Because of some sort of clerical error in my E3 schedule, I managed to check out two closed-door sessions of the upcoming open-world shooter Days Gone. Both of these demos showcased the same gameplay area from the reveal trailer at Sony’s press conference. The game – which is developed by Bend Studio of Syphon Filter fame – looks to tell a story of survival in a world gone to hell.
If that sounds cliché it’s probably because it is. That doesn’t mean, however, that interesting themes can’t be explored or characters developed.
Days Gone follows Deacon St. John, a former member of a biker gang, and currently a bounty hunter. The game is set two years after a global pandemic decimated the population, killing or transforming them into Freakers – which are basically zombies, but with some speed behind them. According to senior designer Eric Jensen, Deacon has lost a lot, and is just trying to survive with what he’s familiar with – which is to say, a rough-and-tough lifestyle.
The game will be an open-world, featuring multiple different types of locales to visit in in the Pacific Northwest, from deserts, to lakes, and underground cave systems. To get around, you’ll be using your trusty motorcycle. Another function that was hinted at (but wasn’t shown) was inventory management. Your bike will act as an item box of sorts, allowing you to stash the materials and ammo you find out during your excursions.
The gunplay doesn’t look to be about finesse – especially if you’re dealing with hordes of Freakers. I asked Jensen about how the team at Bend proposed to get around the usual problem faced by the combat in most pack-based zombie games (walk backwards and shoot everything, rinse repeat). He said that a lot of it will be using the environment to change the pace of the fight – pulling down crates to funnel enemies down one path, or attaching explosives to a collection of logs and rolling them down a hill.
The game also features a crafting system, but I never got a solid look at the specifics. It occurs in real time, and looks like it will be similar to The Last of Us: you’ll make molotovs by combining the appropriate ingredients (bottles and flammable liquids).
Jensen stressed that the game has multiple ways to tackle problems – from straight shooting, to stealth. As far as I can tell it will be similar to Far Cry, in that you’ll scope a place out and figure out your best plan of attack. Helping or hindering your plans will be a full day/night cycle, as well as weather patterns.
I also asked whether or not there would be some form of permanence to the world – that if you clear an area out, or strip it of supplies, if that would be reflected forever. While they weren’t willing to comment on specifics, but supplies will not repopulate.
Days Gone is shaping up to be its own, unique spin on what is a fairly crowded genre space. While I’m not entirely convinced that Deacon will be that interesting a character, the open-world survival elements look to be the game’s strongest points, emphasising planning and care, over brute force.