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Dying Light shows new ways to deter zombies, but not enough to save your skin

Techland gives players an arsenal with which to combat the zombie menace of Dying Light, including high-powered flashlights and spark-spitting decoys — but that's not enough to save you if you can't jam down that run button.

In a demo at Gamescom 2013 this week, Techland showed off a number of new additions to the free-running zombie apocalypse game, including a new enemy type and a handful of new tricks.

One such trick is the decoy, a sparkling light bomb that, when thrown, will attract zombies' attention. This is helpful when facing large hordes of them, as they will all flock to the decoy and give you space to complete any nearby objectives or run away. Some zombies are also sensitive to light, and shining your flashlight in their direction will cause them to shrink away.

Players can also set up traps through the zone by completing certain missions. In the Gamescom demo, we were tasked with fixing and activating a number of electricity traps throughout the zone. It was close to dusk when we left, and the buddy that sent us out on the mission told us it was best to get everything done before dark. But we weren't quick enough.

Darkness brings out the worst in every zombie. Normal zombie types, called biters, become more violent and can run more quickly — and in many cases outrun you and take you down. The volatile come out to play, a kind of beefed-up super zombie that is nearly impossible to defeat.

Then there's was Techland's developers are calling "toad," a type of zombie that spews gobs of sludge at you that are hard to dodge. According to game designer Maciej Binkowski, these different zombie types were made for two different but related reasons: creating cool kinds of enemies and opponents that fit deeply into the game's infection lore.

"The way the zombies behave are portraits of how the disease mutated in them," he told Polygon. "Different people react to the disease in a different way. So that's why we have all different kinds of enemies, and of course they are designed in a way to challenge the player all the time.

"Players will have a lot of abilities they can use, so we design enemies in a way that they will constantly be challenged," he added. "It will really be up to your skill and guts to handle them, and combat is not always an option — sometimes you'll just have to run."

Binkowski said the teams looks everywhere when searching for inspiration for their zombie hordes — books, old zombie films, all kinds of media.

"We also look at different kinds of infections people report to see in nature," he said. "So we look at all that stuff and we see how we can make it work in the game. We think, this looks really cool or this feels like its what we're aiming for, and we put that all together.

"Many times, for enemies, we start with the behavior we want and then go to the artist and say, 'We have this kind of enemy that behaves like this and we want players to feel this when they see them.'"

Recently Techland set up a studio in Vancouver to work exclusively on Dying Light. Binkowski said the team of about 140 people is buckling up for their own wild dash in getting the game together for next year.

"It's the biggest game we've ever made," he said. "So, all-hands."

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