E3 2018: Techland Presents Choices in Dying Light 2’s Branching Narrative
Gamers and journalists alike talk a lot about agency. Having agency in a game is something similar to autonomy but a bit more visceral: It’s having the power to make decisions, knowing your decisions will directly influence the world, and seeing those results manifest into tangible outcomes. Player agency is the power and recognition of, and reaction to, free will in a game. Techland (Call of Juarez, Dead Island) may not have shown us real agency in 2015’s Dying Light, but the studio seems committed to giving us this sense of freedom in the game’s sequel. Twinfinite sat down with an hour-long, hands-off, live gameplay session of Dying Light 2 and walked away with some details about the game, including the changes made to combat, map size, and narrative.
According to the report, Dying Light 2 is “over four times larger than the original game including its DLC content.” Although this is impressive, it doesn’t specifically state in what way Dying Light 2 is larger than Dying Light: horizontally, vertically, or both. As stated in the report, Dying Light 2 features “some of the most compelling first-person gameplay [seen] during the entirety of E3” with “weighty melee combat [that’s] plush with much more nuance now.” Dying Light‘s combat felt like a mixture of both EA DICE’s Mirror’s Edge and the studio’s first zombie game, Dead Island. While it wasn’t floaty like Mirror’s Edge, Dying Light‘s combat was a bit tactless when performing certain moves like charged attacks.
Most notably of the report, however, was the mention of Dying Light 2’s branching narrative. During E3, Techland released a video – aptly titled “Choice and Consequence” – that highlights some of the actions and reactions the game will have you engage in. According to Chris Avellone, the game’s narrative design, “Dying Light 2 features a functioning ecosystem that reacts one multiple levels to the things you do and the choices you make.” Twinfinite corroborates this, saying, “[There] are multiple ways to beat the game, and though player decisions will have drastic impacts of the dynamic of the city and its inhabitants, they’re not always irreversible. [There are] opportunities to undo allegiances and decisions would be more nuanced than simply returning the NPCs and killing them. Instead, later quests would weave in a contingency plan to change course according to preference.” Sounds more narratively malleable than the original game, with choices that’ll change the course of the game’s story. It’s hard to say whether this means the game’s narrative is dynamic, but the studio did confirm that there are multiple endings.
In our review of Dying Light, we gave the game an 8.5/10, saying, “Tying [character progression] into a wonderfully designed climbing system, combat system and crafting system, Dying Light is easily going to be one of [our] favorite games of 2015.”
Dying Light 2 is now in development for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.