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Dying Light 2: Tips and tricks for beginners

It’s been 15 years since Kyle Crane told the GRE where they could shove it. Now, in Dying Light 2, Aiden Caldwell, our new protagonist, embarks on a quest to find his sister in the zombie-ridden city of Villedor. Aiden (and players alike) must master several new mechanics to survive the infested city. Thankfully, some returning favorites, like the grappling hook, give long-time fans something to look forward to in the later chapters. Here are some essential tips and tricks for getting started in Dying Light 2.

Explore Villedor

Map of Villedor from open sequence of Dying Light 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Harran pales compared to Villedor, and the processing power of current-gen systems allows players to traverse the entire map without loading screens or delays. Aiden finds himself in Old Villedor to begin the game and gets used to the low roofs and old-style architecture. It’s here that he’ll master all the parkour mechanics from the first game while learning the different shortcuts. Keep an eye out for ziplines and pulleys, as they’ll save your skin in a pinch.

After the first few quests, Aiden gets a pair of binoculars from his new friend, Hakon. If you’ve played Middle Earth: Shadow of War, these binoculars work similarly to the Haedir Towers (the Eye of Sauron towers). As you look around, the crosshairs will shrink on points of interest, eventually marking them on your map. Use them to spot windmills, GRE Zones, and other valuable places to explore later on. It’s best to use the binoculars from a high vantage point, like the top of a windmill. Once you capture a windmill, the game prompts you to assign it to a faction. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out, as you’ll unlock that mechanic later.

While exploring, you’ll come across military convoys promising unique-tier weapons, gear, and accessories. We don’t advise wasting your time with them, as they cost more than they’re worth. They’re swarming with infected, and you’ll end up breaking two weapons fighting all the zombies. The only way to clear several at a time is by blowing up gas tanks, but the explosions attract swarms of Virals (special running infected that don’t like the sun). Once you clear all the zombies, the loot inside the convoys rarely feels worth it. However, these convoys are an excellent way to grind Uncommon Infected Trophies since you can pick them up off dead Virals. You’ll use those trophies to level up accessories at the craftmaster.

Unlock safe zones

Safe zones are the key to surviving at night, especially in the game’s early stages. Unlike the first game, Dying Light 2 features an Immunity Meter, a timer that counts down whenever you step out of UV light. As you level up, you’ll increase your immunity meter to the point where it’s not very concerning. However, a few minutes in the dark can get tricky to manage in the early game. That’s why unlocking safe zones in Dying Light 2 should be at the top of your early-game priority list.

Safe zones go beyond windmills and are basically anywhere with a source of UV light. Most of them act as safe zones (somewhere Aiden can sleep for the night), while others are just UV stations. While exploring at night, the closest UV light source appears on your compass, and they’re usually within 100 meters. When completing night activities like Dark Hollows and Forsaken Stores, use the UV source as a branching-off point, and keep going back to it before branching further.

Avoid Howlers

Tips on Nighttime exploration and Howlers in Dying Light 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As long as you keep your immunity in check, nighttime in Villedor is significantly safer than Harran. You’ll never encounter a Volatile zombie in Old Villedor, so all you have to look out for are Howlers. These zombies, marked by a screaming zombie head symbol (pictured above), are very sensitive. They work like Archaeans in Rainbow Six Extraction. Once they spot you, they’ll let out a loud screech that initiates a chase. Aiden must reach a UV light source to end the pursuit with zombies hot on his tail. However, Howlers don’t have to let off the full scream to alert the horde. The chase begins as soon as the icon above their head changes from yellow to red.

Aiden can sneak up on Howlers, but we don’t recommend it. Instead, invest in the Air Kick combat perk to stun Howlers from above. Then, attack them with your weapon. The best advice is to avoid Howlers in general. They only drop uncommon zombie trophies, which are easily attainable from other sources. Besides, you’ll rarely have an opportunity to loot a dead Howler, especially if they start a chase.

Play all activities

As you explore in Dying Light 2, you’ll hear a chime whenever a new location or activity is nearby. It almost sounds like a coin bouncing off the ground. Activities are marked by blue squares and can be several different events. Sometimes you’ll have to fend off three bandits surrounding a chest. Other times you’ll have to free a prisoner or chase down a thief. These activities are the best way to grind Immunity boosters and XP in the early stages of Dying Light 2. They also come with some valuable rewards depending on the event.

