Days Gone was one of the new IPs revealed during the parade of press conferences at E3 this year. It’s a Sony title being developed by Bend Studio exclusively for the PlayStation 4. It was revealed in trailer form (seen below) and then played at the end of the conference in demo form (seen above).
At first blush, it looks like a tight zombie game. That’s not the case, as I learned during a behind closed doors presentation at E3 this year. We saw the same segment above, only it was an extended demo that involved a little bit more (and I do want to emphasis a little more) item gathering and fighting.
Oh, that demo during the press conference, by the way? That was played live. I had no idea.
Days Gone is the story of Deacon St. John, a Road Captain in a motorcycle gang living in the Pacific North West. As the world is hit by a virus, massive portions of the population are infected and turned into what Bend Studio is calling freakers. These freakers, we were told, are not zombies. They are alive, they evolve, they have their own ecosystem, they eat, they drink and they are aware. That, of course, explains why any shot will take them down, not just headshots.
Deacon becomes a bounty hunter in this game, and he takes to the open world Bend’s put together to discover a storyline and explore the open world. Yes, this is an open world game. Bend called it a “dynamic open world,” and it’s being built with Unreal Engine 4. That means it’s remarkably beautiful for a sandbox title, or any title for that matter, and they’re able to get a lot of characters on screen.
Take, for instance, the hordes of freakers seen in the demo. That horde is unique to Days Gone. It, and the open world nature of the game coupled with Deacon’s bike, are sort of what Bend’s hoping really sets their game apart from other zombie-like experiences. That horde will follow you indefinitely if you keep the right distance between it and yourself. Say you want to take out another human gang’s camp. Have that horde follow you and drag them all the way to your rival’s camp. The horde seeks the bigger target and does your work for you.
We were told that Days Gone will feature a dangerous open world. You won’t be able to leave your character standing still with the game unpaused as you run to the bathroom. Do that, and Deacon’s likely dead. There are a variety of freakers and humans to contend with. “If it moves, it’s probably gonna try to kill you,” they said.
Bend reinforced the idea that, yes, there is a golden path here where you’ll get delicately crafted story machines that are deliberate in their design. However, Deacon has access to jobs and other activities, and those are much more open ended and can unfurl in diverse ways. They offered that they’re trying to make this as flexible a sandbox as possible, though it will carry a serious and somber tone. Dead Rising it is not.
Days Gone does not have a release date yet. We’ll have more on the game as it comes.