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Dying Light 2: Stay Human hands-on preview: Stay on your feet

With Dying Light 2 just months away from release, Shacknews goes hands-on for the first time, as we put our parkour skills to the test.


It's been more than three years since Dying Light 2: Stay Human was first announced. After such a long time in the oven and Techland facing new hurdles regularly, there were points where it didn't look like this sequel would ever emerge. With 2021 rapidly coming to a close, Dying Light 2 is now closer than ever to seeing the light of day, but there are still a lot of question marks in regards to its quality. Perhaps going hands-on with the game for the first time could alleviate some of these concerns. Last week, Shacknews got to do just that.

Parkour is a major part of Dying Light 2

Dying Light 2's story takes place 20 years after the original and follows a new main character named Aiden Caldwell. Players are taken to a new open world in Europe known only as The City, where the zombie apocalypse has devastated civilization. One of the main objectives is simply to survive, but the greater goal is to help humanity move forward. The question becomes, who gets to be the ones to lead humanity into its future?

One of Dying Light 2's major elements involves competing factions. There are multiple survivor factions, as well as a police faction known as The Peacekeepers. These groups are all competing against one another for resources, strategic sections of The City, and more. Players must decide who to aid and consider their choices carefully. Each faction will not only have their own specific benefits for Aiden in his fight for survival against the infected, but the story is also heavily affected by who Aiden chooses to help. Quests, side missions, and entire encounters can either be affected or skipped entirely depending on player choices.

In some instances, these choices can get complex. There was a later instance in the game where Lawan (played by Rosario Dawson) tasked Aiden with routing power to her group of survivors by investigating a nearby power station. Finding a way in presented some challenges, a big one being a group of infected. A group of helpful Peacekeepers offered an assist and assumed Aiden was there to help them out by routing the power to them, offering future assistance for Aiden's generosity. Upon reaching the end of the quest and the moment where it was time to flip the switch, players are presented the choice whether to route the power to the survivors or to the Peacekeepers, with each choice presenting different benefits and a promise that it would make enemies out of whoever was left out in the cold.

Lawan is introduced later in the story

On the topic of running through these quests, let's discuss Dying Light 2's actual mechanics. Parkour is the name of the game above everything else. The primary strategy for wandering The City is to stay elevated by leaping from high ground to high ground, making sure to keep off the streets. Players will be challenged to leap across massive gaps, slide under narrow spaces, straddle narrow beams, and climb buildings quickly. It's possible to earn more skills over time through the game's skill tree, but there's at least one item that players can pick up a few hours into the story. The paraglider can be an unwieldy piece of work that takes some getting used to, but if players can surf it over vents and use natural wind gusts to aid them, they can cover massive gaps... assuming their stamina doesn't run out.

Certain quests and side quests are only accessible at specific times of the day, but the day/night cycle offers more than that. Infected behavior is affected by the time of day. During the daylight hours, the streets are safer to walk, as most infected will retreat from the sunlight. At night, the infected will fill the streets, but leave their dens unguarded, allowing a better opportunity to scavenge those areas for loot. Just make sure to use your flashlight for those dark spaces.

The other major thing to look out for at night is Aiden's own growing infection. This is where the "Stay Human" part of the Dying Light 2 subtitle comes into play. At night, Aiden's infection will gradually spread and if he's fully infected, the game ends and the player returns to a previous checkpoint. There are items, such as inhalers, or ultraviolet light spots where Aiden can slow down his infection or add time before it overtakes him completely. In addition to their health meter, players must be conscious of how long they have before Aiden is completely infected.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human looks like it will be a lengthy affair, but one that appears to be far more engaging than what some may be expecting. There's been good reason to be skeptical about this game, given the numerous delays, toxic workplace allegations, developer departures, and overall unpleasantness with Chris Avellone. Despite all of this, Dying Light 2 looks like it's coming together and it looks like it might actually turn out to be pretty good. We'll find out where this game falls on the quality scale when Dying Light 2: Stay Human releases on PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on February 4, 2022.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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