The best activity, we think, is catching thieves. You’ll come across a single enemy looting a body and must chase them down to cash in. They’re quick and can use all the same parkour moves as Aiden. However, they’re not as fast and are often pretty stupid, as they get stuck turning corners or running into zombies. If you have throwing knives on you, toss one in their back to stop them in their tracks, or at least long enough to close the gap and take them out. They’ll always be carrying valuable items you can sell to merchants. If you can make it back to the body they were looting, loot it yourself for more goods. Who said Aiden had to be the most moral person in Villedor?

Whenever you find a group of bandits surrounding a prisoner, try freeing the prisoner before fighting. Sometimes it’s as easy as cutting a rope by shooting an arrow or throwing a knife. You’ll occasionally have to spend a moment cutting the prisoner’s bindings, so give yourself some space if that’s the case. Freeing them makes fighting off the bandits much easier.

If you see an enemy with a siren, focus on them first. More bandits show up if they sound the alarm. Once you take care of the bandits, the survivor rewards you with an immunity booster. Do enough of these, and you’ll be sitting on a stockpile of immunity boosters in no time, making nighttime exploration even easier.

Sometimes, you’ll come across three bandits surrounding a chest, or you’ll find a chest all by itself. The latter is a trap, so be prepared to fight off four or five bandits at once. As we’ve been playing, we’re finding these activities aren’t as rewarding as the others. The loot in the chest is usually a piece of armor or weapon we don’t need. The XP boost is nice, though. Finally, keep an eye out for environmental weapons like spears and spike traps. The spears to a ton of damage against all enemy times. They can also be carried around as an equipped weapon. However, you’ll drop it if you change weapons or loot something. Spike traps are instant kills if an enemy so much as grazes it.

Master the parry

Fighting human enemies in Dying Light 2 isn’t as easy as the previous game. Until you unlock a handful of helpful combat perks, like the Drop Kick and Grapple, you’ll need to rely on parries to survive human fights. To parry in Dying Light 2, wait for the enemy to launch with a normal attack. Before they make contact, hit the block button (L1 on PS5) to parry. If you’ve purchased the Perfect Parry combat skill, a parried enemy enters into a slow-motion state. From here, you can jump over them to unleash a vault kick on someone else or hit them with a power attack.

You can chain vault kicks together when fighting multiple enemies. However, we never had much success with it since you’ll always kick someone too far away. Instead, follow up with a few melee attacks after vault kicking an enemy. Remember, you can parry zombies too, though their attacks are more difficult to time.

Some attacks can’t be parried. If an enemy’s health bar lights up red when they attack, you’ll need to dodge out of the way. Larger enemies can’t be parried either, but they have slow and predictable attacks. Dodge behind them to get a few attacks in before they swing again. Be warned, large human enemies and Demolisher zombies have “phantom range” on their attacks. You might think you’re out of range, but you’re not. Their attacks can’t be parried, so we recommend dodging backward twice when they wind up.

Grind Inhibitors

Tips for using Inhibitors in Dying Light 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Inhibitors are the key to leveling up in Dying Light 2. When you find three (either cumulatively or at the same time), you can increase Aiden’s overall HP or stamina. We leveled up stamina for the first few levels and then sunk the next eight into HP. Why? Because death in Dying Light 2 isn’t too costly. You’ll always spawn close to your objective, and you’ll lose minimal XP.

Leveling either HP or stamina gives you access to more perks. We found combat perks to be more helpful, therefore we leveled up HP to unlock things like Head Stomp and Dropkick. In fact, the only parkour perks we find ourselves using are Dart, Stealth Movement, and Tic Tac. Other parkour perks like Firm Grip and Active/Safe Landing act passively.

You’ll know inhibitors are nearby when your GRE key tells you. You’ll also see how far away you are from the container. Most GRE Inhibitor containers are hidden in Dark Zones, so you’ll need to return at night. You can still find them through general exploration, but those usually contain one inhibitor (you need three to level up). Occasionally, you’ll find inhibitors locked in safes. Thankfully, the safe combo is always nearby, requiring a little more exploration to open.

Follow your GRE key whenever it senses a container. If it’s not behind a Dark Zone or GRE Anomaly (mini-boss battle), try to find it before moving on.

Grind to the ‘Water Tower’ main quest

Before sinking hours into exploration and side quests (something we’re all guilty of), grind the campaign until you reach and complete a mission called “Water Tower.” We won’t spoil the quest’s events, so don’t worry.

