Early last year I reviewed Dying light and described it as the best zombie game I had ever played which is some statement considering how old I am. With The Following I was hoping for some excellent DLC that pushed the concept in all the right directions without losing what made the game great in the first place - so let's see how it did.
From a panned back perspective there are many aspects of The Following that are exactly the same as the base game but this is no bad thing. The basic premise for The Following is that a dying man who has made it into the Slums tells you (Kyle Craine reprising his role as the main protagonist) that there is a way out of the city - this is where his people are and they are immune to the infection that decimated Harran in the main campaign. Within minutes of booting up the expansion you are following the convenient map given to you by said dying man and are now scaling the cliffs above what is to be the setting for this expansion.
Calling the Following DLC does not do it justice because it's huge: so big in fact that it feels to me more like a new game. The setting this time is a far more rural affair with crop fields, wooden fences, small settlements and large industrial structures like refineries. So right off the bat this changes the dynamic of the game and in theory dilutes that wonderful sense of claustrophobia the main game entangles you in. However this is not nearly as obvious because there are zombies everywhere and in massive concentrations. Often you will head into an open field looking for some breathing room, only to break through the fence and see more zombies than bargain hunters on Black Friday.
So if I'm honest - yes the far more open landscape does make the running and parkour feel a little less satisfying but then there are still plenty of built up areas for you to test your agility. In addition even when not surrounded by tall buildings there are still plenty of things to scramble up such as power pylons and sections of motorway now in ruins. For those who have not played the base game the way Kyle leaps, vaults and runs through the environment is simply one of the best first person parkour systems in the business.
The lawnmower man
So the big new stick for the Following is the introduction of vehicles, namely an all terrain buggy that you acquire from pretty much the word go. Obviously this is a fairly big addition to a game like this but I can tell you they absolutely nailed it. The driving first: it feels spot on in almost every aspect from the way you smash through fences and a litany of other breakables, to the way you can now just mow down entire hordes of our favourite shuffling meat eaters: this simply does not get old.
Then on top of that the buggy comes with a fully upgradable chassis and a brand new skill tree to boot. This will let you improve the things you would expect from fuel consumption, armour and ramming damage. However there are also some very cool features you can add from dropping mines out of the rear to turning your ride into a mobile safe zone with a UV lighting rig. You can even use your car as a trap by luring the zombies in and then zapping them with enough juice to light up Vegas. They have also worked the car's core components into the game's crafting system so now you will need to raid deserted cars for spare parts and fuel. Now I know some players might find this a bit of a ball-ache but I would say this: if you remember where a few petrol stations are you can always get a good supply from them and I didn't see it as an issue. In fact as someone who likes survival elements in my games having to gather fuel and repair damaged components adds to the flavour of the game.
Some of my favourite moments so far have been driving at night while the volatiles chase you in a relentless race for survival. As the lighting is so amazing in Dying Light this makes hurling down country tracks at breakneck speeds super tense: especially when you know that one mistake will mean the horde of runners behind you will be on you in a second. You will often see dawn dancing on the horizon and your vehicle is on its last fumes of petrol - the tension is just excellent. Oh and don't make the mistake of thinking your car will out run a volatile: that is what the mines are for. The bottom line with the driving is that it's amazing fun, well implemented into the game's existing systems and the setting totally needed it.
Don't bite the messenger.
If you played the base game you will know nobody around here does anything for free and this does not change with The Following DLC. Ultimately Kyle is a decent human being, so even when there is no direct reward he will usually help out people in need. This leads to you once again taking on a lot of busy work in order to please the mysterious cult and their leader: the Mother. If I'm honest most of these quests are generic efforts, find this person, fix that pipe, kill a few bad guys etc. I honestly don't mind this at all because it just acts as a vehicle (sorry for the pun) for the game's main theme - killing and running from zombies.
I won't go into the story much here for the sake of spoilers but I will just say that I was surprised how much Techland did change things with the ultimate conclusion of the story quest. You can rest assured though that even when the credits have rolled on the campaign Kyle can still venture out into the countryside and finish other tasks. As with the main game there is the option for players to link up with friends and strangers alike for co-op game-play. This is really fun and does add a lot of replay value to the entire experience.
Is it PC?
The visuals in this content have ever so slightly been improved and the overall performance been worked on by Techland but to be honest the game ran so well anyway you will struggle to notice the difference. It is still appreciated that the team have taken this opportunity to not only add the new content but improve the core engine, which by the way applies to the entire game and not just the DLC. I would still say to anyone playing on PC that when you use mouse and keyboard it does give you far faster controls such as turning when jumping across roofs or spinning around to face the zombie that's intent on giving your neck veins some fresh air.
I am playing on an overclocked i7 with a 980 GTX and 16 GB of RAM and the game runs like a dream on the highest settings. As I've mentioned above, the lighting in this game really makes playing at night so much more tense. Walking down a country lane in the pitch black with the guttural sounds of volatiles a few feet away is awesome, then a lightning storm comes in and starts to illuminate the night with brief flashes. Moments like this are great just to slow down and enjoy the tense atmosphere the game creates in spades.
This game is wall to wall fun, the combat is super satisfying and with so many things to dig your teeth into there is very rarely a 'what do I do now' moment. The Following is exactly what DLC should be, it takes the essence of what made the base game so good and adds new layers which still keeping that secret sauce intact.
The team at Techland have just announced that we will be getting more content for Dying Light before the year end and this is once again impressive considering what we have already received. I have no doubt in my mind that a fully fledged sequel is (or will be) in the works but it is always good to see a developer support their games in a way that shows the fan base this is more about making money and these guys just love to make awesome content.
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Take care guys