Opinion: What I want in a Dying Light sequel

I know the year isn’t quite over yet, but I’m fairly confident my Game of the Year for 2015 is going to be Techland’s zombie survival/parkour title Dying Light. The game’s well-tuned combat and movement systems blend perfectly with a narrative that’s actually compelling (unlike Techland’s earlier efforts with the Dead Island series) and ancillary modes that give it a ton of replay value (New Game+, Be The Zombie, Bozak Horde DLC, etc.) beyond the core story campaign. Techland may be busy putting the final touches on the game’s upcoming expansion The Following, but given the game’s overall success, it might not be long before we hear about a Dying Light 2. If the publisher is considering a proper sequel (and it definitely should be), here are some ideas on how it could build upon the first game’s success.

A More Malleable Main Protagonist

I actually liked protagonist Kyle Crane in the original Dying Light, but his set appearance and gender did make multiplayer co-op games into an odd sort of phenomenon. Since there’s no way to customize Crane aside from picking his outfit, co-op games in Dying Light consisted of multiple players playing as multiple carbon copies of Crane. The variety of different outfits players could unlock did allow for some diversity, but in the Bozak Horde DLC, which pretty much requires multiple players and automatically dresses all players in the “Bozak’s Pet” outfit, it was always really odd seeing four exact clones of the same person running around.

For Dying Light 2, Techland should add in additional options for customizing the main protagonist. Getting to choose more minute traits such as eye color or hair color obviously wouldn’t be necessary since the game would assumedly be first-person like its predecessor and other players would likely not take the time to see what color your character’s eyes were. However, getting to pick more noticeable details such as the main protagonist’s gender or maybe even their name would help to spice up the game’s single-player campaign and add some diversity to its multiplayer community.    

No Dawn Is Coming

One of the most iconic and exhilarating experiences in Dying Light is hinted at right in the game’s title: venturing out beyond the game’s safe zones after night has fallen. When the sun sets in Dying Light, visibility becomes a much bigger issue and the world becomes populated with terrifyingly fast and powerful zombies called Virals. Since experience point gains are doubled during nighttime hours, players can embark in the ultimate test of risk vs. reward, striving to build up Crane’s skills more quickly while also avoiding the night unkillable Virals.

As exciting as it is to venture out at night, it becomes less so later on in the game after the player has gained more advanced skills and weaponry, especially since there’s always the option of just finding a safe spot and waiting around until day breaks. It’d be really cool if Techland offered a more challenging optional variant where players could create a game in which it was always night. Perhaps it could be set up as a sort of open world survival mode in which there was only one safe zone and A.I. enemies grew increasingly powerful as time went on. Such a variant would be an excellent addition for both hardcore challenge junkies and those looking to put their co-op skills to the ultimate test.  

Fighting (And Running) In Style

The alternate outfits players can unlock for Crane in Dying Light are a neat bonus, but they all have pretty generic unlock criteria (most involve simply completing a certain story mission or purchasing a certain DLC pack) and they offer no other benefit besides distinguishing yourself in co-op games. For a Dying Light sequel, it’d be nice if alternate outfits had more clearly defined unlock criteria and granted appropriate bonuses for the added effort of unlocking them.

Some ideas include: a “Martial Artist” (a Karate Gi or Kung Fu outfit) that was unlocked by purchasing all agility-based physical attacks (drop kick, tackle, sliding kick, etc.) and granted a bonus to all unarmed attacks, “Military Fatigues” unlocked by investing in the power skill tree and/or using guns which granted bonuses to damage with military weapons (rifles, military shovels, knives, etc.), a “Surgeon” outfit unlocked through the agility skill tree which granted a bonus to all one-handed blade weapons, and a “Stuntman/Stuntwoman” outfit unlocked by investing in both power and agility which granted a small bonus to both damage and movement speed and maybe also allowed the player to survive longer falls.    

Be The Zombie 2.0 (additional/expanded skill trees for Night Hunter, additional modes such as checkpoint race and survival)

While it isn’t perfect, Dying Light’s optional competitive mode “Be The Zombie” is a whole lot of fun under the right conditions. For those who don’t know, Be The Zombie allows a player to invade other players’ games as an apex “Night Hunter” zombie which has enhanced agility, is virtually unkillable, and can be leveled up using its own dedicated skill tree. More devious Night Hunters can invade games with only one or two human players in them, but those looking for a true challenge can try invading a game with three or even four players, resulting in a fierce 4v1 contest of predator and prey.

If Be The Zombie were to return in a Dying Light sequel (and it definitely should), some key changes would help to make it more accessible and fun. For starters, there should be more game types than the single “Nest” setup (human players have to destroy zombie nests, Night Hunter has to defend them) that’s included in Dying Light. Additional game types such as a checkpoint race (humans have to reach a certain number of checkpoints, Night Hunter has to stop them) or a straight survival variant (humans have to guard a dedicated location from both the Night Hunter and waves of A.I. zombies) would help to give the Be The Zombie mode both more longevity and a broader spectrum of appeal for players who normally don’t care for competitive multiplayer.

For the Night Hunter itself, additional skill trees and cosmetic skins (beyond the small sampling that’s currently available through Night Hunter mutations) could allow players to craft their own unique biological weapons with which to sow terror amongst human players. If a team of human players was feeling particularly brave, maybe they could try and take on two or more Night Hunters at once, allowing Night Hunter players to get in on the co-op action.

These are just some possible ideas for Techland to consider if it were to make a sequel to Dying Light. Be sure to share your own ideas below via the comments!