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Dying Light 2’s Firearms update adds a touch of Left 4 Dead

There’s a good reason it took so long, too

Techland is launching its big Dying Light 2 Firearms update, and I had a chance to see it in action before the bullets start flying in the action horror game. The free update releases alongside Dying Light 2’s definitive edition, which bundles all existing updates, improvements, and expansions into one $59.99 package, and finally lets players do what they’ve been asking Techland to let them do for two years: pop zombies with a shotgun.

Or a pistol, or a rifle – you get the idea.

There’s a good reason Techland waited so long to add guns to Dying Light 2 as well. Aside from the problem of introducing guns to a world that, for narrative reasons, famously has no guns, Techland had a bigger logistical issue to deal with. Dying Light 2 is built for melee combat, not gunfights.

A Dying Light 2 character holds a pistol in front of them for inspection, as a purple bio lamp blazes nearby

Your new best friend.

Granted, “melee” is a pretty loose term for a game that lets you use flamethrowers and human-sized tasers to keep enemies at more than arm’s length, but the fact remains that Dying Light 2 expects you to engage with enemies at comparatively close range. All its tension hinges on the idea that the infected can swarm you in seconds and pop your brain out for a snack unless you plan each encounter carefully.

Dying Light franchise director Tymon Smektala tells me the team faced several challenges implementing firearms in the game, though finding narrative justification was the biggest and most important one. I won’t go into specifics here, but the solution was to lock firearms behind a mid-game quest and only gradually dole them – and their ammunition – out.

Techland kept access to guns limited even after the initial introduction. Unlike with some weapons and equipment, you can’t just craft ammunition. You have to find it, and since it’s a rare leftover from the days of military occupation, you can only find it in wrecked convoys and other dangerous places. You have to work for it, in other words, which is good, since it’d be a bit too easy to just blaze through enemies otherwise.

Dying Light 2 has an invisible hearing range line where you can smack someone over the head with a lead pipe and go unheard, but if you stand a few inches closer to an enemy and so much as think about making noise, they suddenly discover you. It looks like things work in much the same way once you add guns into the mix. The footage I saw showed several infected swarming under an overpass, but even when the player emptied a whole clip, only a handful of nearby zombies noticed.

Granted, this was during the daytime, when a soporific effect keeps most zombs fairly tame. I imagine the situation is rather more fraught at night when Screamers – Dying Light 2’s town criers – come out and shout your presence. Where firearms really showed promise is in enclosed spaces during co-op missions, where hordes of mutated zombies and rank-and-file infected alike flood the scene and turn Dying Light 2 into something that played and felt more like Left 4 Dead.

A Dying Light 2 survivor hoists a shotgun over his shoulder as he looks over the city.

You'll have to work to get the best guns and ammo.

Either way, I wasn’t that keen on the idea of standing back and popping zombies from afar. It’s effective, sure, but it’s not why I play Dying Light 2. Obviously, a vocal segment of fans who pushed for this update for years disagrees, and I think they’ll probably enjoy it quite a bit. Techland did an excellent job translating the series’ feeling of brutal crunchiness to firearm combat, so even when you get a clean gun kill from a distance, it still feels messy and crunchy, just like it should.

The Dying Light 2 Firearms update is available now as a free download for all owners of Dying Light 2. Techland is also offering a free upgrade path from the base game to Reloaded Edition, which includes the Bloody Ties DLC and the new Firearms update.