Days Gone, a game of epic proportions that hasn’t been fully realised in a while. An open world, Zombie killing, Post-Apocalyptic open world action game set in the high-desert of the Pacific Northwest of America, two years after a mysterious global pandemic has destroyed most of the world. Killing most and transforming those who were left into mindless, feral creatures. Survivors live in a world where resources are scarce, violence and murder are common occurrences and ‘Freakers’ are free to roam as they pleased.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Freakers are what people in this universe, refer to what are basically, Zombies.
An Expansive Open World;
The game truly does redefine what it means to be an open world game. Well, one with zombies in it anyway. Considering the form of other, less thorough zombie games, Days Gone is a refreshing take on a classic genre. The game features Deacon St. John, a bounty hunter, and a ‘Drifter’ who lives in the lawless wilderness outside other civilian camps.
You play as Deacon, and he survives by using skills he picked up before the world ended, when was riding for the Mongrels MC. What seems to be for them, decades ago, the Mongrels MC was an outlawed motorcycle club which was in itself, full of violence and mayhem. To Deacon St. John, this new world isn’t really new. He is essentially stuck in a world of perpetual violence and gore, and ‘freakers’, don’t make it any better. But frankly, after a while Deacon just starts to sound a bit whiny. You’ll get used to it, but if you’re like me, you’ll hate it.
To exemplify the free roam aspects of the game, Bend, the developers behind Days Gone, offers players a chance to explore, strategize and play ‘your way’ in a multitude of areas. This includes the high-desert of the Pacific Northwest, as well as other dynamic environments. Hazardous cliffs, carved our ridges, mountains, caves, cliff mines, river basins and more. All of these combined, create quite an expansive open world. It calls for a diverse style of game-play, rather than just running in willy-nilly, hoping for the best.
Being surrounded and fighting just 5 freakers, can prove to be a challenge if not properly equipped and ready. Days Gone is somewhat more realistic, than other zombie games, and that’s a good thing depending on your preferences. But it was refreshing to actually have somewhat of a challenge, rather than being almighty from the beginning as often people are in zombie genre games.
Standard RPG Mechanics With Emergent Gameplay
The main premise of the game seems to be Deacon, and his love of bikes. You’ll soon realise that your bike, is the most important thing in your life. Considering there are a ton of customisation for the bike, it’ll keep you occupied and riding dirty. Your bike’s condition can also deteriorate if you hit a wall too hard, or you might run out fuel while being chased by a horde of freakers. Try to keep that in mind, just in case. Nothing worse than being a freaker’s midnight snack because you ran out of gas.
Days Gone also features fully environments and dynamic AI enemies. What dynamic means, is subject to interpretation, but enemies will be wary. Sound, sight, and other factors play a role in how they interact with Deacon. There is a layer of stealth to the game as well, that makes it just like any game in the world. Days Gone has a somewhat basic approach to it, and I can’t fault them for it. That aspect of the game is just, a bit lacklustre. You will rely on your own abilities to strategize, craft weapons and tools, explore the world, and engage in combat. Most cars, buildings and environments are searchable, and therefore exploration and looking around is vital to how Deacon fares in the apocalypse.
At the center of it all, the game is an exploration of how any of us would react to these harsh conditions, and exploration of loss, love, friendship, revenge and desperation – learning that surviving isn’t living. For Deacon especially, it’s a struggle to ensure that hope never dies.
Dynamic Graphics At The Cost of Performance; Days Gone / Weeks Gone Waiting To Load
Days Gone takes advantage of the PlayStation 4 and Unreal Engine 4, and with it Bend Studios has developed a high volume of rendering and gameplay technology to deliver a more realistic open world experience. The game features realistic weather effects, such as rain, wind, snow and day-night cycles which impact the gameplay. You’ll find that fighting freakers at night, might just be your undoing. They get stronger at night, so you’ll have to take that into account before heading out.
The game’s lighting is all real-time and reacts dynamically, the way the human iris does, as players move from one location to the next. So, all these tiny details, makes for a beautiful environment, and makes it just a pleasure to ride around on your bike. If you’re not being chased by some psycho, or freakers that is.
Something to keep in mind, as there aren’t really all too many loading screens because of the Open World. There’s nowhere for the game to stop and actually load into. More often than not, it’ll lower graphics, and bugs will occur if you’re travelling to an area you haven’t been before, or just haven’t been to in a while. This does occur more often than I previously expected, but I can’t blame Bend for being too ambitious.
The game honestly, is slow to start. After about 30 hours in, is when you’ll really start to enjoy it. If you are keen on games like Resident Evil, Dead Rising or even Left for Dead, you just might enjoy Days Gone. Environments, a whiny main character, crafting, and surviving. What else do you need from a zombie game?
If you want to ride a bike, and kill zombies and stuff, this one's for you.