E3 2017: Surviving the Post-Apocalyptic High Desert in Days Gone

Sony’s Bend Studios has been around the block, from Busy 3D to the entire Syphon Filter series to Uncharted: Golden Abyss, there’s no shortage of experience in this developer. What may surprise you is that Days Gone is the first console game the company has worked on since 2007.  Days Gone has been in development for over 4 years now, and thankfully Sony has given Bend the time and resources to make this game just the way it needs to be.

On the surface, Days Gone looks like another zombie apocalypse end of the world simulator, introducing this horde as “Freakers”, because they are adults (Swamers) and children (Newts) that are actually still alive, suffering from this terrible pandemic that is just being called “The Event” right now. Bend is being rather tight lipped on many details but as this is the 2nd year we’ve seen the game at E3 we do have a few more bits of information to work with this year.

Speaking only about what they’ve shown so far, we know the infected wolves are known as Runners and the infected bears are known as Ragers and they join the horde in making life particularly hard, not only for the protagonist, Deacon, but for all non-infected humans in the world as well.

One of the biggest things to note is the Time of Day and Weather systems that Bend has implemented, as it turns out, these things make how you play out a particular scenario much different.  During presentations this week we saw the same segments played a few times and it was clear that things were vastly different just due to the weather.  For example, rain can dampen sound, Snow can make visibility issues, and Freakers are stronger in the snow and usually are in greater numbers.  Time of day also drives the density of the horde and as everything in the High Desert of Oregon follows a realistic ecosystem, the various creatures also follow what would be considered normal patterns when it comes to looking for prey/food, etc.

These two systems help create dynamic events, where there is no way to predict what can happen, comparing experiences with friends will be different based on what’s happened in your particular story versus theirs.  Bend has likened Days Gone to as “brutal test of survival”, where only very few of the encounters are scripted and anything can happen.  Let a Runner chase you too long?  He might knock you off your motorcycle.  Even sound can be dangerous:  make the wrong kind of sound and you can have humans, creatures, or the horde after you, or make a strategically placed sound and you could have the horde take out enemies for you.

Play it how you want, and the game will respond to your play style, but remember, when in doubt: Run.  Your chances of surviving a horde fight without a massive amount of stamina and weaponry is very, very slim.

The scope of the world is enormous and Bend has figured out how to make over 1000 enemies on screen at once come after you without slowing down the game.  There has been no sacrifice to building or character design to accommodate such an enormous and lush world set right in Bend’s back yard, and it looks even better on the PlayStation 4 Pro, in full HDR and dynamic 4K.

There is no release date for Days Gone yet, but whether it be this year, next year, or 2019, it looks like this one will be worth the wait.