Which Dying Light Ending Is Canon?

Dying Light: The Following is a single-player campaign DLC for Dying Light (2015) that concludes the story of Kyle Crane, the player-protagonist during the game, which began in the base game. Instead of the base game’s pre-determined narrative, The Following‘s story ends with a critical choice left up to the player. Depending on their actions, the possible endings of the game wildly diverge.

When Dying Light 2 Stay Human released in February 2022, it seemed that there should have been one single, canon ending for the original game. Developer Techland purposefully kept the question of the “true” ending unresolved. Still, fans of the series have noted a few hints toward what might ultimately be the definitive ending of the original game.

The Setup to Dying Light’s Ending

Throughout Dying Light, Kyle Crane lends aid to the survivors in the city of Harran as they fight off Infected, try to suppress the symptoms of the virus and, ultimately, work to develop a cure. In The Following, Kyle investigates the “Cult of the Sun” and its mysterious leader, “the Mother.” The cult seems to successfully protect people of the countryside around Harran from becoming Infected.

As Kyle slowly gains the trust of the cult, in a bid to determine if they have a cure for the virus, he finally uncovers two horrifying facts. First, the cult’s elixir, far from a cure or even a symptom suppressor, slowly turns its users into Infected, albeit able to control themselves during the day while still turning feral at night. Second, the Mother herself is one of these sentient, mutated Infected, whose use of the elixir has granted her control of her faculties during the daytime.

As a terrified Kyle backs away from the Mother’s disfigured face, she presents him with a request. As a culmination of the ancient religion her cult has co-opted, the Mother asks Kyle to detonate a nuclear weapon, installed by the military as a “fail-safe,” sacrificing himself and everyone in Harran to stop the virus and potentially save all of humanity. The player, at this point, can choose to go along with the Mother’s plan or defy her and fight to escape.

The Infected Ending Doesn’t Hold Out Hope for Humanity

If the player chooses to defy the Mother’s request, she immediately grabs Kyle and forces him to drink the elixir. In their ensuing fight, Kyle begins to show symptoms of an Infected. He manages to kill the Mother and escape the facility while suffering from hallucinations and blackouts.

Eventually, Kyle emerges into daylight, seemingly far from the quarantine zone around Harran. He sees regular commuters on the road and a mother and her children in a nearby playground. As the sun sets, Kyle lets out a horrifying scream and looks down to see that his arms have become mutilated like an Infected’s.

In this ending, Harran and the city’s Infected are still standing, and the Harran virus has likely escaped the quarantine zone via Kyle, where it will infect the general population. The fate of most of Dying Light’s characters is left ambiguous, and it’s unlikely that they can hold out for very long.

The Nuclear Option Also Doesn’t Indicate a Bright Future

If the player helps the Mother, Kyle follows her to a back room to find a nuclear warhead. Kyle received a set of codes from an earlier character that arms and detonates the weapon. Kyle inputs them and, standing by the Mother, dies in a nuclear blast that presumably engulfs the entire area.

Though the long-term consequences aren’t seen, the game’s familiar characters and locations are likely destroyed in the nuclear explosion. This ending allows for the virus’s greatest chance of successfully being contained — an important point when considering which ending is canon.

There is, however, a similar secret ending that requires the player to locate a seemingly random collection of codes and keycards scattered throughout the game world, then use them to enter a nondescript military truck abandoned on a city highway. In that truck is a nuclear warhead, which the player can then detonate. Though it altogether foregoes Mother’s choice, this secret ending’s outcome is identical to the Nuclear Option. It also rewards the player with a special cosmetic outfit.

The Canon Dying Light Ending After the Sequel

Officially, Techland hasn’t answered which ending is canon but has suggested that Dying Light 2 may reveal the true ending. However, DL2‘s premise hints toward the canon ending of Dying Light. The sequel takes place 20 years after The Following, in a completely different city than Harran and with a new protagonist.

The difficult Dying Light 2 strongly implies the Infected Option is canon, as the Nuclear Option likely would have prevented the spread of the virus. The Infected Option better supports the premise of the entire world falling to the Harran Virus, especially in as little as 20 years, though nothing of the game sheds light on Kyle Crane’s fate. While Crane isn’t the sequel’s protagonist, his legacy is its own character in the game, and he remains an important figure in the Dying Light franchise.

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