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Dying Light 2: Stay Human Hands-On Preview: A Visceral Experience That Quells Any Previous Doubt


Dying Light 2: Stay Human Hands-On PreviewDying Light 2: Stay Human has had a turbulent development since its original announcement in 2018, to the point where fans have been worried about what it means for the sequel and the franchise.

However, I got to go hands-on with Dying Light 2 at a preview event in San Francisco, and I can say that everyone who has doubts and concerns can rest easy. Dying Light 2: Stay Human is a fun game with great transversal and visceral combat that kept me on edge with every encounter.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human Hands-On Preview

The Story Is Vast And Deals With Heavy Loss But Isn’t Portrayed In The Best Way

I can’t talk much about Dying Light 2’s story. All I will say is that it takes place twenty years after the original, and the world has been devastated by the infection. Though I had access to some story missions in my hands-on, I spent a little more time exploring the world and tackling side activities.

However, I can say that narratively you’ll go through conversations and respond to people through dialogue options. The camera is always from your perspective, and most of the time, it feels a little boring.

I did feel that a lot of the characters felt a little soulless. Maybe I’m spoiled with great facial animations I’m getting from Naughty Dog titles and even Square’s own The Guardians of the Galaxy, but my impressions were that the facial animations could use a little more work before release. Thankfully the voice acting is great, and the world-building is looking to be impressive with documents and various other collectables to discover.

Smooth Transversal Makes Exploration Exciting

Dying Light was known for its great transversal. Using parkour to get around was fun but only works well if it’s smooth, and boy, does it work well in Dying Light 2. If you remember playing Assassin’s Creed 2 for the first time and being wowed by how great and smooth the transversal was in that game, that’s pretty much how I felt in Dying Light 2. It felt like playing Assassins Creed 2 in first-person.

In terms of traversal, every building and every structure can be climbed. As long as it has something for you to grab on it, you can scale it. What I enjoyed most was not having a sprint button I constantly had to press, as protagonist Aiden is continuously sprinting on his own. Still, as much as I loved the transversal, I didn’t like how quickly my stamina drained.

Stamina drains fast, and I found myself falling off of buildings that I’m climbing a lot of the time due to Aiden huffing and puffing. You can increase stamina when you level up, but I never got a chance to see just how much the upgrades improve things.

Elsewhere, the controls took a bit of time to get used to. After playing so many games with a similar control set-up, Dying Light 2 is entirely different with its button layout, and I constantly found myself hitting the wrong buttons. As such, in the four hours I got to play the game, I never got used to them.

I hope the final product allows me to map out my buttons because I feel a lot of people will have the same issues I did.

Every Blow Feels Meaningful, Making Combat A Visceral Experience

Combat is just as fun, if not more visceral, in Dying Light 2 than in the original. Scraps with enemies are simple but brutal. Every hit has a weightiness to it, and you feel each strike you land on infected and human foes alike. It was so satisfying that I just wanted to spend most of my time bashing infected heads in.

Weapons range from blades to hammers, wooden bats, and large heavy two-handed weapons that can cut enemies in half. Each weapon feels different. Blades will cut through opponents, but the blunt weapons will send your enemies staggering. I particularly enjoyed the blunt weapons, because every strike feels satisfying due to Dying Light 2’s fantastic body damage effects.

There was a moment in the game where I was using a hammer, and I hit an opponent in the face and saw that I broke his nose, and blood was gushing out of it. At the same time, the bladed weapons were easy to immobilize my opponents, like cutting off an infected’s leg hindering their movement, forcing them to crawl after me.

As with Dying Light, you can upgrade and craft your weapons and armour. I didn’t get to explore this option in my hands-on, but I could upgrade one of my weapons with electricity. As I struck enemies, it would randomly create a shock effect that spreads to anyone else in the vicinity and electrocutes them, stunning them and causing damage over time.

A Rather Smooth Experience For A Game Four Months Away From Release

Most of my time was spent playing on the PC version of Dying Light 2, and it ran pretty well with no real dips in frames or any major performance problems. I did run into a few known bugs, however. I was informed the PC version was the closest equivalent to the PS5 version of the game, and I also got to sample the PS4 version to boot.

I’m happy to say that my time with the PS4 version didn’t deter me from my experience. The significant differences I experienced were some frame drops during cutscenes, less blood and gore, and a less infected population crowding the world. Overall, the PS4 version held up well compared to the next-gen offering.

I loved my time with Dying Light 2: Stay Human. There is a lot more I got to witness, but I am sworn to secrecy. Those worried about the game’s numerous delays and the rumours of development issues can rest easy; if you loved the original Dying Light, you’ll love Stay Human.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human is set to release February 4 on PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.