Since being debuted at E3 2016 and featuring more walls of flesh than a Meshuggah concert, Bend Studio’s third-person shooter has been high on the agenda for many. While we still have a long time to wait, it’s hard to resist the siren call of getting on your motorcycle and trying not to get nibbled on by feral nutters.
E3 2017 brought with it a good deal of new info on Days Gone and what we should expect, indicating that it’s a far more expansive game than we first thought. Ahead of its release at some point in the first half of 2018, let’s boil Days Gone down to the simple facts.
1. Days Gone Is Not A Zombie Game
As someone whose pedantry means that I never get invited to parties, the distinction between what and what isn’t a zombie is very important to me. So, when Bend revealed that the monster hordes seen in Days Gone weren’t zombies and were actually “Freakers”, I was intrigued to see how they were different.
After a virus more or less infected the entire world, normal humans were turned into Freakers, who come in all shapes and sizes. They’re quicker and stronger than normal people but serious lack the smarts – when they aren’t on the hunt, they just sort of amble around. Just like in 28 Days Later or The Last of Us, you don’t need to bludgeon or shoot them in the head – they die like everyone else. Even sadder for them, they seem to lose all hair and are covered in sores. Oh, and the virus also infects animals such as bears, so good luck with that one.
2. Days Gone’s protagonist is called Deacon St. John
Yes, that’s a real name and not the wild alter-ego of your favourite country singer. Deacon, who is as grizzled as bears fighting over gristle, is trying to survive the post-apocalypse and will be joined by an eclectic cast of characters, most of whom he will probably try to kill.
However, Deacon is clearly a haunted man. In the first trailer for Days Gone, he is seen with a female companion as they re-enact some of their favourite Sons of Anarchy scenes, but she hasn’t been seen since. Much like Joel in The Last of Us, it seems like our outlaw biker might be struggling to cope with loss at the end of the world. He’s also played by Sam Witwer, who has previously appeared in The Walking Dead as the tank zombie in the pilot. Small world.
3. Days Gone Features An Inventory On Wheels
There’s no greater love in this world than a man and his motorcycle, and that’s what seems to be at the center of Days Gone. As well as being a great way to get around from area to area, the chopper in Days Gone will function as an inventory for Deacon, much like a horse or companion in the Elder Scrolls games.
While it might seem pretty annoying to keep having dash to and from your car, it’s a mechanic (heh) that will be interesting to see play out. Will it force you to prioritise things like ammo over tools? Can you upgrade the bike to include more space? What we do know, however, is that you can sort your loadouts with it, but you will also need to keep an eye on fuel – just like Mad Max, you might need to make a few risky pit stops.
4. Days Gone features a dynamic weather and time of day system
One of the more interesting new reveals about the game at E3 2017 was that it would feature a new weather system. Rather than simply giving Deacon the look of a grumpy wet dog, it actually does a lot to change up the gameplay and may even determine the difference between life and death.
The obvious stuff includes it being more difficult to drive when the roads are wet, but rainfall can also change up the behaviour of Freakers dramatically. If it’s raining, they tend to come out more but you’re also less likely to be detected because of the conditions. The most dangerous time to go out, however, is at night: Freakers are out in full force. If they can get anywhere close to replicating the sheer terror seen in Dying Light, it could be an absolute thrill.
“What if you wanted to try to stealth the entire camp? What if you had a sniper rifle, a lot of ammo, and a perch way up on the bridge near that waterfall? What if you wanted to ride through the camp on your Drifter Bike, tossing Molotovs left and right? How you play is up to you.”
5. Days Gone features dynamic events
Check out all this dynamism: Days Gone is definitely more than the shooting gallery some might have feared when it was originally revealed. As well as having to deal with all sorts of different Freakers, Deacon has other humans to contend with and all the tricks they have up their sleeves.
As shown in the E3 2017 playthrough, Deacon can fall into traps and hazards, but he can also set his own. Combine traps that can appear at any time and weather that can make your life a whole lot harder and you have a game that seems like it never wants you to be comfortable.
6. Days Gone’s crafting is going to be very important
Seemingly picking up the baton where Joel left it, Deacon can also craft items to help him survive in the post-apocalypse but materials don’t seem quite as scarce as they did in The Last of Us’ world. Bend Studio are taking a “MacGyver mentality” with Days Gone meaning that if two items should realistically be able to combined to make X, they probably could. You can rely on the traditional molotov cocktails and bombs when you craft in Days Gone, but there are other more subtle things to be crafted, such as silencers.
One of the biggest reasons to lean on crafting in Days Gone, however, is to set up traps to surprise human enemies and Freakers. As the gameplay in the alternative demo showed, traps can be laid and Deacon can then Deacon can then distract enemies to lure them in. While not technically a trap, the first footage of the game showed how explosives can impact the environment and block off attackers while the E3 2017 footage showed that you can even use the hordes to your advantage.