Following up to a game as good as Dying Light is a difficult task. The open world zombie game set new standards for fans of both urban exploration and the zombie apocalypse genre.
Adding even more to what could be considered one of the best zombie games to ever release, Dying Light’s DLC, The Following, is a massive expansion to the original game. Giving you access to a whole new map (one that’s bigger then The Slums and Old Town combined), The Following gives you more to explore and offers the same solid gameplay as the core game.
The Following is centered around Kyle Crane and his Robin Hood like morale code. The character was previously established in Dying Light as a too good for his own good type, which plays off surprisingly well in a world filled with heinous men and women. But even with his return the main focus is on the supporting cast, most of which are written excellently, regardless of their intelligence levels. While there were a few characters I was more then ecstatic to see return in the expansion, I do wish they had gotten more screen time.
Since the events of Dying Light, the remaining survivors are looking for a cure rather then a short term fix. Kyle Crane and Lena hear about a potential cure from outside of Harran, and Crane is off to investigate. The lead takes him to a cult known as The Following, and it’s up to Crane to gain the trust of The Following and figure out if they have a cure.
Perhaps the biggest new feature in The Following is that you now have a the car. It’s a quick way to get around on the enormous map, with multiple upgradeable parts, accessories, and paint jobs. Also tasked with maintain and repairing the vehicle, you’ll have to take a bit of caution when driving around. You can choose to avoid several types of infected or mow them down, but you’ll have to be careful which infected you run into, as some can bring your car to a rather violent halt.
The vehicle drives fairly realistically. When traveling at high speeds, hydro planing will cause it to go out of control, as will suddenly taking it off road. Techland manages to capture a realistic driving experience, which makes it all that more terrifying to explore the countryside with.
The biggest flaw for the new vehicle, however, is how large it forces the map to be. Having a large map is fun, and I think it’d be great for Old Town or The Slums to have been that large. But when you’re traveling in a car it takes away a lot of the enjoyment of a large area.
Part of the fun of open world is learning how to navigate the city without opening your map. By the end of the original Dying Light, I could navigate The Slums with ease, just taking a look around at some of the sky scrapers to gather my bearings. It wasn’t hard to escape from chases when you knew exactly where you were going, and what areas were filled with more infected then others.
In The Following, however, knowing the map is possible, just not as fun. You’ll start to recognize train tracks and different crossing areas, having to frequently make stops all across the map. A majority of the time will be spent driving from place to place, so if you don’t enjoy driving in video games, you can cross this DLC off your list.
The difficulty in The Following has increased. Adding two new trees (Legacy and Driving) it’s a fantastic rebuttal to the “GAME IS 2 EZ” whiners from the original title. Dying Light was notoriously easy later in the game if you managed to spend enough time scavenging for extra supplies, and hoarding medkits.
Although The Following has 3 different difficulties(Normal, Hard, Nightmare), I decided to play through on Normal. I did this for the simple reason that I never played Dying Light on a higher difficulty, and it’d been awhile since I even played the original.
This decision turned out to be fantastic, as a lot more of the special infected were added into the game, including new, harder, enemies. The increasing difficulty throughout the side quests and main storyline will likely challenge players in a way that they haven’t seen before.
In the original Dying Light, every side quest felt like it had a proper place. All of the pieces of the puzzle fell together smoothly into a large overarcing story, and it established Kyle Crane as a character who just wanted to help people. The entire campaign was about self sacrifice and the continuation of survival in a hopeless situation.
It had one of the greatest story’s I have ever seen in a video game, and the ending left it off on a perfect note. For me, Dying Light captured the essence of the Zombie Apocalypse story almost perfectly.
The same however, can’t be said of The Following. A lot of the side quests are very well written and still enjoyable, fetching small things for people and fixing the problems you can while you’re in the area. They don’t seem to recycle a lot of the old types of quests in Dying Light, which helps to make The Following feel more fresh and new. The question is, did that fresh and new feeling really pay off in the end? The old saying comes to mind, “Don’t fix what isn’t broken”.
It’s hard to argue that The Following even has side quests, as they cleverly integrated them as a necessity – unless you’d like to grind your trust through random encounters and Air Drops. Which, lets be honest, you really don’t want to.
That isn’t to say that a majority of the quests aren’t well written. The Following has no lack of good writing. That is, until the very end.
I had a lot of issues with writing out this review. Where do you put a game when the ending does no justice to the story? How do you rate a game that has great car controls and establishes a large map as per the developers intentions, yet makes it feel less like an open world game? This was one of the more difficult reviews I’ve ever had to do. Especially considering what a fan I was of the original Dying Light, I wanted to see The Following blow the original out of the water.
Instead, it’s like the writers gave up in the last few quests. What started out as an incredibly interesting storyline led to a flawed finale.
Joining and earning the trust of a cult was an interesting prospect for the game. It raises the question as to how far manipulation is accepted in society, and whether or not, in the right circumstances, it should be accepted. The Following explored even deeper into the morality of modern society and how quickly it will crumble should the world go to hell in a handbasket.
A multiple choice ending offers little to no closure for those that were a fan of the story. Dying Light has always felt, and played, like a story driven game. That’s fine up until the point that you decide to ruin that story.
With two separate endings, and no way to see both(unless you look it up on YouTube or replay the entire DLC), it’s questionable why they even decided to put The Following in with its own map. The Following has a place, but it’s place is in the middle of the original game, as a side quest line. Or perhaps, if the ending had been different, The Following would of found its place in the center of the original main quest line.
On top of two separate (terrible) endings, one of the optional final fights is like flipping the bird to all those “2 EZ” fans that were mentioned earlier. Without near flawless execution, you will be fighting this boss over and over again. I can’t even imagine what those playing on nightmare mode will experience.
It’s hard not to base an entire review off of the ending. However, it should also be recognized that the ending can leave a bad taste in the player’s mouth, as it’s the last thing you encounter before turning off the game. If you can ignore The Following’s flawed map execution, ending, and optional boss, then you should enjoy the DLC quite comfortably.
Even with two separate endings, both being atrocious, The Following manages to encapture what life would be like in the apocalypse. And quite successfully. Perhaps this is Dying Light’s greatest achievement. Managing to pull off a semi-realistic, yet enjoyable, apocalypse experience. I have yet to play any game that comes close, and I highly doubt their will be a competitor within the next few years.
All of that being said, however, there have been far too many times that I’ve thought to myself ‘I wish I had never played this DLC’ since finishing the game. The game play itself is fantastic, but I cannot stress how upset I am by the ending. This by no means is an ending that justifies the story Techland set up in the previous title, and the DLC itself. It betrays a elegantly put together story, and the characters within it.