Publisher: Warner Bros. Entertainment Interactive
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
ESRB: M for Mature
I originally passed on Techland“s open-world zombie action game/parkour simulator, Dying Light, when it debuted last year. While everything I“d heard about it indicated it was an awesome experience and the exact breath of fresh air the zombie game genre needed, there were too many other titles for me to make the time for Dying Light. After having mowed through The Following, the first major expansion for the game, I“m starting to sincerely regret passing on it the first time.
The Following takes place after the events of Dying Light. While I won“t spoil any plot details from the main game, suffice it to say that the central narrative in the expansion is much better-written. Dying Light“s main campaign was sharply criticized for inferior plot development and hamfisted characters. While The Following doesn“t craft the finest of zombie apocalypse survivors, the story itself is what“ll draw you in. Kyle Crane is once again tasked with helping his band of misfit parkour instructors and survivors in Harran, only this time, he“s caught out in the farmlands of the nearby countryside. A dying man tells Crane and company about a secret place, protected by the Mother, where followers of the local religion are immune to the virus.
To get to the Mother and her followers, however, Crane needs to earn the trust and respect of the local populace. This means strapping your gloves on and killing everything that tries to eat or shoot you, from gun-toting bandits to half-rotten walkers and everything in between. If you“re feeling especially brave (or foolish), The Following introduces several boss monsters known as Freaks of Nature. They“re much stronger than your garden variety of zombie and usually require co-op assistance to take down. If you decide to solo a Freak, extra patience and crafting materials are in order.
Weapons and loot function exactly like the base game, with melee devices requiring constant maintenance using the limited repair system. Unless you“ve unlocked the tree skill that occasionally grants a free repair, you“ll be cycling through weapons at the usual rate. Loot crates are everywhere, mostly found in houses scattered across the countryside. If you hate lock-picking minigames, you might be turned off by how many locked crates there are. A bit of patience and a steady hand, however, will unlock plenty of useful goods and upgrade parts.
While most of the gameplay, enemies, and quest types are similar to those in the base game, The Following introduces one drastic change to the formula; upgradable dune buggies. Traversing the countryside on-foot is a daunting task. Gone are the high-rises and rooftops from which Dying Light made parkour the star. The Following breaks out into open spaces and wheat-filled fields, so buggies are the best mode of transportation. These diminutive vehicles, however, are more than just ferries. They can be upgraded with various parts, engines, tires, paint schemes, and weapons (like a flamethrower and electric cage) to make it your own personal rolling fortress. All the internal parts need to be maintained using Dying Light“s infamous limited repair system, but continuously driving will provide you with the necessary experience to craft higher-end replacement parts. The buggy also needs to be refueled, and gas is readily available from the dozens of cars scattered about the environment.
The closest comparison for The Following is Mad Max with zombies, so if you“re into grinding the undead into the asphalt, this expansion is probably up your alley. Really, the only odd design choice Techland made was making the entire experience separate from the main game. In order to access the additional content, you need to start The Following from the main menu. All items and skills from the base game are carried over, but the minor disconnect is jarring when you make the transition from Harran to the farmlands. You“ll also want to be around Survivor level 10 or 12 before you start the expansion content, else you may be over-run by the wicked-fast crowds of virals during the day and the lethal volatiles at night.
For $20, Dying Light: The Following is jam-packed with content. The game-world is massive, rivalling the vertical playgrounds of Harran. The implementation of upgradeable combat buggies and even more loot means the best time to explore Dying Light is now. The Following adds a decently-written narrative with a surprising ending, along with some unique boss encounters and the ever-satisfying combat. At the bargain price-point, The Following is a worthy addition to your digital collection.
+ The new buggies are awesome
+ A solid story with a great ending
+ Rewarding combat and loot
+ It“s Mad Max with zombies!
- Too much lock-picking
- Some quests are a bit too familiar
Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10)
Dying Light: The Following is jam-packed with content and a worthy addition to your digital collection.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher