles, or any other firearms in Dying Light 2. The game does offer the use of a bow and arrow or crossbow, however. Though fun in the first game, those weapons did tend to make the use of melee weapons obsolete at a certain point, so I understand why they aren't included in Dying Light 2. There is also an in-game reason for the lack of firearms in Dying Light 2's world, but I'll let you discover that one for yourself as it is tied to a rather major story beat.

Dying Light 2 features a lot of locks to pick. If you have played literally any of the recent Fallout or Elder Scrolls games, you know exactly what lockpicking is like in this game. It wears on you hard after several hours of the same minigame. There are ways to bypass the lockpicking minigame, but it requires you to upgrade your lockpicks. It can take a fair bit of time to gather the needed resources for that, so keep that in mind.

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Likewise, there are also a lot of non-locked chests in the game that require you to mash a key to open due to them being secured with a strap. I will tell you this right now: Enable the option that allows you to simply hold a button down to complete these button mashing QTEs. You can thank me later. You're going to be using that same button often enough anyway as it's used to open lockers, chests, and containers. It's also the button used to loot items, gear, and resources. It's also the same button that you need to hold down to search still other container types like trash cans and registers for resources. It's also the same button used to search dead enemies for resources. In the case of the PC version of the game, it's the F key. I don't think I ever used that key as much in my life as I did while playing Dying Light 2.

Strangely, there does not seem to be any competitive multiplayer this time around. I guess it was never really stated anywhere that it was included in the sequel, but I had assumed it would be since it was in the first game. It wasn't a mode that I played a whole lot of in the first game, but its omission was still a surprise here. With Techland already promising at least five years of post-release support, I would not be terribly surprised if this was added down the line. I'm not saying that it will be, I'm just saying that I wouldn't be surprised if it was.

There was most definitely a fair bit of jank here and there. I was sometimes unable to pick up loot and resources unless I found a specific angle. I would sometimes see NPCs clipped into tables or barrels, or I'd see them "sitting" below a chair. I would occasionally see gaps in world geometry or environmental objects just floating in mid-air. I saw vendors t-posing twice. Some vendors seemed to offer an endless supply of a few resources. I'm almost certain this could be abused in some way to earn infinite money if people really cared (though money wasn't really an issue at any point in the game). The texture quality is severely lacking on multiple surfaces. These are all issues that, while frustrating to see, aren't exactly game breaking for most people.

Sadly, a few other bugs went beyond mere jank and proved to be an actual detriment to gameplay. There was precisely one instance where I went to climb over a wall only to end up being thrown into the air by the invisible hand of God. This ultimately led to a death once I fell back to the ground. A couple of the Windmill climbs (think mini-parkour challenges ala Far Cry towers) also glitched out on me to the point I was unable to complete them. Thankfully, the developers are aware of this, and a fix is in the works already.

I also had a boss fight glitch out on me when I propelled them high into the air with a remote explosive. They then landed, which killed them shortly after. Somehow my character also glitched out and was killed by some sort of physics object in the environment. We both died at roughly the same time, but the game at least managed to progress properly since I defeated him a split-second before I died. I have clips of both instances that I may share after this review goes live.

I will also note here that in my roughly 30 hours of gameplay, I had just one game crash. It happened right as a cutscene was about to begin. Thankfully, the game autosaves often enough that I was able to restart the game and continue mere seconds prior to the crash. It did not crash again at any point for me.

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Framerate drops hit hard in very specific locations like in the above image

One final issue that I ran into time and time again involved massive framerate drops. Without giving too much away, I will say that there are buildings and structures that you can conquer. These either involve solving a series of puzzles or just defeating the main baddy in the area. After you complete these tasks, you can then "claim" these areas and they are thus marked as completed. Every. Single. Time. that I went to complete these areas, which usually just had me turning a valve, my framerate would just tank when looking at the object that I had to interact with. It happened without fail. My framerate would be return to normal if I looked even a couple of feet off away from the object.

Now, the game has been patched since I completed these areas in my playthrough. I was also made aware of at least another patch that may drop ahead of the public launch. The patch that I already received this past week did include unspecified performance fixes. Unfortunately, I was unable to test to see if that patch addressed this specific issue. I'm still mentioning it in this review because it is an issue that I encountered.

With all of this said and out of the way, here is what Dying Light 2 Stay Human is at its core: It is a true love-letter to fans of the original. The combat is visceral and satisfying. Limbs, heads, and torsos getting lopped off with a puff of red mist is never not satisfying. Dropkicking Renegades or pesky undead off rooftops is just as satisfying the hundredth time as it is the first time.

Parkour returns and is better than ever in Dying Light 2. As you may expect, you do start off with a limited number of abilities. As you unlock more and more abilities and upgrade your stamina through the use of Inhibitors, you'll soon be running, sliding, climbing, ziplining, summersaulting, wall running, and swinging your way around rooftops, over cars, and through buildings.

