In a dead city filled with terrors, you and eleven other desperate individuals are airdropped in and stranded with nothing but what you can scavenge from dilapidated buildings and trains. Given only one route to survival, you must make your way quickly through the dangerous landscape to fulfill your task and earn your salvation; and that does not include making friends. This is our Dying Light: Bad Blood review.
Techland, the veteran development company that brought us the original Dying Light, has created ann interestingly hectic and challenging Battle Royale that implements freedom of movement through their parkour system. While maintaining a smaller player count per match (12), they introduce some entertaining challenges to toss in the mix just so you don’t get lonely. No, it’s not a story. No self-respecting Battle Royale would dare demean themselves with some trite, ill-contrived series of events to lead up to gratuitous bloodshed and mass mayhem. Yet, oddly they have implemented goals beyond your run-of-the-mill slaughter directives. So, picture yourself in some post-apocalyptic scenario in which you are air-dropped into a noman’s land, you have nothing but the clothes on your back and a mission to extract samples from several disgusting, fleshlike pustules called hives. Each time you extract from one of the hives you gain a level within the match that increases your chances of overall survival. Sounds easy, right? There’s just a bit of a hiccup involved with that. Zombies.
Maybe I should’ve mentioned they’re called Zombie hives? Each hive is surrounded by a pack of various types of zombies. Some are quick and munchie and like to give hugs and kisses with their teeth. Others spit a finely mixed abrasive at you (y’know, to help with your skin n’stuff), and some look like the Rock and Andre the Giant had zombie babies. So, the moment you pop into the match, start scavenging for weapons, health items, and explosives or flammables that will help you fend through the zombie menace. Personally, I found all weapon types available suitably effective, but be aware; you have a limited amount of energy and rushing in, swinging like a maniac will quickly render you exhausted and vulnerable. Judge and measure your attacks accordingly. Hit-and-run tactics are not only effective, but I would strongly encourage them. Also, remember your parkour skills. While this may not make you completely unreachable by the zombies (the smaller ones will crawl up right after you) you can use it to create some pretty awesome escape routes or attack plans. Some hives you may be able to jump in, take the sample, and jump out before the zombies even fully wake up if you are fast enough. This can be helpful in bypassing an immediate danger, but some of the zombies will drop beneficial items to help you, such as armor that will increase your ability to take hits. In other words, if you feel confident you can take a pack of zombies without too much trouble it might be worth it.
In reality, though, all of this is just a distraction. As ever, your true obstacles are the other human beings. I may have forgotten to mention that of the twelve of you who were dropped into the area only one of you will be allowed to leave on the evacuation helicopter. And that one person will need to have samples from six different hives, and not all of them need to be extracted by that individual. Meaning, hunting down other people who have been trying to collect all the samples is an efficient practice. You also don’t have to be the only one alive when the extraction chopper comes, just the only one at the extraction location with all of the needed samples. This creates a particularly hazardous situation as every player left alive is made aware of the chopper’s approach and the extraction point. As soon as one individual possesses all the needed samples, the chopper begins its approach, and in the time between then and the time of touchdown, mayhem, murder, and mutilation can and will ensue. No longer must other players attempt to extract samples, a single player now has them all. One need merely “relieve” that player of their samples and clear out any other possible candidates for extraction from the LZ long enough to be the only one to get on that chopper. This is where it gets nasty, as all remaining players are going to be making a bee-line straight towards the LZ with murder on their minds.
At the end of each match, players receive experience towards their profile level, Blood Bucks, and Scars. Every few profile levels you gain you acquire various rewards from Scars to equipment stashes. Blood Bucks are used for purchasing items like equipment stashes and can, in turn, be purchased with actual money, Scars, and boosts for both XP and Scar acquisition. Scars are also a type of currency that can be used to purchase higher quality weapons. The equipment stashes are essentially random loot boxes that can have anything from aesthetic options to higher quality weapons. There are three levels of stashes available for purchase each one boasting a higher chance of useful or legendary items. Once you have acquired the better weapon, that does not mean you will start the match with it. Instead, when you pick up that particular weapon type in a match you will get the higher quality version by default if you have taken the time to select it in your profile’s customizations.
The weapons list is an expansive list of sixteen melee weapon types, including all your favorite hack-n-slash and bash-n-smash types. On top of these, you can also acquire and use various items that include medical items, weapon upgrades (poison, shock, bleeding add-ons) and explosives such as grenades, mines, and Molotov cocktails which are very effective in irradicating opposition of all types. In regards to bleeding, you will have the option to bandage yourself to stop it, if you have time and can find a safe spot.
My impressions of the game and gameplay are a bit mixed. I would label the game and absolute twitch-fest, but that is not necessarily a bad pronouncement when referring to Battle Royale-type games. You want those to be fast-paced, chaotic slaughter-fests. Techland implemented various aspects to liven up the quickly tiring cliche of the Battle Royal game type and in my opinion, did an admirable job of adding onto the concept. The added hazards of the environment and task-oriented goals created a greater sense of urgency and focused my mind on something more than slaughter for slaughter’s sake. One of my biggest issues, however, was with the sprint key. I felt that there was absolutely no reason for there to be two speeds in the game. If you aren’t sprinting, you’re dead. Having to toggle or hold down a separate key seemed completely unnecessary and even frustrating at times. While you can opt for the toggle function in the options, that only holds until you stop, turn sideways or any other of a plethora of things, so you are still doomed to flicking another unnecessary key on a regular basis. On top of that is the issue with character configuration. Only male avatars are available currently and I think that might limit the interests of a lot of people. I know it did for me.
On the whole, I felt the game was definitely a worthy addition the Battle Royale index, and carries itself well with the added challenges, despite a less than average player count for each match. In my playthroughs, the matches ranged from very quick as pros quickly hunted down and dispatched other competitors, and going on for a good five minutes. Aside from my issue with the sprint key, I felt the mechanics and rendering of the game were smooth and of good quality. The terrain was highly interactive making the parkour aspects fun and practical, allowing for any number of approaches to any one point on the map, as well as for escape routes and assaults. Limits on energy or stamina require split-second strategic maneuvering, especially since any number of other opponents can and will show up while you are dueling with another and force you to re-evaluate your use of said energy. But no problem, right? You’re a pro. Remember, there’s only one open seat on that evac chopper.
Overall Score: 8/10
- Great parkour mechanics
- Fast and lethal combat
- Challenges add depth to the game
- Unnecessary sprint key
- Lack of gender representation
Note: Our copy was reviewed on PC with a code provided by PR.