Games featuring zombies are less than fresh at this point. Still, Bend Studio’s Days Gone may have found a new angle on surviving hordes of the undead. The open-world action-adventure game first caught gamers’ attention with a harrowing debut trailer featuring an unstoppable wall of zombies back at E3 2016. Since then we’ve seen a bit more of the game, including some neat details that give us hope that maybe Sony didn’t accidentally just make The Last of Us again, only worse this time. While the official release date is still unconfirmed, Days Gone will arrive sometime in 2018, barring any delays. For now, here’s everything we know, want to know, and are still in the dark on when it comes to Sony’s undead exclusive.
What we know we know
What is Days Gone? Days Gone is an original game from Bend Studio made exclusively for the PlayStation 4. The game will be built on Unreal Engine 4 and features third-person action-adventure gameplay set in an open-world environment. The story follows a bounty hunter named Deacon St. John, one of the few remaining survivors of a global pandemic, in the Pacific Northwest. Two years after the initial event, humans are left to scavenge for their own food, shelter, and safety, as many survivors fight one another to stay alive against relentless creatures, called (we’re sorry) Freakers.
Does Days Gone have a connection to any other games? Players might remember Bend from their last original property, Siphon Filter, which began in 1999. The studio’s last home console game, Siphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow, released in 2010, placing, even more, weight on the studio to put its name back on the map. While many in the gaming community have criticized Days Gone for looking similar to Naughty Dog’s own survival zombie game, The Last of Us, there has been no confirmed connection between the world seen in Bend Studio’s upcoming game and Naughty Dog’s series.
What kind of gameplay will Days Gone have? Days Gone is an action-adventure game that offers a variety of ways for players to battle, interact with the open-world environment, and customize their abilities. From the gameplay trailers we’ve seen so far, the combat will be hand-to-hand melee mixed with ranged weapon use. Deacon can use crossbows, rifles, and other ranged weapons to attack enemies from a distance, as well as axes, knives, and even his own fists when he has to get up close and personal. During an extended gameplay trailer, director John Garvin revealed that players will have the ability to upgrade weapons and abilities, with weapons seemingly gaining perks like extra ammo, higher damage output, and more.
As for traveling in the open world, Deacon will have the ability to move freely in third-person throughout the land, with the option to ride a motorcycle that comes with positives and negatives. As the game is built on survival, other marauders will set traps in the road that Deacon can easily trip if he’s not paying attention. Granted, if he knows an area is clear, traveling the long roads and mountain landscapes is much faster on the bike. Another tool that will help players navigate is survival vision, which works similarly to Detective Mode from the Batman Arkham series. Deacon can view his environment in survival vision as a tracker, picking up on nearby traps, enemy movement, and possible whereabouts of missing characters. Much like the weapon upgrades, it seems Deacon will be able to enhance the vision as the game goes on in some way, expanding his skills.
Overall, the gameplay will let players decide how they would like to handle each situation. In one example we’ve seen from the gameplay trailers, Deacon can approach an enemy camp by setting traps and stealthily taking out gang members one by one, or by using his variety of weapons to kill everyone quickly. Depending on the situation, players will want to think carefully about stealth versus immediate action, as loud noises can draw the attention of other survivors and Freakers. Other humans are tough enough, but Freakers are dangerous on a whole other level, especially once they start to gather together to form a Horde. The player will need serious firepower to take down the mass of creatures, so using stealth skills in areas with many Hordes will likely be the smartest approach.
How will the dynamic weather affect gameplay? The latest trailer, which shows an alternate playthrough of the section shown in the E3 2017 footage, revealed that weather will play a huge role in how players approach missions. Game director John Garvin explained in the commentary for the latest footage that certain types of enemies will appear more frequently in certain conditions and Deacon’s bike will react to the state of the road. For example, when it’s daylight and snowing, Garvin stated, Freakers will appear more often due to the cold climates drawing them out. However, they appear most often at night, so players attempting to do a scavenger mission for supplies will want to wait for clear weather during the day. Deacon’s motorcycle will work similarly, as icy or rain-slicked roads will make it harder to control the bike, but clear and sunny days should make movement a little easier.
The Basics (skip)
Who is making Days Gone? Days Gone is being published by Sony Interactive Entertainment America, with development by Bend Studio.
When does Days Gone release? Days Gone is set to launch in 2018, but no official release date has been announced.
