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Dying Light 2: Stay Human Endings Explained

"Dying Light 2" has managed to keep its core narrative shrouded in mystery all the way up to its release. The game is set during what the developers refer to as the "modern dark ages" (per Gamereactor), a period set decades after an apocalypse has caused technology to degrade from lack of upkeep and resources. The game's setting of the City barely has electricity, with only small pockets of it available to those with a generator or crudely built windmills. Guns have also largely disappeared due to a lack of ammunition. Any guns that players do find are crudely built and can only be used a couple of times before they fall apart from the force.

As intriguing as the setting itself is, the story of "Dying Light 2" is also captivating because of how it molds in reaction to the player's choices. Many of the game's main and side quests have choices that determine what missions players see, whether characters live or die, and determine the shape of the City itself. Three of these choices in particular also determine the game's ending, making them matter even more.

Hope in a Hopeless World

The biggest theme rooted throughout the world of "Dying Light 2" is struggling with optimism. The reality of the game's world is undeniably dire. Outside of small areas of safety, the city is dominated by the undead, and the parts that aren't are run by vicious groups of bandits. Days are spent toiling away and just trying to live, and nights are spent trying to find what meager joy one can muster up. However, the game's characters are far from being as dower as one expects. Instead, many of them maintain a surprising optimism toward the future.

Many of the cast of characters in "Dying Light 2" work tirelessly to try and make the City a better place regardless of the odds or difficulties. They have grand visions for how the city can be improved once it gets widespread electricity, or just how far the right leadership could improve things. Even side quests are filled with optimism — characters never lose hope when a loved one goes missing, or they focus instead on more human tasks, like putting on an opera performance or getting something for a loved one. Despite how far gone the world as we know it is, the characters of "Dying Light 2" help make it feel as though it isn't lost, because the people in it are the same as the people we know.

Aiden's Search for Mia

"Dying Light 2" follows the infected Survivor Aiden Caldwell on his search for his long-lost sister Mia. Aiden was part of a mysterious scientific program helmed by a doctor known only as Waltz, who separated him from his sister when they were very young. At the start of the game, Aiden gets a tip that Waltz is in the City, leading to him heading there in pursuit. This puts Aiden directly in the middle of the political and social struggles of the three factions of the City: the authoritarian Peacekeepers, the chaotic Survivors, and the vile Renegades.

As players progress through the lengthy game, they primarily decide between siding with either the Peacekeepers or Survivors on various key issues, meeting and interacting with characters from both sides. As these characters each help you with tracking down your sister, you build relationships with them and ultimately make decisions that have huge impacts on their lives and the City at large.

The Fate of Hakon

The first friend Aiden makes in the City is Hakon, a Survivor with a heart of gold who saves him from being killed by locals. Hakon helps Aiden get his hands on one of the biomarkers that are required for every resident of the City. The two then start investigating the recent murder of a Peacekeeper captain so that Aiden can get through a blockade into the inner city, where an informant has promised him they have information regarding Waltz's location.

However, it is revealed that Hakon was the one who killed the Peacekeeper captain, causing him and Aiden to have a fallout over the lie. Just as their heated argument comes to a head, Hakon is attacked by an unseen assassin wielding a crossbow. From there, it is possible for Hakon to die during a few different missions — and Aiden eventually has the choice to either spare or kill him later on.

Gifting the VNC Tower

Towards the end of the game, Aiden repairs a VNC Tower that can be used to send a radio signal across the entire city, allowing either the Peacekeepers or Survivors to properly organize and control it. He does this with the help of his friend Lawan, the woman who was trying to assassinate Hakon. Deciding which faction takes control of the VNC Tower is a massive moment and pushes players to ultimately decide which of the two groups they most trust to take care of the people within.

However, the decision also has an impact on characters like Hakon and Lawan, neither of which have a clear allegiance to either of the two factions. If both characters make it to the end of the game, the decision at the Tower can influence if they stay in the City or if they decide to take their chances on the outside.

Deciding Between Lawan and Mia

The final mission of "Dying Light 2" is called "X-13" and involves Aiden and Lawan attempting to save Mia, kill Waltz, and destroy missiles that are about to be launched at the city. This culminates in the final decision of your playthrough: getting Mia out of the building before it explodes or stopping Lawan from sacrificing herself to destroy the missiles at the cost of the entire City.

At this point in the game, Aiden and Lawan have the potential to have become romantically entangled with one another, making the decision all the more difficult. However, the ultimate consequences of each decision are highly dependent on your previous decisions throughout the playthrough, particular Hakon's fate and which faction controls the VNC Tower. 

