The wait is finally over – and boy, was it worth it.
Days Gone from Sony’s Bend Studios has just released hordes of ‘Freakers’ on to our PS4s.
Playing out like a Hollywood blockbuster, or a TV series that you never want to miss an episode of, Days Gone places you in the role of Deacon, a biker, member of the ‘Mongrels’, who himself has had a very checkered and colourful path leading up to the outbreak that wiped out humans, turning them in to what is known as ‘Freakers’. An insanely feral zombie like humanoid that will do anything to get to living flesh.
Your play starts out after all of the drama and chaos that ensued when the outbreak occurred. Before you is an open world in the back roads of Pacific North West America. Yourself, as Deacon and his best friend Boozer are embarking on many a deadly road trip as mercenaries for hire, taking bounty’s and slowly making their way North.
Of course, nothing really goes to plan. Asides from hordes of ‘Freakers’, Deacon must look out for other humans aswell. A ravaged nation gives birth to sects, groups, small and large camps, survivors ruthlessly doing what they must to continue their existence. Some friendly, some definitely not.
The back story opens up throughout play, and you eventually find out that maybe, just maybe there’s more to the outbreak that spread across the Globe. You also learn more about Deacon. The good and bad and his lost love.
Resources are scarce, including medical supplies, ammunition and fuel.
Deacon traverses the ‘Freaker’ infected countryside and towns on his bike. The relationship between man and machine is paramount in this game.
You mustalso continually look for fuel (syphon from abandoned vehicles, steal from camps or find fuel cans by exploring environments), and keep up maintenance on your bike.
Almost like a character of its own, Deacon’s bike can be a needy beast. It will wear down with use and depending on your driving skills, or lack off, may need more or less maintenance as you forge ahead.
The storyline will update to your play style – and while there is a main story, there is so much to be done on the side.
Days Gone, exclusive to PlayStation 4, is a game that adheres to how you play and will work the main story in with your in-game activities.
Whatsmore, unlike previous zombie-esque titles, in Days Gone, it’s not only the human population that was afflicted.
Hiding in the wilderness does not mean that you are safe. Infected bears and dogs are also hungry for non-infected humans.
Then there’s the hordes. This is where the marvel of the PS4 comes in as literally hundreds upon hundreds of ‘Freakers’ surge towards you. Each individually animated – pushing eachother, tripping over eachother… in Days Gone, it is okay to run away if you can.
Asides from the rabid dogs and bears there are differing levels to ‘Freakers’ aswell. The most unique are Newts, which appear to be infected children. There’s also a sect known as rippers. Somewhat transformed, most definitely insane from the apocalyptic-like events that took place.
Days Gone is not a run and gun title. A lot of stealth and strategy will come in to play. More often than not, you will either have no ammo, or be extremely limited – down to your last bullet. Making use of cover, stealth and your environment will get you through. Eventually.
The infected are tuned to listen out for noise. One sound at any given time, could attract a giant horde. Your one bullet that you have in your chamber is not going to go far.
You need to be super resourceful, make use of stealth kills where you can. It’s almost as if the devs at Bend Studio give you just enough, but no more.
Scout around, explore. It’s a large landscape and a lot of goodies to be found. Scrap which can be used for trade or to craft items. Bike parts as and when you need them. Med kits are a necessary. ‘Freaker’ and Newt ears are taken as trophy’s, these too can be used for trade with other NPC’s and in friendly camps.
Days Gone has a very robust RPG element. Your skill points, earned throughout gameplay with varying objectives achieved or completed are used for Deacon upgrades; health, stamina and more. Your bike can and will also take on necessary upgrades aswell.
Crafting weapons and enhancements is super rewarding and will of course give you more of an advantage in-game.
All of this super woondrous and expansive gameplay aside, Days Gone is currently hampered with excessive and too frequent load times. Between nearly every cinematic scene is a lengthy load as you emark on the next chapter. First load when firing up the game (either New Game or Continue) is a killer.
I’m hopeful that a future patch sorts these out to keep the game more streamlined.
Days Gone shouldn’t be coined as ‘just another zombie’ game. If you overlook / forgive the loading issue, it is a fully engaging story mixed with compelling and really challenging gameplay puts Days Gone on to the top shelf alongside other PlayStation juggernauts; The Last of Us, God of War and Detroit.
First previewed at E3 in 2017, then previewed (hands-on) by me a couple of months ago, Days Gone is one of THE games you have been waiting for in 2019.
Serious PS4 gamers shouldn’t pass this one by.
Released: April 2019
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Developer: Bend Studio