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Dying Light proved back in 2015 that you can play an open-world zombie game for more than twenty hours without it getting repetitive or boring. Before it was released, however, it was only regarded as a “parkour zombie game,” and few believed in it. But after its release, people were in awe over the experience that Techland has provided us with this masterpiece.
The overflowing support was maintained for up to seven years, which is the period it took us to see its long-anticipated sequel, Dying Light 2. This allowed Techland to release over 20 DLC bundles to this day, including a couple of expansions, the biggest of which is called “Dying Light – The Following,” which came out in 2016.
Dying Light takes place in the zombie-flooded fictional city of Harran, where Kyle Crane (you) is sent by the GRE (Global Relief Effort) organization to infiltrate the city and find Kadir Suleiman, who has a sensitive file that he intends to use to blackmail the GRE.
Dying Light adopts a well-maintained formula for the open-world survival genre, which includes the traditional combat, skill trees, scavenging, and crafting, with an additional parkour element. This was unprecedented before Dying Light, at least not to this game’s extent, and Techland has all due credit for perfecting this combination of mechanics.
Not to forget that the narrative design is well-executed, with environmental storytelling, an abundance of narrative-based quests, immersive cutscenes, and a believable villain. You can even play all of it in co-op after finishing the prologue.
However, a special game like Dying Light has loads of stuff to be covered and learned by new players in the game. So, we thought about giving you a Dying Light getting started guide covering the basics you need to know when you begin playing Dying Light’s campaign.
Understanding Core Mechanics
Freerunning is the most innovative element that Dying Light has introduced to the zombie survival genre. It allows you to jump over ledges and windows, climb onto environmental objects (cars, boxes, buildings, etc. ;), run and jump across rooftops and high objects; and survive jumps from tall heights by landing on objects that soften your fall.
Your freerunning abilities are enhanced and added upon by upgrading the Agility skill tree.
Dying Light shows a great variety when it comes to combat. Hand-to-hand combat is an option as you get to fight the undead technically equipped with nothing but a diverse arsenal of fighting skills such as the Dropkick, the Stomp, and the Takedown.
However, Dying Light has a variety of melee weapons, bows, throwables, and guns that you will instantly fall in love with, especially if you’re a fan of the zombie survival genre. The game also gives you many options for appealing upgrades for most weapons you’ll find, and the extent to which these upgrades add to the experience is phenomenal.
The combat in Dying Light has a way of satisfying your bloodthirst for zombies because of its wide spectrum of fighting options, skills, and weapons. However, it also gives you a sense of vulnerability because no matter the difficulty you choose, the zombies always pack a punch.
Plus, you will always be paying attention to your stamina, so every time you try your luck in the streets or elsewhere that looks zombie-infested, you must calculate every move you make accordingly.
Continue reading: What’s the Best Dying Light Weapon?
Looting in Dying Light is very basic. You loot crates, boxes, fridges, closets, trash bins, lockers, public payphones, vehicles, dead bodies for crafting items, valuables to be sold, weapons, upgrades, and ammo.
One dynamic to looting, however, is that sometimes you’ll have to use Lockpicks to open certain boxes, lockers, vehicles, and doors.
You can loot faster and add to your backpack storage by obtaining new skills in the Survivor skill tree.
The crafting in Dying Light is done in the Blueprints menu. Of course, you can only craft an item or a weapon if Crane already knows how to craft it or after obtaining its blueprint.
You can craft healing items, weapons, ammo, weapon modifications, etc.
You get crafting components by scavenging, winning them after completing certain challenges, or buying them from shops. Some weapons will also require other weapons as crafting components.
You have four skill trees in Dying Light. The Survivor skills, Agility skills, Power skills; and the Legend skills. The Driver skill tree is appropriately only added when you’re playing Dying Light: The Following expansion.
Appropriately, you gain experience for each skill tree by performing actions that relate to it. For instance, you get more Power XP by killing zombies or human enemies.
- The Survivor skill tree generally consists of your scavenging and crafting abilities. In addition, it helps you get better deals when you’re trying to purchase from merchants. Plus, each time you go up in Survivor rank, you buy better items in shops.
- Your Agility skills allow you to be better at both hand-to-hand combat and avoiding the fight; your freerunning skills and endurance. As you go up in Agility rank, you get to be more fluid in freerunning and have more stamina for it.
- Power skills are, in essence, the abilities that help you in combat. They include new moves that you can do with melee weapons and throwables. Plus, the higher your Power level is, the stronger you are and the longer you can fight without losing your stamina.
- The Legend skill tree will be unlocked once you max out any of the other three standard skill trees. Once you do that, any XP that was supposed to go to the former will automatically be added to your Legend level. The Legend skill tree allows you to increase your strength with each weapon type, your stamina, and your health.
You usually die when you least expect it in Dying Light, and even though you won’t be revived at an earlier checkpoint, death has severe consequences for you.
