Dying Light has only been out for a week, but many players are already itching for bigger and better challenges than those in the base game. Since there isn't a "hardcore mode" or anything like that yet, the best way to turn up the difficulty dial is imposing your own custom rules. Here are some ideas for how to do that.
Dying Light defaults to giving protagonist Kyle Crane a heightened awareness ability known as "survivor sense" that highlights choice enemies in addition to nearby hard-to-find objectives and items. Disabling hints in the "Game" options menu eliminates on-screen notifications for things like loot and entrances (or exits) to buildings. This forces you to comb through your surroundings in search of something, anything, that might help you.
The only way to deal proper damage to bad guys in Dying Light is by hitting them in the head. Or, before that: knocking out their legs so you can bop them in the noggin. Turning off auto-aim for melee and ranged weapons makes landing precise hits very tricky, which helps bring out that feeling of desperation that strikes you whenever a hideous monster lunges toward you.
One of the most popular mods that's popped up for PC players turns off all on-screen notifications. That means: no sense of your weapon's current state of disrepair, no on-screen ammo counter, and no mini-map. That last tweak is the most sinister, since the mini-map is the only way you can keep track of the location and vision-cones of night-time super-zombies like Volatiles. Going outside without it means you have to rely on your senses, and your flashlight, alone. Good luck.
Shops in Harran are the best place to find high-level weapons, medkits, and weapon-crafting ingredients. If you don't make use of the merchants, you'll have to rely entirely on the weapons you can scrounge up and make for yourself. Believe me: there is nothing more unsettling in this game than finding yourself stuck somewhere far away from the nearest safe-zone and realizing every single weapon in your inventory is broken.
Dying Light lets you carry an abundance of three items that always come in handy:
- Firecrackers: useful for distracting zombies, blowing up boomers, and starting fires.
- Lockpicks: you need these to get the best loot.
- Medkits: healing yourself.
If you limit yourself to carrying only ten firecrackers or lockpicks at any given time, it helps make the game feel much more realistic—i.e., scary. Because really: how does Crane stuff 100 firecrackers into his pockets?
Dying Light's firearms and tossable weapons allow you to execute one-hit kills against all but the most powerful enemies in the game, and do so from a safe distance. Going cold turkey on them leaves you with melee attacks, which places you at greater risk whenever you choose to enter into combat with the undead.
At least one person already managed to beat Dying Light using only punching and kicking attacks, so we know that it's doable! It just takes a lot of patience. And a lot of dodging.
Night-time is the hardest part of Dying Light, but it's also the one that's easiest to avoid since very few missions require you to venture outside of a safe zone after dark. One player on Reddit therefore suggested a "bloodshot run" to force you out into the night more often. If you want to make it even more difficult, you can also opt out of capturing optional safe houses. That leaves you with an intimidatingly small number of places to escape to when Volatiles start chasing after you. Just typing that last sentence made me scared.
Crane's most powerful abilities are located at the upper-most levels of each of his three skill trees. Similar to leaving out guns or molotovs, cutting off things like the head-stomp make it much more difficult to execute one-hit kills. Leaving out the grappling hook, meanwhile, keeps Crane's parkour moves a bit more...down to earth, since he can't zip around Harran like a would-be Spider-Man.
As the tips above imply, the best ways to customize Dying Light's difficulty center around self-imposed handicaps that help keep the game at the unforgiving difficulty with which it begins. If you want to get more specific, players have been posting great ideas for unique challenge runs on the game's Reddit and Steam forums. Here are some the best I've come across so far.
From this Steam thread:
- No combat unless required, try to get through the game with parkour only.
- At Night you can only use flashlight to fight off the super zombies and you can only escape by running away, so no uses traps (and if you want, you can't escape through running into a safe house)
- No upgrades.
- No medkits.
- Consumables (bombs, throwing knives, grenades) as your only weapons.
- Permadeath (naturally).
- Iron Man Mode (one life, if you die, start over, recommended for people who have already beaten the game)
- Agility and Combat Adept ONLY (do not level up past adept to expert or master)
- Green tier weapons ONLY
- One weapon and one firearm at a time only
- Loot as much as you want, but limited to 3 crafts per day/night cycle only
- Medkit stock can not exceed 2 medkits at a time
- Grapple hook not allowed, do not purchase this skill
- Sleeping is allowed and encouraged for people who like to "roleplay," hard to believe Crane never sleeps
- Disable crosshair
- No map
- 5 lock picks maximum at a time
- Can only craft items when at a safe house or "work bench"
- Crane is a man who cares about other people, go out of your way to help survivors
- No co-op or Be The Zombie
The only thing I'd add is: try playing with a rule where you can only use a weapon until it breaks once. The repair system in Dying Light is one of the least believable aspects in terms of survival game realism, since weapons never seem to fall apart. If you pretend that the baseball bat or hammer you were just whacking a zombie with actually did split in half the moment it's durability dropped to zero, things become much more intense.
Any other ideas from the Dying Light pros out there? Let me know and I'll keep adding to this list! It sure helps pass the time while we all wait for some ultra "hardcore" mode to show up in the modding community (or come from developer Techland itself) that finally makes using your flashlight a surefire way to be detected by the zombie horde.