E3 2016: Can Days Gone Be The Next Great Zombie* Pandemic Game?

A zombie pandemic infected the video game world several years ago and there is no cure in sight.  Post pandemic games have become common enough where “zombie game” has essentially become its own genre.  As E3 draws to end, it was inevitable that I would cover one of these zombie games.  This is not an inherently bad thing, amidst of the sea of forgettable zombie titles there are some phenomenal games such as Telltale’s The Walking Dead and The Last of Us.  Days Gone, the new IP from SIE Bend Studio, appears to have the potential to be listed among those two latter titles.

Taking place two years after a global pandemic, we find our protagonist Deacon St. John trying to survive in the Pacific Northwest in this open world adventure.  Deacon is a bounty hunter who was a member of a motorcycle club prior to most of humanity being turned into freakers.  Freakers are living feral creatures, not zombies per se but they fill the role much like the people infected by Cordyceps fungus in another popular game.  The early video shows the freakers moving as a horde.  Each member has an individual mind and acts independently but it is within the context of the larger group.  Imagine if you will a mob of zombies that behave like a swarm of fire ants that possess the speed and endurance of Olympic runners.  It is fortunate for Deacon that he was able to keep his bike maintained.

Missions in the game serve a couple purposes for Deacon.  His own survival is a major one, but being a bounty hunter he takes on assignments from other survivors he comes across, for a fee one would naturally expect.  The skills he acquired from the MC are paramount to his survival, the mayhem and violent culture he was around honed his skills to fight the freakers and sell his skills to other survivors.  Beyond what is seen on his surface, brotherhood was another important value he took from the MC, which we can expect will be shown when he interacts with the other survivors of the world.

DaysGone004

A crafting element will be included in the game as well.  Deacon has to rely on his wits to survive, so to incorporate this in the game he is able to MacGuyver new weapons for himself out of various found items.  If the voice and look of Deacon is familiar to anyone, he is brought to life by actor Sam Witwer.  Useless trivia about him, he had a role in the episode of The Walking Dead titled Days Gone Bye.  Speaking of, The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy are two very apparent influences that are noticed almost immediately in the trailer.  The developers have stated that the game world is a combination of just about everything they like so that shouldn’t seem too surprising.  It is too early to say for certain, but it looks like even if the influences are obvious they have managed to create their own unique world for Days Gone.

With so many zombie games to choose from, creating one that can stand out from the horde and be interesting and unique is a daunting task.  Will Days Gone stand among the greats will be seen when it is released.  That being said, based on what information is available I would say it has the potential to achieve that status.  The idea of an open world game in this location with a virtual living ecosystem is intriguing, and outrunning a horde of human fire ants on a motorcycle sounds fun.  If the final product can live up to the developers’ vision what the trailer shows, there may be another great post pandemic game in Sony’s library.

DaysGone002

*This writer acknowledges that freakers are not actually undead or zombies.