Over the weekend, developer Techland made waves on social media by tweeting that its upcoming open-world zombie sequel, Dying Light 2: Stay Human, would take “at least 500 hours” to fully complete. While the studio likely thought this was good messaging to showcase just how much content is in its branching-narrative story, the announcement was met with some backlash amidst the excitement, as some players bemoaned the length and worried about bloat or that they would never see the end of such a massive adventure.
Later, as the studio saw some of the negative response, the Dying Light Twitter account clarified to one fan that you can complete the story and side-quests in 70 to 80 hours, “if you’re not in a rush.” Then, the official Twitter account took the messaging wide, saying that “500 hours is related to maxing out the game – finishing all the quests, endings, and exploring every part of the world, but a regular player should finish the story + side quests and do quite a lot of exploring in less than 100 hours, so don’t worry!” Then, the Twitter account further clarified that you can mainline the story in just 20 hours and do much of the story and side content in around 80 hours – a far cry from the original “500 hours” messaging.
Even with that clarification, 80 hours is still quite the commitment to get through the story and the side quests (especially considering how good and integral to the story the side content seems from my hands-on session back in November). I even poked a little fun at the announced length of the game on Twitter, joking about how I thought I was prepared to review any game after playing through Persona 5 Royal on a deadline. While I was mostly joking in that tweet, it got me thinking about how Dying Light 2: Stay Human’s reported length compares to some of gaming’s most famously (and infamously) long games.
As a result, I visited HowLongToBeat.com, which takes users’ play times and aggregates them to deliver three different times for each game: main story, main + extras, and completionist. Seeing as how the initial Techland tweets were focused on the “completionist” and “main + extras” numbers (and 20 hours for the mainline story isn’t anything out of the ordinary), that’s what I decided to focus on when comparing the numbers. It is worth noting that these numbers are user-generated, and as such, may not be completely accurate. Still, they are the most accessible tools we have to estimate play times for a wide swath of games.
I began by looking at how Dying Light 2’s estimates look against Techland’s first entry in the series. According to HLTB, the original Dying Light takes 55 hours or just under 80 hours to do completionist runs (depending on if you’re playing the base game or the Enhanced Edition). While main + extras playthroughs take between 35 hours and 46.5 hours, depending on the version you’re playing. It goes without saying (if the Techland-reported numbers are, indeed, accurate) that Dying Light 2: Stay Human has an enormous amount of content when compared to its predecessor.
Let’s start the cross-company contrasts with Techland’s Polish compatriots over at CD Projekt Red. The studio is best known for the massive worlds it created in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Cyberpunk 2077. However, neither of those giant-sized experiences hold a candle to Dying Light 2’s reported completionist time, as according to HLTB, The Witcher 3 takes 173 hours to see everything it has to offer, while you need 103 hours to indulge in all the thrills of Night City in Cyberpunk 2077. However, if you want to compare how long it takes to complete all the main story and side-quest content, the experiences are much more comparable. Cyberpunk 2077 comes in at just under 60 hours in that realm, while The Witcher 3 actually surpasses Techland’s estimates for Dying Light 2, with Geralt’s quest clocking in at 103 hours for main + extras.
But what about the standard-bearer of open-world action? You can sink a seemingly endless number of hours into Grand Theft Auto Online, but the game it’s built on top of, Grand Theft Auto V, is much more manageable. According to HLTB, completionist playthroughs of Rockstar’s best-selling game take 79 hours, while the main + extras run takes 48 hours. In fact, of the entire GTA series, Grand Theft Auto IV: The Complete Edition features the longest completionist play time, with that version clocking in just under 100 hours to see everything Liberty City has for you. Meanwhile, Red Dead Redemption 2 offers more, with completionist runs through Rockstar’s Wild West lasting 172 hours, with main + extras runs lasting 79 hours. However, Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis takes just 6 hours to play through the main + extras, with no completionist data available.
One of the most lauded open-world games in recent memory is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While that game is notable for its hugely explorable rendition of Hyrule, even completionist playthroughs will only last you 188 hours, while main + extras playthroughs take 97 hours. If you look at a game that came out mere days prior to Breath of the Wild in 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn, Aloy’s initial outing lets you see everything in the Complete Edition in 76.5 hours, with a main + extras number of 54.5 hours. Even the huge worlds of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Valhalla only offer between 130 and 140 hours for completionists.
Bethesda is another studio known for crafting massive open worlds with activities to do in every nook and cranny. When looking at its numbers on HLTB, the Maryland-based studio comes closer than either CD Projekt Red or Rockstar in the realm of the completionist. According to the user data, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition gives players up to 211 hours of content if they want to see everything, with 116 hours of that being main story and extras. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion also delivers respectable numbers, with 184 hours completionist and 86 hours main + extras. The Fallout series also delivers its fair share of noteworthy showings with Fallout 4: Game of the Year Edition providing players 214 hours of completionist play time and 113 hours main + extras. However, Bethesda’s king of content is The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – Game of the Year Edition, providing completionists a whopping 392 hours with a main + extras number of 101 hours. We creep ever closer.
While I’ve so far focused my comparisons on other open-world games, maybe other genres can serve up some competition to Dying Light 2’s reported completionist playthrough time. Several renowned role-playing franchises have made a name for themselves providing worlds in which players want to lose themselves for hundreds of hours. Persona 5 Royal is the game I immediately drew a comparison to, inspiring this very article. However, thanks to various streamlined elements, the vanilla version of the beloved RPG is actually longer for completionists, clocking in at 173 hours to experience everything and 113 hours for main + extras. Royal’s main + extras is still longer, giving players 125 hours of content. Even Final Fantasy can’t keep up with what Techland is touting, with Final Fantasy X offering up the longest completionist play time at 149 hours, with Final Fantasy XII giving players the longest main + extras number in the mainline series (not including MMOs) with 92.5 hours. The Xenoblade series maxes out at 270 hours for completionists with Xenoblade Chronicles X, while The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel delivered its longest completionist time with 147 hours in the fourth entry.
Dragon Quest is another franchise known for its length, and according to HLTB, completionists can spend 750 hours in Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, with a main + extras number of 87.5 hours. We finally did it. We found a game that puts Techland’s touted “500 hours” number to shame. But that’s not the only game that beats the 500-hour mark for completionists. Crusader Kings III, which came out last year, offers 585 hours of content for completionists and 172 hours for main + extras playthroughs.
Also, as mentioned above, MMOs like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV, and competitive online multiplayer games like League of Legends and Dota, offer endless replayability, with numbers in the thousands on HLTB (though multiplayer games use different categories on the site). Dying Light 2’s claim to possess 500 hours of content for completionists sure is shocking, but it’s hardly the highest we will ever see if that length actually comes to pass and isn’t just an eye-popping marketing number.
Of course, as the initial Twitter backlash indicates, long play times don’t necessarily measure quality. If said content isn’t engaging enough that we’d want to actually experience all 500 hours, then what’s the point? While everything we’ve seen, heard, and played of Dying Light 2: Stay Human has been positive to this point, we won’t know how good it truly is until we get our hands on the game. Given how long the developer says the game is if you don’t plan on staying on the critical path, and the current proximity to its release date, I sure hope that day is soon. Dying Light 2: Stay Human hits PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch (via the cloud), and PC on February 4.
For more on Dying Light 2: Stay Human, check out our recent hands-on preview and New Gameplay Today. You can also see the game’s impressive E3 2019 demo in its entirety here, or read about the team’s early ambitions through an in-depth preview I wrote in 2019.