Developing Dying Light's Iconic Dropkick Move

Techland's Bartosz Kulon, Dawid Lubryka, and Tymon Smektała have told us about the history behind the Dying Light series' dropkick move, explained how it was implemented into the game, and shared their thoughts on why this move is so iconic among DL fans.


Bartosz Kulon, Gameplay Director at Techland: My name is Bartosz Kulon and I’m working as a Gameplay Director at Techland.

I’ve always wanted to make games, so after graduation, Techland was my first direction to follow, but this road wasn’t that simple.  In the beginning, there was no vacancy for me. I sent two emails, I visited them twice in person, and… I got my unpaid internship! But after 2-3 months, I got invited to an interview and finally got my dream job and I found my place on earth – GAMEPLAY. So day after day, month after month, starting with Dead Island, then Dying Light and Dying Light 2 Stay Human, I finally became a Lead Gameplay Programmer.

Dying Light's Dropkicks

Bartosz Kulon: Our dropkick story began sometime before Dying Light. We were looking for ideas for melee combat in an FPP game. We were inspired by various areas of entertainment, like movies, games, martial arts, wrestling, etc. For example, I watched a movie called “District 13th” (the French title is Banlieue 13) with David Belle and I saw a fantastic move there, a kick with two legs, which, combined with parkour, seemed extremely interesting to me. We had to try it out! Also, I’m a huge Tekken fan and my favorite character (King) could also perform a dropkick. It was so majestic and strong that it convinced me once again that this could be something iconic in our game, especially when it harmonized well with parkour.

Implementing and Balancing the Move

Bartosz Kulon: we started with preparing a visualization in the animation tool. We wanted to check what it should look like from the FPP. We combined both the player’s movement and the opponent’s reaction, which we felt was very important because it gave the player the greatest experience and feeling of power.

We then tried to run it in the game, straight from the animation tool, but it didn’t feel natural and didn’t even look good, it felt like just a video whereas what we wanted to achieve was a real experience, smooth player-enemy movements. So we started tinkering with the animation, the physics, and the camera settings, we wanted to tweak the effect to make it the most satisfying for the player and the FPP. 

We faced a number of challenges. We had to tweak all of the player’s movements when the player jumps towards the opponent so that the camera settings are correct, e.g. the player's legs do not cover the enemy, the opponent after the kick doesn’t disappear from our sight and his reaction is not exaggerated, but at the same time effective.

Also, gravity was quite a challenge, we had to tune it up a bit so that the player would feel the impact of falling after a dropkick, but at the same time, he should not fall too fast so he could hit the enemy in the right place – the chest, not the ankles. So we slowed down gravity!

In fact, we cared more about the efficiency of the movement and the satisfaction of the player, and less about the balance of the game. We wanted the player experience to be fun, and that often just requires a lot of tweaking in the game.

It was also quite difficult for us to come up with everything ourselves. The move was not available in any other FPP game at that time, we experimented a lot, but I think the final result and the reaction of our players proved to us that it was worth it.

After the launch of Dying Light, we had to implement cooldowns on higher difficulty levels, because players liked the dropkick move so much that they used it too often. We didn’t want to let them use only dropkicks during the entire game.

What’s interesting, when we started working on DL2SH, we decided that we would probably remove the dropkick… But that was a very short blackout ;) and we quickly abandoned this idea, the game felt empty without it and we decided that, after all, it is such an iconic move that there is no way we can launch the sequel of the game without it.

However, we tried to make the player use it a bit more wisely, so now the AI (human opponent) remembers the player's moves and when the player uses one move constantly, the opponent learns the pattern and counters it, which forces the seek for other solutions in combat.

Dawid Lubryka, Art Director at Techland: We wanted to give up the dropkick in DL2SH, as it seemed too heavy for the impression of the super agile Aiden we wanted to create. Additionally, as Bartosz said, players abused it and that was definitely overpowered. In the end, the dropkick returned in a refreshed version.

What Makes the Move so Iconic?

Bartosz Kulon: Mobility in our games is at such a high level that the dropkick is a perfect match for parkour and its many sequences. In DL, we have to be agile, fast, clever, and ready for a creative escape method as well as combat. Also, the players made it iconic; we offered them other combat options (X-ray, slides), but the dropkick has remained their favorite tool.

Dawid Lubryka: It gives the player an amazing feeling related to the combination of extremely agile but also effective movement. Despite having weapons, by using your own body the player is able to send opponents to spikes, throw them off a building, or send them into the fire. The dropkick creates unforgettable moments and the player can use it strategically, getting a huge dopamine boost associated with the reward of sending opponents flying.

Tymon Smektała, Dying Light Franchise Director: I realized how iconic it was by observing our Players at various events where we presented the game pre-release. In most of the builds used for these occasions, we had the dropkick unlocked, and I remember that every time the Players discovered it was there, and how cool and effective it was, they started using it over and over again – usually screaming and shouting in joy and excitement.

Dropkick statistics in the Dying Light franchise that prove the popularity of this move:

Only in the last month (Feb 2023):

  • DL2SH - dropkicks were performed 69,970,367 times by 528,087 unique players
  • DL1 - in Be the Zombie mode dropkicks were performed 393,498 times 

Only last month (Feb 2023):

  • DL2SH - 49,180,385 enemies have been defeated thanks to the dropkick
  • DL1 - 35,617,741 enemies have been defeated thanks to the dropkick

Quest in which most enemies were defeated by dropkick:

  • DL2SH - The Only Way Out and Elemental Goon 06
  • DL2SH Bloody Ties DLC - Opera - Ogar

In DL2SH in last month (Feb 2023) dropkicks were performed

  • as often as regular kick hits;
  • 7 times more often than Vault Kicks
  • 3,5 times more often than takedowns    

Dropkick Anniversary event:

  • duration - 4 days
  • goal of the event - 15 mln dropkicks
  • final number of dropkick performed by players - 26,464,116

The Techland Team

Interview conducted by Arti Burton

Join discussion

Comments 0

    You might also like

    We need your consent

    We use cookies on this website to make your browsing experience better. By using the site you agree to our use of cookies.Learn more