Exclusive: Dying Light 2: Bloody Ties interview and Techland's tips

By Tom West,

Dying Light 2's first story DLC, Bloody Ties, is now out, and to help you get started, we spoke to the team at Techland to get their insight, as well as some tip for conquering Carnage Hall.

Welcome to Carnage Hall, the one place in Villedor that actually offers you something more than simple survival when risking life and limb in the brutal aftermath of Harran's global virus — fame and fortune await those brave, or stupid, enough to pursue it. Carnage Hall is the staging ground of Bloody Ties, the first major DLC and story-driven content for Techland's Dying light 2: Stay Human.

In anticipation of Dying Light 2's first DLC launch today, Techland has agreed to offer a little insight and explore some of the content. Dying Light's franchise director Tymon Smektała has shared a little about the DLC, and a number of Techland developers have given us their top tips for tackling the dangers of Carnage Hall. Limber up, because it's going to be a tough fight to the top.

Accessing Dying Light 2: Stay Human's Bloody Ties DLC

Unlike the free Chapter DLC we've been playing in A Nightrunner's Footsteps and A Huntress and a Hag, Bloody Ties is the first paid content drop for Dying Light 2, and as such, contains a host of new additions, including a full storyline. "The Chapters usually take the mechanics that we have and re-format them to create new goals for players to achieve," Smektała said. "Bloody Ties is a fully-fledged DLC, with its own narrative, characters, and gameplay mechanics. There’s a lot to discover and have fun with, probably more than is the norm with other, current and similarly priced offerings in the games industry." To access it, you'll either need to purchase Bloody Ties separately, if you own the standard edition or download it from the Xbox Store as part of your Dying Light 2 Deluxe Edition or Dying Light 2 Ultimate Edition benefits.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human: Bloody Ties Pre-Order

Dying Light 2 Stay Human: Bloody Ties Pre-Order

Tempted by riches, fame, and status, Aiden enters a bloodsport tournament where the greatest combatants fight to the death. Face off against the worst of the worst, make new allies, climb up the ladder, and claim the title of the ultimate victor.

Bloody Ties takes place in the same world as the main game but is independent of the main story campaign, although you will need to access both Old Villedor as well as the Central Loop to experience it in its entirety. "It was designed from the ground up to be accessible for all players," Smektała tells us. "We have players who are just starting Dying Light 2: Stay Human, and others that are on their fourth or fifth playthrough." With that in mind, you can begin your journey through Bloody Ties' opening act after completing only a few of the earlier missions from the base game. "The first act takes place almost entirely in the open world of Villedor," Smektała said. "So, players can push the story of the [main game's] narrative and the story of the DLC at the same time."

Techland's top tips — Dying Light franchise director, Tymon Smektała
"Some of those challenges might seem difficult at first, but rest assured that for each one there’s a tactic or strategy that allows you to complete it in the most efficient way. Stay focused and try different approaches to the challenges at hand."

Smektała says that the team isn't focusing too heavily on the class system in Dying Light 2 just yet, so heading into Bloody Ties with the gear you're most comfortable with is perfectly fine. Each event in Carnage Hall gives you a pre-determined loadout for the challenge you're attempting to complete, but that doesn't mean there aren't some tasty weapons to be earned. Smektała tells us his favourite new addition is the Carnage Manica, a new accessory that the player can hold in their left hand to increase their blocking capabilities. "One cool aspect of it is that it can be modded so it allows players to electrocute enemies or shoot them with fire missiles while wielding a machete in the right hand. It’s really cool!"
While the DLC's missions can be completed as you're exploring Villedor doing the base game's missions or tackled head-on if you've completed everything on offer already, it sounds like there is quite a bit of additional content included with Bloody Ties. We were interested to find out how much playtime we'll get from this new adventure: "It’s the hardest question to answer even with a DLC which is not as open world-ish as what we usually do," Smektała said — if you've played Dying Light's The Following DLC, you'll know just how 'open' Techland can go with its expansions. "I think that reaching the finale should take players around four to five hours, but there’s a lot of content that’s not obligatory to finish the DLC — side quests, additional challenges and even some sweet Easter eggs. There’s plenty to do for completionists."

Bloody Ties centres on Carnage Hall, an abandoned opera house turned gladiatorial arena of sorts, where Villedor's most violent survivors can fight for fame and fortune or die trying. Aiden ends up being dragged into the brutal blood sport, not only fighting his way through the increasingly dangerous challenges but also having to choose where his loyalties lie with the newly introduced characters. Four key characters are being introduced with this DLC, and while we won't speak about them for the sake of potential spoilers, we will say that your decisions in Bloody Ties will affect your standing with each, as this isn't just an arena DLC like Dying Light's Bozak Horde.

Techland's top tips — senior level designer, Karol 'Hagi' Wróbel
"To gain more momentum, you can kick off from a rope instead of jumping from it!"

Wróbel prefers to tackle Carnage Hall's challenges with Aiden's skill tree abilities, choosing to take advantage of the benefits of having a complete Parkour tree and max Stamina — "you don't need HP if they can't hit you." Due to the weapon presets presented in the challenges, choosing to rely on your base skills is a great way to smash through Wróbel's favourite new addition: Spectacle events.

