With that in thoughts, 2023 was the primary full yr Techland needed to start rising the sport, unleashing a plethora of content material updates, crossover occasions with a large number of franchises, and extra. We sat down with Tymon Smektała, Techland’s Dying Light franchise director, to speak concerning the busy yr, classes discovered, and touched on the crew’s targets for 2024.
“We managed to launch fairly just a few fairly chunky updates, which modified the sport lots, hopefully for the higher,” Smektała mentioned. “I feel that is for the gamers to say, however truly for those who have a look at the sentiment on Steam, you may clearly see an enormous enhance and enchancment in that space. So, it in all probability signifies that we’re doing issues proper.”
The introduction of Dying Light 2: Bloody Ties
Although having launched in November 2022, Dying Light 2 kicked off 2023 with the freshly launched Bloody Ties, the sport’s first paid enlargement. Along with including a contemporary batch of Dying Light 2 achievements to unlock, Bloody Ties additionally took us to Carnage Hall, a repurposed opera home used for gladiatorial-style tournaments. Offering up a brand new storyline to work by way of, brand-new gameplay mechanics, difficult arenas full of contaminated, and a few fairly superior characters to fulfill — we’re you, Skullface. Despite the arena-style similarities to Dying Light’s Bozak Horde, Bloody Ties is extra in tune with historical gladiator video games, taking inspiration from plenty of well-liked movies like Gladiator and Mad Max 3, and binding all of it along with an overarching narrative. While it supplied a chunky little bit of content material, Smektała tells us that the response from the Dying Light 2 has been a “spicy combine.”
“Players anticipated one thing somewhat completely different from us. Bloody Ties is that this apocalypse gladiator extravaganza that takes place in a very completely different map,“ Smektała mentioned. “You enter this area the place you take part in loopy challenges, and it affords a variety of enjoyable, intense, and really uncommon gameplay sequences for a Dying Light recreation. There have been loads of gamers who loved that they usually appreciated that.
“It appears that for these gamers, we are able to ship, however there’s fairly a big group of our gamers who simply need extra of that post-apocalyptic combat on your life on a regular basis kind of setting and gameplay[…] So it appears now we have happy fairly just a few of our gamers but additionally did not hit the appropriate notes for the opposite a part of our neighborhood.”
Learning new classes and rolling out the Dying Light 2 replace practice
Techland has a historical past of supporting its video games with further content material years after launch. The first Dying Light, which launched in 2015, was nonetheless getting new DLC packs till June 2022, and Techland has already mentioned that Dying Light 2 will obtain a minimum of 5 years of help as nicely. When discussing participant reception to the Bloody Ties DLC, Smektała mentioned that it has given the crew an opportunity to be taught when the appropriate time to develop a recreation’s content material into new areas is, and when it is best to concentrate on the core gameplay.
“Something that we are going to take with us into the longer term is that once we launch a recreation the primary batch of content material must be centered on not making an attempt one thing new however reinforcing and including to the core fantasy,” Smektała mentioned. “Then, solely after a while, like in yr two or three, possibly even later, when the core fantasy is already saturated in gamers’ hearts, we are able to transfer on to experimenting with another stuff.”
“We perceive that as quickly as you launch your recreation, it is now not simply your child, it is also the child of all the gamers who’re enjoying it, in order that they have as a lot proper to inform us what they want to see within the recreation…”
Last yr, Techland rolled out some staggeringly massive updates, including new gore techniques, customized map help, an overhauled nighttime expertise, fight upgrades, and extra. It was a busy yr for the crew, however as we’re informed, it is what must be performed while you’re working along with your gamers to enhance a recreation.
“There’s no disgrace for us in form of assuming this community-driven method, the place it is nearly a collaborative work between us and our gamers,” Smektała informed us. “I feel we perceive that as quickly as you launch your recreation, it is now not simply your child, it is also the child of all the gamers who’re enjoying it, in order that they have as a lot proper to inform us what they want to see within the recreation and as a lot proper to make use of the sport nonetheless they need — it is not for us to dictate how our gamers ought to play the sport.
“Realizing that, re-emphasizing that internally, and in addition getting the event juice again in us we managed to concentrate on updates, and I feel every one in all them, beginning with our first anniversary, actually hit the mark of the expectations from our gamers.”
One notable distinction between Dying Light and Dying Light 2 is the way in which Techland dealt with the nighttime gameplay within the sequel. The first recreation nearly had you feeling such as you have been on a timer throughout the day, as as soon as the darkness rolled in and the Volatiles — quick, highly effective contaminated that chase you — got here out to play, it was a giant danger to take a twilight stroll. In Dying Light 2, the hazard eased up significantly, eradicating the stress induced by making an attempt to navigate by way of the darkish. Techland addressed that in an replace final yr, ramping up the issue of nighttime gameplay and returning Volatiles to their rightful place as essentially the most terrifying contaminated variant.
“At launch, we wished to make the night time just a little bit extra accessible than within the first recreation as a result of we noticed from participant information that a variety of gamers have been skipping the night time half […] But then we realized that in doing this, we in all probability misplaced part of Dying Light’s distinctive DNA,” Smektała mentioned. “We wished to convey that feeling again once more, and I feel it was a hit[…] On the event aspect, it was fairly an achievement as a result of we managed to flip over the core side of the sport inside a comparatively quick span of about two or three months.”
