Dying Light: The Following
Developer Techland Publisher Warner Bros Format PC, PS4 (tested), PC Release Out now
PC, PS4, Xbox One
Dispatched to a farmhouse during a mission near the beginning of The Following, we arrive to discover that the place is being held by bandits. Our survival instinct kicks in and we run upstairs and bravely hide in the bathroom. We can hear them shouting outside – they know precisely where we are – but at no point do any of our assailants consider simply opening the door so that they might reach their prey. Techland says that AI is one of the many areas benefitting from an upgrade in The Following, but at times like this it’s a difficult claim to take seriously.
Fortunately, many of the game’s other changes and additions are laid out plainly. The star of the show is a customisable dirt buggy, which quickly becomes something of an obsession as you set about furnishing it with the best options that can be bought, scavenged or built with your own hands, ramping up its suspension, making its turbo unit more efficient, even bolting a flamethrower onto its front end. The world of The Following is mostly open countryside, so getting about its broad expanse in a hurry is only practical on four wheels, and it doesn’t take long to turn your ride into something that not only gets you from A to B but is also capable of churning up swathes of the undead at breakneck speeds. The game warns against running over zombies, but the bonuses awarded for doing so are the quickest way of upgrading your driving skill tree, making anything with two legs a fair target as you carry out fetch quests for the surviving populace.
You get to cover a lot of ground as you rip through the main questline, but there’s not a great deal of variety in what you do around The Following’s map. At least there are some fun new ways of taking down the swarming enemies you meet along the way. The bow may look like an appealing option on paper, but once you’ve got your hands on a crossbow and used it to take down the game’s largest enemies with single bolts to the head, you’ll form a bond that makes Darryl Dixon’s relationship with his weapon of choice seem flimsy.
The Following’s setting gives it a more organic flavour than the base game. It feels much more like people are living lives here, which helps to emphasise your position as an outsider, even if the people you meet, bar a handful of exceptions, fail to leave any kind of lasting impression. As before, the biggest impact is made by the scale of your zombie-evisceration spree.
If it’s judged only on its atmosphere, weapons, and the amount of killing it portrays from behind the wheel, this expansion hits the bullseye. If Techland can fill in all the bits missing in between, its next project could be something special indeed.
The Following sees you investigate a cult, but it’s difficult to keep your mind on the big picture when you’re knee-deep in so much zombie flesh. Making the job easier are new ways of dispatching the walking dead
DEMOLITION MAN The Following’s largest enemies, Demolishers (above), were also the biggest foes in the original game, and they’re as frustrating to fight here, too, soaking up clip after clip of gunfire, and somehow hitting you with arcing punches even when it looks like you’re safely out of range. It’s at times like this that you’ll wonder how you ever made it through Dying Light without the crossbow, which, aimed with appropriate care, can be a more effective option than an automatic rifle. It’s quiet, too, making it the ideal tool for avoiding the attention of packs of baying Virals.