Dying Light
E3 2013: Dying Light First Look Preview – The Dead of Night
Written Saturday, June 29, 2013 By Richard Walker
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Zombies. We've seen rather a lot of them in games lately, haven't we? And with next-gen but a few months away, the undead brain gobblers have no intentions of slowing down either. Dead Island developer Techland is no stranger to the zombie subgenre either, although Riptide left a lot to be desired. Perhaps the developer was sinking all of its time and resources into Dying Light rather than focusing on Dead Island: Riptide, because based upon this first demo, it's looking to be a far cry from the relative shoddiness of Techland's Dead Island games.

If you want a pithy summation of Dying Light in a few words, you could say that it's Dead Island meets Mirror's Edge, but that's really only scratching the surface. There are more than a few smart ideas at work in Techland's next-gen zombie slasher, not least in its free-running mechanics that lend the game an immersive, visceral feel. Or at least that's the idea. It's hard to tell how well it all handles without actually playing the thing.

We pick up our first look at Dying Light with our English free-running hero and his English female buddy offering advice and information via a radio, as an airdrop of precious supplies can be seen far away, marked by a plume of red smoke from a distant flare billowing among the densely packed buildings in the messy slum. “Trapped in a concrete rat cage,” Dying Light's nimble protagonist can clamber up buildings, climb telegraph poles, leap between rooftops and dodge zombies with swift evasive manoeuvres. It looks like you have a lot more options for traversal and combat (or for avoiding combat altogether) than Dead Island, although it's almost impossible not to draw comparisons.

Melee combat is front and centre again for one, and fights are brutal, close-quarters and visceral. Wielding a baseball bat, you can stove in zombie heads or grab them with their temples between your hands and snap their necks. Nonetheless, tackling zombies head-on is actually an ill-advised tactic, especially as night falls and the undead hordes grow stronger and more vicious, joined by aggressive nocturnal breeds who'll gladly gnaw your face off in three seconds flat.

As we get ever closer to the supply drop, running across the corrugated steel shanty rooftops, the terrified screams of a small girl can be heard from the inside of one of the small huts. You can be callous and ignore the shrieks pleading for help, or you can explore what's going on. Inside the house, there's a TV set on in the corner with cartoons blaring, as the girl keeps on screaming. At your feet a zombie on the floor grabs for your legs, prompting a quick head stomp to stop it from nibbling at your ankles. Was it the girl's parent? Probably.

Turning off the TV, you can then check on the girl hiding in a cupboard to make sure she's okay. Offering to take her with him, the girl refuses to follow the protagonist, instead choosing to stay in her cupboard, telling you to go away. That's the end of that side mission apparently, so we guess you just leave the girl alone to rot in her little cupboard. Erm, alright then. Still, you get to find a nice axe to embed in to zombie skulls, so it's not all in vain.

Pressing on and chopping up some zombies with the newly-acquired axe, the blood flows thick and fast, sticking to the weapons which appear to deteriorate in the same way they do in Dead Island. Stumbling upon the airdrop as the onset of dusk approaches, we're faced with armed soldiers who've beaten us to the drop zone. There's no way of taking them on, so you're forced to leave the area with your tail between your legs, moving on to the next drop and hopefully getting their before more government soldiers can.

Trading the axe for a mean-looking machete, you can still upgrade and customise your weapons using a crafting system in Dying Light, which in this demo can be found behind a shonky old garage shutter. A battery and a few wires duct-taped to the machete, and we have an electrified blade, perfect for taking on the huge charger infected lurking around the corner, flipping over cars. Or so you would think. Again, it's better to run and live to fight another day, and so that's exactly what happens as the nimble hero slides through a hole between the ground and a wall, and back up to the rooftops.

The view is spectacular, as the city stretches as far as the eye can see, smouldering and smoking in the distance, destroyed, bombed out, and utterly doomed. The sun is sinking below the horizon now, and darkness is falling fast, indicating that grabbing the supplies and getting to a safehouse is a pressing concern, lest we become relentlessly hunted zombie prey. Scarpering slipshod across the rooftops, you can barge zombies off the edge and through the lower levels or plunge the machete into the infected, prompting an X-ray cutaway to the damage being inflicted internally.

Looking at your watch, you can see the display reads 21:01, meaning time is running out fast. Back on the ground, the machete gets swapped for a huge lump hammer that's immediately put to use at the precious supply drop, smashing the heads of zombies filling their faces at the next drop zone. Thankfully, it's free of soldiers, so we're able to help ourselves to a crate filled with medical supplies and other indispensable resources. Darkness has fallen now, and the volatiles are coming out to play. Beating a path back to the safe zone is essential, as getting caught out in the night can be deadly.

Using a pulse ability, you can draw a bead on the locations of the dangerous volatiles – the strongest, deadliest zombies that only come out at night – in an effort to avoid them, and if you're stealthy enough, you can get the jump on a volatile and execute them. This is a risky strategy though, as we soon see. Spotted by a volatile, it's time to make a hasty retreat, barging through boarded up doorways, vaulting off the shoulders of standard infected and over a wall. Waiting on the other side, a volatile grabs Dying Light's protagonist and lunges in for the kill, it's huge mandibles opening as the demo cuts to a black screen.

