Let’s just cut to the chase: If you’re a Dying Light 2 fan and were hoping that its first story campaign expansion, Dying Light 2: Stay Human – Bloody Ties DLC is the 2022 equivalent of 2016’s Dying Light: The Following, I hate to say it but you’re going to be in for some disappointment.
The Bloody Ties DLC unlocks a new storyline as well as a sizeable new location named Carnage Hall, a vast, former Opera house and surrounding estate that has been converted into a post-apocalyptic Colosseum where humans battle to the death against one another, freakish variants of the infected, or both. It is in this location where much of the Dying Light 2 Stay Human – Bloody Ties content takes place, although some missions will require players to venture back out to the Old Villedor and Central Loop locations of Dying Light 2 to satisfy main objectives or complete side quests.
Players can utilize a shuttle van to Fast Travel freely between Carnage Hall and the rest of the city as much as they like, and it’s strongly recommended that players use that flexibility to return to The City, mop up some unfinished side missions and unlock all of Aiden’s parkour and combat abilities if they haven’t already before taking on the Dying Light 2 Stay Human – Bloody Ties DLC in earnest. This is because many of the Gladiator-style, DLC-related scenarios will favour players who have unlocked crowd-controlling combat skills such as the Power Attack, Windmill and Ground Pound.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a laughably predictable story in which Aiden must infiltrate Old Villedor’s underground prize-fighting scene to stop a dastardly terrorist plot, not to mention quickly make new enemies and befriend key characters that he’s strangely honour-bound to protect only a hot-minute later. That notwithstanding, story progression is ultimately gated by the player’s ranking in the Carnage Hall Tournament.
This means that players who just want to move the main DLC story along have no choice but to successfully complete at least one or two qualifying events in each level of a four-tiered ladder system in order to raise their rank and get them closer to the ultimate showdown with “Skullface”, the current Carnage Hall champion and terribly-named uber-villain of the whole shebang.
Be warned: If you aren’t a fan of Dying Light 2’s timed Parkour challenges or any side-activity that forces you to work under a time limit, there’s a particularly good chance that you won’t just dislike most of the challenges that the Carnage Hall Tournament throws at you, you’ll HATE them.
This is because Bloody Ties takes those timed challenges, makes them all but mandatory and then throws in multiple types of infected hordes that can chase you around the map, randomly block your way or even explode, the latter of which can potentially knock you right off your path and instantly ruin your chances at beating the clock. Worse yet, the Dying Light 2 Stay Human – Bloody Ties DLC mashes up many of Dying Light 2’s other gameplay elements into multi-staged events called “Spectacles” and then proceeds to ruin everything by slapping timers on those as well.
Player-owned equipment is prohibited in Carnage Hall events, which means players won’t be able to bring their favourite modded weapons, tools, or distraction devices into a fight. Such items are instead supplied by the event organizer, and selection generally does not work to the player’s advantage. Depending on the event mode, however, players may uncover far better, temporary replacements in the arena, as well as unexpected, game-changing weapon and item drops from special infected that players encounter in the field.
Anyway, it’s still a big disappointment when one recalls that The Following DLC for the original Dying Light went as far as to build on top of the game’s existing systems to add vehicles as well as an additional Legendary Skills tier, and all items found in that expansion could be freely used in the base game and vice-versa wherever appropriate.
“A number of missions in the Dying Light 2 Stay Human – Bloody Ties DLC are either broken or near broken thanks to a handful of truly egregious bugs.”
Regrettably, in the end, none of it really matters because a number of missions in the Dying Light 2 Stay Human – Bloody Ties DLC are either broken or near broken thanks to a handful of truly egregious bugs. Two of the worst reared their ugly heads most noticeably during the first “Spectacle” match, which is themed after the original Dying Light’s setting of Harran and tasks the player with finding, providing power to and finally flipping the switch on several junction boxes in order activate car traps, all while being relentlessly pursued by powerful, fast-moving infected.
The intended interaction is that players must tear off the metal covers of the junction boxes via a QTE (tapping X in the case of Xbox) to expose the power switch, press X once again to flip it on, and press X once more from a short distance to arm the trap and fry the zombies.
Long story short, a visual glitch that causes the metal covers to either appear or not appear, even after they’ve been torn off, combined with a second bug that allows Aiden’s hand to pass through the covers regardless of their state and switch the power on (and for some reason, off as well) turns the challenge into a nightmare.
Case in point, I must have spent over 30 minutes failing the Spectacle event in question because I was constantly getting trapped in endless loops of inadvertently switching off junction boxes that should have remained on, tearing off covers that I’d already opened, or failing to activate a trap despite the switch being flipped because an invisible cover on the junction box had yet to be removed.
Surprisingly though, the final nail in the coffin wasn’t the junction box fiasco, but instead, a third bug that came up much later in the game while I was on a nighttime side mission in Old Villedor. I had been recruited by a quest giver to hunt down and capture a Bolter zombie alive and was given a set of throwing knives laced with sedatives to help me accomplish the task, or so I thought.
The problem was when I finally managed to track down and isolate a bolter that wasn’t surrounded by other dangerous infected, I discovered that the sedative knives weren’t appearing in my inventory. Consequently, I was unable to complete the mission. At this point, I lost complete faith in the stability of the DLC and decided to call it quits.
As much as I enjoyed Dying Light 2 and to this day still crave more of its open-world parkour gameplay and combat, I cannot in good conscience recommend The Bloody Ties DLC to anyone in its current form, given the severity of the bugs I’ve encountered. I’ve still got high hopes for the next DLC expansion and hopefully bug fixes to address the above issues are incoming, but for now, I’m quite content to hop onto the next shuttle van back to Villedor and leave the “Bloody Mess” that is Carnage Hall in the rear-view mirror.