Techland’s Dying Light 2 had a fairly impressive E3 demo, showing off improved graphics, some visceral and intense combat, improved facial animations, and boasting a world many times bigger than that of the first game. Now, after the E3 fiasco has come to a close, some additional details have been uncovered thanks to an interview with Dying Light Developer Tymon Smektala courtesy of Digital Foundry.
The interview focuses mostly on the technology used to create Dying Light. Contrary to the popular belief that most all of modern games are running on some form of Unreal Engine, the video reveals that Techland, a polish developer, have gone a route similar to other successful Polish developers such as CD Projekt Red and created their own engine. The engine that ran Dying Light was the studio’s sixth iteration of the Chrome Engine, but Dying Light 2 is being developed on what the studio refers to as the “C Engine,” which appears to be a natural evolution of the technology in Dying Light 1. From the looks of it, Dying Light 2 will use similar graphical shading and mapping styles at the first game, but feature increased object density and better character animations.
Speaking of animations, Smektala explained that facial expressions were one of the main focuses of the team when moving to make the game’s story more immersive. He remarked on the intense need for the game’s human characters to move and interact like real people. According to him, C engine uses some kind of animation blending technology that allows the story writers and level designers to take “small, kind of micro-expressions” and combine them into custom movements and animations that make them look full-fledged and realistic.
The interviewer also praised improvements in the game’s AI that he saw during an exclusive demo not currently available for the public. The AI has new behaviors that dynamically change and react with the environment. No longer will an enemy raider face players so bravely after the players have just wiped the floor with all of their raider buddies; Now, Smektala states, the raider might drop his weapon on the ground and attempt to flee, hoping the player will pause for a few moments to check out the weapon, allowing the raider to escape with their life. Facial animations also change as the situation changes. An opponent will react much differently when surrounded by enemies versus when surrounded by friends. When backed up by allies, short clips show opponents being confident and loose, taking wide swings and heavy-handed attacks, but different clips show them bending their knees, moving more quickly, and taking combats much more seriously when put into a one versus one situation.
The team has also brought narrative designer Christopher Avellone on board to help flesh out this game’s story and make it more dynamic. The team at Techland felt the last game’s story was more in the background, and they wanted to make sure to bring this story more to the forefront of the action. Avellone has a long history of crafting game stories, and has helped write in the past for projects like Fallout: New Vegas, Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic II, and the recent PREY.
According to Smektala, Avellone has been extremely active in helping bring Dying Light 2’s story more in focus with the world. Smektala says that Dying Light 2 takes place fifteen years after the takeover of the undead, and that the world is in a “modern dark ages” of sorts, where the things in the world are more modern, but the civilization itself has regressed to something that might be found in the dark ages due to the lack of available resources to keep up the more advanced technology. It’s an interesting setting that we’ll be looking forward to seeing more of as the game draws closer to release.
That’s all for now. Dying Light 2 offers a lot of promising content and advancements onto the formula of the original, and we’ll be looking out for more details about the game’s new story focus in the months leading up to its release in 2019.