The new-ish Prison mode is an unforgiving gaunlet that proves to be extremely difficult to get through - at least until you know the tricks.
Other Dying Light Guides:
- All Quarantine Zone Locations.
- Parkour Fever Tips and Tricks.
- Basics in Freerunning.
- Farming Herbs / Easy Medkits (Natural Medkit).
- How to Quickly Level Up Survivor and Legend Level.
Before You Start...
You're going to want to plan out how you'll be going into this course. Before we start, I'll give you a warning: If you are a new player, this level is not for you. You know those giant scary things that have armor and throw ♥♥♥ at you? You have to kill three of them. If you do not have access to firearms and are not at max level for everything that isn't driving or legend, then you probably won't be able to get decent loot out of this.
As for the singleplayer/multiplayer question, multiplayer is definitely the way to go, as it will give you exponentially more staying power and much more offensive ability. However, this is not necessary to achieve the highest rating, and thus the best loot; my fastest time solo (on normal, mind you) is five minutes and twenty-nine seconds (as of writing this). My first time clocked in at a little under fourteen minutes, which got me in the second-highest loot bracket, which still has very good loot.
Your weapons and equipment matter. A lot. You should have at an absolute minimum one medium-weight weapon (bats and machetes, not axes or knives) and two firearms that use seperate ammunition. Equipment-wise, you're going to need the grappling hook, two cloak potions, and a flare. Night Vision boosters are good for the dim areas, and speed boosters make you fly down the straightaways, but it might be a hassle to manage four items while trying to haul ♥♥♥.
You also need to decide what difficulty you'll be playing on. Hard and Nightmare are much, MUCH more difficult to beat, let alone achieve a decent time on. In exchange for this though, you can take much more time to achieve loot brackets, and you get more time in the loot room. For example, you must complete the run in under eight minutes on Normal to achieve the best loot, but you have twenty-five minutes on Nightmare. Generally, normal is for learning the map and for speedrunners, while the others are the usual mode of play.
Lastly, you're going to want a decent memory of the level layout. Even with the objective markers on, it's an absolute maze to navigate the corridors of the prison, especially since there are a few sections that intentionally mislead you and force you to search for alternate paths. Also know that of all the combat sections, only in two of them are you actually required to kill enemies. I'll tell you which ones they are later on. Once you've got this down (and are skilled with lockpicking), you'll be ready to start.
The Start of the Run
Once you arrive at the prison, you'll have a few seconds to get your bearings and walk up to the gate. You'll want to have your grappling hook equipped. Double-check your equipment (there's a player's stash at spawn) and make sure you're organized. If you want, you can chug a speed potion right before you start, just to save time on doing it during the run. Once you're ready, open the gate. Opening the gate will start the timer, and once it starts it cannot be stopped except by quitting the game. Use your grappling hook to zip up the hill, but don't use all of its charge. The staircase on the hill leads to a plateau with boxes for cover. There will be several guards armed with guns here, but they will not see you until you are betweeen the second and third rows of cover. Fighting them takes up precious time and ammo, so you're just going to ignore them. Zipline onto the top of the third row of cover, then zipline directly to the open door at the entrance (if the guard that spawns there is still standing there, he will move away upon you getting close). Use your crouch button to drop from the zipline early to avoid hitting the wall, then sprint down the hall. Heal if you must.
From there, you'll be greeted by two groups of armed enemies; the first has five guards in the reception area, and the second has three in a break room. You must run through both rooms to progress, and due to how claustrophobic it is, you'll want to go ahead and kill these guards. Semi-automatic shotguns work wonders for this part, but SMGs and the automatic rifle will work. Alternatively, if you have any combination of resistance booster, speed booster, and legend tree health upgrades, you could risk ignoring these enemies, since none of them block your path. Doing this can very well get you killed, though, and dying is not the best way to move quickly. This only saves a few seconds anyways, so you're better off playing it safe. After that, it's a quick trip down a hallway and into the first mandatory fight of the level.
Welcome to the Shooting Gallery
After encountering the first viral of the game (which you need to kill to be able to properly do the next section), you'll be greeted with two doors to your right. Always, ALWAYS pick the nearest door, as doing so does not alert the enemies upon opening and leads straight to cover. The second door alerts enemies as soon as you open the door and has bad cover. The doors lead into the same room, however, so if you miss the first door, just go through the second and work with what you have. Upon entering the room, you'll find yourself part of...
The Only Mandatory Fight Against Humans and also The Last Humans You'll Encounter and also The Last Chance to Scavenge Rifle Ammo and also The First Mandatory Fight!
There's no real strategy to this section. Use accurate weapons and go for center of mass shots unless you're 100% sure you can land a headshot. The police rifle is the best weapon for this section, and having a pistol to switch to in a pinch isn't a bad idea. Generally, you want to pick off everyone in the front area, then aggresively push the rest of the combatants. Use your survivor's sense to highlight the enemies, especially since some of them start off behind doorways or obscure cover and are very hard to find otherwise. Keep in mind that several of the enemies will be on the walkways higher up than you, and also keep in mind that you can shoot through the floors of these walkways, but not through the railings or cover on the railings. Use the grappling hook to advance, and to skip the short parkour segment you'd normally have to do to reach the exit. Note that the exit stays locked until all the enemies in the room are dead; if it won't open, you've missed someone.
