What is it that every apocalyptic setting needs? A good ol' "fight to the death" arena. In the Bloody Ties DLC for Dying Light 2 players are invited to return to Villedor not to explore the city but to visit the Carnage Hall, a classy and overproduced fight club where players' strength and agility will be put to the test. This DLC brings brand new experiences in the form of different tiered challenges, while also telling the story of Carnage Hall's owner, Astrid, and her brutal champion, Skullface.
The Bloody Ties DLC starts in a somewhat clumsy place as Aiden is called to prove his abilities to earn an invite to Carnage Hall as a fighter to investigate it further. After being robbed by new character Ciro, who is determined to rise to the top of Carnage Hall and kill the current champion as revenge for killing his brother, you end up getting roped into partnering up with Ciro to better your odds. Aiden very quickly goes from no investment to practically swearing on your life that you'll help Ciro with his goal.
Ciro and his family continue to be the main narrative hook for the 4-5 hour DLC as more of Ciro's brother's story is revealed, and you interact with his father Ogar, the former champion of Carnage Hall before Astrid transformed it into the bloodbath it currently is. Throughout the story, you'll be prompted to make decisions to protect Ciro, attempt to turn him away or egg him on in his pursuit of revenge. The whole time this is going on Ogar is also trying to get you to do what you can to save Ciro as he's already lost one son to the gladiatorial pit and doesn't want to lose another.
At first, the story hook really did not get me, it felt like Aiden was wanting to head to the hall just because the plot dictated that we need to be there for the DLC to function. Once getting there and seeing the depth of the branching plotlines, the heartfelt messages of the important NPCs, and how fleshed out this small universe of the Carnage Hall I fell in love with the place. While Aiden's ultimate goal is to just complete challenges until he reaches the highest rank and can challenge Skullface each step of the journey gives you new sidequests to better your chances in the final fight while providing more context of the world. You can spend more time with Ciro deepening your bond, investigate rumors of a way to ward yourself from the zombies, or find Orgo's armor that helped him rise to the rank of Champion.
In a strange way, the level of depth and interaction you have with the arena as a quest hub and not just a place to compete in event after event after event reminded me a lot of the Glitz Pit from Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. What could have been a simple arena becomes so much more when there are so many side quests to take on that aren't directly related to fighting itself. Sneaking past guards to get to the basement where prisoners are kept felt the most reminiscent of the fun that could be had that wasn't directly engaging in combat.
If you are just here to challenge yourself then you'll get to participate in 16 different events that include completing multi-stage objectives, defeating waves of zombies, running through parkour challenges, or fighting new oversized zombies. You'll need to complete a fair few of these to progress in the storyline and reach a high enough rank to take on Skullface but on their own, they're the peak Dying Light 2 challenge. Your armor and weapons are swapped out for ones you're given so it's truly a test of skill, and not just whether you've been able to obtain the best weapon with all the greatest perks on it. Completing these fights and earning a higher rank will also grant you the ability to purchase new gear and cosmetics.
Throughout this DLC the parkour challenges were definitely the highlight of the show, the final version goes as far as making the floor lava forcing you to run, jump, climb, and spring your way all around an arena to make it through all objectives in time. The weakest aspect of the Bloody Ties DLC is unfortunately in the one-on-one human fights that you'll take part in. A lot of Dying Light 2 combat is circling while flailing your weapons so when you have a series of fights that is just you against another human who allows you to get one hit in before they begin blocking the fights quickly become a repetition of swing, get blocked, bait attack, dodge to the side, and attack again. Even the fight against Skullface felt like a rhythm game, more than engaging combat in this manner.
Dying Light 2 Bloody Ties Review | Verdict
The Dying Light 2 Bloody Ties DLC manages to bring a lot that works really well to the table. For a returning fan, you'll be greeted with a series of challenges to test your skills and a new array of weapons and equipment. While the story is slow to catch on once you make it to the Carnage Hall you'll be impressed with how deep the narrative paths lie and how Ciro's character shifts from being a one-dimensional revenge machine into a fully fleshed-out character with new perspectives from his father. While the big climactic fight, and others, will leave you unimpressed overall Bloody Ties delivers a fun and fresh experience to Dying Light 2.
TechRaptor reviewed Dying Light 2 Bloody Ties DLC on PC using a copy provided by the publisher.
- Entertaining Parkour challenges
- Story gets good
- Repetitive human combat