From video games to television, zombies have invaded the mainstream media. In fact, the zombie trend in games is starting to run its course. Developer Techland knows gamers have already experienced the challenges that zombies bring. That is why the upcoming first-person zombie title Dying Light is reinventing not only the way gamers think about zombies, but how they think about first-person shooters.
At E3 2014, Gaming Illustrated’s Ryan Bloom had a chance to get hands on time with Dying Light and talked to producer Tymon Smektala about how the game is setting itself apart from other zombie titles.
Ryan Bloom (Gaming Illustrated): Dying Light is another zombie game. Obviously zombie games are pretty popular these days. How is Dying Light different than a typical zombie game?
Tymon Smektala: First of all, we don’t consider Dying Light a zombie game. Of course, it’s an action game with zombies in it, but I don’t think that’s the most defining feature of our game. For me, the most defining feature of our game is the natural movement, the way you traverse the environment with freedom unprecedented in FPS games.
When you start playing the game for longer periods of time–4 hours, 5 hours, 6 hours, 10 hours, 50 hours, because that’s how much you can squeeze out of Dying Light–you’ll notice that it’s hard to go back to other FPS games where your movement is limited and you cannot go everywhere you want. In Dying Light, you can go almost anywhere you’d like, and it really is so freeing that we think that Dying Light could evolve the FPS genre in general.
Of course we have zombies in it because we are zombie buffs, zombie nerds, so we wanted to have a game with zombies in it.
Gaming Illustrated: Who doesn’t love zombies?
Tymon Smektala: Of course. Actually, our zombies are extremely dangerous. I’d say they are the most dangerous zombies from all of the zombie games in the world. That’s my opinion.
Gaming Illustrated: I noticed that while playing, especially with the zombies that come out at night. Can you talk a little bit about the differences between the day and night?
Tymon Smektala: With the day and night cycle, you almost get two games in one. When you play Dying Light during the day, it’s a little more like traditional zombie games where you have the advantage over zombies. You have your axe, you have your machete, you have whatever weapon you can build, and you really can kick some zombie ass, especially when you level up your character.
At the start, it is a survival experience where it’s hard to fight anyone. But when you level up your character during the day, you kind of get to control the area. You get to control the zone. But when the night falls, there are zombies that come out only during the night. They are the most kick ass, most bad ass, most dangerous zombies out there. It really changes how the game plays.
We had this catch phrase that we use when we describe the game–during the day you are the hunter, but at night you are the prey. You are the prey for the night and you really need to step your game up to survive the night.
Gaming Illustrated: You talked a little bit about the weapons. Can you talk a little bit more about the weapons and crafting weapons?
Tymon Smektala: Dying Light is mostly melee based. The majority of fighting occurs using melee weapons. The exact number is not defined yet, but we have well over 100 weapons that you can use in Dying Light. When you start to craft them, that number gets even bigger.
You craft weapons by finding things in the environment that you can use. Using those items–things like plastic tubes, tin cans, metal scraps, things like that–you create your own upgrades that you can add to almost any weapon. We don’t want to be super realistic in regards of what you can do with those weapons, so you are able to use certain elemental effects. You can add fire effects and electric effects to your weapons, and some other cool things to really do serious damage to zombies and to other enemies.
You also have firearms in Dying Light, but they make a lot of noise, and noise attracts zombies. You always have to be very careful when you are using firearms because that increases the possibility of the fast zombies appearing.
Gaming Illustrated: Yeah, it’s really interesting, because I get a sense of stealth, but not really stealth, because it’s free running, and it’s a really interesting combination.
Tymon Smektala: Yes. The idea with the noise system is that you can use noise to create various situations. There are things like you saw on our demo, like the bandits controlling the area, but it’s the humans that you’re in conflict with, and you don’t want to face them directly, but if you see something that makes noise that’s close to them, you can make that noise and run from the area. That noise will draw the attention of zombies that will fight with the bandits. Then when you go back to that location, you will see dead bodies of bandits and you could scavenge, you could loot them, you can take things from them that you wanted. That’s a very cool thing that you can use, a dynamic thing that really allows you to play with the game however you like.
Gaming Illustrated: Today you showed off the progression system. Can you explain that?
Tymon Smektala: The progression system is something which we are showing for the first time here at the E3 2014. In Dying Light you level up your character by doing actions. Whenever you do something which is connected to movement, you level up your agility. When you do something which is connected to combat, you level up your strength. And when you level up those attributes, when you reach another level of any of those attributes, you get to choose one of the skills connected to that attribute. We have a simple skill tree connected to agility and a simple skill tree connected to strength. In total, we have 50 skills in the game, and I believe that almost every one of those 50 skills really changes how you play. You pick a skill, you learn how to use it, and that opens up your options so much that you really play a different game then.
Gaming Illustrated: You talked about speed and agility. Let’s say you choose to level up everything on the strength skills. How does that affect your agility? Or is that completely separate from agility?
Tymon Smektala: They are two separate things. When you start the game, they are completely separate in terms of how you level them up. When you start the game, you are a video game hero, so you’re not a regular guy. Even with the agility level one, you can still climb on top of things, you can still do some cool parkour moves, but when you level up your agility, your moves get better. They are faster, they are more fluid, and you get to access new skills like slide, dodge, wall run, and wall jump, so that’s how you build your arsenal of moves.
Gaming Illustrated: Did you want to add anything else?
Tymon Smektala: I think what is worth adding is something that we are not showing here. It’s that Dying Light is a game that can be played in four-player co-op. You can play the whole story with four people. What’s interesting about it is that we don’t force people to stick together. We just put you in the same game world and you can go to different directions. You can do different side quests, different side activities. The only thing that really gathers players together is the story. For the story, there are some moments where you have to gather together to see something that progresses the story, and then after this you can follow the story together or you can go into different directions again.
The other thing that’s important is that we also have a PvP mode which is called Be the Zombie. In it, you play as a zombie and invade other people’s games. So people can play the regular campaign, and if they open their session to being invaded by a human zombie, then you can invade their game and play as a special type of zombie, a very cool mutant type of zombie that can really keep pace. When you play as a zombie you also can level up that zombie character, so you can access new zombie skills and attacks. It really is very cool.
Gaming Illustrated: Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing more from the game…
Tymon Smektala: We should be showing this, I think quite soon.