Note: This review is for the Dying Light DLC expansion “The Following.” You will need the base game to play this. Check out our review of the base game if you don’t have it. This DLC is also included as part of the season pass and with the recently released “Enhanced Edition” of the base game.
By all accounts, Dying Light should not have been as good as it was. Coming from Techland, the studio known for Dead Island, I was expecting a hot mess of glitches with some half decent melee combat. What I got was one heck of an awesome zombie parkour game with a decent story and awesome combat/RPG elements.
Honestly, looking back on it, the only complaints I had with the original Dying Light were the lackluster story and the tightly packed area that the second half of the game took place in. Dying Light was at its best with wide open spaces and lots of zombies. Clearly Techland thought the same thing when they start developing The Following. This DLC expansion for Dying Light marks the return of what an expansion should be in terms of sheer content. Is it more of the same, or an evolution for the series? It’s time to find out.
Well, That's Certainly New
The story in the base version of Dying Light was alright I suppose. It was entertaining, don’t get me wrong, but it played the cards close to its chest and gave us a villain without a lot of mystery or intrigue. Fast forward to The Following and things are much more interesting.
The expansion takes place outside the city of Harran in the neighboring countryside.The main character, Kyle Crane, gets a tip from an injured person that there’s a cult of people living out there who are immune to the virus. Up until this point, anyone who was infected needed a drug called Antizin, so an actual cure would be a lot more helpful.
Kyle sets out into the country to see if these reports are true. You quickly meet up with the locals who are part of the group known as the Children of the Sun. These people seem normal enough, but they’re not interested in helping an outsider. They treat you like the plague until you agree to help them out.
That’s where things get interesting. In order to progress in the story during your time with The Following, you have to earn the trust of the cult’s members. There’s the standard people you interact with who are member of the group, and then there’s the higher ranking individuals called The Faceless.
These guys go full cultist and dress in robes with masks that resemble the sun with a face on it. At first glance these guys are the real deal. Somehow they can keep the zombies at bay and the people who are loyal to them are indeed immune to the virus. They attribute all of this to the cult’s leader known only as The Mother.
Doing side quests earns you trust points which then help you rank up and grow your trust level with the group. As you reach new trust levels, story missions unlock that peel back more of the mystery surrounding the Children of the Sun.
In the base version of Dying Light, the side quests were great, and that’s no different with The Following. Just when I thought I’d seen all the crazy, weird, or downright insane side missions this series could throw at me, The Following brings fresh and exciting stories to discover. Even obtaining the side missions is more exciting as you can find them on a missing persons board of sorts. This little bit of story about the mission prior to leaving adds another layer of immersion.
To say anything more would risk spoiling the rest of this parkour zombie mystery. Suffice to say, the intrigue surrounding the cult and its members never lets up until you have your answers. It’s quite the ride getting there, and while it wraps things up nicely, it makes you wonder where Techland will go next. They’ve certainly amped up their writing game from the base game.
Gameplay You Love With New Toys
A great expansion should do two things: keep everything great about the base game, and add new elements that make the experience feel fresh again. Dying Light: The Following does exactly this by changing the very way you explore its world. In the base game, parkour was king and there weren’t any fast travel points to save you when the sun went down.
In The Following you’ll still do your fair share of jumping, leaping, and grappling, but the new area also introduces a customizable buggy to help you get around easier. You see, the countryside outside Harran is sprawling and huge with several major locations to explore. The space between is sparse and dotted with roads, so parkour isn’t going to cut it this time around.
The buggy is given to you early on and offers its own skill tree in addition to the ones you remember from the base game. The buggy handles like a dream and running over hordes of zombies is just as satisfying as it sounds. Each of the parts can be upgraded, crafted, and repaired like your weapons. Upgrades include things like offensive weapons, nitro boosts, and more.
Driving in a first person can be a chore in some games, but The Following’s buggy feels great to drive around. Techland also made the smart decision to call your buggy to any safe house and reset its position if it gets stuck, which it will. Let’s just say that the power it offers tempts me to drive as full speed and sometimes tumble off a cliff into a lake, that’s all. With a single button I can reset the vehicle to dry land.