Bloody Ties isn't an updated version of Bozak Horde

If you're expecting Bloody Ties to play like The Bozak Horde in Dying Light 2's predecessor, then we can say now that you're in for a very different experience. "It is true that both of those DLCs use the arena format as a foundation," Smektała says. "Each one presents a unique take on it — they’re different between themselves and what is usually considered an Arena Mode." The Bozak Horde, or Bozak's Challenge, was a wave-based fight for survival against both human and infected combatants. You couldn't take your own weaponry or equipment into the arena — instead, you'd have to scavenge while you played until you completed it for the first time and unlocked Bozak's bow, which could then be taken with you for a pretty decent advantage.

"Bozak Horde was very fast-paced; a crazy rush to the finish line with players fighting for their lives in the hands of a madman," Smektała said. "Bloody Ties is way more chunky, with a substantial narrative that touches upon very human topics of family and how it can be easily destroyed (or saved) by fame, addictions, and by other vices. I hope that the draw of the story will make players invested in tackling the challenges themselves — especially since we’re also taking some brave creative ideas."

Techland's top tips — QA analyst, Jacek Śliz
"Blunt weapons stun quite often, use them for the advantage!"

Śliz also prefers to focus on a maxed-out Parkour skill tree, taking advantage of the Drop Kick skill to launch the infected through the air. These tactics work well with their favourite new addition, the Camouflage Grease equipment — yes, the ability to cloak yourself from the flesh-chomping undead has returned, although instead of it joining as a skill, you'll be able to craft it like each of the other equipment items. The Camouflage Grease isn't overly helpful in Śliz's preferred Bloody Ties challenge, though, which outfits you with a Heavy Tribal Axe and tasks you with cutting your enemies into giblets — "it is pure fun to use!"

Dying Light 2: Bloody Ties' unlikely inspiration

Dying Light 2 focuses on civilisation at the absolute brink of annihilation from the ever-growing numbers of infected plaguing the world. As resources begin to run dry, Techland's vision of a world on the edge gives it a modern Dark Ages vibe, where law and order have all but disappeared and anarchy has begun to prevail; groups of survivors banding together to create their own visions of structure, or lack thereof. The setting is a perfect opportunity to delve into the brutality of blood sports, which have been prevalent throughout our history all the way to the modern age of martial combat sports like the UFC.

While the martial sports we enjoy watching or partaking in today are a little less deadly when compared to some of the more brutal gladiatorial arenas of our ancestors, there are plenty of similarities that have carried through the ages. For the most part, these sports are held in high esteem, held in grand arenas as spectators watch the combatants fight for the glory, fame, and riches waiting for the victor. Naturally, Techland has drawn inspiration from a number of televised imaginings and very real shows. "The inspirations are numerous — from Gladiator, through Mad Max 3, to movies like The Wrestler or Rocky," Smektała said. "We were inspired by MMA and UFC shows, trying to capture what makes great, brutal sports shows tick."

Techland's top tips — Level designer, Bartłomiej Guzek
"Search for opportunity weapons. There are plenty of useful tools scattered around the arenas!"

Guzek says to max out your Parkour skill tree to unlock the combat skills needed to survive the challenges you'll face, especially the Drop Kick, Ground Pound, and Perfect Dodge skills — you can't go wrong with Homerun! Guzek's favourite new additions are the Fame system and Spectacle events, both of which will be aided by mastering the Parkour skill tree.
It's not only been depictions of violence that have inspired Dying Light's DLC, though, as Carnage Hall is built on a foundation of glitz and glamour. "One of the most surprising inspirations comes from what the Cirque du Soleil is doing — and you can see the inspiration mostly in the form of Spectacles," Smektała said. "Spectacles are these exquisite stage plays, where players will be reenacting famous stories; with an axe in one hand and a Molotov cocktail in the other."

"The one I like most is called “One Day in Harran” and allows you to replay some of the events from the first game in this brutal show event. It’s all rather unique really, I hope it’s something that players will appreciate."

Bloody Ties Spectacle events are a story of their own

Bloody Ties offers up four to five hours of additional story-driven content alongside a number of new items and enemies. Volatiles have received an update to their overall abilities, a new infected type called the Grenadier has been added, which are armoured in fireproof overalls and weaponise Molotov cocktails, and the Demolisher and Goon special infected have new variants: Gorilla and Cataclysm. As for Aiden's new items, a number of new melee weapon variants have been added, such as the aforementioned Heavy Tribal Axe, as well as Camouflage Grease to help you safely walk amongst the undead for a period of time. The main addition to Aiden's arsenal is the Carnage Manica, a twist on the forearm shields (manicas) employed by ancient gladiators, although Aiden's can be customised with modern weaponry.

Your journey to the grand arena of Carnage Hall begins with smaller "street" fights, which task you with battling it out with both infected and human combatants to earn your place in the main events. Once you've made it to Carnage Hall, Spectacle events will become available — narrative-driven shows of strength employing themed fights with predefined objectives and loadouts. You'll find four challenges waiting for you, each differing from the last, but all rewarding you with Fame Points, Carnage Hall's currency for climbing the ranks of the arena. For achievement warriors like yourselves, Bloody Ties introduces eight new Dying Light 2 achievements to collect: five story-related, two challenge-based, and one collectable-focused achievement.

Bloody Ties is now available for Dying Light 2: Stay Human on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and other platforms — for those who are about to die, we salute you!
Tom West
Written by Tom West
Tom has been playing video games since he was old enough to hold a controller, experimenting with a number of systems until he eventually fell in love with Xbox. With a passion for the platform, he decided to make a career out of it, and now happily spends his days writing about that which he loves. If he’s not hunting for Xbox achievements, you’ll likely find him somewhere in The Elder Scrolls Online or fighting for survival in Battlefield.
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