This helps make the decisions of your entire playthrough carry more weight from their initial impact. It also makes every ending feel much more personalized to the player's unique experiences throughout the game. Because of this, there are a number of variations to the ending of "Dying Light 2." However, there are three that stand out as singular outcomes.

The Worst Ending

The very worst ending in "Dying Light 2" happens when the player kills Hakon, gives the VNC Tower to the Peacekeepers, and saves Lawan during "X-13." If Hakon is left alive, he tries to save either Mia or Lawan, depending on who Aiden chooses. So if Hakon is dead by this point in the playthrough, Mia is left to die in the building's explosion and Aiden never gets a chance to see her. Giving the VNC Tower to the Peacekeepers gives them control of the City, which allows them to quickly transition into a totalitarian government to try and keep people in line and safe.

Possibly the worst aspect of this ending, however, is trying to save Lawan. If Aiden goes to save Lawan, he stops her from setting the charges to destroy the missiles, only to attack her when his infection takes over and turns him into a feral monster. He critically damages Lawan before managing to gain control just long enough to grab her and jump off the building, allowing the missiles to launch and destroy the City. However, Lawan dies shortly later, leaving the player with a destroyed City, a dead sister, and what remains of the city falling into a fascist state.

The Best Ending

The best ending in "Dying Light 2" is accomplished by making all of the opposite decisions. Aiden has to choose to save Mia, while Hakon has managed to live to the end of the game. Mia dies shortly after leaving the building, but it gives Aiden the chance to say goodbye to her and gain some closure after spending the entire game pursuing her. Since Hakon is alive, he also arrives and saves Lawan at the last minute, allowing her to destroy the missiles without sacrificing her life.

Aiden also has to decide to give the VNC Tower to the Survivors for this ending. This ending leaves the City not only standing, but being led by its citizens through a democratic system, which enables them to all agree on its direction and development moving forward. This also allows Lawan to feel as though the city doesn't need her anymore, and so she leaves the city to be a Pilgrim with Aiden.

The Secret Ending

Most of the differences in the various endings are told to the player in a final cutscene that shows two characters talking about what happened. No matter what happens, Aiden leaves the city for good with nobody knowing exactly where he went. However, there is a secret ending that adds a cutscene to the end of the game. To get this ending, you have to keep Hakon alive to the end of the game and decide to save Lawan during "X-13.: The faction that gets the VNC Tower doesn't ultimately matter for this one.

When you get this ending, you save Lawan from the charges, but she still ultimately dies from the injuries sustained by Aiden's feral attack. This leaves Hakon to try and save Mia from the explosion. He ultimately fails, and she still dies shortly after (as she would if Aiden saved her), but his attempt to help Aiden solidifies their friendship. The two leave the City together, giving you a unique cutscene to show that the real "light" was the friends you made along the way.

Can Humanity Stay Human?

The end of "Dying Light 2" is a direct reflection of the very thing that caused the world's apocalypse. The widespread infection started when a company known as GRE lied about developing a cure as a way of getting funding, only to try and weaponize the virus for global militaries. As seems to always happen in these types of stories, the virus broke out and quickly swept across the world. The event was only possible due to a few individuals being blinded by their selfish greed and putting that before the needs of the many.

Aiden is put in a similar position, except he's tasked with choosing between his personal emotions and the needs of the City. Even if he decides to choose Mia, he is allowing the woman he loves to sacrifice her life for the City at large. If he saves Lawan and stops her, he puts his attachment to her before the lives of one of the last bastions of humanity. Each ending puts the themes of optimism to the test to see if humanity really can learn from its past mistakes and build towards a better future.

Where Could Dying Light Go From Here?

The first game's story followed Kyle Crane as he worked to save his city from being destroyed by the apathetic GRE corporation, which was trying to cover its mistakes. The company doesn't care about the survivors still inside the city and is more than willing to quietly kill them, but Kyle gets the word out to the wider world and stops the massacre. "Dying Light 2" evolves this subject matter into fighting for control of a city, without necessarily saving it to put it in the hands of the people.

With that progression in mind, it would make sense to see the series' future continue building on this dynamic of control. To do this, the next game could likely give players the control of a City of their own to build up and evolve as they try re-establishing civilization within the apocalypse. In "Dying Light 2," some of this is already present: Players are able to give factions different facilities, resulting in them adding structures to the city to aid with parkour or combat. It would only make sense for the next game to grow the themes of optimism and self-sacrifice by having players devote themselves to improving things for others. It could also evolve the storytelling mechanics of "Dying Light 2" by allowing a player's decisions to have an even bigger impact on the city's growth.