With that in thoughts, 2023 was the primary full yr Techland needed to start rising the sport, unleashing a plethora of content material updates, crossover occasions with a mess of franchises, and extra. We sat down with Tymon Smektała, Techland’s Dying Gentle franchise director, to speak in regards to the busy yr, classes realized, and touched on the workforce’s targets for 2024.
“We managed to launch fairly a couple of fairly chunky updates, which modified the sport loads, hopefully for the higher,” Smektała mentioned. “I believe that is for the gamers to say, however really in case you have a look at the sentiment on Steam, you’ll be able to clearly see an enormous improve and enchancment in that space. So, it in all probability signifies that we’re doing issues proper.”
The introduction of Dying Gentle 2: Bloody Ties
Though having launched in November 2022, Dying Gentle 2 kicked off 2023 with the freshly launched Bloody Ties, the sport’s first paid enlargement. Together with including a contemporary batch of Dying Gentle 2 achievements to unlock, Bloody Ties additionally took us to Carnage Corridor, a repurposed opera home used for gladiatorial-style tournaments. Providing up a brand new storyline to work by means of, brand-new gameplay mechanics, difficult arenas stuffed with contaminated, and a few fairly superior characters to satisfy — we’re taking a look at you, Skullface. Regardless of the arena-style similarities to Dying Gentle’s Bozak Horde, Bloody Ties is extra in tune with historic gladiator video games, taking inspiration from quite a lot of common movies like Gladiator and Mad Max 3, and binding all of it along with an overarching narrative. Whereas it provided a chunky little bit of content material, Smektała tells us that the response from the Dying Gentle 2 has been a “spicy combine.”
“Gamers anticipated one thing fairly completely different from us. Bloody Ties is that this apocalypse gladiator extravaganza that takes place in a very completely different map,“ Smektała mentioned. “You enter this enviornment the place you take part in loopy challenges, and it presents a number of enjoyable, intense, and really uncommon gameplay sequences for a Dying Gentle recreation. There have been loads of gamers who loved that they usually appreciated that.
“Plainly for these gamers, we are able to ship, however there may be fairly a big group of our gamers who simply need extra of that post-apocalyptic combat on your life on a regular basis sort of setting and gameplay[…] So it appears we’ve got happy fairly a couple of of our gamers but in addition did not hit the appropriate notes for the opposite a part of our group.”
Studying new classes and rolling out the Dying Gentle 2 replace practice
Techland has a historical past of supporting its video games with further content material years after launch. The primary Dying Gentle, which launched in 2015, was nonetheless getting new DLC packs till June 2022, and Techland has already mentioned that Dying Gentle 2 will obtain at the least 5 years of assist as effectively. When discussing participant reception to the Bloody Ties DLC, Smektała mentioned that it has given the workforce an opportunity to be taught when the appropriate time to broaden a recreation’s content material into new areas is, and when it is best to give attention to the core gameplay.
“One thing that we’ll take with us into the long run is that once we launch a recreation the primary batch of content material ought to be centered on not making an attempt one thing new however reinforcing and including to the core fantasy,” Smektała mentioned. “Then, solely after a while, like in yr two or three, possibly even later, when the core fantasy is already saturated in gamers’ hearts, we are able to transfer on to experimenting with another stuff.”
“We perceive that as quickly as you launch your recreation, it is not simply your child, it is also the infant of the entire gamers who’re enjoying it, so that they have as a lot proper to inform us what they want to see within the recreation…”
Final yr, Techland rolled out some staggeringly giant updates, including new gore methods, customized map assist, an overhauled nighttime expertise, fight upgrades, and extra. It was a busy yr for the workforce, however as we’re informed, it is what must be performed while you’re working along with your gamers to enhance a recreation.
“There is not any disgrace for us in type of assuming this community-driven strategy, the place it is nearly a collaborative work between us and our gamers,” Smektała informed us. “I believe we perceive that as quickly as you launch your recreation, it is not simply your child, it is also the infant of the entire gamers who’re enjoying it, so that they have as a lot proper to inform us what they want to see within the recreation and as a lot proper to make use of the sport nevertheless they need — it isn’t for us to dictate how our gamers ought to play the sport.
“Realizing that, re-emphasizing that internally, and likewise getting the event juice again in us we managed to give attention to updates, and I believe every one in all them, beginning with our first anniversary, actually hit the mark of the expectations from our gamers.”
One notable distinction between Dying Gentle and Dying Gentle 2 is the best way Techland dealt with the nighttime gameplay within the sequel. The primary recreation nearly had you feeling such as you have been on a timer throughout the day, as as soon as the darkness rolled in and the Volatiles — quick, highly effective contaminated that chase you — got here out to play, it was an enormous danger to take a twilight stroll. In Dying Gentle 2, the hazard eased up significantly, eradicating the stress induced by making an attempt to navigate by means of the darkish. Techland addressed that in an replace final yr, ramping up the problem of nighttime gameplay and returning Volatiles to their rightful place as essentially the most terrifying contaminated variant.
“At launch, we wished to make the evening a bit bit extra accessible than within the first recreation as a result of we noticed from participant information that a number of gamers have been skipping the evening half […] However then we realized that in doing this, we in all probability misplaced part of Dying Gentle’s distinctive DNA,” Smektała mentioned. “We wished to carry that feeling again once more, and I believe it was a hit[…] On the event aspect, it was fairly an achievement as a result of we managed to flip over the core facet of the sport inside a comparatively brief span of about two or three months.”
