When it comes to the zombie survival horror genre Dying Light is regarded as the gold standard. The story was engaging, the gameplay mechanics innovating, and the day/night cycle produced some of the most heart-pounding moments in gaming history.
So, to say the hype for Dying Light 2 Stay Human was high would be an understatement. Unfortunately, while still producing a beautifully designed post-apocalypse world to explore, Dying Light 2 Stay Human on a technical level has some serious problems that can make the game unplayable.
Our journey begins 15 years after Dying Light or DL1. if you haven’t played DL1, don’t worry about it. A lengthy intro video will start up every time you boot up the game filling you in on the back story. The key point to know is that the game takes place 15 years after DL1. During this time a new mutated variant found its way out of a GRE testing lab and spread across the planet infecting 90% of the world’s population.
The previous vaccine doesn’t work and the only way to avoid turning into an undead is to stay in sunlight or with UV light. Since the world has gone down the drain, a hand full of settlements still exist with the main one being the European city of Villedor. It’s massive and completely walled off. Due to its size, there are multiple factions laying claim to various parts.
You play as Aiden. He’s called a “Pilgrim”, they are people that live out in the open world and are known for pretty much-doing anything they want so all the factions regard them as thieves and murderers. However, Aiden is voiced by actor Jonah Scott who comes across as pretty laidback and sounds almost identical to Nolan North (Nathan Drake – Uncharted). Aiden has one goal; he’s looking for his sister. As you progress, Aiden will have flashbacks which will fill in the blanks on what happened to them and how they were separated.
As I mentioned, the city of Villedor is massive and every inch can be explored. Aiden also possesses the skill to parkour so how you traverse the city is entirely in your control. Don’t feel like running in the streets or hopping from car to car to avoid the undead? No problem, just parkour across the rooftops from building to building. You will also come across zip lines so if you really want to avoid the streets, this is entirely possible with the exception of story missions requiring you to do so from time to time.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human is an action RPG so you will spend a good amount of time scavenging for supplies and crafting new weapons & resources. Yes, weapon degradation is back but the weapons overall seem to last much longer than in DL1. You will need blueprints to learn how to craft new items but honestly, during my playtime, I found plenty of items so never really felt a need to seek out blueprints that can be purchased from vendors or obtained during missions. Just pay attention to the weapons you find that contain mod slots. These slots allow you to upgrade your weapon and add some cool effects such as making an electric shock bat.
Speaking of missions, there’s a good variety of mission types to keep you busy if you’re looking to take a break from the main story path. One notable is activating Windmills. These are similar to the radio towers in DL1. Your goal is to find a way to the top to fix them. Once repaired, a cut scene will show survivors now moving into that area and this, in turn, provides more safe points and unlock new side missions.
However, I encountered two bugs in this department. First, while at a safe house, I would not see the prompt “press X to sleep”. So, I could not sleep which means I couldn’t fast forward time. I visited multiple locations which also didn’t allow me to sleep but did have a sleeping bag and my stash bag which was accessible. So, I either waited for the night to end or ran back out trying to do another mission at night. Second, side missions marks would appear on my map but once I arrived at that location there would be no activity. I would return to these markers during the day or night with the same result.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human plays for the most part exactly like Dying Light which is great. The skill progression system works similarly in that as you engage in fights, you level up your combat skills, and the same goes for your parkour skills. in the HUB menu, you will see the two separate tree layouts that display all the cool new moves Aiden can learn. There are also special canisters that can be found in “dark houses”. These are usually multi-level buildings filled with various zombie types.
The game says if you visit one of these locations at night the zombie count will be lower since they should be out on the street looking for their next meal. I found this to be false. For example, I visited the same location during the day and night with the same zombie count of 15. You will also see a prompt to press (X) to perform a stealth kill which is also false. I would perform the kill and in seconds I would be swarmed by zombies running in from other rooms. So, I recommend having at least 3 strong weapons and visiting one of these dark houses during the day. Attempt to kill them all and if you start to get overwhelmed you can run outside to regroup and get some much-needed sunlight.
Since you need sunlight or UV light to avoid transformation, this means your time scavenging in dark locations is limited. You will see a meter appear in the top center of your screen displaying how much time you have before you need to find a light source. I also recommend stocking up on UV bars which come in handy when deep in a dark house. Just drop one on the ground and stay in the area to fill your meter. When you do obtain these canisters, they will provide a skill point that can be used for boosting your stamina, increasing the height you can fall before taking damage, etc.
It’s a fun risk and rewards experience but with the stealth takedown function not working as described, it basically plays out the same in every attempt which is to kill everything that moves and collect the loot. Speaking of loot, there is plenty to be found in every nook and cranny. I spent hours just roaming the city looking for materials. I assumed that if I killed a group of bandits coming at me with weapons then I would be able to pick up that weapon once I’ve sent them to the afterlife. This was not the case. I could see the weapon on the ground but would not be able to pick it up and instead just have the option to search the body. This wasn’t always the case, but I felt it was worth mentioning.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human supports 4 player co-op which sounds great. But there’s a catch. Only the host retains any mission progression. So, if your group completes some story quests, only the host will have this info stored on his or her save file. When you attempt to play solo, this mission will not appear as completed. I’m not regarding this as a “bug” since many other games have done the same in the past. It’s just a shame that sync progression is not yet a standard. There is also no cross-play of any sort but Techland said this feature will arrive at an undetermined date.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human somewhat scratches that itch fans of the series were hoping for but the absurd number of bugs not only hinders the experience but at times forces you to reboot the game entirely. During every game session, I’ve encountered a loud buzzing noise that disables all game audio. I tried going into settings and lowering the game volume to no avail. During a story mission, this occurred and I could not hear the NPC’s dialogue, even during a cut-scene. I also encountered another audio bug in which the in-combat music would continue to loop way after the combat had finished and in some cases, it would never stop so I had to restart the game. There are also some annoyances in the form of NPCs asking you questions and Aiden not having an option to reply. There will be some that will ask you for items constantly or questions about your travels and there is no way to respond back.
As of this writing on February 11th, 2022, Techland has released a patch to the PC version along with a statement saying this should resolve crashing, broken missions, and other issues. The same patch is expected to arrive on consoles in the coming days. Overall as a fan of this franchise, I am disappointed and saddened that a game I along with so many others were anticipating was released in such an unpolished state. I have no doubt many of these issues will be resolved and I base this on the constant updates that DL1 received. So if you are on the fence about picking this one up, I recommend giving it a few weeks, let these patches roll out, and jump in when it’s in a more polished state.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Dying Light 2 Stay Human for the Xbox Series X provided by Techland.