Released a little over a year ago, Dying Light turned out to be a satisfyingly brutal zombie murder sim that eschewed a lot of what you expect from such titles. By making speed and evasion stronger weapons than any of the sharp objects that you acquired, when you were stuck at ground level you couldn't help but feel incredibly vulnerable – especially if you had the misfortune to be far from a safe area when night fell.
This feeling of defencelessness is cranked up even more in Dying Light: The Following, the latest – and presumably last – piece of DLC released for the undead adventure. This sizeable expansion transplants the action from the dense urban jungle of Harran to the surrounding countryside, and introduces a brand new – and terrifyingly open – area to explore. In addition, there's an absolute bevy of story and side quests to be discovered that make The Following feel more like a new standalone title rather than a throwaway piece of content that you can wring dry in only a couple of hours.
After hearing about a group of survivors with resistance to the zombie virus, parkour odd-job man Kyle Crane heads to the countryside to see it for himself, with the goal of bringing the cure back to the beleaguered residents of Harran. Not long after arriving, he discovers the group with immunity are worshippers of an ancient cult, and if he wants to find the secret behind the cure, he'll need to work his way into their inner circle and meet with the cult's mysterious leader, 'The Mother'.
Unsurprisingly, in order to build favour with the cultists you'll need to do all manner of good deeds for the residents of the area, with each quest feeling very familiar in structure if you've played much of the base game at all. The same can be said for most of the game systems as well, so if you weren't a fan of Dying Light's first-person traversal, near constant need to scavenge, or weapon degradation, then this DLC is definitely not going to change your mind.
That's not to say that developer Techland hasn't changed anything at all, however, as there are a couple of big departures from the core formula that make The Following well worth your time. The first of these is the countryside area that you're exploring, which replaces the original campaign's dense urban environments with open fields and sporadic settlements, leaving you far more exposed than you've ever been before.
There are still the occasional built-up areas, but these only serve as a reminder that you may have become all too reliant on the urban geography to help you avoid the undead as you jump from roof-to-roof or use the grappling hook to get yourself out of trouble. As a result, when in the open you need to play quite cautiously as it can be very easy to blunder into the middle of a field packed full of the undead. It may seem odd at first for a game that was all about clambering over buildings to have a new area that's been specifically designed to reduce their presence. Once you're introduced to the second big change, though – a drivable vehicle – you can see the method to this madness.
Early on in The Following's story, you get access to a dune buggy that'll serve as your main mode of transport for the duration of your time in the countryside. Less free running and more off-roading is this DLC's mantra, as you tear around country lanes, bounce through fields, and try to get some big air whenever you spot some all too enticing ramps. With the buggy handling in a very satisfying way, you'll have a huge grin on your face as you throw it at full speed around a corner, ploughing through crowds of zombies.
The buggy is far from a minor addition either, as it comes with its own skill tree that provides a variety of upgrades for you to unlock. From a reinforced bumper to a mine launcher or flame-thrower, when you factor in the ability to craft new parts to improve the performance of your ride even further, you'll have all the tools that you need to make your buggy fit for a road warrior.
The downside is that, similar to your weapons, the components on your ride will also degrade with use. While each component can be repaired a few times, they'll eventually break meaning you'll have to craft replacements. As a result, you need to – at times tediously – scrounge for parts and fuel from other vehicles abandoned on the road to keep your buggy in tip-top condition. Failing to do so will lead to a drop in performance from each broken part, leaving you vulnerable as your ride becomes difficult to handle – or has to be abandoned completely when its fuel tank runs dry.
Dying Light: The Following is DLC done right, offering new content for the Dying Light faithful while changing things up more than enough so that it doesn't just feel like the reanimated corpse of the base game. Ultimately, it's the inclusion of the off-road buggy that turns out to be its smartest addition, which coupled with its challenging new setting more than overcomes any of the all too familiar shortcomings.