E3 2013 – Dying Light Impressions

LETS DO THIS ONE RIGHT

 

Here’s a backdrop that should perfectly contextualize Dying Light and its closely related cousins: not long into my demo with one of the producers, he just straight up stated that “immediately” upon completing the first Dead Island, “the vast majority of the original team” started working on Dying Light.

Meaning this is the true (spiritual) successor to Dead Island.  Meaning Riptide was indeed every bit the hack job that people said it was.  Meaning all the eggs were in one basket.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjD_J561FiM

This is obviously a bummer for the seven people that bought Riptide (present company included, unfortunately). But it’s arguably worse for Dying Light – with this knowledge in mind the expectations are much higher. Everything I saw suggested a good game was in the making.

But a great one?  There were too many signs that the little wrinkles present in Dead Island remain.  On the big stage of E3 where every playable demo bends over backwards to include the novel elements of its gameplay, I didn’t see anything here that really jumped out to me.  Much of the action seems mechanical in all the ways you’d expect an open world zombie game to function.

Sprinting around the roof tops I hear a man yelling.  Taking off for the source, a yellow icon instantly pops up indicating a ‘side quest’.  Turns out some dude is trapped in his closet, with a zombie trying to bust in.  I rectify the situation with the business end of a giant sledgehammer.  Said dude comes out and gives me some cash for my trouble.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIpGYqjqh-E

Then there’s the ‘Eastern European’ side of Dying Light, the fingerprints left by their Polish developer Techland.  The kick button – which steps back into its starring role – is one of the trigger buttons.  As is jump – but it’s also used to mount obstacles, making it the climb button when held.  Interaction with different objects in the environment is handled by different buttons, depending on the type of object.

All of this can be endearing, depending on your perspective.  Once you situate yourself to this new internal logic everything flows really well.  But it still leaves an impression that Techland has been sleeping under a rock the past couple years while the rest of the industry is operating under the same syntax.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-gRjf7Yxkk

That may be the bread and butter, but there is more to Dying Light than that.  Showing the same streak of wild ambition, the main story line will be open to four-player coop.  Details were scarce, but I’d expect it to be drop-in/drop-out.  The coop worked from a technical perspective in Dead Island, but I have no clue how it will impact the frenetic gameplay.

Will there be friendly fire?  Where does a party member spawn if they die?  Will weapons that are tied to a character’s skill be able to be passed to allies?  These and many other questions remain to be answered.

Author: Wu

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