GAME REVIEW: Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced Edition

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It’s something I’ve claimed before, but it’s worth repeating until my friends and family stop talking to me: Dying Light was one of the most underrated games of 2015 and one of the year’s very best.

Released in January during the annual Christmas comedown period, Dying Light unfairly faded from the memory of many towards the end of the year, garnering very little love on Game of the Year lists. I placed it sixth on my very own countdown, which, with the benefit of hindsight, might be a little lower than it deserves.

When it was announced that techland would be releasing Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced Edition, my eyes admittedly rolled slightly. Another repackaged version of an old game for extra money, really? I’d been burned a lot by special editions and an endless tide of remasters in 2015, so it was with a skeptical click that I added it to my wishlist.

I needn’t have bothered with the cynicism. This version of Dying Light shows other companies how to compile special editions, and then some.

Dying Light: The Following

The base game itself, which was never a slouch to begin with, has been given a nice spit polish. Frames transition smoother, using melee weapons feels more satisfying, and a noticeable improvement in overall performance is welcomed. Even when I quarried myself into a corner with nothing but a crossbow and an onslaught of about 30 zombies (each with their own unique traits and “personalities”) to contend with, the framerate didn’t dip.

As for the new content, the location has changed to the expansive countryside from the congested dangers of the city. Instead of scrambling over bins to escapes the hordes of the undead, you can now hop in a buggy and drive away. The buggies handle super satisfyingly if a little simplistically, although it’s worth bearing in mind that this isn’t exactly Driveclub. You certainly can’t knock down zombies like bowling balls in Driveclub, though; probably what it’s missing.

The buggies add a whole new dimension to the gameplay. The countryside map is huge, sometimes staggeringly so, which makes it that much more terrifying at night to be left with no fuel as you hear the Volatiles closing in. Having to repair your vehicle after it felt the impact of one too many zombie skulls on its bonnet is another dilemma, especially when the noise of an approaching zombie rabble grows louder and louder. Do you rush to fix the vehicle or do you run off and hope for the best? There’s nowhere to hide out in The Following‘s countryside, unlike in Harran where you were never more than a couple of parkour moves away from safety. It adds a new layer of fear to a game that very rarely doesn’t leave me with tense shoulders and white knuckles after each gruesome encounter.

Dying Light: The Following
Oh yeah, it’s not for children.

Techland’s assertion about the new map being larger than the one found in the original isn’t hard to believe. Even though there aren’t as many buildings and general locations as the map from the main Dying Light game, it feels far better spaced out. If I was asked to choose between jumping from building to building or taking a drive along the beach at my own leisure, I know which I’d prefer.

The main Dying Light had a seemingly endless selection of quests and side distractions with The Following being no different. There seems to be far more depth to the quests themselves with one underwater expedition to find the source of missing food being a particular highlight. Races have also been added, as arcade-y as they are. You’re still driving through a countryside filled with zombies, so they act as roadblocks and obstacles. It’s like an undead Mario Kart and it’s frustratingly brilliant.

As enamoured as I was with the main Dying Light, I was never that hooked on its story. The Following’s isn’t exactly Welles either, being quite light on the ground. The story has always just been an excuse to me to kill some zombies with electrified machetes, so it didn’t do much to undermine the game as a whole. The story missions for The Following also dry up quickly as I sped my way through them quite quickly, coming in at less than ten hours in total. With the amount of things to see and do away from the bulk of the game, that wasn’t much of an issue.

Dying Light: The Following
The map is HUGE.

Also bundled with the Enhanced Edition comes all previous DLC. That means we’re going to see a lot of people roaming around the apocalypse in tuxedos during co-op from now on. Speaking of co-op, it remains just as enthralling here, even if your partner never seem to appreciate being set on fire by accident. Bunch of prudes. Driving around the countryside as you mow down zombies with friends is a real joy, and worth checking out the game for by itself.

Many special editions like these may claim to provide the ultimate experience, but this one certainly delivers. By expanding on one of the best games of last year, Techland have created an unmissable, innovative open-world experience that provides dozens of hours of funs. If you’re yet to check out the original Dying Light, this Enhanced Edition is the perfect way to introduce yourself to what could be the start of a phenomenal franchise.

9/10

Summary

The ultimate edition for one of the best games of 2015. Gaming industry, THIS is how you do DLC.

PS4 copy supplied by publisher