Interview: Techland kicks it into next gear with Dying Light: The Following
GameZone sits down with Techland producer, Tymon Smektala, to discuss their new expansion
After some hands-on time with Dying Light: The Following at Gamescom, we got the chance to talk with the producer of the game, Tymon Smektala, to discuss the massive expansion. We learned a lot about the game, but also what drives the team that gave us one of the best games of the zombie genre. Techland has undoubtedly earned the respect of the gaming community, and it turns out the developer appreciates us as well. Check out the full interview below.
GameZone (GZ): Thank you for freeing some of your time for us. I've read that you made this expansion as a response to your players comments. What exactly were the biggest requests received? Complaints?
Tymon Smektala (TS): First of all, we realized that there was one fantasy of zombie genre fans that we didn't deliver with the core Dying Light game. That was driving over zombies with a car. Lots of people that love zombies would love to drive over them with a car. We didn't have that in Dying Light, so we decided 'Hey, let's introduce cars in our expansion pack.' That's very hard because that's a completely new game mechanic that works parallel to our other very important gameplay mechanic, which is our parkour movement, the natural movement system. But we figured (out) a way how we could combine those two things, how we could manage the requirements of both types of gameplay. But then we also scanned the forums, the websites, comments, whatever about things that people that people would like to see in upcoming Dying Light content. And we realized that they want more firearms, so we are giving them that.
There will be new SMGs, shotguns, other new, cool firearms, lots of ammo to use so they will be able to shoot zombies as well. They also wanted specific things like crossbows. Crossbows are very popular among zombie genre fans because of The Walking Dead (tv series), so we decided to give them crossbows. We had that (type of) gun before, but when we saw that people really wanted that, we really put our focus on that and wanted to make our crossbow very cool. So what you've seen just before (in The Following demo) is just scratching the surface of our crossbow gameplay. You will be able to upgrade your crossbow, you will be able to craft bolts that have different effects. So you will really be able to play with that thing.
And another thing is that people wanted a new story or some more story content in Dying light. We decided that 'Hey, if they want more story, maybe we can give them something, but something that huge and something a little bit different than their used to.', because if we were to just give them more of the same, more of the missions in the same vain that we had in the base game, they could be disappointed. So now we have a new story, a story that centers on a mysterious cult whose followers seem to be immune to the virus. But it's up to you to figure out what is happening in that new region. Are they really immune? Or maybe they've found a cure? What's happening there? So so to do that, you need to find the leader of the cult, a person they call the mother. And the rest is up to you.
GZ: So speaking about the new items and crafting. Did you guys make any advancements or did you introduce new types of crafting materials?
TS: There are no new crafting materials, but you will be able to craft new weapons with new effects, so people who loved crafting in Dying Light will be able to scratch that itch in Dying Light: The Following as well.
GZ: I've already heard the map size is larger than in the base game. What kind of square mileage are we looking at?
TS: To be honest, I don't know the exact number, but basically in the base game we had two maps, the slums area and the old town area, but if you combined those two maps, they are the same size or a little bit smaller than the map that we are using in Dying Light: The following. It's a huge space, and that's the reason it's important to have a car, because it's easier to travel across such a space in a car.
GZ: I noticed that there were some challenges specific to the crossbow. Will there be any vehicle challenges?
TS: Of course. Challenges were very popular in our base game. People who played co-op loved them. They were able to compete with each other while playing the base game. So now we are adding more of that stuff. There will be stuff that's sort of easy to guess (at) like who kills the most zombies while driving the car, who gets there first to a certain location, but I think there will be some more other more surprising things they experience in Dying Light: The Following.
GZ: Should players expect any big surprises in the expansion the likes of what they haven't seen in the original game?
TS: Well there are some surprises, but I think lots of things are new. There are surprises related to the story. You really have to work hard to reach the end of the expansion and discover what is happening there. But there are also a lot of new things that we don't need to cover before players eyes. There's a completely new mechanic with the buggy. You will be able to upgrade the buggy, get new skins that will allow you to kill zombies with the buggy in style, with more efficiency, more creativity. There are new weapons, there's a new region, there's a new story. The new story is non-linear, so that means that you can reach the end of the story by any means you choose. So there are lots of new things. There's no need for surprises. We just want our fans to understand that what we are making right now is fan service. It's a big thank you to the community. So BAM! Here are the new things you will be able to play with them.
GZ: What sort of playtime should expect to get from The Following?
TS: I would say it's ten hours minimum, but I think it might go even bigger than that because the expansion got the whole studio so excited that everyone in our studio and our team wants to leave their mark on the expansion. So we had a couple level designers that weren't involved in The Following at the beginning, but they really wanted to do something, so they are creating quests for that. We had artists that weren't involved in The Following at all, but they really wanted to add something from their field of specialization like new weapons, new stuff, so we kept adding and adding and adding. I think it will be bigger.