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There are some great improvements made to the game environments that really allow the parkour in this game to get the spotlight it rightly deserves. The verticality, especially in the second main area of the game, allows players to tackle navigation however they prefer. Want to take a paraglider over the rooftops towards your objective? Go for it, just be sure to catch some air on the vents along the way. If you would prefer to go at it on foot, nobody will stop you as you navigate the rooftops and make dangerous leaps over gaps. For the adventurous, you can always just stick to the streets, snaking your way through zombies while hoping over cars and through busses. The real fun comes in mixing up those different approaches as you make your way towards your intended destination.

Now, in addition to the emphasis on skyscrapers and more vertical gameplay experiences, Dying Light 2 also features a quite a few building interiors to either explore or use as shortcuts. It has been a while since I last played the first Dying Light (almost five years now), but I feel as though the number of interiors in Dying Light 2 have been significantly increased when compared to its predecessor. Buildings are often the source of rare resources that are needed for crafting upgrades or weapon mods.

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A decent number of these buildings also contain the items you will need to upgrade your character, Aiden Caldwell. There is a catch to this. See, during the day, these buildings are full of zombies. They tend to remain inside during the day because the UV rays from the Sun will hurt them. At night, these buildings are a lot safer. There will still be a decent number of the walking dead to either sneak by or kill, but the challenge is far, far lessened at night. You can, if you're feeling brave, tackle these locations during the day. I tried a few of them during the day, and while the smaller "Loot Source" locations were manageable with some careful maneuvering, the larger "GRE Quarantine Buildings" often resulted in death. Specifically, my death. A lot. I died a lot. These quarantine buildings are a lot like mini-dungeon type experiences that are best tackled at night or with a group of friends in co-op.

Speaking of which, nighttime in Dying Light 2 has seen some significant changes and improvements compared to the first game. In the first game, I think most people just refused to go out at night, opting instead to fast-forward time to the morning. Techland seems to have had the same thought because they made it so you want to go out at night. Sure, it's still super dangerous to roam around the streets at night. You will be chased. You will be chased a lot. However, there are now missions and quests that can only be completed at night. Players still receive bonus experience for combat and parkour abilities performed at night, but now you also have the added incentives of completing these extra missions for gear and experience, or raiding one of the aforementioned Loot Source locations and GRE Quarantine Buildings for upgrades, gear, and valuables.

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Nighttime is also when you will be able to take on a variety of optional, yet challenging, boss fights. In the world of Dying Light 2, there are specific locations scattered throughout where a GRE Anomaly will show up during the night. These encounters are often challenging but not overly so. Taking out the unique bosses at each location will reward you with some of the rarer items in the game along with Inhibitors.

Some side activities are not day/night dependent in Dying Light 2. For instance, there are abandoned military convoy locations that, while teeming with enemies, also contain some gear upgrades and medical supplies. Metro stations are a blend of combat and parkour challenges. These stations are often full of the Renegade faction. You can either stealth your way through the station, using silent takedowns along the way, or just go in with blades swinging. At the end of each station is a second area that offers a bit of a parkour challenge where you need to make your way through a ramshackle area to turn on some generators. Completing each Metro location will unlock the ability to fast-travel to that location in the future. You can also find and unlock several safehouses all over the map. This usually just involves turning on a portable generator nearby. More involved safe havens include windmills that, once conquered through a bit of parkour jumping, provide a safe zone that often includes vendors you can trade with.

The biggest side activity is the handful of facilities that you can find. Most territories in the game have electrical facilities or water facilities to conquer. The water towers are essentially longer, more thought-provoking parkour challenges. You generally must work your way up to the top of each tower. Once you do that, you can assign that facility to one of the game's main factions. Likewise, the power facilities are more geared towards puzzle solving. These locations include generators that you need to power on by connecting one junction box with another that can accept its input. It sounds simple, but some of the locations will require a bit of thought and planning because the power cords that you need to connect are limited in length.

Upon completion of these towers and electrical stations, you can assign a territory to one of two factions. Each faction will offer different upgrades around the city, depending on who you choose to align yourself with. While I couldn't go down every narrative path in the game (I am but one person with limited time), I can certainly see how some rather major portions of the game can be different depending on who you side with and which faction you give a majority control to. If nothing else, the bonuses provided to you from each faction can drastically alter how you play the game and how you navigate through some zones. It also has an impact on the look, design, and feel of some of the structures in the surrounding areas. You'll also tick off a lot of people in the faction you didn't side with, so get ready for some rude comments from NPCs.

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Aiding Aiden in his journey through the city of Harran is a scan ability that will send out a limited range pulse around your character. This ability, defaulted to "Q" on the PC, will briefly highlight objects that you can interact with, typically loot containers, throughout the environment. This pulse also highlights enemies, something that is extremely handy to utilize at night or inside buildings where it's often far too dark to see them properly.

