As a writer for Digital Chumps with a full time personal and professional life, at times, it gets really hard to maintain deadlines. The most dangerous time for this is during the holiday rush, with January-March being far more casually paced. To be sure, this has been the most hectic January/February I can remember, having now entered my eleventh year with the site. For me, though, that statement not only refers to new game releases, but things going on in the more demanding and important planes of my life, too.
So what the hell am I getting at you're probably wondering, if you're still reading, lol. Well, I was fortunate to receive a Steam code for Dying Light just before the game was released, and, just before I left for a week-long vacation. Ok, I thought, I can catch up as soon as I get back. But as it turns out, major projects at work have had their time tables moved up unexpectedly, and I've been doing a lot more 12-15 hour days than I ever hoped to. Corners have been turned, things are getting back to a steady state again (or so it seems!), but today I'm here to at least partially uphold my obligation to dive into Techland and Warner Bros' new zombie title, Dying Light.
Being this late already, I decided I need to stop where I'm at, get something posted, and move on, and I say that will all due reluctance. Being only about six hours in, that's not enough to do a proper review, so Eric was kind enough to give me permission to utilize his excellent PS4 review as jump point to add some thoughts about my experience, as well as list PC-specific settings of Dying Light, so here (finally), it goes.
Ok, so since installing Dying Light on launch day, there have been three patches addressing a handful of single player and multiplayer issues, which is really on par or better than many big releases anymore. Dying Light takes up just over 16GB, and by the way, I'm running it on a i7-4790K, 16GB TridentX, Gigabyte GTX970, using a wired Xbox 360 controller. As with every game regardless of platform, when I first boot it, I look over all of the menu options before jumping in, and with Dying Light there are several nice video options you may want to tweak. Here's a crude, but complete list, with my settings: Resolution (2560x1080), V-Sync, Texture Quality (High), Shadow Map Size (High), Foliage Quality (High), View Distance (this is a slider, I put it all the way up which is awesome because there is a lot to see as you rise from street level), Ambient Occlusion (On), nVidia HBAO+ (On), nVidia Depth of Field (On), Motion Blur (On), Antialiasing (On), Film Grain Effect (On, it's nowhere near as grainy as The Evil Within). It looks awesome, and runs great.
Online, which I have very little experience in, is a very tempting way to play this game thanks to four player co-op support. Online support gets unlocked after you play through the Prologue and the first day cycle, so figure about 1-2 hours in, depending largely on how much time you spend exploring the quarantined city of Haraan as opposed to focusing on your objectives. Online can be limited to Friends Only if you want, and up to three others can join in the zombie-bashing (and, to be sure, zombie-avoiding) fun. There are co-op competitions to give the group "friendly" challenges to test their skills against, and I thought it was cool that you can adjust the frequency of these. You can also change when the zombie invasion occurs, normally its at night and yeah, it's intense, but you can set this for the day if you'd like (but either way you better get your parkour on as Eric describes above).
Playing with an Xbox 360 controller proved fluid, and at the start of the game there is a training session that's nicely integrated with the flow that helps you get a handle of the somewhat unique agility/movement mechanics of the game. FYI, I have never played Mirror's Edge nor any of the Dead Island games (also by Techland). The game is played from a first person view exclusively, and your ability to run and climb and navigate an urban environment is a core design element. Fortunately, right from the get-go your character is very adept at this, but further upgrades to your Agility skill tree make you even more astute. Getting comfortable with the controls and how the game handles doesn't take too long, and the speed at which you can maneuver around is pretty impressive. If I were to compare it to similar antics you pull in Assassin's Creed, I prefer Dying Light's overall system more, but that's in part due to the modern setting.
Similar to Assassin's Creed you have to be prepared to do a lot of "don't try this at home" jumps and things but, hey, it's a game, right? Being able to drop fifty feet into a giant pile of trash unharmed is, well, kind of fun actually. It's also awkward that, while you have like limitless energy for running and climbing, etc., you get tired quickly in combat, so that's a little goofy, but not hard to overlook in the grand scheme.
Get passed the first hour or two of Dying Light (which aren't bad by the way, just a fair amount of introduction and tutorial-type objectives), and I think you'll find yourself pretty addicted as I have realized I am becoming (now to just budget the time for it...). There is a lot of area to explore, items to craft, quests to run, relationships to maintain, and doing the whole day/night cycle is fun, too. Overall, there's just a lot more to like about Dying Light than not, and while I'm only six-ish hours in, I think anyone interested in the premise should strongly consider checking this one out.
Aside from using God's name in vain (if a professional reviewer wouldn't DARE take muhammed's name in vain for obvious fear of death threats, extend the same courtesy to those of other faiths and not use derogatory language toward God) and complaining about the cinemas solely for not understanding them having missed the first game (which is more your fault, not the game), solid review. Thank you.