After beating Water Tower, you’ll unlock faction assignments, allowing you to assign districts of Villedor to the Survivors or Peacekeepers (PK). Designating sections unlocks certain environmental perks pertaining to those factions. Survivors give you more parkour and navigational perks, while PK gives you more combat-focused accessories. To assign a district, you’ll have to take control of a Water Tower or Electrical Station. Once you’ve captured it, the game prompts you to give that district to a faction.

Which faction you prefer depends on your playstyle. If you’re yearning for more ziplines and parkour accessories, give the Survivors control. If you want more help killing infected, assign districts to the PK.

Stockpile weapons

A full inventory of weapons in Dying Light 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Don’t get hung up on your “favorite weapons” in Dying Light 2, especially in the early stages. Everything breaks and most of the weapons are similar. The core difference lies between two-handed and one-handed weapons, of which we used one-handed primarily. Two-handed weapons aren’t fast enough, and we found ourselves outnumbered pretty quickly. On the other hand (pun intended), one-handed weapons are fast and do enough damage. Furthermore, most of your damage output comes from parkour moves and combat perks unlocked as you level up.

Finally, the best weapons in Dying Light 2 are all environmental. These include spike traps, exploding gas cans, and spears you’ll find all over Villedor. Gravity is also your best friend. We’ve killed more bandits by kicking them off roofs than anything else.

When it comes to upgrades, don’t waste resources upgrading low-level weapons. Once you find some better gear (levels three, four, and five), don’t waste their durability on basic combat. Save them for main quest missions, GRE Anomalies, and special infected. Aiden has a pretty big inventory available to him. In fact, he can carry 24 weapons at once.

Craft, craft, craft

Throwing knives are among the most useful accessories in Dying Light 2. They’re easy to craft, requiring only scrap and rags, yet are far more versatile in the game’s early stages. They can interrupt enemy attacks, blow up gas cans, and cut down survivors by quickly tapping Left Trigger. Ranged weapons have a friendly lock-on/aim assist in Dying Light 2, so don’t focus too hard on making the perfect shot. Throwing knives lose their value once you unlock more ranged weapons, like bows and crossbows. You’ll need scrap to make arrows and bolts, which are far more effective in general.

Other blueprints include medicine, lockpicks, and various boosters that’ll help Aiden survive the infested streets of Villedor. Keep an eye out for roof-top gardens containing plenty of honey and chamomile for making medicine. You’ll know these gardens by the tall yellow trees sticking out of them. You’ll also find a weapon and other crafting materials that respawn after a while.

Alternative ways to heal

Aiden looking for a safe zone in Dying Light 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Other than medicine, Aiden has several different ways to heal at his disposal. The most helpful is finding campfires, indicated by an open book icon on the compass. All you have to do is sit down and enjoy a short story or a nice song while Aiden recovers all his health. Survivors build these campfires all over Villedor, and they’re a great way to save on medicine. It takes about a minute to recover your health, especially if you’ve been leveling HP with Inhibitors. However, it’s an excellent time to get up and stretch, go to the bathroom, or check your phone.

You can also rest in any safe zone to recover your health. Since you can cycle day and night with impunity, there’s no reason to head out with anything but full health. In fact, we found resting and campfires to be our primary source of HP recovery, rarely using our medicine, if ever. As mentioned, death in Dying Light 2 isn’t consequential. Perhaps those rags are better used on Molotov Cocktails?

Understand how armor works

There are four different armor classes in Dying Light 2: Tank, Brawler, Ranger, and Medic. Tanks offer more damage resistance and deal more damage with two-handed weapons, whereas Brawlers make better use of one-handed weapons. Ranger armor boosts your ranged attacks and stamina, while Medic armor boosts your healing capabilities.

Do not mix and match classes. The only way to get the whole “boost” from armor is to stick to one class or a mix of two classes. Even artifact gear (the highest tier in Dying Light 2) only offers upwards of a 10% boost to different areas. So, if you’re looking to increase your one-handed damage significantly, you’ll need to wear a complete Brawler set, for example.

In the image above, we’re wearing four pieces of Brawler gear and two pieces of Ranger Gear. From our headpiece, gloves, arms, and pants, we’re getting about a 21% increase in one-handed weapon damage, among other perks. Ideally, we’re looking for a Brawler shirt and shoes to complete the set. However, we like throwing knives and bows, so the Ranger pieces are good for now.

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Mike Colucci
Michael Colucci is a lifelong video game fan based out of the greater Boston area. He's the one insistent on searching every…
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