Techland's Dying Light, released in 2015, was a huge parkour-zombie-survival hit that still holds up today. It received an expansion called The Following, but officially became part of a series with the release of Dying Light 2. The sequel does a lot to address the issues of its predecessor while expanding on the mechanics and gameplay. However, one addition in particular, known as "Immunity," adds nothing to an already bulky system. The sequel has done a lot to change the sense of exploration between the day and the night with the latter being made less hostile than it was in the previous game. To help keep things balanced, the Immunity is meant to act as an additional source of danger in an already dangerous situation, but it struggles to be interesting or even necessary.
The Day and Night Precedent
One of the most attention-grabbing aspects of Dying Light’s promotion was the tagline "Good Night And Good Luck." This phrase was a great combination of exciting and ominous, effectively capturing the idea of the game as a whole. You learn very early on how important a role the day-and-night cycle plays in the gameplay.
As the story reveals, the zombie virus of Dying Light acts similarly to that in the film I Am Legend. People who become infected slowly transform into violent predators with enhanced strength, speed, and sensory perception. However, the more severe the transformation, the greater their intolerance to sunlight and UV light sources. This is perfectly captured in the iconic infected-type known as the Volatile, which is arguably the most dangerous zombie in the game but will only hunt at night or in dark zones.
The game encourages you to track daylight carefully and to make your way to a safe zone before night falls. If you’re out too late, you risk drawing the attention of Volatiles and other infected who will pursue you tenaciously. Unfortunately, this leads to the night cycle serving little purpose in terms of gameplay as its main purpose is to effectively create tension during exploration. There are only a handful of activities and quests that occur at night, so you won’t lose much by not risking it.
A huge change that comes with Dying Light 2 is a complete overhaul in the day vs. night exploration. While Volatiles are still very much a threat, the level design this time around allows for easier exploration over the rooftops which severely reduces detection. On top of that, there are far more safe zones and UV light spots where you can quickly take refuge if you accidentally sound the alarm and start a chase. Thankfully, alarm zombies, known as Howlers, are clearly marked so you can avoid them easily.
Due to the increased safety measures added at night, there are far more night-only activities that you can undertake. There are even certain side quests that will immediately transition into the night in order to suit the context. There are also notable areas like Forsaken Stores and Dark Hollows that can you can only safely explore at night. The reason for this is because during the day, the more dangerous infected take shelter in those places including the run-ending Volatiles. The most enticing activities are the GRE-related areas that challenge you to fight particularly strong infected or navigate facilities in order to find powerful items.
It’s clear to see that the devs at Techland wanted to make nighttime more appealing in terms of exploration and downplaying enemy sensitivity to encourage it. However, this drop in tension led to the addition of another mechanic to compensate. This addition takes the form of a character stat called Immunity.
The Story of Immunity
Since the Dying Light series revolves around a mutagenic virus, it plays a role in terms of the story. In the first game, a zombie bites protagonist Kyle Crane almost immediately after arriving, and he contracts the infection. This adds to Crane’s motivation to learn about the virus while looking for rare antigens to treat his infection. The protagonist of Dying Light 2, Aiden, experiences something very similar, but this version of the virus behaves very differently.
The story establishes that everyone in the main city is sick with the virus, but they’re able to suppress it simply by staying in sunlight or UV lighting. Every time Aiden is anywhere in the darkness, a countdown timer appears at the top of the screen. This indicates Aiden’s Immunity to the virus, and once it reaches zero, the virus consumes him and it’s game over. This counter goes down rapidly when wandering through chemical areas, but you can raise its max by collecting Inhibitors (a more potent form of Crane’s antigens).
While this aims to add increased tension during the now-lighter nighttime segments, it instead just adds an annoying management element. As Immunity ticks down, nothing significant happens that would make you want to keep an eye on it. It’s a countdown that you need to remember while you’re distracted by the tension that comes with exploring at night. Immunity can be ignored since huge warnings will show up if it gets too low, and immunity-boosting items are plentiful. Overall, this mechanic adds neither tension nor immersion; it’s just a tedious chore.
The issue with Immunity is that it’s currently dead weight to the gameplay. However, there are ways that could make it more engaging. For instance, when Aiden starts coughing or his bio-marker starts beeping, this could be re-designed to alert nearby infected during stealth sections. A lower Immunity could also affect Aiden’s performance by draining his stamina faster or making him more vulnerable to attacks.
These changes wouldn’t make Immunity a "fun" mechanic, but they would make it more impactful and engaging to the gameplay. It would help with immersion by emphasizing that Aiden is seriously sick and needs treatment if he's going to survive. Currently, it’s just an annoying management element that you’ll more often than not forget about. As the game will undergo many updates following its release, there will be plenty of chances to improve it.