Dying Light: Bad Blood is a promising spin on battle royale, but I'll wait until it's free

While Dying Light 2 boldly attempts to change its world around you based on the choices you make, multiplayer spin-off Bad Blood is what the developer calls 'brutal royale'. You collect blood samples from infected-occupied areas around the map, and when you've got enough, you sprint to a helicopter and try and take the only seat out of there. On the way, you'll encounter and battle other players, and you can steal their blood samples if you overcome them. More blood samples level up your character. 

Some of the fundamentals of battle royale are here, then, but because it's built around Dying Light's mostly melee-focused combat and parkour, it feels nothing like the rest of them, really. It's more a high-concept multiplayer expansion for the original game, that's very easy to pick up and play if you're familiar with it. 

Last week at Gamescom, I played two rounds of the game. It's really not much to form an opinion on, in all honesty, since the rounds last about ten or so minutes each. It was enough time for me to beat a few zombies to death, gather up some blood samples, kill a couple of players then get sliced apart by someone dressed in a zebra-coloured suit (twice). I feel like it'll take ten games or more for me to properly evaluate it, and to know how much of a fool's errand it is trying to gather up blood samples when an enemy could just twat you with a hammer, take your supplies and jog off. 

Would it make more sense just to linger and take advantage of diligent players while I spend my time finding nasty objects to kill them with? I guess I'll have to wait until September to find out, but it's a concern Joe Knoop raised when he played the game back in March. Since then, Techland has raised the player count from six to twelve, and it means the map feels pretty populated. I found players in seconds rather than minutes, usually getting an ominous glance at them hopping between buildings before the frantic melee duels began. Since you're often surrounded by infected, it's a tense landscape to battle in. 

Techland has totally rebuilt the melee combat for Bad Blood's multiplayer needs. Blades will cause enemies to bleed, and fights progress so quickly that they're basically over in seconds, unless one of you manages to run away and heal. In two games, it's hard to figure out which weapons will be the most valuable in a one-to-one duel, but it feels like the faster you can hit, the better. 

The developers say they're thinking about adding team play, which could work pretty well, considering one player could act as lookout and the other could gather blood. The game will be free-to-play after it leaves Early Access in early 2019, which is pretty generous. It'll be supported by an in-game shop, selling more funky outfits along the lines of the ludicrous zebra suit worn by my killer. In the four-to-six months until launch, curious players will need to fork out $20 for a founder's pack, which grants exclusive skins and some in-game currency.

I definitely don't mind Techland charging for access, given how well the developer has supported Dying Light post-launch, but I want to play this when it's more full-featured and in the hands of thousands of players. More modes, a few maps, and a potentially gigantic player base factoring the original game's success could make this viable counter-programming to the battle royale juggernauts. My first impression is it feels like a credible extension of Dying Light, and I can't argue with a free price tag. 

Samuel Roberts
Former PC Gamer EIC Samuel has been writing about games since he was 18. He's a generalist, because life is surely about playing as many games as possible before you're put in the cold ground.