In Dying LIght your goal is to live at day and night, through any means necessary. There is a lot of good tips out there and I'll run through them real quick: scavange everything, run fast, and don't fight. That's all well and good, but the game pretty much explains these things in graphic detail, so here is some tips that you might not know or easily find out about.
These tips focus heavily on starting out in the game, by the midgame (especially when Old Town is unlocked), you'll have mastered almost everything there is to do, and a lot of things become a lot easier with an inventory full of modded weapons and stacks of consumables to use as you want. As a sidenote, the game can be very difficult for the first few hours, but becomes increasingly easier even after the first few hours of play.
Death Can Be A Big Deal
Dying is sort of a big deal, sort of not. It's a great way to just get through the night (why spend the time sneaking to a safe house when you can die and respawn there), but you do lose survivor XP, which can or can not be a big deal depending on if you are on spot about picking up airdrops which cover a multitude of deaths.
Night is 7 Minutes
You have seven minutes at night to survive and the day cycle is 64 minutes. You can reset the day / night cycle at any bed and reset the game to morning, giving you another 64 minutes of daylight. As a matter of a fact, there is rarely a point in the game where you have to transverse the night time landscape. Outside of the story randomly being a jerk and throwing you into the night after a mission or requiring a mission be completed at night, you should never really care about the time of day.
Night time is for when you want to level up quickly, it's twice the XP for strength and agility and you are stronger at night, but so are the zombies. When you feel comfortable that you can survive and not die (losing survivor points), night play is a great place to farm resources, but in the early game it's best just to avoid it until you're prepared.
Aim for the Head or Use Explosives
Most infected die quickly to head shots, either from a throwing star or just a melee swing or with a gun. This is especially true for Rai's thugs, who even with their massive healthpool, will collapse quickly to a headshot. Some infected don't play well to head shots, like Bombers. However, other infected can die VERY easily to a Bomber's explosion or a Hazmat's cannister on his back.
Enemies take damage in some very interesting ways, but when the amusement of seeing your character break an infected's leg is done, the head makes quick work of them.
Camouflage is Cheat Mode
You can get by a lot of missions easily by camouflaging and by the late game, there are even situations where you can camo off a lone zombie before you get to the main pack. Unless you attack a zombie while camo'd, nothing will attack you, although Bombers for some reason will still "trigger," run out, and explode if you get near to one.
By Old Town Everything is Out the Window (Late Game Tips)
There is more than one map in Dying Light and by the time you reach Old Town, most of these tips will not be useful because you will be a zombie slaying madman capable of surviving the entire night and then some, grappling from ledge to ledge, and the only thing to really bother you is a bomber that you can't predict (and by then the game will be throwing them everywhere).
Moving into the late game, I would suggest burning your ammo as much as you want when indoors and make sure to keep modding your weapons.
Safe Houses are a Joke to Recapture
Outside of a few safe houses with dudes who have guns (which you'll need a gun to take), one of which you run into during a story mission, they are all hilarious jokes to recapture. Rarely is there anything other than a shambling walking undead or two wandering around and roughly one to two objectives per safe house (close the door and turn the power on). There is literally no reason at the onset of the game to simply go around and just unlock all the safe houses, which provide an XP bonus and open up extra shops.
Hey that's your super fast level up trick - how do you level up fast in Dying Light? Unlock safe houses of course.
The Streets are Safe
It's easy on the onset of the game to think that running around on the streets is going to be insta-gib territory, especially after you try to engage like 4 zombies and then can't even kill the first one before you either launch into a quicktime event or retreat with no health.
The game dislikes you killing the zombies. It doesn't want you to because it's going to just smash your face in. Fighting the zombies is dumb, there is no point, and the loot they have isn't that great - you get better loot in the story missions when you're forced to fight Rai's guys, including weapons with huge damage bonuses and the such.
Zombies are pointless, you run past them, and even the different virals are a joke, you just keep running. If you get one that can catch you, then you fight it and it alone, and keep running. No point in wasting money / time for something that you're not even going to recapture what you spent.
