At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date
Richard Pilot PlayStation 4 Warner Bros. Techland Februrary 2015

Dying Light preview

I got a chance to sit down and play Dying Light last week at Gamescom, and whilst there's been a lot of coverage regarding its single player content, this was the first time we've been able to see the multiplayer aspects of the game. I started off playing one of the main campaign missions with two players; our objective was to turn on a gas stove in an apartment building, place a remote bomb then escape through the sewer systems after which we'd trigger the explosives.

Be prepared when darkness falls

Be prepared when darkness falls

Starting together in one of the apartments we spent a few minutes learning the controls. In the full game, you'll be able to invite players into your session and the story will continue from wherever the inviting player has reached. We set off through the building covering each other as the zombies began to notice our presence. There was a moment when my co-op partner died, and if I had got to him in time I could have triggered a revive. Instead he chose to respawn immediately, and after a few moments found his way back to me and we set off once more. There appeared to be no rubber banding or limits on how closely we could stick together, although if we wanted to trigger specific mission markers then both players need to be at that objective. Throughout this multiplayer experience, a number of co-operative challenges were thrown our way just to keep us on our toes. These take the form of either a race to the next objective or a competition to see who can get the most zombie kills within a time limit. Whilst these were the only two main challenges, the developers did say that there would variations on both of these. The challenges appear randomly throughout play and both players must agree before one will begin.

As we emerged from the sewers and activated the detonator we discovered that night had reached us. If you've seen previous Dying Light coverage then you'll know that at night the game completely changes, zombies become a lot more aggressive and a lot more powerful. The city becomes a much more dangerous place to be. When playing a multiplayer session at night, Dying Light also opens up the game to invasion, similar to Dark Souls or the more recent Watch Dogs. Other players are able to infiltrate your game, and when they do this it triggers an exciting new challenge.

This one is taking the quick route downstairs

This one is taking the quick route downstairs

This new player takes on the form of a hunter, a powerful and agile creature that is able to leap across rooftops and pounce on you from any direction. The hunter is also a lot less vulnerable to your weapons and instead you must shine your UV light on them when they get close enough, at which point you can bash them away using a melee weapon. The UV light itself has a battery that needs to slowly recharge, so constant usage is not advised otherwise you'll find yourself face to face with the hunter and powerless. You're not completely helpless while recharging, however, as you possess an uncanny sixth sense; at the press of a button, you can trigger a brief outline of the hunter in a red light. It can be a little unnerving the first time you use it and the hunter is right around the corner.

The objective of the mode is to destroy three nests in the world. These are not close by, and you'll need to trek across the city at night, all the while a human-controlled hunter is stalking the shadows or rooftops looking to take you down. Making matters worse, whilst the hunter has an unlimited amount of lives, human players share a pool of six lives between them. Lose them all and the hunter wins. I didn't get a chance to be the hunter (who was played by one of the devs), but the game we played was tense and exciting. We managed to the kill the hunter on a few occassions and each time we did, it prompted a mad dash to get to the next nest in order to get there before the hunter respawned. In between we were constantly on edge, using our sense to try and spot the hunter as he jumped across the tops of buildings and darted behind them.

I came away very impressed by the multiplayer in Dying Light; it offered the right amount of tense action and fun co-operative play. I can't wait to try playing as the hunter and having more multiplayer adventures when the game arrives early next year.

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