What system can I play Days Gone on? The game is a PlayStation 4 exclusive, with PS4 Pro enhancements planned.
Is there a trailer for Days Gone? There have been a few lengthy trailers for Days Gone, including the E3 2016 extended gameplay trailer, which shows off a Horde chasing down Deacon. That’s the one we’ve decided to include below. Other pieces of footage have given a look at the customization options, weather system, and story, but for an overall look at the game, check out the trailer:
What we think we know
What kinds of enemies will players fight? We know the main enemy and calling card for Days Gone are the Freakers. The game’s equivalent of zombies, these creatures will supposedly come in two varieties: Newts and Hordes. Hordes are essentially a cluster of Freakers that move at high speeds and take a great deal of firepower to eliminate. Newts are simply Freakers in isolation, like the chained up ones seen in a few of the trailers. Of course, other survivors will be antagonistic to Deacon at times, forcing him to fight back. However, it’s unclear if Deacon will be able to ever reason with or gain new allies with other survivors outside of the main camp he dwells. Perhaps there will be a mechanic to pull new people into his fold?
In two of the trailers, Deacon is also seen fighting back against animals that have been infected by the same virus as the Freakers, meaning wildlife will be a threat, too. In one scene, a pack of infected wolves chase down Deacon on his motorcycle to attack him, and then later a bear covered in barbed wire begins to hunt down Deacon. While these are only two examples, it raises the question of how many types of animals have been affected by the virus.
What can Deacon do with the environment around him? Arguably the most intriguing aspect of Days Gone is the use of environmental hazards. While players were able to see Deacon fight off a Horde in the 2016 E3 reveal trailer, it wasn’t until the 2017 E3 conference that we got a better look at the other obstacles and advantages Deacon will find in the world around him. During the trailer, we learn Deacon has the ability to weaponize Hordes by drawing their attention to his nearby enemies. When attempting to rescue a kidnapped friend, Deacon places a bomb on a gate near the enemy camp, with the explosion causing the Horde to be drawn to the location and begin attacking the kidnappers. As the frenzy of Freakers take on the survivors, Deacon is free to quickly sneak in and rescue his target, meaning players will likely have the opportunity to do the same in other scenarios. However, it’s not confirmed this mechanic will continue throughout the game, especially since the team later stated that the Horde shown in 2016’s trailer was an “endgame scenario.” Still, with Deacon’s use of the Horde in the most recent E3 trailer, it’s pointing more closely to the idea that Hordes and Freakers, in general, will be able to be manipulated.
Traps also seem to play a large role in the game, but how often will the player get to use them? In one scene of a trailer, Deacon places a bear trap in a collection of shrubs that he lures a nearby scavenger to by throwing a rock. Once the victim steps into the trap, Deacon makes his way further into the enemy’s camp. In that specific scenario, Deacon picks up the bear trap from the same camp, making it unclear if he can keep an arsenal of traps to set anywhere he chooses, or if the player will have to find creative ways to trap enemies using the environmental options and items available immediately nearby.
What we still want to know
Will there be a multiplayer mode? Days Gone has up until now only been referred to as a single-player experience. Still, with any zombie-driven game, it’s easy to imagine playing along with your friends. In terms of what we’ve seen of gameplay so far, a fully integrated multiplayer component looks unlikely, but if you squint you can imagine a standalone multiplayer mode or some sort of co-op support. Only time will tell for certain.
If the Freakers aren’t zombies, then what are they? While the game is clearly a take on other zombie stories, Bend Studio has explained the main enemy, known as Freakers, are not the undead. All we know about them is they appeared after the global pandemic that set the story in motion, with humans either dying, surviving, or becoming Newts. Does this mean the living survivors are infected? If so, how do they fully become a Freaker? Is there a cure? What are the limitations of the Freakers, if any?
How big is the open world? From what we’ve seen so far, Days Gone has an impressive number of areas to explore. In trailers we’ve seen a sawmill, large enemy encampment, open roads, and what looks like miles and miles of forest. However, it’s difficult to know just how large the game’s world will be. Will there be fixed paths that Deacon can take, or will he be able to move across lakes, rivers, and climb mountains whenever he wants? In some of the footage it seems Deacon can even get enough speed and boost on his bike to traverse large holes in the road, so maybe there are areas that can only be accessed with certain upgrades, giving the game a kind of Metroidvania-style progression.