- + Huge map to explore
- + The crossbow is ace
- + Buggy action is fun…
- - …but the world’s layout can sometimes mean clunky driving and a lot of frustrating back-tracking to remote areas, especially when playing solo
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
Start Replay: “New Horizons”
In 2015 Dying Light reinvigorated the survival horror genre. Its expansion, The Following, builds upon its solid foundation; introducing fresh characters, weapons and a new mode of transport.
If anything this add-on can stand on its own two feet. It operates in an entirely new setting that’s twice the size of the original game. It comes packed with an enormous map, which also encompasses a brand new method of transportation; your very own buggy. Shortly into the story you’re tasked with stealing the automobile, and once you do it’s yours to keep and upgrade on-the-go.
Story-wise the focus remains on Dying Light’s lead character, Kyle Crane. Placed outside the quarantined hell hole of Harran – the fictional city featured in first game – locals have found a way to successfully control the zombie virus. Many survivors located in the countryside follow a cult called the Children of the Sun, those of whom worship someone named the Mother. As Kyle you must gain the trust of this religious group; helping people in need and accomplishing certain tasks. Alongside the main campaign are countless side quests, not to mention random encounters, which help liven up deserted towns and empty fields.
Although this is a standalone expansion you must own the original game to play. Any progress made during the main story will transfer, including your character level and skill tree. Your buggy also has a skill tree, meaning you can tailor its features to suit your personal play style. Blasting around and ploughing through the undead is fun, but it’s not an entirely safe sanctuary.
Each and every part of your luscious joy ride can and will degrade over time. To begin with I found it hard to enjoy driving a car, I didn’t have a care in the world when it came to launching off a cliff side or mowing through the infected, but it wasn’t long until my actions caught up to me. Stocking up on screws is an essential way to keep your car mended. Fuel must also be maintained, but thankfully there are a bountiful supply of abandoned vehicles to scavenge from.
Despite being placed at the front and centre of your experience, the buggy brings a few niggles along for the ride. First and foremost is the occasional battle through scenery, and the notable lack of destroyable objects. Heading from one end of the map to the other is nice, but sometimes you’ll want to take a shortcut through a field or up a hill. This means coming across items such as lamp posts or benches, which in any other game would mean driving straight through them, but not here.
I understand the need to keep a sense of fragility to you and your surroundings, but if I come to a stop through hitting an impenetrable tree, bench or lamp post, I find it hard to enjoy my newfound mode of transport. Upgrading will eventually make your ride a lot sturdier, but to begin with I was more frustrated with my experience than I was fearful of the consequences. Also, am I the only person lucky enough to have a fully functional buggy across a large, sprawling piece of countryside? The lack of any other vehicles threats feels like a missed opportunity.
Ultimately I totally get the need to keep your car from being a powerhouse. The whole reason behind Dying Light’s appeal is how vulnerable you are within its world. The development team have actually done a phenomenal job crafting a vehicle that encompasses the game’s core gameplay mechanic; don’t take risks, take your time and manage supplies wisely. The fear isn’t always on the undead, but also the durability of the equipment you use. If you overuse a certain part on your buggy – such as your suspension – and have already reached the maximum amount of fixes it can receive, you may have to stick with it until you can craft or find an alternative. It’s all thought out in meticulous detail, and I constantly felt on edge.
Getting down to combat, I found it surprising to come across guns at a much earlier stage. Compared to the streets of Harran, that hardly saw any firearms, The Following seems to be chock full of guns. Most of the time liberating safe houses will introduce bandits ready to tear you limb from limb. Happily, once you take them out, you’ll often find a stash of weapons amongst their gear. The addition of a crossbow proved handy when it came to staying stealthy, as I could take out a threat and resupply by picking up any bolts I’d fired.
Most of my time I played solo, however I did venture online when the going got tough. Playing through the story in a cooperative mode is a lot of fun, and I recommend playing with friends to get the most out of its gameplay. Playing by yourself is still great, but sometimes a lot of backtracking can be frustrating on your own. The lack of a fast travel system means you have to navigate tons of obstacles on the road, all-the-while keeping in mind the state of your vehicle. Doing so with friends livens up the action and keeps driving from going stale.
PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One
The Following serves as a great expansion to an amazing game. There’s plenty of content to get stuck into, plus the introduction of a buggy opens up new ways to explore, whether that be solo or with friends.
*Dying Light: The Following was provided to Start Replay on PS4 by Techland, whereas our Xbox One copy was provided by Xbox