New weapons are plentiful, including a crossbow that offers several types of bolts for you to craft. Using the crossbow feels like wielding a sniper rifle and the choice of things like toxic or electric bolts only adds to the awesomeness.
The new map is huge, did I mention that? It’s at least the size of the main games two areas combined, possibly even bigger. Having the buggy makes traveling from one side to another much easier. Without it, honestly, I think this expansion would have been a lot less fun. Who knew driving would add so much to the experience?
What’s more is that you’re buggy requires gas. You’re now able to stop and search abandoned cars on the road for fuel to siphon and parts you can use to repair or upgrade your buggy. It bring a new level to the scavenging mechanic and adds another layer of urgency to the gameplay.
Melee combat is solid, just like it was in the base game. Each visceral hit or severed limb has weight and power to it. There’s something about exploding a zombie’s head with an electric baseball bat that never gets old, even after finishing the base game. The game’s familiar (and terrifying) night time gameplay returns as well.
Cruising around at night in the buggy while the volatiles come out to play is even more horrific in the expansion. Imagine driving at full speed with your headlights barely illuminating the space in front of you. Suddenly one of the massive and horrific volatiles leaps onto your buggy and sticks its mangled and gnashing face into your view. Yeah, it’s enough to make you crap your pants.
The new map is so large that I’ve often found myself driving frantically as the sun sets to reach a safe house in time. It’s horror at its finest, and it leaves me with shaking hands and the need for a fresh pair of underwear every time.
The Following also comes with a brand new update that is free for everyone who has the game. Even if you didn’t buy the expansion, you still get this, which is nice. The numerous tweaks polished an already solid game to a mirror sheen. It also added a new skill tree that unlocks once you’ve maxed out the others. This “legendary” tree gives you the ability to amp up your skills even further, which only adds to the solid replay value.
Dying Light’s brand of zombie parkour and punishing death penalties are still here in fine form. They been enhanced with a huge new area, weapons, and a sweet buggy to boot. This is everything you loved about Dying Light and more. All-in-all, you’ll enjoy roughly 20 hours of gameplay from this expansion if you do everything.
What’s even more awesome is that you can carry your weapons and XP back and forth from the expansion to the main game! It’s as simple as switching the campaign on the menu and choosing the save file you want to go back and forth with.
Seeing as how it’s an expansion, if you own the base game all of this can be yours for the low, low price of $19.99. Yeah, I know, it’s an insane value.
Dying Light, Have You Been Working Out?
I remember Dying Light being a good looking game. I also remember the film grain driving me up the wall. I’m sorry, I just can’t stand that kind of filter on my game. When I jumped into The Following, I saw an option to turn off the film grain so I hit that immediately. That may have been there before, but it was still a welcome sight.
The tightly packed city of Harran in the main game was cool and all, and I’m gonna let it finish (a joke for the Kayne West haters like myself), but The Following’s sprawling countryside is way better. First of all, the soaring mountains and sweeping fields of grass are much prettier than the rundown shacks of the main city.
Secondly, the littered stretches of road offer tempting opportunities to stop and loot for gas and parts. There are tons of little vistas in The Following that make the apocalypse look gorgeous. The game just looks and feels so much more free in this new setting.
The creepy shrines to The Mother are perfect little reminders that you’re dealing with a cult. The outfits that the Faceless acolytes wear are also suitably creepy. It really sells the cultist look while also placing our main character in a far more open, sprawling, and beautiful region of its world.
Well, Should You Jump In?
A ways into the development of The Following, one of the spokespersons from Techland said “we could easily make this its own game” which they used as a justification for the increased price point from $15 to $20.
Uh, I would have paid full price for this and been extremely happy. Make no mistake, this could have been Dying Light 2 and it would still have more content than most releases these days. For $20, this expansion (or the Enhanced Edition if you don’t own the main game) is an absolute steal.
It’s just about perfect. The intense punishment for death and the occasional climbing mechanic mishaps are still there, but overall this is an absolutely stellar experience for Dying Light fans and gamers in general.
Final Score: 9.0/10