Dying Light 2 Review – All You Need is Shove

Developed and Published by Techland

Available on Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows

MSRP $59.99

The original Dying Light was a banger. I can’t think of a better way to explain it. I had already fallen deeply in love with Dead Island, despite all its faults, and I knew that Techland knew what they were doing when it came to an open world zombie game. Dying Light seemed like an apology for Dead Island. “We know what we’re doing, and we can prove it.” seemed like the statement Techland was making. I was ready to accept their apology, because I didn’t think Dead Island needed apologizing for. The first trailer for Dying Light I saw set the theme. Woodkid’s Run Boy Run was thumping through the speakers as a character parkoured through the apocalypse, zombies be damned. I brought that same level of excitement into Dying Light 2. I was not disappointed.

I’ve seen the pre-release grumblings. The people who are comparing Dying Light 2 to Cyberpunk 2077. “It’s a Polish team delaying a game?” they hollered, lacking self-awareness nor an understanding of the Poles. Expectations were raised, lowered, raised again, and then left in a place of tentative yearning for the best-case scenario. Dying Light 2 is the best-case scenario. Opening in a world far removed from Harran in the original, you’re leaving behind original protagonist Kyle Crane and embodying another very plain, clean-cut rando in the form of Aiden Caldwell. He is a pilgrim, the evolution of sorts of the first games nightrunners. Pilgrims move from city to city doing dangerous deliveries. Aiden has traveled more than 2000 kilometers to end up in Villedor, the city where Dying Light 2 takes place.

Dying Light 2 Villedor

Right off the bat, the story is quick to set the rules of this new world. It’s 15 years post-Dying Light, and the world has frankly gone to shit. Guns no longer exist, the undead are everywhere, and humanity is just slowly dying out. Survivors are stuck in small settlements and afraid to go outside for fear of the dead. There was a cure for the virus, it’s explained, but humanity being humanity, messed it all up and made just, so many zombies you guys. Everyone is infected with this new strain. The living and the dead. The living are forced to wear biomarkers that track their amount of infection. Being in the dark lowers your immunity. It’s a fun twist on the original’s night time escapades. A timer lets you know just how much time you have until you give in to infection.

This makes night runs even more terrifying. You have to balance out what items you have to lower infection versus what you want to do at night. As you get further into the game, upgrades to your health and stamina add more time to your infection clock. It eventually gets to the point to where you really don’t pay attention to it except on the longest of nighttime runs. The world of Dying Light 2 is almost nothing like the original. Villedor has been trying to thrive post-fall, and it has split into two factions: The Peacekeepers and The Survivors. Peacekeepers are just essentially cops and survivors are everyone else. There are points around the map to claim like in a Far Cry game, and taking these points will cause either Peacekeepers or Survivors to start building specialized structures there.

Dying Light 2 paraglider

The big areas to take, like waterworks and electric plants, will let you pick which faction you want to give control. Each one has things they add to the open world to help you. If you take an electric plant and assign it to the Peacekeepers, they’ll add trapped cars around the world for you to use. If you choose survivors, they might add things like inflatable jump pads, or ziplines around the area. Finding a balance between the two factions to get the most of their rewards is what I was doing, but you can do what you want. Assign everything to Survivors, shutting out the Peacekeepers, but also locking off the things they might unlock in the world.

I’ve talked about the setting, and the character, and infection, but you’re really wondering: How does it play? It’s great! The parkour feels a bit floaty at first, but after you get accustomed to all the new parkour moves at your disposal it just feels right. The parkour system has been improved in every way. There are vaults, wall runs, tic tacs, and other movement options. You never really feel slow while moving through Dying Light 2. Obstacles just don’t feel like a thing. The upgrade trees help you feel more powerful and faster as you go through the game, and it feels like the perfect way to handle progression.

Dying Light 2 UV

In a world without guns, you have to make melee interesting, and Dying Light 2 handles it wonderfully. I have a couple of issues with the combat in the sense that it isn’t as funny as the original. One of my favorite moves from Dying Light was what I called the judo throw. It allowed you to kind of shove zombies away from you. They’d splay out all ragdoll and you’d get a good laugh. The move makes its return to Dying Light 2, but just isn’t the same. First of all, they broke it into 2 separate upgrades. The first allows you to shove zombies to the side, but you’ll need the second upgrade to actually have enough force to throw them to the ground. It feels harder to ragdoll enemies in Dying Light 2, but when you manage it, it’s very funny.

The melee combat in general has been improved immensely. You can stagger enemies and vault off of them into a dropkick. Parkour playing a much larger part in all combat. You can dodge back, jump forward, and deliver a devastating vertical attack on enemies. You can jump from roofs and deliver kicks or stomps, and I’m happy to report Dying Light 2 has added the best melee move in any game I’ve ever played. Seriously, it’s a move that needs to be added to all games moving forward. When blocking, you can hit a button to grab an enemy and ride them down to the ground. On level ground, it’s a good way to stun an attacking enemy. On the edge of a building, it becomes a rodeo, where you’re riding a zombie 20 stories down, staring them in the face the whole time. It’s glorious.


The amount of things to do in Dying Light 2 is staggering. From Old Villedor you’ll move into the city proper and the verticality on display is amazing. I was looking at the world and thinking, “oh, it’s all on top of skyscrapers. That’s gonna suck falling off of those into an endless pit.”. Guess what? There is no endless pit. You can actually just go down to street level. The whole city is available to you. Go from the ground up into the interior of skyscrapers searching for loot. Get to the top and employ the newly added paraglider to glide from building to building. Nothing is off limits. It is all there for you, and populated.

The original Dying Light could occasionally feel a bit empty. I mean, yeah, there were zombies, but you never got the sense that you were a part of a greater world. Dying Light 2 fixes this by having the world be constantly evolving. Based on your decisions with the different factions, you’ll see new survivor areas pop up, populated by people to talk to, quests to receive, and shops to check out. I kept accidentally dropkicking civilians because they also wander the world now. You’ll see NPCs holding impromptu funerals, or fighting the infected, or just scavenging. These small changes make the world feel lived in. You’re not just a spectator to all of this, you’re part of it.

Dying Light 2 Screenshot

There are now “dark areas”, which are places where zombies hang out during the day, in an inactive state waiting for the night. If you want, you’re welcome to enter these interiors and sneak your way past the zombies looking for loot. The smarter money is on waiting for nightfall when they take to the streets, to sneak in and rob the places blind while they’re empty. It keeps the nighttime gameplay satisfying and purposeful. You would be unwise to just sleep through each night to avoid more difficult zombies. These areas range from simple department stores to full-blown subway stations that you can power on to use as fast travel. That’s right, Dying Light 2 has fast travel. I don’t think I’ve used it yet, because traversing the world is so much fun.

With a well-written story, likable characters, a bigger world, better weapons, fun combat, increased movement options, and co-op multiplayer, it would be unwise of you to skip Dying Light 2. Gather your friends, gear up, good night, and good luck.