Once you've gotten through that room, you'll want to reload (you can run and reload) and switch to your cloak potions. Trust me, you'll need them.
One Thousand and One Virals (And a Goon)
Got your cloak potion ready? Great. Leaving the shooting gallery, you'll come across the first and second of the intentionally misleading sections. Assuming you know the maps, you'll know what to do to get past them, although I can offer one bit of advice: ignore the electrical box. By hugging the right wall and timing the jump well, you won't take damage. Alternatively, jumping from right wall to center will save you your momentum, but will cost you about 20 health, assuming you timed it well. After the two misleading bits, you'll come to a dimly lit room, with a sheet of metal covering the exit. Upon nearing the exit, a goon will break down the sheet and ground pound with his hammer. Make sure you do not get stunned by this attack. Immediately down a cloak potion and sprint past the goon. Now that the goon and all the virals pouring out of the walls don't care about you, you can (quickly) lockpick open the doors behind the goon. Sprint as fast as you can for the elevator, ignore the bomber, and switch to your grappling hook. Upon jumping through the roof hatch of the elevator, turn 180 degrees and grapple your way directly to the open elevator doors. Switch back to your cloak potions before entering the next section, and make sure that you're ready, because up next is...
Yep. Upon entering the room, IMMEDIATELY jump to the left. If need be, jump through the doorway and strafe to the left (strafe by holding W and turning the mouse, your momentum will transfer to where you're looking so long as you don't whip your view around too hard). Normally, you'd chug down a cloak potion right away, but the volatiles will see thorugh the cloak and will attack you regardless. Kite the volatiles by vaulting over the first viral (you should be on the leftmost walkway) then dropping down to the main floor about halfway down the room. Chug down a second cloak potion, and drop a flare at the door to keep the volatiles away. Zaid's flares give you some more breathing room, but are not necessary. Open the exit door as fast as possible- you only have a small window. If you've managed this, then you can relax for a bit, because you just pulled off arguably the hardest speed trick in this entire run.
But don't relax too much, because the next door you need to take is the last of the misleading sections. The electrical room isn't too hard, you can use your grappling hook although there isn't much headroom and you have to re-grapple at least once in midair due to the blind corner at the start. If you don't want to use the grappling hook, you can skip most of the room by jumping directly to the yellow pipe, timing a jump directly to the platform in front of you, then making one last jump directly into the exit door; perfectly timing this last jump will even let you skip the muscle-up animation. Perfectly timing all of the jumps will make it ever so slightly faster than using the grappling hook, even. Again, ignore the bomber, grapple up through the elevator shaft, and get ready for the last section.
The Last Stand
You'll come to a leap of faith that leads to a trash pile. Ignore this. instead, strafe directly left and roll upon landing; if you missed, which is hard to do, you'll have died. If you made it, you'll already be on the walkways. From here, you'll be swarmed by an absurd amount of virals and be faced down by three goons, one of which is a super-goon with much higher health. Use your guns to take out a good chunk of the first wave of virals, then focus on the goons, killing virals as they swarm to you. The goons are likely to knock you down, especially if you're on the walkways. Considering the walkways give you an advantage against the virals, you'll want to utilize them. Kill the goons and the virals, but stay on the ground for now and stand facing the brick wall that looks like it shouldn't be there. The super-goon will break down the wall, and as soon as he does fire as quickly as possible at his head. You'll probably need to reload at some point, or switch weapons. Once this goon is dead, clear the area around you and make your way back onto the walkways. From here, it's just a matter of picking off zombies. You'll get your time and your ranking when you've killed off all of them. If you recieved the "Guru" ranking, then congrats, because you made it into the highest loot bracket! If you recieved "Master", you made it into second-highest, which is still pretty decent. Don't start celebrating yet though, because there's still more strategy to the loot room.
The Loot Room (A.K.A. Test of Greed)
How could there be any strategy to the loot room? It's a loot room, just loot everything, right? That's what I thought when I first tried, and I made it out with two electronics, three firecrackers, and a sawblade. The loot room is filled with valuables, and on the highest loot bracket you can even get gold weapons and gold weapon upgrades. The catch? Your time is limited, and you have to lockpick open chests to get the good stuff. This is the second reason you really want to consider what difficulty to play on. On normal, you'll have just one minute in the room, whereas on nightmare you'll get three. Having three times as much time to lockpick open the best loot is an absolute wonder, especially in single player.
Now, the entire loot room actually is two different tests of greed. The first is the layout of the loot room; the first room is filled with lockers, lockpicks, firecrackers, and ammo packs. While scavenging your ammo back isn't a bad idea, you better know what ammo types are where to get in and out quickly. The second room contains the real loot, as well as the exit door. The second test of greed is the timer. You see, you only have a small window to obtain your loot, too small to reasonably get all of it. So the game is to see how close you can cut it. The chests each contain a weapon and an upgrade, the quality of which depends on the loot bracket you're in. Highest contains Gold weapons and King upgrades, second-highest contains orange weapons and purple upgrades, worst bracket contains grey weapons and no upgrades. It's tough to leave the best gear in the game sitting there as you run away, and given the work it took to get there, you'll be tempted to overreach your limits. Be careful; if you run out of time, the door will seal and the room will detonate. This instantly kills you, but even worse, it removes all the loot you picked up that run. Sometimes, it's best to cut your losses and save what you have.