Dying Gentle 2’s longevity with out common monetization choices
Loot bins, battle passes, extra beauty objects than a Hollywood prop grasp’s cabinet — these are issues we see all too usually in dwell service video games to maintain the cash rolling in whereas the developer continues to assist the sport. Dying Gentle 2 is not a dwell service recreation, however very like its predecessor, Techland goals to assist it persistently for a few years to come back (simply have a look at final yr’s file). Aside from some themed DLC packs, although, there may be little in the best way of monetization in Techland’s zombie survival recreation, and it is all a part of the plan.
“Dying Gentle’s years 4 and 5 have been extra profitable than years two and three as a result of we really managed to construct this enormous pile of content material that may make the sport fascinating for gamers.”
“These updates are extraordinarily essential for longevity, and I believe it labored for us in Dying Gentle one. Other than the discharge yr, Dying Gentle’s fourth and fifth years have been extra profitable than years two and three as a result of we managed to construct this enormous pile of content material that may make the sport fascinating for gamers,” Smektała mentioned. “They began inviting their mates and type of spreading the phrase to their mates… I hope we will repeat that with Dying Gentle 2. Each Dying Gentle and Dying Gentle 2 are long-tail video games and we’re making a aware effort to make them like that.”
One other tactic Techland makes use of alongside the rollout of content material updates is using group occasions like Winter Tales, Egg-splosive Hunt, Bloody Nights, and the like. Every occasion usually presents a brand new beauty bundle and weapon pack DLC, and by finishing a collection of community-driven targets, gamers collaborating have an opportunity to unlock the DLC totally free earlier than it goes on sale. As you’ll be able to think about, the inducement attracts a number of gamers again to Dying Gentle 2, and Techland ramped it up final yr with a bunch of cross-over occasions with franchises like The Strolling Useless, For Honor, Vampire: The Masquerade, and extra.
“I do not keep in mind the numbers from reminiscence, however we monitor retention engagement and returning gamers,” Smektała mentioned. “It is very apparent that once we do a crossover like that, the variety of returning gamers is astronomical. They actually do draw the viewers again.”
Adjustments to Dying Gentle 2’s cross-over occasions and Techland’s focus for 2024
With 2023 proving to be a profitable yr for Dying Gentle 2, we have been to seek out out what Techland plans for the yr forward, and it appears like we’ll be getting a brand new format for in-game occasions..
“Possibly we is not going to do as lots of these (crossover occasions) however guarantee that we squeeze as a lot as attainable out of every one,” Smektała revealed. “So, we’ll have the ability to form the occasions and create a construction round them the place they are going to have the ability to final for weeks, possibly even with a ample quantity of rewards and gameplay experiences for gamers to get eager about.
“To be trustworthy, by way of occasions, we’re fairly new to this space so we’re nonetheless studying[…] We realized a couple of issues from final yr’s occasions and I believe crucial one is that we have to focus extra on the construction of these occasions. Proper now, with the occasions that we’re doing, you’re simply loading the sport and getting notified of the entire targets that you must full, after which operating round making an attempt to finish them, which I believe removes some fantasy and pleasure. All of our subsequent occasions can have extra construction, the place you must type of give attention to possibly a couple of smaller duties, then they are going to unlock an even bigger one, and possibly in case you full a bunch of these greater ones, then there’s the large reward on the finish with the most important problem for you.”
Alongside the modifications to the occasion system, the workforce has a few focus factors for the yr forward. Techland may even proceed to make use of the Group Concepts web page on the Pilgrim’s Outpost for added updates, and we are able to count on much more zombie survival gameplay, in addition!
“We’ve got created fairly a couple of fascinating processes and strategies that permit us to grasp what gamers count on from Dying Gentle 2. The most effective instance is the Group Concepts,” Smektała mentioned. “You possibly can go away concepts you’d prefer to see within the recreation and different gamers can vote for it. Certain, you’ll be able to say that it is the easiest type of democracy however it’s helped us to grasp what gamers need, what gamers want, and what’s trending.
“I believe the following yr will likely be centered on zombies and preventing with zombies and surviving in opposition to zombies — that would be the star of subsequent yr as a result of that is what gamers need.”
“One other one which we may use is what we began with, Bloody Ties; let’s give attention to the core zombie survival fantasy for a while,” Smektała reiterated. “I believe the following yr will likely be centered on preventing and surviving in opposition to zombies — that would be the star of subsequent yr as a result of that is what gamers need.”
Though Dying Gentle 2’s second enlargement was initially right down to launch final yr, it was delayed earlier than we may be taught something about it, so it stays fairly the thriller. We nonetheless haven’t got a launch date both, and Smektała would not need to wreck the shock, however Techland hopes it will likely be the sport’s “crown jewel.”
“I haven’t got something to announce at this stage, however the work is progressing. It is shaping as much as be an ideal DLC,” Smektała mentioned. “We’ve got already revealed a few of the idea artwork behind the look of the brand new location. Additionally, the give attention to zombies and survival will likely be very prevalent within the DLC, I believe, so please keep tuned. We do not need to rush this as a result of we wish this to be a crowning jewel within the historical past of Dying Gentle 2.”
We had a good time catching up with Tymon Smektała, Dying Gentle’s franchise director, to speak about Dying Gentle 2 in 2023 and what’s to come back in 2024. How about you? Are you excited for this yr’s wave of content material for the open-world zombie survival recreation? Drop a remark under and tell us!