Developed by Techland
Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One
Rated M for Mature
I have to applaud Techland’s dedication. In the time most major companies would have pushed out another game, the team has been hard at work improving an already stellar product. Packaged in with the new and improved Enhanced Edition, The Following might just be some of the best DLC out there. In a market full of map packs and microtransactions, The Following reminds me of a time when expansion packs came in their own boxes.
As it was, Dying Light was already one of the few compelling arguments for next gen consoles. I loved most of the 30+ hours I put into it, but haven’t had the chance to pick it up again since I submitted my review. Jumping back in after a year, I had forgotten just how playable this game is. Running, jumping, climbing, and slashing only took a few minutes to relearn, and I was pleased to find my old save file transferred over with no progress lost. This is technically supposed to be a review of just The Following, but I don’t really know what was added in what specific previous DLC pack. For purposes of this review, I’m just going to assume that everything new is part of the expansion.
And shit, there’s a lot new. WIth a map twice the size of the previous two combined, there is an overwhelming amount of content here. Jumping into it is easy, with it’s own selection on the main menu. Progress and inventory carries over from the main game, a fact that I was incredibly relieved to learn. I did not want to have to go back to pre-grappling hook life.
One of my few complaints is that it does kind of plop you in rather unceremoniously. There’s a brief cutscene framing the plot, and then you’re instantly in a sewer leading to the new zone. It opens up quickly, and you soon find yourself driving through the countryside with zombies bouncing off of your windshield. Glorious.
Plot wise, it does a lot to both distinguish itself from and build off of the main game. Dying Light didn’t really wrap things up, with a cure still eluding Kyle and his buddies. Sure, you stopped the nukes and killed the bad guy, but everyone was still turning into zombies eventually. So of course, the promise of a permanent cure is what it takes to get Kyle back into the game. What’s that, you say? Wasn’t Harran quarantined and supposedly impossible to get out of? Yeahhhhh well, just go with it. It’s well worth the leaps in logic.
Kyle soon finds that things aren’t as simple as knocking on the neighbors door and asking for the cure to zombification. The locals are under the protection of The Mother and her Faceless, a religious order who at first seems to divinely ward off the undead. There are still zombies everywhere, so they aren’t doing the most stellar job, but everyone there seems to think they are just swell. And don’t worry, this isn’t one of those evil religious orders that asks you to give them all your gold and firstborn. They seem to genuinely be good guys. Mostly.
So off you go in typical open world RPG fashion to fetch everyone’s milk and save every kitten in the land. Since the map is so huge, you’ll use your new buggy to get most places. The entire map is designed around using this for traversal, but not in the Arkham Knight kind of way that destroys the feeling of the game. The buggy isn’t just a vestigial element, but almost its own character. You’ll level up a specific driving skill tree, upgrade it with new parts, and slowly transform it into a hulking death machine. There are races, speed challenges, and my personal favorite, smashing shit challenges. It also doesn’t control like ass! That’s a first. For a completely new addition, it feels so natural that you would assume it was part of the base game.
That isn’t to say that there isn’t a lot of climbing and parkour. Towering power lines rival any skyscraper, with there generally being some kind of reward at the top. The core gameplay is still much the same, as you’ll slash and parkour your way through hordes of zombies, bandits, and the occasional boss fight. New weapons, guns, and consumables can be found or crafted to help you take down the massive new challenge enemies, which have ludicrous amounts of health. The new dungeon-like volatile hives make you weigh risks, as they are filled with volatiles during the day and mostly empty during the more dangerous nights. In a nutshell, it’s everything that you loved about Dying Light, but at least 40% better.
The ranged combat has also seen some much needed improvement. This is one of those things that might have been in a different DLC pack, but when I played Dying Light there were only like 5 different guns. Double barrelled shotgun, pistol variant, and rifle variant was it. Now, there are new types of every gun, an SMG, a bow, and a crossbow. The crossbow is improved as your reputation grows with the Faceless, and can be loaded with a number of different craftable bolts. The ranged combat was never the strength of Dying Light, but just like with the car, the new additions feel like natural parts of the game.
Whatever they did to the graphics, the game looks incredible. It would be really easy to cheat a lot on the effects when turning zombies into a fine red mist with your car, but that just wouldn’t be as satisfying as watching them splatter off of your hood. The way that they ragdoll crumble over your hood at high speeds is a kind of pleasure I didn’t know I could experience. I found myself driving through fields back and forth just for the satisfaction of plowing through another horde. They managed to make an already amazing time waster even better with vehicular manslaughter.
This is normally the time when I go over the bad parts, but I have very little bad to say about The Following. The voice acting is spotty at parts, but I honestly wouldn’t have even remembered that if I didn’t write it down in my notes. The new quests are all challenging and different, the new storyline unique and compelling, and all of the new gameplay additions polished and fresh. You can beat the main story kind of quickly, but that would be missing the point. Rushing through the main content in a few hours and calling it a day is like beating the main quest of Skyrim and complaining the world wasn’t big enough.
If you were to ask me what I think the future of gaming should look like, I’d point to The Following and say “pretty much that.” Jumping back into an old game shouldn’t impress me this much. My expectations have been so lowered by forgettable “bonus” content and needless re-releases that I didn’t believe something of this quality could exist. If you liked Dying Light, you will love The Following. The people at Techland aren’t stopping here, with more DLC promised this year. It’s an insane amount of value for the asking price. Any horror fan should own this game. If you haven’t yet bought into Dying Light, now is the time.
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