Dying Light 2: Stay Human Xbox Series X Review

Don’t miss out on Dying Light 2: Stay Human, this is an adventure you want to start playing immediately.

By Grayshadow, Posted 02 Feb 2022

Back in 2016 Dying Light launched and quickly became one of the most acclaimed adventures of the generation with thousands of players logging in each day. The sequel has been highly anticipated for years with delays worrying gamers, it would either be stuck in development hell or not live up to the anticipation. Dying Light 2 is finally here and it was well worth the wait, delivering a phenomenal adventure teeming with not only challenging content but a profound narrative with branching paths and a brilliant mobility system that improves on the first game’s mechanics. Exploring the vast world, looking for secrets, and trying to survive this unforgiving place is made more intense thanks to fantastic visuals and feedback. Dying Light 2 starts off running and doesn’t slow down, it’s a truly magnificent adventure.

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Dying Light 2 stars Aiden Caldwell, a pilgrim looking for his sister in The City, the last big settlement for humans. Aiden is a Pilgrim, a person who often takes on suicidal missions by traveling through the unforgiving landscape for smaller settlements due to the infected now ruling the world. Humanity has fallen due to the newly mutated virus and society has accepted that the infected are just part of life now, with people trying to survive in it. Those who missed out playing the original game won’t be at a disadvantage but those who did will have a better understanding of the infection and some other spoiler-related details. Aiden does have a mission, to find his sister who was seen in humanity’s last large settlement simply known as The City. The City has a series of warring factions that are seeking control from the local civilians to the military police called the Peacekeepers and finally, the armed bandits called the Renegades.

The narrative for Dying Light 2 is a massive step forward from the previous game. Multiple decisions within the narrative will determine who lives, dies, and who Aiden will gain the trust of. This shift in the narrative is acknowledged by the various characters you’ll encounter, all of which are neither good nor evil, just doing what they believe is ensuring the survival of their people. Some of these choices have multiple layers that go beyond just 1 off results and can have a domino effect depending on if the player decides to pursue it.

The side missions share this level of quality in terms of writing and execution. While the side missions mostly contain fetch, time trials, and searching quests it’s the writing that they shine. Whether that’s developing a new type of entertainment like launching infected with a bat or teaching someone to love again many of the side missions pertain to human culture or nature. Selling a special type of beer, trying to date, or helping a kid who is in denial helps encourage the player to find the next mission purely out of interest in what it could offer. Some of these missions can be ended early or pursued further depending on you choose to act, leading to some interesting consequences.

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To add to the intensity there’s no manual saving, instead, everything is autosaved. This means once you make a decision that’s it, you cannot go back at least on consoles. I’m sure someone on PC will figure out a way to bypass this but on consoles, you have to deal with the choices you make. The developers did highlight significant choices in yellow so you can see the difference between elaborating on something and progression down the dialogue tree. This direction makes you double and triple-check whether you’re sure this is the choice you’re going to make.

The voice-acting and animations match the outstanding writing and narrative. All the character models look amazing and the voice actors did an outstanding job bringing every character to life. Even the side characters have been designed specifically for their quests which is an insane order considering how many of them are in the game. Techland really when above and beyond and even the minor characters have personalities to them. Because of this, you feel a connection when deciding the fate of these people, and the autosave feature makes it more intense. Do you risk yourself to save this NPC who saved you, do you tell this small boy what really happened to his dog, what do I say to this person so they don’t end themselves, or do I even care given what they’ve done? These choices are presented after you’ve developed a connection to the people related to the quest so when that yellow indicator comes up you truly have to think about what is your choice.

The City is an amazing place to explore and Techland really improved on navigation. The open world is big but a lot of the content is squished together so you won’t have to travel far for activities and separated into sectors. There’s little in terms of environmental diversity but the developers did an amazing job with what they had since much of the game takes place in 1 city but by highlighting the old and new worlds colliding the developers created something unique out of something familiar. On the roofs, people built farms, bridges, and even settlements and guard towers to avoid the infected that plague the streets. Traveling above requires more dedication to your movement as opposed to the streets but you’ll have to deal with the infected if you head down.