When you die, you lose a ton of Survivor Points, which you will need to acquire new skills. The amount of survivor points you lose varies from mere hundreds to thousands.
So, it’s needless to say that you should be careful not to die in Dying Light because it will always slow down the pace at which you develop your skill set.
Before You Begin
Before we begin our in-game guide, however, there are a few things that you’ll have to consider even before you start playing, all of which can enhance your experience with Dying Light and allow you to play the game just the way you want it.
Get the DLC packs
I strongly suggest that you need to get the Platinum Edition. It has all the DLCs you need for a perfect Dying Light experience, including the base game and its major expansion, The Following, for a standard price of $49.99 on Steam.
Dying Light – The Following is a standalone expansion to the game, which places you in a zombie-swarmed countryside. It gives you a new setting, bigger than any map of the base game, with a new story and secrets to uncover. It also provides gameplay improvements and a Mad Max-like buggy for you to customize, upgrade and ride in the vast countryside.
In addition to The Following, you will find a variety of DLC bundles and other expansions in the Platinum Edition:
- Dying Light: Season Pass
- Dying Light – Cuisine & Cargo (expansion)
- Dying Light – The Bozak Horde (expansion)
- Dying Light – Hellraid (expansion)
- Crash Test Skin Bundle
- Harran Ranger Bundle
- Gun Psycho Bundle
- Volatile Hunter Bundle
- White Death Bundle
- Vintage Gunslinger Bundle
- Rais Elite Bundle
- Godfather Bundle
- Harran Inmate Bundle
- Ultimate Survivor Bundle
- Retrowave Bundle
- Shu Warrior Bundle
- 5th Anniversary Bundle
- Volkan Combat Armor Bundle
- Classified Operation Bundle
- Viking: Raiders of Harran Bundle
- Harran Tactical Unit Bundle
The next thing for you to choose is the difficulty of the game. Dying Light has four of those, in addition to the New Game+ mode:
- The Story Mode is the most accessible difficulty setting. It’s made for players who like focusing more on the story without substantial gameplay difficulties. Therefore, the zombies would deal less damage to you while you deal more. However, your Legend XP gain rate will be reduced by 50%.
- Normal Mode is the average difficulty setting. Neither you nor the zombies would gain extra advantages as this is the way gameplay was intended to be at first. This was the only difficulty setting available on Dying Light’s initial release.
- Hard Mode is where things get a little more difficult. Human enemies and zombies deal more damage, while you heal slower and lose stamina faster. Medkits heal you progressively instead of instantly, and Survivor Sense detects only the dropped or thrown weapons that belong to you. In addition to that, the game is no longer paused when you enter in-game menus.
- The Nightmare Mode is the hardest difficulty. All hostels deal more damage and have more health; the nights are far longer than in other difficulties. Infinite stamina for fighting is forever disabled, and even with the Ultimate Runner Skill, several agility-based moves will drain your stamina. Plus, if you die in the Nightmare Mode, all XP to your next Legend Level is lost. Your only advantage would be that you gain XP the fastest.
One thing I’ve found that makes collecting weapons from the ground easier is to swap your broken weapons with them directly. The “Swap Weapon” feature allows you to do just that. You won’t find it activated by default, so here is how to have that feature on:
Even though I recommend dismantling your broken weapons for their components, I know firsthand that when you get swarmed by an overwhelming number of zombies, you forget that there’s even an inventory menu. So, the “Swap Weapon” feature should help when that happens to you.
When it comes to immersion, any game nowadays can have you lost in its world if the HUD (heads-up display) is disabled. Of course, the HUD is the part of the game’s interface that mostly shows you the essential details that guide you in your walkthrough.
Having the HUD disabled in a game that pays as much attention to detail as Dying Light will leave you roaming the city of Harran under much harder stipulations. The simplest of which is that you will have to memorize routes. So, you will rely on environmental storytelling to survive and traverse the city.
Dying Light has three options for the HUD:
“Full,” the standard option, will display everything that usually comes with the HUD, including your health, stamina, game map, and objective.
“No Navigation” will hide the game map and leave the rest enabled.
“Hidden” will completely remove all of the above from your screen. It’s the toughest to choose of all three. But it’s best to want the most immersive experience in Dying Light.
You can switch between all three options from the game’s main menu. Go to Options, then game.
Your First Day in Dying Light
Dying Light is quite an eventful game, even in the first few minutes. It begins with you about to skydive out of a GRE plane as your supervisor is briefing you on your mission. When you finally reach the ground, you get surrounded by three of Rais’s men and get bit by a zombie before Jade Aldemir and her companion step in to save your Life before you fall unconscious and take you to the tower.
When you wake up in the tower, you get introduced to a few characters and perform a few tasks that introduce you to the game’s basic mechanics. Then, you go out into the city as a runner for the tower.
