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Lifewire / Kelsey Simon
A variety of weapons
Horrible crafting system
Clunky cutscene to action sequencing
Days Gone delivers solid graphics, entertaining combat, and smooth driving, but suffers from some occasionally clunky controls.
Days Gone is another action-adventure survival game in the zombie genre. It does a lot of things that other similar titles do―crafting, stealth, and gathering resources―but with an added emphasis on your character’s vehicle.
If you purchased the game on disc, when you first pop it into your PlayStation 4 you’ll have to update. The update is fairly large, so be prepared to wait. The game finally launches, you'll be prompted to select between easy, normal, or hard difficulty, and then treated to a scene-setting introductory cutscene.
The first cutscene you’re shown involves three characters: the protagonist Deacon, his loyal friend Boozer, and Sarah, Deacon’s wife. Sarah has been stabbed, and with chaos breaking out as a deadly virus spreads through the city, the trio is desperate to find help. When a helicopter lands nearby, they load Sarah onboard, but there's only room for two passengers. When Boozer refuses to board, Deacon stays behind to make sure he gets out of the city alive. You don’t actually see any zombies in this beginning sequence, or even much of the world. It's about establishing the relationships between these people and the desperate circumstances unfolding around them.
After a time jump forward to two years later, you’ll see how Deacon and Boozer operate in this new world. They’re riding down a road on their bikes, chasing someone. From the dialogue, you get the impression the man hurt a friend, and there’s a bounty on his head. Once you catch up, you’ll get what you need from him and leave―only to find your bike too damaged to drive. You and Boozer will set out to find the bike parts you need to repair it at a nearby garage.
As in most zombie fiction, the real monster is man.
It’s only on your journey to this garage, at least a half-hour into the game, that you come across the first zombie. In this world, they’re called Freakers, and the children version of them are called Newts, but they're not the most dangerous adversaries in this broken post-apocalypse. As in most zombie fiction, the real monster is man.
You'll have issues with a cult group called Rippers, and bandits who survive by preying on anyone who's not well armed or capable enough to defend what's theirs. Unfortunately, Boozer gets badly hurt in one of these encounters, and while you’re trying to find him the help he needs, you get a lead that perhaps Sarah, who you assumed was dead, is still alive. The rest of the game involves exploring this open-world, helping the people you meet, and trying to find Sarah, all while keeping your friend Boozer alive.
Days Gone is a third-person, action-adventure, zombie survival game with single-player gameplay. It operates in an open-world where you drive around your bike and explore different camps to collect supplies and complete missions. You’ll find a range of enemies from wild animals, zombies, and even other survivors.
Probably the best thing Days Gone has going for it is the biker angle. You can upgrade and customize your bike, and drifting around corners is fun; the handling in general is really solid, and after a few upgrades you can really chew up large distances quickly.
The wide variety of guns that largely keep the combat from getting stale.
There's also a wide variety of guns that largely keep the combat from getting stale. This is nice, as a lot of survival games lean on one or two primary weapons and seriously restrict the ammo you find. Days Gone, by contrast, feeds you decent weapons fairly early on (as well as a fairly steady supply of ammo), and you can further modify them to suit your needs. If you do burn through all your ammo, the melee weapons are solid backups.
Unfortunately, Days Gone overcomplicates a huge number of its systems and interactions. It feels like there’s a button you have to press, hold, or mash for every interaction. Then there's the crafting system, which is overly complicated and unintuitive. A little streamlining on the design side would've dramatically improved the quality of the entire game.
The graphics, on the other hand, are remarkable. The details of the characters feel real, especially with Deacon. His tattoos, attire, even the rings on his fingers are well rendered. The scenery also looks great—cracks in the roads are filled with grass and wildflowers, and pine trees have individual needles rather than compressed, low-res clumps of green.
You can upgrade and customize your bike, and drifting around corners is fun.
Character animations also look great. Deacon moves in a way that feels natural and real, whether he’s slitting someone's throat or sneaking around an enemy camp. The bike is smooth visually and looks good drifting around corners. Even the zombies have their own sort of animalistic movements that give them a creepy, predatory feel.
On the official PlayStation Store, the game goes for $40, but you can regularly find it on sale on Amazon or other online retailers (as of this writing, it's down to $20). At a discount, Days Gone is an easy purchase, a big, entertaining, open-world zombie romp that rarely if ever stagnates until the credits roll.
There are a fair amount of other zombie survival games out there. On the PlayStation 4, another popular title is The Last of Us Remastered. The Last of Us doesn't have the expansive open world that Days Gone does, but the crafting system is far better, and the plot is stronger.
Above average, but wait for a sale.
Days Gone is a game that tried very hard to combine two tropes very much in the entertainment zeitgeist in the past few years—zombies and bikers. It's graphically strong, with great character animations and detailed environments and character models. The clunky controls and some pacing issues may make recommending it at full price difficult, but on sale, it's an easy pickup, especially for zombie fans shopping for an entertaining PS4 game.