I loved the original Dying Light. I never played any of the previous titles from developer Techland, but the game came out of nowhere for me. I didn't think first-person parkour action would work, but Techland pulled it off, mixing together some great level design and interlocking mechanics to make a compelling title.
The game still holds up for me. I know that because I had to replay the entire first game again. While I reviewed the base game on PlayStation 4, the review code I received for the Following was for PC. So I buckled down and replayed Dying Light on PC to reach the recommended level for The Following. It was a rather enjoyable experience because of the increased visual fidelity of the PC version and the new improvements in the Enhanced Edition. This includes improved NPC models, better enemy AI, more weapons, and a new Nightmare difficulty level. The enemies also seem more straightforward this time around, with some seeming to spawn behind you out of nowhere, which I found odd. Despite that, vanilla Dying Light is still damn good.
Techland recommends that you not jump into The Following until you have a Survivor level of 12. Playing the DLC is done via a new menu option, allowing you to carry your existing save across both games back and forth. (Unfortunately, unlike the Witcher III's Hearts of Stone DLC, there's no option to spin up a new character that's level appropriate for the DLC.)
If the fact that you have a shared save doesn't make this clear, you're still playing as Kyle Crane, the helpful parkour spy that's been dropped into the city of Harran to find out what's up with all the zombies. The Following takes Kyle out of the city, following up on rumors that there are people living in the countryside who are immune to zombification. Out there in the fields, Crane finds more zombies, more raiders, a cult, and his very own offroad buggy. (Well, he steals it, but finders keepers.)
The buggy and the open areas that comprise the new world map is the biggest shift in The Following. You get a brand-new Driving skill tree, which functions like the previous skill trees: drive and you gain experience, which unlocks new abilities in the driving tree. Driving through the fields and gullies, dodging broken cars and obstacles, drifting into zombies; the buggy itself is pretty fun. Kyle isn't invincible while he's driving either. The buggy is an open cage, so zombies and raiders can hit you and running over enemies is just as likely to bring your run to a halt as body parts get caught in your ride.
Most importantly, the buggy needs love and attention. It requires gas to run, meaning you sometimes have to huff it on foot to find gas. And like your weapons, you'll need scrap metal and other parts to repair it and keep it in working order. If you didn't like your weapons breaking in Dying Light, you won't like The Following, because now both your weapons and your ride need repairs. You will occasionally be heading towards a mission only to stop because the buggy needs repairs or you need to scrounge for gas, which can get annoying depending on what you're doing. As you gain more Driving skills, it becomes much easier though.
Most of the mission structure of the Following is based around doing missions to gain the trust of the locals so they'll tell you more about the secret cult and then doing more missions to make the cultists like you. A few missions have painful difficulty spikes, like one mission that required driving and another against a heavily armed boss, but otherwise, Dying Light veterans should be well prepared for The Following.
In addition to that, there's the new Volatile Nests. Clearing out these caves of super zombies will make your life easier, but run counter to your expectations from playing the base game. If you attack a nest during the day, it'll be full of volatiles, who don't come out in the sunlight. The easier bet is attacking at night, when the volatiles are out and about. It's fun if you're up to the challenge; these caves feel like they were built for those who'd stay out all night fighting in the base game.
Four player co-op returns, allowing your friends to jump into your game to complete missions, sidequests, or to just mess around. It's rather enjoyable, especially with the addition of buggies. The game will offer up small competitive challenges for players, like killing zombies, driving fast from point A to point B, or reaching supply drops. I'm a single-player guy, but co-op online play is still pretty fun.
It's odd, because The Following isn't really Dying Light anymore. It's a different game based around the same concepts. The high point and flow state of Dying Light was in leaping from rooftop to rooftop, running in an unbroken line across a wild and uneven city with ever touching the ground. In the Following, it's tearing across the countryside in your buggy, doing damage to zombies as you pass, but never fully stopping your mad ride. The Following feels like a melee-focused Far Cry, while Dying Light was its own beast. Luckily, the shared save system means when you get tired of The Following, you can just jump over to Dying Light. Everything carries over seamlessly.
The Following feels like Techland playing in a deeper pond and throwing a gauntlet down to Ubisoft. It feels like they're making a play at creating a much bigger game. Regardless of their final aim, The Following is a great expansion that takes Dying Light in a different direction.
Hot damn, I should've been playing this on PC. Dying Light still looks amazing and the countryside vista are a welcome change.
Dying Light: The Following adds a whole new countryside to the zombie infested Harran and a brand-new buggy to ride across it. It's a strong expansion to a great game, continuing the original game's survival aspects into a new, open arena. This is almost a different game hidden in DLC.