But before you walk out of the tower, make sure you grab whatever the Quartermaster can spare for you. You’ll find him on the ground floor near the exit.
You’ll have a couple of things to do before you get a call from Jade, who asks you to clear a nearby safe house. That’s when the real fun begins, and this is where I give you a few tips that I wish someone had told me when I was first playing Dying Light.
As contradictory as this may seem, don’t just go and fight any group of zombies you stumble upon. They can give quite the damage before they die, and combat will be clumsy at first. It should take more than a few encounters with the undead before you even learn your reflexes in combat.
Gather as many resources as you can. You can loot anything from the standard loot crates to bedroom closets. Make sure you never leave anything behind when you’re inside a house. You can even dismantle broken weapons you don’t need for Metal Parts.
Finally, climb as many buildings as you can and get comfortable with the parkour of Dying Light. It’s quite the mechanic. Plus, making use of it as much as you can early on helps you level up your Agility. This allows you to get some cool hand-to-hand combat skills that can make your first hours in Dying Light smooth as butter.
Things To Prioritize In The Early Game
The necessity for Medkits is something you may have already gotten used to in video games. You use them to regenerate your health when injured in battle, fallen from tall heights, or ran into hostile objects such as traps.
However, one thing you learn from survival games is that you should always spare a few Medkits and hope that you didn’t run out of them when you find yourself in desperate need of healing. The same thing applies to Dying Light.
So, make sure that early on in the game, you have loads of those ready in your inventory because Dying Light tends to be a very punishing game, especially for newcomers.
You’ll be able to freely gather ingredients and craft Medkits right after walking outside The Tower. The ingredients for 1 Medkit are:
- Alcohol x1
- Gauze x1
Alternatively, when roaming the city of Harran, you can look for Medkits inside ambulances and cars. In addition to that, you can always see if you can get a couple of them from the Quartermaster before you leave safe zones.
(it can only be crafted if you have the Harran Ranger Bundle DLC)
If you have the Harran Ranger Bundle, you get to craft this bad boy right from the get-go. It has 400 points of damage and uses up to four types of arrows:
- Regular Arrows
- Electric Arrows
- Incendiary Arrows
- Explosive Arrows
To craft the Ranger Bow, you’ll need:
- Metal Parts x3
- Duct Tape x2
- Nails x2
- String x1
Firecrackers are throwable decoys that you can either use to lure zombies to a certain area or distract them while you do certain tasks or run away.
They also give you three additional advantages.
- Bombers explode when they reach a Firecracker they’ve been lured to.
- Goons sometimes try to hit the Firecrackers, which hits other zombies near them.
- Firecrackers can also be thrown onto fuel on the ground to ignite it. This can also cause an explosion if the fuel is connected to a barrel.
A Skilled Newbie
One more thing that you want to watch out for early on in Dying Light is your skill trees. There are a couple of skills that you may want to learn as soon as you start traversing the Slums:
Backpacker: this is a Survivor skill that becomes available as soon as you get the Survivor Starter Kit. It gives you four more weapon slots and allows Crane to utilize inventory space more proficiently.
Agility level: try to focus more on your Agility skill tree because its level and respective skills will allow you to traverse the undead city and fight the zombies more tirelessly. You can increase your Agility level by freerunning and using Parkour moves, riding on zip lines, and doing the Parkour Fever challenges.
Use the Environment
Fortunately, the treacherous city of Harran is not only dangerous for you but also a very useful resource to turn the tables on your enemies.
Fighting a zombie or a human enemy on a rooftop? Use your melee attacks or Dodge skill to kick them or throw them off of it. You can also use the same techniques on zombies to throw them into the water so that you can escape.
Additionally, you’ll find so many electric and spiked traps around the streets. You can use those same techniques on zombies to throw them into those traps, which will instantly kill them.
Also, when you’re running from the dead at night, you should pay attention to your character near the street lights. Some of them will have UV light traps attached to them, and your character will have a controller ready at hand when you’re near those.
Things We Wish We Knew Before Playing Dying Light
Combat and Exploring at Night Give Extra XP
It’s well-established that the night is when the city of Harran is most dangerous. Because of that, however, Dying Light will reward you the most when you go out at night. You will always get double the XP for Agility and Power at night.
Early Game Gun and Bullets
Among the things that many people, including me, didn’t know about Dying Light is that you can find a handgun right from the start.
When you’re free to roam the city of Harran as you please, look for a house in the southeastern part of the Slums. It will be by a water passage, and there will be a bunch of food and water with a sign that says they are free to take.
Go inside the house. You’ll find a man who had committed suicide with the gun still in his hands.
As for ammo, the only apparent way to get some early in the game is by searching police vans. Although, note that they are really rare. Especially early in the game before you can purchase them from merchants.