Boasting four playable characters to choose from, an expansive open-world and interesting night and day mechanics, as well as free-running, ranged gunplay, melee combat and some pretty intense encounters with the undead, Dying Light looks to build upon Dead Island and then some. If Techland can learn where it went wrong with Dead Island and its sequel, Dying Light could be another next-gen title to look forward to. Visually accomplished and filled with some neat ideas, it certainly appears that Dying Light has all of the right ingredients to make for a superlative zombie experience.

Dying Light will be free-running on to current and next-generation consoles in 2014.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 592
Comment #1 by Dervius
Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 06:32:51 PM
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Dead island being a flawed gem gives me high hopes for this game. The inclusion of freerunning and a new found vulnerability make this a very interesting concept.

Forum Posts: 211
Comment #2 by Crims0nPenguin
Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 06:37:31 PM
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In concept seems like it plays like Dead Island with DayZ theme.

Forum Posts: 213
Comment #3 by lazygammer13
Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 06:40:50 PM
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Looks awesome! There seems to be an influx of GOOD zombie games of late, what with this, State of Decay, and the PS3's Last of Us. I'll have to pick up the XB1 before this comes out! :)

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #4 by RedstoneFanatic
Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 07:13:43 PM
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I'm hoping this really is as amazing as being shown so far... Riptide left the taste of bad rotten zombie flesh in my mouth.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #5 by asilent boom
Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 07:20:09 PM
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Anyone know if this is co-op, or how many players can be in the game?

Forum Posts: 755
Comment #6 by Hurricane Of 87
Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 07:24:39 PM
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"Stumbling upon the airdrop as the onset of dusk approaches, we're faced with armed soldiers who've beaten us to the drop zone. There's no way of taking them on, so you're forced to leave the area with your tail between your legs."

Oh no. The Casual Gamer™ won't accept that. It'll have to be watered down. With massively plentiful human on human firepower action! It's what the focus group demands.

Forum Posts: 2504
Comment #7 by Rivercurse
Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 07:28:42 PM
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I'm so bored of zombies.

Forum Posts: 62
Comment #8 by PraysForPlagues
Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 07:46:29 PM
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Hopefully this game will be as good as it sounds, zombies here we come.

Forum Posts: 52
Comment #9 by Zoron
Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 08:34:04 PM
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@7 Then play something else.

Forum Posts: 28
Comment #10 by TotalBlank
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 12:11:44 AM
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@7 No kidding!

Zombie related games are the next CoD, I guess nobody saw this coming.

Forum Posts: 80
Comment #11 by Calib4n
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 12:36:43 AM
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"Good night. Good luck."

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #12 by Zenka The Myth
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 03:20:25 AM
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People need to calm the fuck down with zombies. It's getting to the point where it could be the best game ever and I wouldn't give a shit. They're doing to zombies what they did to vampires a few years ago.

Forum Posts: 111
Comment #13 by Johan
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 03:35:00 AM
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After the both Dead Island games ill pass for whatever game Techland is making.

If i want to play next gen zombies i will play Dead Rising 3 and not this Dead Island look-a-like what would most likely be a crappy zombie abomination of a glitchfest.

It wouldnt surprise me if this was Dead Island 2 or whatever they called it and due to lack of sales of the Dead Island games they renamed it to Dying Light.
Even the screenshots look like Dead Island.


Forum Posts: 1744
Comment #14 by UberPirateNinja
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 04:12:16 AM
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If you omitted the names from this preview, everyone would think you were on about a next gen Dead Island.

Forum Posts: 194
Comment #15 by SGT H0US3
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 05:55:21 AM
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zombie games are everywere nowadays

Forum Posts: 2651
Comment #16 by IEvil IMonkey
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 08:49:34 AM
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Like the Newt quote =)

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #17 by mikefizzled
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 09:42:25 AM
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I thought this was PS4 exclusive?

Forum Posts: 132
Comment #18 by stianpuz
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 10:00:47 AM
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Cant wait!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #19 by asilent boom
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 10:41:07 AM
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@17 Daylight is the PS4 exclusive.

Forum Posts: 12724
Comment #20 by Gackt
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 11:11:41 AM
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Techland...can't wait to play yet another disappointing game from them.

Forum Posts: 228
Comment #21 by Total Shinobi
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 12:14:09 PM
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Sounds like my kind of game! Appears really good on paper, but we all know what Techland is like. I just hope this game is as good as it sounds.

Forum Posts: 2200
Comment #22 by cheevo360
Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 05:10:37 PM
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Yes it is look good. I hope Techland polishes this game so well unlike Dead Island Riptide were. :)

Forum Posts: 16
Comment #23 by BasqueNYC
Sunday, July 07, 2013 @ 03:04:48 PM
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Damn serious what happened to riptide yo so bad I played it and gave it away bad game the 1st was way better but this looks good but I see alot of the comments similar and I agree lets hope it's amped up alot more

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