Is there any way to select powerups/levels in quickplay? It seems to be completely random and that's kind of annoying. I'd like to be able to pick what tracks I'm racing on when I have friends playing waveracer with me for instance....
While it's ok to like and enjoy this game, it is an all right game, I just feel that your review is off the mark a bit. You say you don't see the MMO as finished, but saddly, we as consumers ARE paying for a finished game, not for the hopes of what it might become in the future. As such a review should be critical of a games issues instead of paying fan-service to a company, otherwise it will never become what it can potentially be. The developers will just say "well, people aren't having a problem with it so there must not be anything that needs be changed." And as an MMO, the single-player experience should have not become a focus(IE locking people in phases away from their groups, each player in a group needing to do puzzles on their own).
Gameplay: The combat is floaty and doesn't have a weighted feel to it. You mention the single-player experience again, but this IS an MMO, not a single-player game. I agree there is a lot of room to expand on, and also hope it survives to see it through, but again we can't review games based on the hopes and mights. Also we need to look at class balance, which there isn't any. A sorcerer character can go into PvP and wreck a zerg just by chugging mana pots. They can also chain-teleport away from combat if they get into a hairy situation. Nightblades on the other hand get a 2 second invis, while the tanking classes have little to no tricks at all. Then we add into that vampire players, who again can wreck zergs while regenerating more health than can conceivably be done to them if built right. I know some of this is kind of going to be addressed(limiting AoE spells to 6 players), but that's sticking band-aids on amputations. Wont even touch on the running simulator that is PvE. You gave this section an 8, I'd say a more realistic estimate would be a 5 or 6. I'll go with 6 because it does seem there is an effort to improve.
Presentation: I agree with you mostly here, the game does look gorgeous, even the rare moment you notice some of the lower res skins on rocks and the like. These can be overlooked by the sheer beauty the game has. I notice some people knock on the aesthetics of the game, but for how undemanding it is on system specs, it's amazing what they pulled off here. And the music is reminiscent of Elderscrolls in general. My one complaint is some of the voice acting doesn't seem finished. You'll come across NPC's in game where the voice doesn't match the model at all. This deserves an 8, which when/if they fix the small voice-acting issues would be bumped to a 9.
Value: ...this I disagree strongly with. The value of this is not good at all. The whole thing feels like a cash grab, and I know I'll get some flack for expressing this but sometimes we need to just call a spade a spade. Pay walls galore. First you have the base game at $60, which limits you to 1 of 3 factions. For an extra $20 you can unlock the imperial race(a practice of f2p/microtransaction models) and a middle of the road horse. And while you get a free month, you can only pay that free month if you plop down your credit card for another $15, with no game-time card option available(nor one looking to be in the future). If you only want to play your free month without committing to the paid sub until you know for sure, you must cancel immediately after signing up, otherwise you will be billed for the next pay period, as Zenimax Online requires a 30 day advance cancellation. Then to add insult to injury, the game has opened up day 1 with a cash shop(again, f2p/microtransaction model). And again you say that it's worth it for what you hope the game to become, not for what it is, and that is not the purpose of a review. Wish in one hand, spit in the other, and see which fills up first. You gave this a 9, I'd give it a 2. There are just too many other games out there that do the things this game does which aren't trying to be both a subscription game AND a cash shop game. To expect both without repercussion is hubris.
Fun Factor: You expressed my feelings near word for word, though even with a group you're going to run into problems with the phasing. That said all too often, you can't properly get through quests unless you're playing specific classes/builds(not going to touch on the bugs), and at end game grinding out VR becomes saddly repetitive. While the questing deviates from the fetch questing, it doesn't do anything innovative for the genre, and the writing goes anything from good and fairly original, to just plain cliche and blatently ripped from other IP's. Another complaint about endgame is that at the end of the day, PvP is the only endgame. Yeah, they're adding some small dungeons, like the upcoming Craglorn, but if you think that's going to fill the hole left by not having raids, you're going to be disappointed. And with the problems in PvP balance, it just seems weird to make this the sole focus of your end-game, especially when the road to getting there is near entirely PvE. You CAN go into Cyrodil at level 10, but you're not going to accomplish a whole lot by doing so, and it feels almost like a punishment trying to do so before you hit the level cap(and even the VR cap). You gave this an 8, I'd say a 5. There's a lot of rebalancing that needs to be done before it deserves an 8.
Average that out and you get a 5.25, and since you gave the game a tilt I will as well and round up to a 6. That's a fair assessment of what the game is, not on what we hope it can be. But I do agree with you, the potential is there, and I hope the issues are fixxed because I want to like this game and justify the purchase.
I have used quite a few different gaming headsets but, the best resource I found to get an impartial view on them can be found at http://www.gamingheadsetreport.com, they are constantly adding new headset reviews.