With that said, the streets are safe, just keep running and dodge the zombies. You don't have to spend all day trying to jump rooftop to rooftop trying to avoid the things. Obviously, where you can run on the roofs, do so, but for instance the overpass is a great way to move from west to east and east to west and all you have to do is just keep moving. You're faster than the zombies and they will only hurt you if you get close enough for them to grab you.
By Old Town, the game acknowledges that you are pretty much capable of transversing the landscape, and provides a much easier route around with ziplines and better rooftop coverage.
If getting overwhelmed early on: remember zombies rarely will climb very far to get you (virals will climb entire buildings to get you), so you can pull them say between two cars and fight 1v1, which is easier than fighting a horde. By midgame, you should be able to easily wipe out an entire horde with a few skills in the power tree.
Police Vans are Treasure Troves
You'll spot various police vans around when you're moving through town. You can lockpick them and often find guns, ammo, and other supplies, but generally they're well protected by wandering infected. If you're quick with the lockpicks, you can throw a firecracker, pick the lock, loot, and get away without a single scratch.
Farming is Critical
You've got to have supplies, they keep pushing that in front of you, but farming isn't hard. Just run out and do side quests, take your time and search through the buildings you move through when you're moving around. There is even solo zombies up there that are easy to take down. This also helps you level up. Lots of story missions / side quests also let you into interior buildings which are a treasure trove of supplies and you can make as much noise as you want without fear of virals showing up.
Grappling Hook is Awesome
The grappling hook unlocks in the agility tree and it's pretty much the best investment I ever made, since it makes both night play way easier (you can grapple faster than zombies can catch you) and day play way easier (you can skip large sections of parkour areas by just grappling up). It's also a great tool for dealing with near death (just grapple away). Zombies take time to find you.
Do or Don't Do the Story (but do it)
A lot of advice is to ignore the story, but I disagree, as the story is really good at getting you to explore the map (which at the start seems huge, but it's really small once you learn how to move). So you should do the story as much as you want to or can, as it's going to get you to all the different safe houses (if you don't just run and unlock all of them), it's going to give you EXP and cash, and all of the missions are STUPIDLY easy for the first quarter. One mission literally has you just walk to different settlements, showing you where they are at, and talking to NPCs, no combat.
However, game difficulty depends on story progression. At the start of the game, the world is fully of mostly the plain infected. As you progress in the story, you'll start seeing more and more different types in the open world.
Some missions are in "mini dungeons" I call them, like one in a school, in which case the entire mission is even a joke since it's inside you can use a gun as much as you want. Zombies come in groups of 3, Rai's guys come in groups of 3, and everyone mostly melees. No point in not just using your rounds, which while you think may be rare, considering you need a total of probably 14 shots to clear the area, there isn't much for you to worry about.
The story is required to unlock specific safe houses and Old Town, in addition to Bolters and other enemy types.
In the comments, some suggest farming before doing any missions at all, which is entirely feasible, however, I went with just following along with the story until my character was powerful enough to farm day and night without contention.
Do the Quarantine Areas
The quarantine areas provide you with drops to take back to the quartermaster, in addition to XP and other goodies. No point in not doing them when you find them, they're super easy. Oh and as you level up, combat isn't hard. In the grocery store one, you simply just have to turn off the power to the trap, open the door, and fight about 20 zombies (which isn't hard considering a single Molotov will finish the pack).
If a Door Opens - It's a Bomber
There is rarely a situation I found where there wasn't a Bomber that opened a door. If you see a door open, don't strike, just run (you can press B on the PC to look behind you) and then see what it is. More likely than not, it's a Bomber.
You can always return to the prologue, if you want. Just go to the top of the building and walk over there. It's helpful as your skills increase to learn different ways to tackle previous puzzles or even time yourself going through the obstacle course that doesn't have any enemies. You don't have to, but I went and did it a few times and found the experience helped me understand how various new skill unlocks worked.
Forget Airdrops and Saving Survivors and Anything that Costs Anything early on
Atleast until you can easily take care of it or if you don't mind losing XP.
It's a losing proposition to lose weapon durability, have a chance at dying, and whatever when honestly it's going to happen about 29304832 times in your playthrough. I've seen enough random survivors out in the world that I just can't care. Who cares? You shouldn't, skip over it.