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Creating a world that combines both the old and the new world is a tall order but Techland executed it well thanks to the great controls and ease of movement. With the environment becoming safer as you complete various tasks around the City. This includes starting windmills, securing water towers, and starting power plants. This feeds into the alliance system as Aiden will get access to different advantages based on who he gives control to with the Peacekeepers providing more ways to fend off the infected on the streets and the survivors who offer easier ways to navigate the roofs. You don’t have to dedicate to one side but not doing so means missing out on the later upgrades that the game shows to you so you’ll see what benefits each side provides.

As I stated since this is an open world you can expect a repetitive loop of similar objectives to expand into overwhelmed areas or hostile bases. To try and diversify these objectives each one has been designed with a different layout. For example, fast travel stations are limited to major bases and metros, with the metros requiring you to restart generators. Each Metro has a specific enemy type that guards the area and layout that ends with a random assortment of generators to turn on. Windmills and water towers have different platforming challenges and electrical plants have unique power chord puzzles to solve. This also goes for the mini-boss encounters that change up the area you fight these dangerous infected. I did wish they included more fast travel routes though, maybe adding the night runner camps as options mainly because these are placed in some strange areas like the top of skyscrapers. These would’ve been great as fast travel points but they’re just there.

The developers really improved the mobility system here. I don’t what type of magic they used but moving Aiden is simple and pulling off some of the harder moves in the first game is much easier here. The exception is getting down as the game doesn’t have a lot of fall breakers around the environment. You do get the glider after completing a third of the main story content which opens a huge new avenue to explore the City but it’s also linked to your stamina. Finally, the grappling hook is provided during the last third of the game and provides Aiden the ability to grab any surface and swing across. I wish this was provided earlier in the game but perhaps it was done for balancing purposes as it allows you to bypass a lot of the platforming challenges with ease. But I love that Techland just gives it to you and says “go nuts” without limiting it in some way.

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The day and night cycle is back and it brings benefits and disadvantages. During the day the infected are less of a threat but more hostile humans are on the street. You also earn less experience for parkour and combat. The opposite is true for the night cycle, the infected are much more aggressive and you gain more experience but there’s another problem, Aiden is infected. Everyone in this City wears a biomarker to showcase their level of infection since everyone is infected, this means if you stay in the dark too long you’ll turn. To combat this UV safe zones are placed around the City, antizin inhalers, and you can consume special mushrooms to hinder the infection. This meter constantly ticks down but inhibitors allow you to increase your resistance and your health and stamina. It’ll take some time since, in the beginning, this meter is annoyingly short but eventually becomes something you can mostly ignore. The only constant challenge is chemical exposure that cuts your timer in half.

The inhibitors only serve as one 1 type of leveling the other is done through combat and parkour. You’re constantly gaining experience whether it’s moving through the city or killing hostiles with an array of abilities linked to these trees. The issue is that why Aiden definitely becomes more nimble and dangerous with these some of them feel like Aiden should know how to execute them. He’s a Pilgrim so you would expect some things like wall running and heavy strikes to be automatically unlocked but I guess not. Since nothing is level gated you can progress as you wish but it’ll be tough without certain skills since the later levels assume you’ve unlocked certain abilities.

The enemies of Dying Light 2 are dangerous and numerous. The infected have evolved since the first game and you’ll encounter a lot more varied infected. Every one of the infected is incredibly animated and beautifully designed, even the common infected showcase various examples of who they were turned and for how long. The human enemies are smart and dangerous. Most use the same tactics but they’re not stupid; they’ll flank, toss items, charge your position when you try to heal, search for you, and attack in numbers. Because of this combination of enemies, you’ll need to use every advantage you can.

