Techland’s Dying Light was one of the more pleasant surprises last year, as a zombie survival thriller packed with solid combat, a compelling storyline and a multitude of quests that resulted in a memorable experience. As part of the game’s season pass, Techland decided to expand on the original world of Dying Light with The Following, which grew so big over time that it became an official expansion for the game. And the company wasn’t kidding around; The Following is massive and the main addition of having a vehicle is more than just a novelty.
It might seem strange at first, the idea of introducing a buggy into a world filled with zombies, but it expands on the Dying Light experience in a way you wouldn’t expect. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take away from the parkour experience either, with the expansion perfectly blending a mixture of exploration, combat, vehicular zombie slaughter and running for your life.
Arguably one of the best parts of the original Dying Light experience was the ability to traverse the landscape freely, scaling buildings and terrain as if you were Batman. Thankfully that carries over to the expansion, despite having a vehicle at your disposal. All the numerous quests that take place in The Following have a great blend of having to drive to your destination and using your own two feet to explore the new zone.
It’s a pleasant surprise to be honest, and the driving system is just as solid as the game’s movement and combat. Getting behind the wheel of the buggy feels natural, with the vehicle moving the way you would expect especially when you take it off-roading. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing more fun than barreling towards a field of zombies at full throttle.
While it’s easy to poke fun of other developers that release DLCs and expansions promising loads of content, Techland actually delivers with The Following. The new zone is more varied than the original with plenty of sights to take in. You’ll run across familiar faces throughout your experience, some of which you may not even remember if it’s been a while since you’ve played the original. It also provides a sharp contrast from the urban environment in the original game to something more rural, filled with farmlands with civilization sprinkled in between. There’s even some spelunking to enjoy.
The story kicks off interestingly enough with the idea that there is a cure out there for protagonist Kyle Crane to find. You’ll be introduced to a new group of people trying to go about their lives as well as an odd, religious cult group that plays a major role in The Following‘s storyline. Without giving away too much of the story, the religious cult is the one behind the prospect of a cure, claiming that they can fight off the infection through devotion and prayer.
Yes, it sounds a bit wonky, throwing some form of an unorthodox religion into the world of Dying Light, but it plays out surprisingly well. It adds intrigue and mystery as part of the story, something the original game lacked with its cast of characters. At the end of the day, it won’t be the best plot you’ve ever experienced in a video game, but it does enough to keep your curiosity and it ends fair enough. Questing through the main story is a bit different as well, with progression happening more organically. You’ll have to take on a number of side quests in order to gain trust with your new friends, but you aren’t confined to which side quests you do. Essentially, performing a number of tasks will unlock the next step in the storyline, and which path you take is entirely up to you. Of course you’ll end up missing out on some side stories and character development if you choose not to be a completionist.
Picking up side quests come in the form of looking at a board with posted notes and messages. There’s quite a variety of them too, such as finding your way to the local post office to retrieve a lost package for a little kid. There’s even a bit of humor, like handing over mail to someone only to find out that it’s a bill that needs to be paid. There’s also bounties you can pick up that are essentially mini-challenges that reward exp.
As for the buggy, it’s fully customizable and as you progress, you’ll be able to upgrade its engines, turbo, suspension, brakes and more. You’ll even be able to customize it into a mobile weapon of death by adding equipment like an electric cage that can shock zombies clinging on trying to eat your face or even a flamethrower. For novelty you can change the appearance of your buggy with custom paint jobs and even slap on a bobblehead on to the dash. Of course with the addition of driving, there are driving challenges that you can complete and a separate skill tree that unlocks the add-ons.
In order to gather parts and upgrades for your vehicle, you’ll have to search abandoned cars throughout the zone. There’s also the necessity of having fuel for your car and while it may sound like a a major inconvenience, it’s not. It is however, worth noting that recalling the buggy to your location sucks away a good chunk of fuel, which is a trade-off from having to run back to where you left it.
Like the original game, The Following is best played cooperatively with a friend or two or three. If you don’t like driving, you can hop into the backseat of the buggy while your teammate drives, peeking your head out to shoot down zombies as you fly by. For added realism, the passenger can take damage if the driver carelessly navigates underneath a tight spot while the passenger’s head is poking out. It can result in death and some hilarious moments, especially given how intense the game is.
Overall if you are a big fan of what Dying Light had to offer, grabbing a copy of The Following is a no-brainer. The addition of the buggy doesn’t feel forced at any moment in the game and is a welcomed addition when you’re trying to get from one end of the map to another. But what makes the experience so compelling is the fact that The Following‘s environment isn’t as civilized as the original game. You’ll feel like you’re in constant danger when you can’t easily find a building to hop on top of and you’re fully exposed in an open field. Then there’s the thrill of barreling across farmlands as zombies charge at your buggy left and right. You’ll never feel more alive than when you’re facing imminent death.