Dying Light 2 is a very ambitious sequel. Its map, Techland tells us, is four times as big as its predecessor’s and players will see about 50 per cent of the game’s content in a single playthrough. The reason for this is that players will regularly have to make big decisions about the way the game’s action unfolds – the consequences of those choices can be as far reaching as determining whether a character lives or dies, sometimes even determining whether you unlock an entire section of the map or not. Having seen about half an hour of the game in a presentation at E3, I’m very much intrigued.
In the hands-off demo, we are introduced to protagonist Aiden Caldwell and The City – a European metropolis and humanity’s last true bastion on earth. Fifteen years on from the events of Dying Light, the uninfected population has dwindled to almost nothing, while the infection has continued to spread and change across the globe. Now, The City is on the brink of collapse with drinking water about to run out. Local tavern owner Frank has taken it upon himself to set up a meeting between The City’s two main factions – the Peacekeepers and the Scavengers – and a mysterious figure called the Colonel. The Colonel leads a group called the renegades from a fortified water treatment plant with the means and resources to resupply the city. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the meeting went sour, with Frank getting shot by the renegades who then fled in a truck. This is where we saw our first big choice – stay with Frank and help him seek aid, or chase after the truck?
Given there’s not much parkour involved in treating a gunshot wound, Aiden gave chase, giving us a chance to see some of the new parkour mechanics – a more versatile grappling hook, dynamic platforming elements and some refined wall jumping in particular – and the decayed European architecture of the city district. Eventually we caught up with the truck and infiltrated the stronghold – a well organised base of operations with crops, community projects and a surprising number of children. Fighting our way to a confrontation with the Colonel, we faced another big choice. The Colonel claimed that the water reserves surrounding his stronghold were the only thing preventing his aggressors from invading the compound and killing everyone inside – he was sympathetic to the plight of those living without water and willing to help, but turning on the pumps was out of the question.