Days Gone from Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Bend Studio was originally revealed at E3 way back in 2016. Relatively little was shown off since then and Sony’s marketing for the game has only really been ramped up in the past few weeks leading up to release.
The game was originally set to launch back in February 2019 but was delayed until April for final touches to be made. Having played through the game, we have a lot to say about it.
Deacon St John
In Days Gone, players will take on the role of Deacon St John, a tattoo covered biker in the midst of an apocalyptic event. The story kicks off with a dramatic scene involving Deacon, his significant other, Sarah, and his best friend, Boozer fleeing a “Freaker” outbreak.
Boozer’s leg is injured and on the way to an evacuation helicopter, Sarah is attacked by a knife wielding child and requires immediate medical attention. Unfortunately the helicopter can only take two more passengers and Deacon opts to let Sarah escape while he stays behind with an injured Boozer.
Two years pass and Deacon and Boozer are now living out in the wilderness of Oregon. Life has drastically changed on account of the “Freaker” outbreak and it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. After a rather cinematic segment of story, the game opens up and becomes a free roaming open-world adventure much like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Get your Freak on
“Freakers” as the game’s main antagonistic force and can be compared to zombies in many ways. They are slow and sluggish during the day but become active and far more powerful at night. Players will have to survive against the “Freakers” throughout the game as well as battle even tougher enemies in the form of human survivors and infected animals.
Days Gone is an open-world action adventure game at its core and many of its gameplay elements are not exactly new or ground breaking. Players will be able to hunt animals, gather plants, find and pick up collectibles as well as scrounge around abandoned human settlements for spare parts and other items they can use.
There’s a crafting system that’s fairly basic and an experience based skill tree to boot too. The radial menu used for equipping items is also used for crafting and Bend Studio have done a great job on the game’s overall control scheme.
Since the main character is a biker, it comes as no surprise that players will be able to ride a motorcycle. While the bike controls are great and riding the motorcycle through the open world is quite fun, it does get a bit annoying later in the game. Thankfully though, as you progress through the story, you’ll be able to unlock fast travel points and this alleviates some of the repetitive travelling between places on a bike.
Days Gone features some missions where Deacon will engage in bike chases with enemies and being able to both drive and shoot at the same time is really well executed in-game despite using a simplistic control scheme. This combination of riding and gunplay means that there are some incredibly satisfying motorcycle segments with fun gameplay involved.
Riding your bike in Days Gone however does come with one major caveat. Bikes run on petrol and once your fuel runs out, you’ll have to either abandon your bike and search for a fuel can or walk your bike to the nearest camp or fuelling station to refuel.
This can be infuriating at times especially if you are far out into the wilderness and far away from any source of fuel. For this reason it’s best to always keep an eye on your fuel tank and not take long trips in-game without first refuelling.
As the story of Days Gone is driven forward at a steady pace, players will unlock various camps. These camps serve as bases of operation for specific characters and performing missions for these characters increases your level of trust with them.
This in turn allows you to purchase new and improved equipment or weaponry and even bike upgrades. The progression system in Days Gone is extremely rewarding and it motivates you to complete missions to unlock new things.
The story content itself is also exceptionally well crafted with multiple branching storylines being woven together to create one great tale. Without spoiling too much, there’s a lot of great writing involved featuring unique characters and personalities as well as plenty of emotion behind the voice acting. The story of Days Gone is one of its best features and while it’s no The Last of Us, it’s still great and is well worth your time.
Rules of the Road
Being a third-person action adventure title, Days Gone features both melee and ranged combat. Melee combat is visceral with Deacon being able to pull off some brutal attacks using his knife or melee weapon. Ranged combat on the other hand involves the use of guns and also employs a “Focus” system.
Using focus, time is slowed down around Deacon and players will be able to aim better for more precise shots. This eventually becomes a necessity since enemies far outnumber you in most cases. Stealthy takedowns using precision aiming is therefore exponentially better than spraying bullets everywhere alerting enemies to your presence. Additionally Deacon is also able to make use of melee stealth takedowns and these too come in handy when completing missions.
Days Gone’s graphics are absolutely gorgeous and the fact that there’s a photo mode in the game is highly appreciated. Being able to pause the action at any time to take a gorgeous screenshot is a luxury that not many games afford players. The dynamic weather system which involves a full day and night cycle as well as rain results in some breathtaking visuals in-game. The soundtrack to the game is also great with the main theme and the orchestral scores being quite memorable.
There is however a range of problems that plague the game right now. Even after a rather hefty 22GB patch, the game can take up to two minutes to load when starting up. There are also some game ruining bugs present such as one particularly nasty one we encountered where the sound cut out and another where character models were flung around during a cut scene.
The game also seems to really struggle when riding through the open-world if there’s a large number of enemies present. There’s extremely noticeable frame rate slowdown when hordes of “Freakers” are on-screen and we even suffered a complete game crash because of this.
Days Gone is a game that combines third person shooting with Assassin’s Creed-esque stealth gameplay, bike riding, exploration and open-world adventuring. The storyline is rather cinematic and enjoyable and there are plenty of moments where the game will leave you in awe.
Unfortunately though the gameplay bugs mar the overall experience and prevent it from reaching greatness. Hopefully a future patch can address the issues that are still ruining the game.