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Dying Light 1: Beginner's Guide

Techland recently launched 'Dying Light 2: Stay Human'. But if you've not played the original Dying Light you're missing out on a great game, because zombie parkour has never been more fun.

For those not familiar with the title, Dying Light 1 is an RPG where you (as protagonist Kyle Crane) are parachuted into the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean city of Harran that has spent some months in the grip of a horrifying plague that turns people into insane zombie-like slayers. Thereafter you spend your time helping the few remaining survivors while pursuing your own secret agenda as an agent of the GRE (Global Relief Effort), a shady organisation that has sent you to Harran to recover confidential documents.

It's a fantastic gaming experience, both in co-op and single player, and the developers are still producing free DLC for it five years after launch!

If you'd like to see some gameplay, you can find a 'Dying Light' playlist on my YouTube channel.

The Beautiful Korek Machete

The only downside to Dying Light is that you spend the first few hours of gameplay as a pathetically weak individual armed with crappy weapons (we're talking nailed planks here). You'll know what I mean when you've spent half a minute bashing a zombie on the head with a chair-leg, finally knock them down, then watch as they stand up for more.

There is help to be had, however. The developers have hidden the blueprint for a super weapon, called the Korek Machete, on top of a building, and this blade has a damage rating of 500 (in contrast, most of the early game weapons are less than 50, many less than 20). Finding the Korek blueprint is not easy (see here for footage), it costs a lot to make in terms of materials, and it doesn't last long before it breaks, but it's great for getting you out of a tough spot.

Climb and Climb Again

There are many climbing missions in Dying Light, but once you've found whatever you were after, see if you can't climb a little higher. Often the very peak of whatever edifice you're clinging to will hide some nice extras such as Flags (a type of collectable that also boosts your agility), exotic blueprints and upgrades, or (more rarely) powerful weapons. Always go that extra step, though this advice will often result in your swift death if you're not careful.

Recycle - Dive That Dumpster

Aside from houses and containers to loot, there are many bins, trash cans and dumpsters on the streets of Harran, and these are a treasure trove of metal parts, bits of string and plastic rubbish - all stuff that you'll find really useful when creating and upgrading tools and weapons. If you can, search every bin you pass. Dumpsters are worth a look too as most will contain at least two weapons (pipes, nailed planks etc). You'll soon outgrow these primitive tools as better ones come along, but they can be sold to a merchant or broken down into useful parts. Also search phone booths for small change - you'll usually come away with a handful of cash.

Lend a Helping Hand

As you journey through Harran you'll often encounter survivors being attacked in the streets, or warding off infected a-holes who are trying to break into their homes and shops. These encounters will be quite noisy (you'll hear people shouting for help), but will also be flagged on your screen map with blue and red arrows. It always pays to help these people out; every successful rescue earns you Survivor Points and you'll often pick up a cash reward or a weapon upgrade for your trouble.

Take Your Time With Lockpicks

Throughout the game you'll find containers, rooms and vehicles that will require lock-picking skills to get inside. For example, virtually any police van or car, or ambulance can be picked for medkits and weapons. Locks range from Easy, Medium, Hard, to Very Hard, and it's quite easy to break a pick as the game will only allow you to 'try' a lock four times before the pick snaps. However, the 'try' counter resets if you come out of lock-picking mode, then go back in again. If you attempt to pick a lock and haven't had any success by the time you've put pressure on the pick three times (four if you're feeling brave), come out and start from scratch. You can do this indefinitely, but obviously keep an ear-out for the infected sneaking up behind you.

The 'Plummeting Undead Scavenging Bonanza'

On one of the missions you're given you'll be sent to a fishing village in the north-east of the map. There's a large road bridge just north of the village, and below the bridge there are some minor roads snaking up a hillside. Go and find a blue van on one of these roads (see picture below). If you stand on the van and look up you'll see a broken railing on the bridge above you. Wait a few moments and the infected on the bridge will see you and begin to tumble off the edge and splatter all around you. This is a great looting opportunity as robbing each corpse will give you something useful. There are a handful of infected folk who shamble over to gather round the van, but it's fairly easy to kick them out of harm's way. This is one of the best scavenging locations in the game. But watch out, if a falling body hits you, it will hurt!

Avoid Fights With Goons

At the beginning of the game you're often sent to locations guarded by Goons (big-ass infected who drag around lumps of steel and concrete to bash you with). Killing these characters is not easy, so look for ways to avoid a fight. Goons are slow moving and as mentally challenged as their smaller comrades, and a handful of thrown crackers is usually all you need to lure them out of the way while you do your business. When I first played the game I wasted a lot of time taking these galoots down and, though it can be fun, it's not worth the hassle.

Take Every Opportunity to Secure a Safe House

Safe houses are scattered all over Harran. Unsecured safe houses display as red house icons on the map; the secured ones come up as green. Aside from being handy hidey-holes to scuttle to when night comes, these safe houses are also where you re-spawn if you die in the game, so it's useful to have one nearby. If you die, you wake up in the nearest safe house, and if that house is on the other side of the map, you face a long journey to get back where you started from. Aside from that, merchants often set up shop in secured safe houses, and these guys are always useful to have around. To secure a safe house do the following:

1) If possible try to lure as many of the infected outside of the safe zone as you can. Crackers are useful.

2) Shut the gate, or push furniture across doorways or windows, to stop any more infected getting in.

3) Kill off any infected who are still inside the zone.

4) Find the fuse-box or switch that will turn on the lights. The game will tell you when you're done.

Run for Those Drops!

Twice a day, and twice during the night, a plane will fly over Harran and parachute supplies into the town. If you're feeling brave, you can go for the night drops, but always run for the daytime drops if you can. If you get there fast enough you can help yourself to everything in the containers. If you're a little slow, you'll find Rais's men (Rais is the local gangster) have got there before you. You can try to fight them off, but even if you win, they'll already have taken half the supplies. Leave it too late and all the supplies will go and a message will pop up to say that the airdrop was stolen. Aside from providing you with useful gear, bringing these supplies back to a Quartermaster will earn you a ton of Survivor Points.

Become a Trapper (not that kind)

As you run through the streets of Harran you'll often have opportunities to set off traps of various kinds (light traps, noise traps, explosive traps...). Most of these are designed to give you an edge against the night-time Volatiles (really dangerous infected who only emerge at dusk), but there are other kinds of traps that make useful scavenging locations. Scattered around the town you'll see puddles of water with electrical cables running through them. Follow the cable to a fuse-box or generator and switch on the current - Bingo, you just got yourself an electrocution pool. Lead a few infected into the pool, watch them jitter around and die, then switch off the power again (or wait, it will turn off by itself after a while). You can then loot the bodies of your victims, but make sure you don't get a shock yourself. It stings.

That's about it. As I said, it's a great game and most copies now come complete with a huge expansion called 'The Following' that includes a new map and introduces vehicles into the game.

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