EXPcalibur is a golden sword easter egg that represents the legendary sword that belongs to King Arthur, Excalibur. You’ll find this sword just by the shoreline of the Fisherman’s Village southeast of the Slums.
Of course, you’ll have to pull EXPcalibur out of a body on top of a rock, which floats along the coast. So, naturally, you’ll have to swim. After reaching the rock, hold the action button for 2-3 minutes until you eventually pull out the legendary blade.
Quickly jump back into the water after pulling it because the body will burn, and you will die if caught in the fire. Jump right back on top of the rock after the fire dies out, and you’ll find a blueprint for a silver version of EXPcalibur.
Be careful not to throw the original, though, because you will not be able to recover it since you won’t be able to even interact with the sword. Also, as tempting, as it is, try not to overuse it because it cannot be repaired or upgraded. So, do not try to put anything in its sockets, or it will be destroyed.
Finally, you should know that using either version of EXPcalibur will cause loud noise that will attract more zombies. So, don’t pull that thing out at night.
You can kill almost all zombies with headshots in Dying Light. Including most of the special types that you can find in the streets. As for Volatiles, however, it will take you more than one shot, even in the head.
Things To Avoid
Going Out at Night Unprepared
Even though going out at night in Dying Light gives you a ton of XP and helps you master all aspects of the game, I wouldn’t recommend doing it unprepared. It is still the toughest way to play the game, and needless to say, the Volatiles will rip you apart if you have a go at one of them without a silent and ranged weapon.
So, always have a Bow at hand if you do so. Pack up a couple of guns, but only use them if an overwhelming number of Volatiles has surrounded you and you can’t escape.
Firecrackers will also be helpful in similar situations since they can be used as a decoy to escape or attract zombies far away and create an opening for you to pass around them.
You can easily detect the whereabouts of nearby Volatiles by using your Survivor Sense, even through walls. Their bodies will have an orange glow.
Making Too Much Noise When Not Necessary
Sometimes, that very thing that was supposed to save you can end up being the end of you. The zombies in Dying Light will almost always have a way of sneaking up on you. So, if you plan on using loud guns or Firecrackers, keep moving around because the same noise saving your Life will most assuredly attract more of the undead.
Plus, if you’re using Firecrackers as a decoy for you to escape, don’t miss out on your window. Since more zombies are bound to follow the noise to your area, your chances of even reaching the nearest wall or ledge will dwindle by the second.
Long-Term Goals To Consider
Get Some Guns
The absence of guns early on in Dying Light qualifies it as one of the most immersive and intense zombie survival games. However, you will, at some point, get your hands on some firearms.
Handguns, sub-machine guns, shotguns, and rifles exist in Dying Light. You’ll be able to loot them from Rais’s men, crates, and special spots; and even buy them from shops.
My personal favorite is the Marksman Rifle from Gun Psycho DLC. But even if you were playing the base game and didn’t get yourself any DLC bundle, you still have plenty of firearms in Dying Light to blow some zombie heads with.
There are five types of challenges available in Dying Light:
- Ultimate Weapon is a set of power challenges you can play by talking to Tobias J. Bagwell at Fisherman’s Village in the Slums.
- Posters are agility and power challenges you’ll find scattered around Old Town.
- Dying Lunch is a set of three challenges you can participate in by speaking to Irwin Snowberg in the southwest.
- Being a hero is a freerunning challenge given to you by Ozan at Ember’s Tower in Old Town.
- Run for your Life are speed challenges you get by speaking to Bajram at the rooftop safe zone in Old Town. You can only participate in these challenges at night.
I highly suggest trying these challenges as they are all rewarding and fun.
Dying Light has many collectibles scattered around the Slums and Old Town. There are Zombie Statues, Flags, Lost Notes, Audio Logs, etc. If you’re a completionist in terms of your video games, you should try doing everything there is to be done in Dying Light.
Of course, I won’t be giving you any directions because then, I would spoil your journey for you.
Question: How long does it take to beat Dying Light?
Answer: You can finish Dying Light in 24 hours if you focus only on the campaign’s main objectives. However, if you’re looking to explore and do the secondary missions, it will take you no less than 50 hours.
Question: Do outfits matter in Dying Light?
Answer: No, they do not. The Outfits exist only for aesthetic reasons in Dying Light.
Question: What do I play first, the primary campaign or Dying Light: The Following?
Answer: You should play the primary campaign first to get used to the game’s mechanics.
Question: How many players can play Dying Light multiplayer?
Answer: In multiplayer, you can play the primary campaign with three more players. As for zombie mode, four human players will fight against another player as the zombie.
Dying Light is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious zombie survival games of the past decade. So, it’s natural that a zombie game of this scope would be challenging at the beginning of your walkthrough.
This guide should give you all the answers you need about your runner debut in the city of Harran. Considering all of the above, you will have the smoothest early hours in Dying Light.
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