Sure there is "big rewards," but here's what's going to happen. You're going to find three of Rai's dudes, they're going to have huge health pools, and then they're going to smash your face in. You're going to die, losing suvivor points and weapon durability. If you don't have a nearby safehouse, you're going to be way back at the start. By the time you can take on these dudes, you won't need an article to tell you how to do it, you'll just smash them with your sword.
Congratulations, the game trolled you. Don't do it until you have a bigger stick, more accuretly, more toward the midgame when they are much easier to collect.
Again, this is referencing early game, by halfway through the game (when old town unlocks), you're going to be able to snag every airdrop possible by grappling down to it, wiping everything in the area, and snagging it quickly. Until then, look for quarentine areas, they play like puzzles / dungeons and provide what is similar to an airdrop to turn into the quartermaster.
A commenter talks about an early and easy way to snag them is by throwing a molotov, but remember that noise can draw virals, and if you can't take care of them yet then best to continue to avoid. By a quarter in, you should have found an amazing weapon that's modded and use the traps nearby to take care of it.
Becoming a God (Practice, Practice, Practice)
After your parkour enough, fight enough, and do enough quests, you're going to be unkillable / unstoppable, able to take out huge swaths of zombies at one go and not care about stamina or anything like that anymore. So, understanding that, don't suffer and try to do things that are too hard - focus on the easy story missions and fun side quests.
Oh and yeah, just do whatever you want, the game constantly encourages this idea. Just avoid doing things at night. Sure it's twice as fast, but you're twice if not 239048329 times more likely to die, because the volatiles are going to stomp your face in and catch you as you're too weak and even when you are a super pro, full skill lines maxed out, awesome parkour god, the night time is still going to just ravage you because as you make noise, everything is going to come and run at you.
I've read a lot of comments about grappling hook issues, the game's UI isn't perfect, so as you play more it should all make sense.
Traps are Useful, Mostly at Night
Don't spring a trap unless you want to reset it, I believe the game auto resets them during each day / night cycle, but unless it has something to do with your goal, just don't bother. If you're in a hurry though, they can make useful ways to disperse a horde.
Don't Outsmart the Game
Don't outsmart the game, just don't. If you see giant glowing yellow ledges, jump on them. If there is a straight path in front of you, run down it. No matter what you do, do as the game wants you to do, or you'll probably end up dying. For instance, there is a point in the story where you have to run and if you stop, you die, ala Mirror's Edge.
So just do as the game tells you, follow the arrows, and the hilarious thing as you follow along with the story, you learn very well that the game is all about following. There is even a situation in which there is a Screamer that you can skip if you walk forward and open the big yellow vent that's right in front of your eyes.
Avoid Big Zombies Because (Early On)
Just do it, don't fight them. Even in the prologue, you can skip that one. You can fight them, later on, when you want to, but they litter the world and you can do it if you want, but I never found an instance where there was a point to doing it. They have loot, weapons, whatever, but you're again going to lose a lot involving yourself with it.
Why farm more to remake all of your loses, I say. Now, by the midgame, they will be easy to take care of and you can kill them easily for the XP (and there is going to be a lot more of them spawning in the world), but at the start just avoid them.
Certain infected have weak points, like the hazmat guys. Shoot the tanks on their back and they explode. This plays heavily in some story areas where you have large packs of infected and little to no way to deal with them.
Don't Bother Using Throwables Except for Missions
If you're moving around the city, there is literally no reason to use a throwable. You can just walk around the group of enemies. Using a throwable is just going to consume it, probably (if it's anything but a throwing star) going to spawn some virals, and you're going to just have a bad time.
Throwables are best used indoors, like guns, to take care of tough enemies like dudes with guns. There is a section where you're climbing a skyrise in order to rescue someone and you can lob a grenade on the roof, causing virals to spawn below, but the dudes with guns on the roof to die.
While I'm still on the topic, again, everything is about conservation. Now, I'm not saying it like the others do, I'm saying it realistically, as in, conserve when it makes sense. A lot of side-quests and story missions are only easily completed with say a well thrown throwing star for a nice silent takedown of some zombies. However, when moving through the city, parkour is so much better.
Ultimately, to survive, you need to scavenge, conserve, and think outside of the box. Literally, because the entire city is full of giant box like houses that you need to crawl on top of.
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