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With such threats, Aiden has to use every advantage as well. You have standard melee weapons that come in a variety of options and variety that can be modded. Depending on the rarity you can attach different mods from fire, poison, shock, improved grip, and durability. You do gain access to a bow but the damage it does is pretty small unless you get a high-ranked item. Each piece of gear is ranked depending on its efficiency and adds another layer to the leveling system, you can improve your skills all you want but without proper gear you’ll be a walking target or dinner for some hungry infected. Each item does alter Aiden’s look and the weapons are wonderfully designed, encouraging you to not only search and loot resources but find these weapons since once they break that’s it.

The developers did an outstanding job combining both movement and combat. Weapons come in a huge variety that focuses on blunt, sharp, 1-hand, or 2-hand. Aiden cannot just swing away as enemies will block, charge, and break Aiden’s defense as you attempt to do the same with parrying and dodging. A stamina meter governs all your actions and you’ll need to strike and avoid hits since healing takes a while and human enemies will press the attack when they see you doing it. Infected will charge regardless but Aiden has some smalls such as a UV light to push infected back, throwing knives that can be used for quicker stealth kills, bombs, Molotov, and more. Fighting fair isn’t ideal and it shows in the combat, take the high ground, lure enemies into an ambush, throw a brick then dropkick the guy off the roof. Those with honor don’t live long in this world.

The visuals and presentation are exceptional. Whether is seeing people trying to find some sort of home in the now infected landscape, trying to find trust in one another knowing everyone is struggling for just a drop of water, or begging for help in a near-death situation. The developers went above and beyond to ensure every major settlement feels like a home with crops, NPCs speaking to one another, and other little details that made the entire world feel alive.

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The music brings everything together. Whether it’s saving a close ally from death or running from an immediate threat the music of Dying Light 2 complements everything in this adventure. The sense of hope or dread is always paired with the best musical score needed to fully capture the moment.

Dying Light 2 contains a lot of elaborately designed weapons and tools. The weapon designs reflect the post-apocalypse with people cobbling together whatever they can find and modding them with other dangerous objects. The issue is grinding to upgrade these items is obtusely high. To get things upgraded you need not only money, military hardware in hard-to-reach locations, and resources gathered in the environment or purchased at vendors but infected trophies are a real pain to collect. You need a lot of these trophies to upgrade the many items Aiden has in his arsenal and since you occasionally get these from unique infected you’ll spend a lot of time gathering them. These need to be reduced or altered so that infected trophies are only needed in the final third of the upgrades.

Despite all the amazing features, improved movement system, diverse narrative, and outstanding performances Dying Light 2 does suffer from some major technical issues. Open-world games are more notorious for having issues since there are so many things happening on screen but these are extremely problematic. The biggest is the audio cutting out and a loud buzzing sound plays. This can be resolved by restarting the game however if you happen to get this glitch during a major cutscene you can miss out on major dialogue. Fortunately, you can pause and leave before the cutscene ends but it’s still something that needs addressing.

Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity is no New Game Plus. Considering how many types of items the player will gather, the massive boost in mobility with the game's upgrades, and the length of the adventure replaying the title with everything you’ve earned, even with just your upgrades, would’ve been an incredible feature. I really hope they add this option to the game in the future.

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The Stay Human part of Dying Light 2's title is more than just a reflection of the ongoing virus. It conveys that simply surviving isn’t enough, you have to do more to feel alive. That means not forgetting to feel love, compassion, joy even hate and revenge. These aspects are completely lost on the infected because they are no longer human, they’re animals looking for their next meal. Dying Light 2 Stay Human not only improves on many of the aspects that made the first game a hit but goes above and beyond with its narrative. The technical issues definitely need fixing but with so many titles launching in unplayable states seeing a game as massive as Dying Light 2 Stay Human launch in a mostly stable condition is relieving. Don’t miss out on Dying Light 2: Stay Human, this is an adventure you want to start playing immediately then when the credits roll play again.

Review Copy Provided

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Techland
Developer(s): Techland
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Apocalyptic, Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2022-02-04

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