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E3 2019 Preview: Dying Light 2 Chases Gaming's White Whale - A Story Where Choices Actually Matter

We've seen quite a bit of Dying Light 2 from E3 public conferences, but TheGamer was treated to a private hands-off demo where the game's key points where highlighted. The parkour is still there, as are the brutal and varied kill animations. But the people from developer Techland wanted to make one point clear: this is a game where choices matter.

It's a narrative we've heard before, but one that rarely ever gets fully delivered upon. Game developers exclaim that we, the player are in control, that we shape the world. When that claim does prove true, it can often come off as manufactured. Choices are either extremely simple or don't really affect the story. It's a matter of which faction gets pissed and comes after you.

Techland is trying to prevent that mechanical feel in Dying Light 2, and showed us (and several other people) a demo that presented many quick choices in about a 30 minute span.

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As if to emphasize just how crucial narrative is in Dying Light 2, the demo begins at an important story point. The people of the city will run out of water in a day, and a man called the Colonel holds the water plant. The various factions come together to make a deal with the Colonel, and protagonist Aiden is coming along. The deal goes south fast, and a friend of Aiden's is shot. That's where the first choice comes in.

You have to decide to stay and tend to your friend, or chase after the Colonel's men. A timer accompanies the choice because, as the Techland dev said, it's an action game. They want there to be a sense that the bad guys could get away or your friend could bleed out if you remain indecisive. The player of the demo chose the more exciting route, to chase the truck. This led to a parkour sequence that showed off some new traversal mechanics and ways to fight the infected.

There were some moments that seemed scripted, such as when Aiden falls through the floor after a parkour jump, sending him into a dark basement full of infected. It gave the impression that maybe things aren't so free after all, but we'll get to that. More action happens, and Aiden eventually parkours his way into the water plant and to the Colonel. The colonel then presents a new twist. Maybe Aiden's ally killed his friend in order to create conflict with the Colonel. Aiden wasn't there to see the shot fired, after all. And the Colonel could help the people get water.

That brought us to the final choice of the demo, where the player chose to force his way through the colonel's men and turn on the water. The result? An area of the city that was flooded became accessible, and it turns out Aiden's ally was plotting something. An army was shown marching on the water plant as a new type of infected rose from the ground.

It seems many of us were curious about just how much the player's choices impacted this turn of events. One person asked if choosing to not turn on the water would make it so the flooded area wasn't unlocked. Another asked if playing the parkour section differently could allow us to sidestep the "accidental" encounter with infected. Could we really make choices that denied us entire events and locations?

Maybe? The designer who answered wanted to avoid spoilers, so he wouldn't say exactly what the alternate choices brought. He did say that we will see "about 50%" of the game in one playthrough. Also, co-op play allows you to see another player's city. He claimed that another player's city could be drastically different from your own, implying that we really will be able to change the world itself through our choices.

It's a bold claim, but one that Techland is really trying to pull off. People seem to believe in them, as the tweet above shows them winning a lot of "Best of E3" awards. Dying Light 2 comes out next year, so they have time to make it happen.

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