Review

Dying Light 2 on Xbox Series X is parkour heaven despite some story missteps

These are screenshots of Dying Light 2 on Xbox Series X

Dying Light 2 is a first-person action game that takes place after the world has been ravaged by a viral outbreak. Most humans now exist as mindless undead, and almost all survivors have been infected with the disease. You step into the shoes of Aiden Caldwell, who’s on a quest to find his missing sister. However, even this journey proves arduous because you must navigate a web of lies in order to uncover the truth about your past. In the process, you’ll either save or destroy the city of Villedor.

Environment and survival

Dying Light 2 is at its best when you’re freely traversing the substantial open-world environment. You can parkour up any ledge, jump onto any surface, and explore to your heart’s content. There are a ton of secrets hidden within the cluttered buildings of Villedor, from powerful upgrades to lethal weapons. There are even some whimsical Easter eggs like a witchs flying broomstick. Unfortunately, hundreds of zombies stand between you and those items.

Apart from that, the main character, Aiden, had a somewhat generic personality. Maybe developer Techland did this on purpose because the player is the one making all the important decisions. Unfortunately, this results in detachment from the plot. Luckily, the stellar gameplay that focuses on upgrading your character, scavenging materials, and unlocking equipment like a grappling hook and paraglider, saves the day.

Dying Light 2 focuses heavily on melee combat, but you can eventually unlock bows to take out enemies from afar. There’s a greater focus on stealth in this game than its predecessor. It’s foolhardy to charge into a crowded buildingpossibly full of Banshee or Howler zombiesbecause you won’t make it out alive. This was possible in Dying Light because you had machine guns and plenty of bombs at your disposal.

Crafting and upgrades

These are screenshots of Dying Light 2 on Xbox Series X

Since you’re also infected with the virus, you must use Immunity Booster inhalers and mushrooms called UV Shroomz to prevent the infection from taking over at night. Ultraviolet (UV) lights also do the trick, but they’re only found in small settlements. Typically, you can only survive a couple of minutes in the dark, but that time can be extended by finding Inhibitors throughout your adventures. It’s unclear why UV light prevents the fictitious THV virus from multiplying, but its definitely a challenging gameplay mechanic.

Dying Light 2 constantly gives you weapon and gear upgrades. There are countless containers hidden in Villedor that provide crafting materials, makeshift blades, clothing, and more. You can modify weapons by picking up Scrap or Wiring. This includes adding fire or electricity damage to any implement. Clothing also plays a major part because it’s essentially your armor. Keep an eye on your Gear Armor score because the higher it is, the more damage you’ll be able to withstand from the restless undead and human foes.

The title is also filled with vendors from whom you can buy weapons and gear. There are other merchants that offer upgrades. For example, you can enhance the healing Bandage so that it restores more hit points every time you use it.

I didn’t buy any weapons or gear from vendors because the open world provided plenty of upgrades at a fast pace. However, I did upgrade all the healing items because some of the larger zombiesparticularly Demolishers with overgrown armscan kill you in a heartbeat if you’re caught with them in a small arena. You'll need powerful healing techniques to take on those enemies and bosses.

Gameplay missteps

These are screenshots of Dying Light 2 on Xbox Series X

Dying Light 2 stumbles on some fronts though. As alluded to earlier, the story is confusing because what starts off as a simple missing-persons quest becomes incredibly convoluted. There are too many characters to keep track of and even major revelations — like the identity of a murderer during the first half of the game — can’t be understood as a result of that. I felt constantly out of the loop during my playthrough.

I’m sure if I played Dying Light 2 through multiple playthroughs, I would remember all the characters and the factions they belonged to, but first-time players will probably stop caring about them quickly. Luckily, the gameplay is just so much fun, and beheading or dismembering zombies is a blast. I just wish that the story were better and the main character had some more personality like Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher, V from Cyberpunk 2077, or Master Chief from Halo Infinite.

The fact that you don’t have access to the grappling hook early in the campaign is disappointing as well. You must progress well into the main story to get it along with the paraglider. Movement seems really restricted without the grappling hook and not having as much control for hours and hours gets annoying. The grappling hook crossbow was a staple in Dying Light, and I thought that Techland would build upon this in the sequel. Unfortunately, you start from scratch and never feel as nimble because it’s been reworked.

In my opinion, Dying Light 2 shouldn’t restrict movement for as long as it does. Players should be able to unlock the grappling hook way sooner. The paraglider isn’t necessary for the first part of the campaign because the buildings are quite short. However, there are still plenty of cumbersome structures to climb and if there’s a time limit imposed on a missionlike delivering a bomb in a few minutestraversal can be frustrating because even one mistake can cost you the quest.

Visuals and performance

These are screenshots of Dying Light 2 on Xbox Series X

Dying Light 2 looks great on Xbox Series X, but it’s not perfect on any of the modes. The Resolution setting makes the game incredibly crisp, but limits the frame rate to 30 frames per second (FPS). While Performance mode raises the frame rate to 60 FPS, it reduces the resolution to just 1080p. This results in an incredibly blurry image. Lastly, the Quality mode adds effects like ray-traced shadows and ambient occlusion, but the image quality is locked at 1080p 30 FPS.

All three modes also feature inconsistent textures. For example, while character models are detailed, ledges and rooftop grass are surprisingly low resolution. This can be jarring to witness as you're leaping from one building to the next.

I would recommend playing Dying Light 2 on Performance mode because the other two feel somewhat unresponsive with a controller. Many games with 30 FPS modes, like Forza Horizon 5, don’t have this issue, but Dying Light 2 does. Due to this, Performance mode feels the smoothest because of its 60 FPS presentation. Unfortunately, even after the patches, frame rate drops are quite common in the Resolution and Quality modes and make gameplay choppy. Hopefully, Techland will fix this down the line because some people may prefer a higher resolution or better effects to frame rate.

Conclusion

These are screenshots of Dying Light 2 on Xbox Series X

Overall, Dying Light 2 is a good game, but it could’ve been a great one had the story been tighter. Halo Infinite managed to tell a compelling tale with essentially three characters. I don’t understand why there are so many in Dying Light 2. It seems like the team just kept adding people as the development years went by. Maybe to Techland, it’s a succinct campaign, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. By the time the story gets really interesting, its too late.

Despite that, the gameplay shines and the city of Villedor is one of the best open worlds out there. You’ll spend dozens of hours completing various side quests and searching for the next major upgrade for your character, whether it’s a weapon or a pair of pants.

Techland wants to support Dying Light 2 for the next 5 years at least. Hopefully, the stories the team tells in the future will be an improvement over this. However, I can still recommend the game on Xbox Series X because the gameplay is so much fun because it’s rewarding and addictive. Dying Light 2 is a solid 8 out of 10 game, but its being crushed by its own ambition.

You can purchase the game for $59.99 on the Xbox Store or the platform of your choice. There are also Deluxe and Ultimate editions available for $79.99 and $99.99, respectively.


Have you played Dying Light 2? What do you think of the title? Let us know in the comments below. Techland provided a review code for the game and it was played on an Xbox Series X console.

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