Dying Light: The Following is a full on expansion to Techland's open world zombie shooter. Rather than expand the city of the first game, The Following opens up a whole island of farmland to explore.
The move from the urban to the rural means you'll have to learn a whole new way to battle the game's zombies, funnelling the undead into tight streets before climbing up a wall to escape is rarely an option anymore.
I got to have a 30 minute hands-on with The Following at Gamescom and the expansion is a lot of fun, showing off the game in a whole new light.
I started deep in a cave set around a subterranean lake. The gloom was familiar from the original Dying Light's basements and concrete facilities but the moss-covered walls had a damp sheen that made the expansion look a whole lot more organic than the base game.
The real change became obvious as I climbed up out from the cave into the sunlight. The cave mouth opened out onto a cliffside a hundred metres up from the ground below. Before me was a luscious vista of trees, lakes, and a valley to explore. It's a marked shift from the cityscapes I was used to in Dying Light.
There was no easy way down, instead I had to leap from ledge to ledge along the cliff until I found rock that jutted out over the clear, deep water below. From there I could dive down to ground level and find my first sign of The Following.
The story of the expansion centres around an island cult, The Following, whose members are immune to the infection that's seeing swathes of undead rise up and destroy society. Your aim is to get to know the cult and learn how it's managed to protect itself.
Dotted about the island the cult has built shrines. Finding them helps you learn from them. Later in the demo I came across a pair of mercenaries desecrating one of the holy spots. Killing the marauders earned me favour with the cult.
My immediate goal, though, wasn't anthropology: someone had stolen my car.
The big addition in The Following, besides the whole new map to explore, is a dune buggy. You don't want to cover the large open spaces on foot, especially with herds of zombies on the prowl, so the new buggy will help you get about and stay safe.
However, mine had been taken by bandits. To get it back I had to get through a field packed with the undead. Without rooftops to climb and avoid the zombies, I instead had to run flat-out down the centre of the field, between two packs.
As soon as I was visible they turned and began walking towards the centre of the field, closing the gap, and threatening to mob me.
Thankfully, right at the point where the two groups converged there was a large farmers cart I could climb. I didn't break my stride as I threw myself up the side of the cart, making use of the game's parkour system originally designed to help you up drainpipes and balconies not carts and hay bales. Leaping from the far side of the cart I was able to clear the mob and sprint to the small farm at the end of the field.
My car wasn't there, though, the bandits had moved it onto the next camp. What I did find was almost as good: a crossbow.
A silent, powerful weapon fitted with a scope, the bow will let you hunt zombies and mercenaries without alerting everyone in the area, a quality that's seriously important on a map with so little cover.
When I did reach the camp with the buggy, I was able to zip line into a barn and take out some of the guards silently before picking up an uzi and mowing down the rest of the goons.
Then, waiting for me in the yard, was the prize. The buggy roars with life when you throttle its engine and smashing through groups of zombies barely slows it down. The thing that brought me to the halt as I drove down the tight tracks was when I'd underestimate the cars power and swerve off into the trees, coming to a standstill when I collided with a trunk.
Getting used to the car's power is going to take time, especially mistakes can leave you stopped in the centre of the undead.
What wasn't on show was The Following's nighttime. In Dying Light the difference between night and day is stark. In the light you could explore the city, plan your attacks, and be the active participant in the action. At night, the lack of light, the more powerful undead, and the threat of other players infiltrating the game to hunt you down meant you had to react to things instead.
In The Following the nights will be much darker, with no street lights to brighten things. And, the lack of buildings to take refuge in will be much more noticeable. I can't wait to try it out.
Techland is doing expansions right. The Following not only adds a huge amount to the game, it twists the rules established in the original, forcing players to engage with the familiar systems in new ways.