Dying Light 2’s longevity with out well-liked monetization choices
Loot bins, battle passes, extra beauty gadgets than a Hollywood prop grasp’s cabinet — these are issues we see all too typically in stay service video games to maintain the cash rolling in whereas the developer continues to help the sport. Dying Light 2 is not a stay service recreation, however very similar to its predecessor, Techland goals to help it persistently for a few years to come back (simply have a look at final yr’s report). Other than some themed DLC packs, although, there’s little in the way in which of monetization in Techland’s zombie survival recreation, and it is all a part of the plan.
“Dying Light’s years 4 and 5 have been extra profitable than years two and three as a result of we truly managed to construct this enormous pile of content material that may make the sport fascinating for gamers.”
“Those updates are extraordinarily essential for longevity, and I feel it labored for us in Dying Light one. Aside from the discharge yr, Dying Light’s fourth and fifth years have been extra profitable than years two and three as a result of we managed to construct this enormous pile of content material that may make the sport fascinating for gamers,” Smektała mentioned. “They began inviting their pals and form of spreading the phrase to their pals… I hope we can repeat that with Dying Light 2. Both Dying Light and Dying Light 2 are long-tail video games and we’re making a aware effort to make them like that.”
Another tactic Techland makes use of alongside the rollout of content material updates is the usage of neighborhood occasions like Winter Tales, Egg-splosive Hunt, Bloody Nights, and the like. Each occasion usually affords a brand new beauty bundle and weapon pack DLC, and by finishing a number of community-driven targets, gamers participating have an opportunity to unlock the DLC at no cost earlier than it goes on sale. As you may think about, the inducement attracts a variety of gamers again to Dying Light 2, and Techland ramped it up final yr with a bunch of cross-over occasions with franchises like The Walking Dead, For Honor, Vampire: The Masquerade, and extra.
“I do not bear in mind the numbers from reminiscence, however we observe retention engagement and returning gamers,” Smektała mentioned. “It’s very apparent that once we do a crossover like that, the variety of returning gamers is astronomical. They actually do draw the viewers again.”
Changes to Dying Light 2’s cross-over occasions and Techland’s focus for 2024
With 2023 proving to be a profitable yr for Dying Light 2, we have been to search out out what Techland plans for the yr forward, and it appears like we’ll be getting a brand new format for in-game occasions..
“Maybe we won’t do as a lot of these (crossover occasions) however guarantee that we squeeze as a lot as potential out of every one,” Smektała revealed. “So, we’ll be capable to form the occasions and create a construction round them the place they’ll be capable to final for weeks, possibly even with a ample quantity of rewards and gameplay experiences for gamers to get serious about.
“To be sincere, when it comes to occasions, we’re fairly new to this space so we’re nonetheless studying[…] We discovered just a few issues from final yr’s occasions and I feel a very powerful one is that we have to focus extra on the construction of these occasions. Right now, with the occasions that we’re doing, you’re simply loading the sport and getting notified of all the targets that you need to full, after which working round making an attempt to finish them, which I feel removes some fantasy and pleasure. All of our subsequent occasions can have extra construction, the place you need to form of concentrate on possibly just a few smaller duties, then they’ll unlock a much bigger one, and possibly for those who full a bunch of these greater ones, then there’s the massive reward on the finish with the largest problem for you.”
Alongside the adjustments to the occasion system, the crew has a few focus factors for the yr forward. Techland will even proceed to make use of the Community Ideas web page on the Pilgrim’s Outpost for extra updates, and we are able to count on much more zombie survival gameplay, as well!
“We have created fairly just a few fascinating processes and strategies that enable us to know what gamers count on from Dying Light 2. The greatest instance is the Community Ideas,” Smektała mentioned. “You can go away concepts you’d wish to see within the recreation and different gamers can vote for it. Sure, you may say that it is the easiest type of democracy however it’s helped us to know what gamers need, what gamers want, and what’s trending.
“I feel the following yr shall be centered on zombies and combating with zombies and surviving in opposition to zombies — that would be the star of subsequent yr as a result of that is what gamers need.”
“Another one which we might use is what we began with, Bloody Ties; let’s concentrate on the core zombie survival fantasy for a while,” Smektała reiterated. “I feel the following yr shall be centered on combating and surviving in opposition to zombies — that would be the star of subsequent yr as a result of that is what gamers need.”
Although Dying Light 2’s second enlargement was initially right down to launch final yr, it was delayed earlier than we might be taught something about it, so it stays fairly the thriller. We nonetheless haven’t got a launch date both, and Smektała would not wish to damage the shock, however Techland hopes it is going to be the sport’s “crown jewel.”
“I haven’t got something to announce at this stage, however the work is progressing. It’s shaping as much as be a fantastic DLC,” Smektała mentioned. “We have already revealed a number of the idea artwork behind the look of the brand new location. Also, the concentrate on zombies and survival shall be very prevalent within the DLC, I feel, so please keep tuned. We do not wish to rush this as a result of we would like this to be a crowning jewel within the historical past of Dying Light 2.”
We had a good time catching up with Tymon Smektała, Dying Light’s franchise director, to speak about Dying Light 2 in 2023 and what’s to come back in 2024. How about you? Are you excited for this yr’s wave of content material for the open-world zombie survival recreation? Drop a remark under and tell us!