A drifter in the post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest
As revealed at E3 2016, Days Gone, a third-person action game, takes place in the Pacific Northwest two years after a global virus wiped out much of the population, turning people into zombie-like “freakers.” You play as Deacon St. John, a biker turned bounty hunter/mercenary following the global pandemic.
While we don’t know much about the character, we know that the virus affected his personal life. In the trailer, he recounts riding down the open road with a woman, presumably his wife or girlfriend. The assumption here, based on the language he uses, is that she either fell victim to the virus herself, or was taken out by someone afflicted with the virus. A man with a head tattoo, possibly a member of St. John’s biker gang, reminds him that “Phoebe” is dead. St. John appears to be on a vendetta as a bounty hunter, and it seems as if he is a lone wolf, working outside of his biker gang in the present.
He is described as a drifter, and at this time, we don’t know of any close allies. St. John remarks that “brotherhood” used to mean something, implying that he has lost hope in humanity. In the reveal trailer, however, St. John enters through a gate into what appears to be a safe haven, suggesting that there are camps where St. John can regroup before setting back out into the apocalyptic wilderness.
Although we haven’t seen much of the game’s world outside of the forested area surrounding the lumber yard, Days Gone is set in an open world, with a heavy emphasis on the wilderness. And from what we’ve seen so far, St. Johns’ main means of traveling is by motorcycle.
“Freakers” aren’t your typical zombies
The E3 2016 demo picked up right where the game trailer left off. Presumably on a bounty, St. John rides into an abandoned lumber yard in search of Two-Dog. While on foot, chasing down Two-Dog, we witness the effects of the virus during St. John’s encounter with a massive swarm of freakers.
Freakers don’t move like typical zombies, however, as they’re swift on their feet. As showcased in the demo, St. John will encounter huge masses of freakers at a time. It’s difficult to gauge how many chased him down in the lumber yard, but it was easily more than a hundred. And while they appear to travel in packs, they do seem to be at least relatively autonomous, as they converged on St. John from multiple directions. One other important thing to note about freakers is that they come out during the day, but if they follow zombie lore, there may be even more of them on hand when night falls.
It doesn’t appear that all freakers will be humans, either. In the game’s E3 2017 demonstration, we get a glimpse of a zombified bear for a few seconds. Wrapped in razor wire and with skin missing from its head, its brain appears to be exposed, but it doesn’t move with the same gusto and aggression as the other zombies do.
Gear management and crafting
Prior to going after Two-Dog in our preview, we moved gear from our motorcycle stash into our inventory. Besides high-powered assault rifles and pistols, resource management appears to be key to survival. In the demo, St. John uses Molotov cocktails to take out swarms of zombies, but hand-to-hand weapons like axes will be key for close-quarters combat.
St. John’s motorcycle is also considered a “character” of sorts in Days Gone, leveling up as you progress through the game.
On top of maintaining healthy ammunition levels and throwable weapons like Molotov cocktails, Days Gone will feature a crafting system. In gameplay footage shown at E3 2017, St. John pillages scraps from a broken down car to modify his pistol.
Along with your own inventory, there are other ways to slow down hordes of freakers. In the lumber yard sequence, for instance, the yard is littered with interactive points such as cradles of timber that can be knocked over, conveyor belts, and mechanical doors that can be shut to stave off, and eliminate some of the swarm, if timed well.
We can infer that other set pieces throughout the open world will have similar interactivity, giving players unique ways to defend themselves, and in some cases, escape, even if it’s just momentarily, from the freakers. Another moment was seen in the game’s E3 2017 demonstration, with a rope wrapped around a tree working as a suitable choking device when Deacon is attacked by bandits.
Deacon St. John might be smart, but his enemies are a little bit gullible — and not just the undead. During the game’s demonstration at E3 2017, we see Deacon plant a bear trap near a group of human survivors and proceed to throw a rock at it while he hid several feet away. A single person immediately walked directly to the rock’s location and screamed in pain as his friends ran over to help him escape from the trap. This gave Deacon plenty of time to run past their camp.
Dynamic weather system
During our preview, the studio confirmed that Days Gone will have a dynamic weather system. In the reveal trailer, we see St. John traveling both during the day and at night, and there’s even torrential rainfall at one point.
At this time, it’s unclear how the weather system will affect the gameplay, but from the footage we’ve seen, it would appear that it’s safer to work during the day. At nightfall, St. John enters a gated camp with a bonfire.
PlayStation 4 Pro support
At the PlayStation 4 Pro reveal in September, Bend Studio director Chris Reese showed off Days Gone running on the PS4 Pro. On HDR TVs, the title’s environments really pop, but Reese claimed that even for users who don’t own a 4K TV, the PS4 Pro will offer a better visual experience than the PS4.
When can you play it?
During PlayStation Experience 2017, SIE Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida told fans that Days Gone will launch on PlayStation 4 in 2018.
Update: Added information regarding the game’ release and motorcycle gameplay.