You wouldn’t think a story about zombies would be all that complicated, but then again, storytelling norms have changed greatly since the days of Dawn of the Dead. After all, The Walking Dead is eleven seasons deep, because they know the human element is just as important as the inhuman element. Dying Light 2 just came out, but it’s been a good seven years since the first game, so if it’s been a while for you, it might be hard to remember what happened in Dying Light 1.
Whether you’re in need of a refresher, or just didn’t play the first game, I’m going to attempt to quickly compartmentalize Dying Light’s setting and story for you. This way, you can quickly jump into Dying Light 2 without being worried about missing important details.
What Happened in Dying Light 1?
The first game took place in a fictional middle eastern city called Harran, where a mysterious viral outbreak turned a large portion of the population into aggressive, cannibalistic mutants. No one calls them “zombies,” but we know what they are. Anyway, the whole city is quarantined, while an organization called the “Global Relief Effort” airdrops supplies and viral inhibitors into the quarantine zone to help the survivors.
Our protagonist, Kyle Crane, is a GRE operative that’s been dropped into the quarantine zone undercover to recover a sensitive document related to the outbreak from one Kadir Suleiman. After an unfortunate infection, Crane is taken in by a local survivor settlement, The Tower, where he learns more about their situation.
As his infiltration goes on, the GRE’s orders become gradually sketchier, with one instance being an order to destroy an air drop of viral suppressants in order to foster a relationship with the local warlord, Rais, to determine if he’s actually Suleiman (which he is). The last straw for Kyle is when the GRE decides to completely halt all aid to The Tower.
Later on, a scientist at the tower who was trying to cook up a cure for the virus, Dr. Imran Zere, is kidnapped by Rais, who drops the big reveal: the file he stole reveals that the GRE are, in fact, the baddies, as they plan to turn the virus into a bioweapon rather than try to cure it. Kyle needs to deliver Dr. Zere’s research materials to another scientist, Dr. Allen Camden, but learns of yet another wrinkle. In an effort to cover up the outbreak, the local defense ministry is planning to firebomb the city, spreading the lie that there are no survivors left. By coordinating with another survivor group, the Embers, Kyle successfully tips off the rest of the world to the corruption of the GRE and the defense ministry.
The GRE offers Kyle an extraction if he brings them the research data so they can maintain plausible deniability. After a dramatic moment with one of his closest allies, Kyle successfully gets the materials to Dr. Camden, but he needs all of Dr. Zere’s research to develop a proper cure, which is still in Rais’ hands. Kyle hunts down Rais, who’s planning to hand over the data to GRE to escape, kills him, and recovers the data. Kyle tells the GRE to shove off and gives the data to Dr. Camden, remaining in the city to offer whatever help he can to the remaining survivors.