Gear pieces tend to have several stats associated with them. There are a few different main "types" of clothes that I saw. There is gear that is "Tank" focused. These items tend to have higher armor stats and provide bonuses for two-handed weapon usage. There is a "Brawler" type that tends to add some extra damage or stamina recovery in combat scenarios when using one-handed weapons. There is also a "Medic" type that focuses more on providing better healing abilities and enhances parkour combat. Finally, there is a "Ranger" armor type that, you guessed it, emphasizes and enhances ranged combat abilities as well as stealth. You are free to mix and match items of any type in any gear slot. Unfortunately, no matter which clothing sets or types you opt to wear, everyone still has the same combat and parkour unlocks. I would have maybe liked it if Techland went harder into the RPG elements here with unique abilities for each style, but alas that just isn't the case.

In keeping with the theme of customization, the game does also offer some level of HUD customization. You can enable or disable various elements to fit your play style. They have several default options for fans of RPG games, fans of action games, etc. You can also just customize the screen elements you want displayed if you like. You can toggle on and off elements like human health bars, infected health bars, awakening bars for those slumbering zeds, immunity timer, stamina bar, and you can also just disable the center dot crosshair if you want. I have no doubt that some players would prefer to disable even more elements of the HUD, but it wasn't a big deal to me.

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I know I haven't said anything about the game's co-op mode in this review. The fact is, co-op wasn't available until earlier in the day on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. I plan on playing through this game with a couple of friends when it is publicly available on February 4. If, for some reason, co-op totally changes the game or breaks it, I'll update this review with a note about it. I can't see how that could happen, but you just never know.

I also can't really speak for how well something like DLSS or RTX is implemented in the game. I'm running this on an Nvidia RTX 1080 Ti, which obviously isn't even capable of running those awesome features. However, I was able to run the game at 1440p with most settings maxed out save for Contact Shadows Quality, which I set to one setting below the highest. I also set motion blur quality to low because I'm just not a huge fan of motion blur in most games. I was also able to increase my FOV a couple of ticks. Overall, the game ran at what I would consider acceptable framerates, save for those massive framerate hits at specific points that I mentioned earlier. There were times where I would notice the game dipping a below a target framerate of 72fps and sometimes dipping below 60fps.

To be totally fair here: I played through the game before the new Nvidia driver (511.65) came out. I also played through most of the game before the first patch hit that was said to include performance improvements. I did enable the game's included AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) implementation, which simply upscales the image from a lower internal resolution. I set it to the "quality" option, which was a sweet spot for providing a bit more performance while keeping the image quality high enough that I didn't notice it wasn't native resolution. I did have to disable the in-game sharpening completely though. With sharpening enabled, even a tiny bit, geometry edges and some texture lines just ended up looking horrendous.

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The game's musical score and general audio work were also quite good. All of the main character interactions were well voice-acted by everyone involved. The audio team also did a great job at really selling the idea that there are things happening around your immediate vicinity that you may not see. You will hear random distant screams from some unfortunate victim. You will hear air raid sirens or whistles going off around you as night approaches, warning those still on the streets of imminent danger. Weapon impacts are satisfying and really give you that "oooh, gooey" thought when you slice off limbs. Getting in a solid dropkick on a foe provides a satisfying thump at impact.

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At this point, I'm not sure what more I can possibly tell you about this game. It's been a lot of fun in the 30-some hours I've played it so far. I will say that I did just a handful of side-missions in those 30 hours. A significant chunk of that time was dedicated to the main story completion along with going through the water towards and electrical facilities. I also did some of the Metro locations, a fair number of windmills, and picked up a bunch of collectibles as I saw them. I did not go out of my way to find collectibles yet still ended up with a few dozen in my collection. Hell, I wouldn't even know where to look for any specific collectible anyway since guides aren't even out yet for this game. Steam tells me that I have unlocked exactly 29 out of 57 achievements. You can make of this what you will while also taking into consideration how Techland initially said that 100% completion will take players 500 hours. I really feel as though that was a massive over exaggeration.

Hey, I had fun with Dying Light 2. I wouldn't be looking forward to playing the game in co-op with my friends in a few days if I didn't, right? The game isn't perfect. In fact, it's far from it. A lot of the issues I had will hopefully be patched in the future, if they aren't already fixed in the day one update. There are certainly some curious features missing or removed that the first game had, but it still manages to come out ahead thanks to improvements in several other key areas. With Techland's stellar track record of support for the first game and five years of content and support already planned for Dying Light 2, you can rest easy knowing that you're making a solid purchase with this sequel.

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Additional Information
  • Dying Light 2
    • Developed by: Techland
    • Published by: Techland
  • Price: Starting at $59.99 (USD)
  • Platform reviewed on: PC
    • Reviewed on: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, 32GB DDR4 3600 RAM, Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti
    • Also available on: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Release Date: February 4, 2022
  • ESRB: M for Mature 17+ (Blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, and suggestive themes)
  • This game was provided to Total Gaming Network for review purposes.