Fresh on the heels of the monumental year that Dying Light had, developer Techland is continuing their momentum by releasing The Following, featuring all new content. While the game has certainly seen its share of support via paid DLC and free updates, The Following is on an entirely different level to what we’ve seen. In fact, when provided with a downloadable code for the game, I was specifically asked not to refer to it as “DLC,” but rather as “an expansion.”
It seemed like a ludicrous request at the time, but now, with dozens of hours invested, it’s clear that this is not simply “content,” but an entirely new adventure altogether.
The decision to move the experience from the zombie-stricken city of Harran to a more rural, wide open area outside of the quarantined zone is risky, particularly because the main game relies heavily on character movement, using parkour to navigate the crowded city and to help avoid becoming a meal for the undead. The use of a vehicle, the most noticeable change in The Following, introduces an entirely new way for players to dispose of the enemy, undead or otherwise.
To give a level of personality to it, the vehicle has customization options that range from “useful” to “aesthetic.” Collectible paint jobs and trinkets allow you to decorate the buggy to match your particular tastes, while active improvements to things like steering or suspension will make a noticeable difference in how often you end up outside of it making repairs. An entirely new skill line, mastered by gaining XP while driving, also gives benefits. Passive abilities, like having to repair or refuel less, work well with more active benefits like adding a flame thrower, car alarm, or UV lights.
For those who enjoy the experiences they’ve had with Crane during his time in Harran, know that the transition to The Following is wonderfully explained to keep the story, something many simply glaze over, smooth and believable – as believable as the zombie apocalypse can be, anyway. With the survivors running low on the medicine necessary for those infected with the virus, and having heard that there are people believed to be immune to the zombie virus on the outskirts of the city, Crane is forced to investigate the rumor. After learning that there are some truths to what he’s heard, Crane has to earn the trust of locals through, of course, a series of missions that take him across the landscape.
The countryside is a beautiful place marred with human remains, both upright and not, and does a great job of acting as a counterpoint to Harran. Instead of clustered buildings and narrow alleyways, you’ll see open fields and deep canyons. The game does lose some of its charm with the parkour aspect ripped out, and while the vehicle is a new and interesting concept, you may find yourself becoming a little disjointed.
The driving controls can be finicky, particularly when you first experience them, and while the vehicle does become easier to handle as you apply upgrades and skills, you won’t ever settle into the experience fully. Instead you may find yourself trekking across the massive map on foot, using your beloved grappling hook to move quickly rather than the buggy.
For those who loved Dying Light, which is quite a lot of you according to sales numbers, The Following is ultimately more of the same, only with a new story, a new map, fantastic new (and returning) characters, and some new skills to master. The driving is interesting and, though not poorly done, can feel out of place at times. On the same token, you can lose hours simply driving around, smearing brain matter on your bumper, but if the landscape is even semi-congested, it will get frustrating. For the amount of content included, the $19.99 price tag makes this an absolute steal and, even if you’re not one to collect every item or explore every zone, you’ll get your money’s worth.
Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10