Good Night and Good Luck.
Having played Dying Light when it first released over a year ago, I was thrilled to jump back into the dismal world full of the Infected, which awaited me in The Following, the latest story-based expansion taking place sometime after the original storyline. You don’t often get the opportunity to flatten a horde of menacing zombies and feel adrenaline pumping through your body, as you notice their flailing limbs scatter across the screen while you’re zooming down the countryside in your newly-painted vehicle. This is one of many great experiences you will undergo in The Following as the new world around you is slowly unraveled.
In gaming, we normally don’t receive DLC that is anything more than a few mere weapons, cars, or small maps. I was flabbergasted at the size of The Witcher 3’s Hearts of Stone expansion which released late last year, due to the fact that the CD Projekt Red added new areas onto an already-existing map to go along with the new story quests and characters who were introduced. They went above and beyond the average game developer when it comes to DLC content.
I’m pleased to say that Dying Light: The Following follows in similar footsteps. Hailing from Poland, developer Techland has added a countryside map in The Following which can only be compared to combining both areas of Harran (The Slums and Old Town) together from the original Dying Light game, doubling the size, and forming one massive game map. In addition, there are a number of new quests, weapons, and side-content for players to wrap their head around, along with a complete graphical overhaul.
In order to play The Following, you must have the base Dying Light game and you must also finish the prologue. It is recommended by Techland to at least be Level 18 before starting a playthrough too. Sometime after the events preceding in Dying Light, the city of Harran is in sudden distress as more citizens become sick from the virus and require Antizin, a suppressant that temporarily prevents you from feeling sick and ultimately keeps you from turning into one of the Infected, otherwise known as a zombie. An unknown traveler makes his way to Harran and speaks of a cure that involves magic and an entity known as “The Mother,” which can protect anyone from the virus that is slowly plaguing the world. With Antizin supplies running low, our hero, Kyle Crane, desperately sets out to find out about “The Mother” and a cure for the survivors back in Harran, who are counting on him to save them
While staggering through the freshly discovered countryside, Kyle comes across a small farm and takes his chances by asking the residents about a potential cure. Unfortunately, after continuously pleading for help, Kyle is met with fierce backlash from the paranoid folks now among him and is forced to prove his willingness to help these people with their own problems before they decide to tell him what they know. After completing numerous odd-jobs for the community, the answers you’ve been longing to grasp are soon discovered. The people residing in this town are known as the Children of the Sun, a group of cultists who, through worship and prayer, earn protection from “The Mother” which grants them immunity from the virus that is tormenting the indisposed people you care about back in the city of Harran.
This expansion greatly reduces the need for parkour, as you can now travel in an off-road dune buggy, which changes the entire concept of the classic Dying Light experience as we’ve come to know it. The game focuses primarily on using the buggy to charge across the sprawling countryside, but unlike Batman: Arkham Knight, the vehicle system is not overused and there seems to be a proper balance of gameplay in this aspect. You can find vehicle parts scattered across the map or craft them yourself through blueprints, which in return, upgrade your buggy to its maximum potential.
As such, The Following adds a driving skill tree, which can be leveled up to further upgrade the functional capability of your car. You can add UV Lights to keep the Infected at bay as you drive around after dusk, a car alarm that plays heavy metal or increase the armor durability of the buggy, which is handy when there are multiple Volatiles (very fast and powerful zombies) slashing away at night, leaving you with a racing pulse. If it weren’t for the buggy, you might as well start preparing for a burial the moment you spot a Volatile loom toward you.
One of the most exciting features added with The Following is the ability to add various paint jobs to your car. You can find paint jobs across the map or earn them through races. This is something that really stands out in co-op when there are three other cars rolling across the countryside meadows, each marveling their own unique color and design. One of my personal favorite paint jobs is called the “Blue Gentlemen”—a strikingly Blue buggy with a dash of White, resembling an old-school homemade race-car. Another batch of cool unlockables are character “bobbleheads,” which can be added to the dashboard of your car, grooving their head up and down as you’re either cruising around, taking on a high jump off of a wooden ramp, or being pursued by death-ridden creatures accompanied by nightfall.
Similarly to the base game, character development is somewhat fragile throughout the story of The Following and fetch quests can become tedious on occasion. There are many unique characters you can meet throughout the sun-soaked badlands, but the majority of them are very straightforward and eager for you to quickly finish the work they’ve assigned. Luckily, most of the side-quests are far from being mundane and I found them to be amusing with the humorous dialogue. While playing through the story, you will make your way through a number caves, railroad tracks, bandit hideouts, volatile nests, and abandoned towns. A great deal of missions will have you hightailing across the entirety of the map, without an option for fast-travel, fundamentally putting a lot of emphasis on using your vehicle to get around.
When playing The Following, you will notice a surplus of brand new visual enhancements in the settings menu. This expansion will automatically upgrade your game to the Enhanced Edition of Dying Light and will introduce a list of visual and gameplay enhancements that are sure to satisfy the player. While I was not able to immediately identify the improvement in combat and general game elements, it’s safe to say that I had a lot more fun this time around and have considered replaying the base game all over again with the Enhanced Edition to boost my core gameplay experience. As great as the Enhanced Edition is, I was disappointed to learn that there still isn’t an option to disable the eye-jarring Chromatic Aberration effect without disrupting online gameplay. On a side note, the multiplayer modes in The Following come with an option to enable or disable VAC during an online session. This resulted in a few unwarranted bans across the board but perhaps next time Techland will handle this in a more coherent fashion.
For the average player, most of their time with The Following will be spent helping others, building trust amongst your peers and learning the new driving mechanics. Players won’t find the time to go out and explore every nook and cranny of the map and what it has to offer, unless they push themselves to do so. Upon completing the main questline, the world of Dying Light has plenty to propose and will leave you thirsting for more of the same action-packed escapade you got a taste of throughout your early adventure. This is the perfect opportunity to take a glance at the various unmarked locations in the countryside and experience The Following from a different perspective. There are secret bosses to be fought, items to discover, and without spoiling much, a secret ending which can be found. Passionate thrill-seekers will not be disappointed at the amount of content provided in this expansion.
With an overly competitive market of zombie games such as Dead Island, Dead Rising, and Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Dying Light: The Following steals the show for being a well-rounded zombie action game, featuring tight combat and a knack for intense storytelling that is sure to leave you shaking at the edge of your seat. Regardless of a few underlying faults with character development and the occasional fetch quests, Dying Light: The Following is undoubtedly among the best story-mode expansions I have ever played. I can’t wait to continue my exploration and see what else Techland have up their sleeves.