E3 2017: Days Gone

How will Day’s Gone set itself apart in a world full of post-apocalyptic action titles?

Sony presented many great games during PlayStation Live, and one of the demos that stood out was a new IP from Bend Studio. Day’s Gone is the studios first AAA title, or so they hope, after years of putting out solid games for the PSVita. Current Gen consoles are a different beast but for the second year in a row the studio has brought a compelling gameplay demo to E3 and this year we got to learn a little more about their new IP.

Day’s Gone is a post-apocalyptic action adventure where crafting, stealth, and resource conservation are all important. If you are thinking that this sounds a lot like at least three other games you can think of right now you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Protagonist Deacon, with his tragic past and heart of gold, doesn’t do a lot to help but here are some of the ways Bend Studios is trying to make Day’s Gone stand out.

You’ll Want to Check The Weather Report

One of the most interesting aspects of Day’s Gone is the weather. The game is set in the Pacific North-West so you can expect the weather to vary quite a bit in the lush environment that includes dense forest, coastline, and mountainous terrain. While more and more games are offering dynamic weather or day-night cycles, Bend Studios wants their environment to feel real. The weather system will actively gameplay.

When it rains roads will be slicker and make driving more difficult or when its foggy visibility will be reduced. Both the environment and enemies will change based on the weather. Freakers prefer rain over the cold for instance, if you a playing a sequence where it is snowing you will not find as many. Using them as weapons against other enemies like Deacon did in the newest demo may not be possible even within the same mission on different playthroughs.

Dynamic Weather

Terrifying Enemies

The world of Day’s Gone has suffered a world crippling pandemic that has turned much of the population into “into mindless, feral creatures” known as Freakers. These creatures gather together into swarms, which we first had a chance to see at last year’s E3.

Their numbers make them a formidable enemy especially since resources appear to be scarce in Day’s Gone. The thing that makes them terrifying is how adaptable they are. the swarms move quickly and will react and adapt to you, cut off one path and they will find another way around even begin to predict your behavior. Based on gameplay we’ve seen you will try to stealth past them as much as possible or be running for your life. They are very reactive to sound which, as we saw, means they can be manipulated and used as a weapon themselves.

Swarms remain passive until they see a target or are set off by sound.

The Freakers will not be the only danger in this post-apocalyptic world. As we often see in the genre the surviving humans are often the most dangerous thing you will run across. Marauders have set up camps throughout the world and, as we saw in the demo, will ambush and raid travelers. Human enemies are cunning and aggressive but may at times make you feel guilty about dispatching them.

It is a story about what makes us human and that includes the dark parts of humanity. Encounters with humans are brutal with an emotional weight behind them. The humans are not simply generic enemies, listening to them from the safety of tall grass we find many are just surviving themselves in a desperate time. This makes the brutal combat almost tragic.

Deacon’s Bag of Tricks

Open world, check. Scarce resources, check. Crouching in tall grass, check. Day’s Gone hits a lot of the obvious boxes for modern action-adventure times. Looking closely at the newest gameplay we can confirm a few game mechanics. The first is Deacon’s bike as an expanded storage bank as well as a transportation system. You will only be able to carry limited weapons and supplies as you tackle obstacles but you can store equipment in your bike and outfit yourself in between encounters.

You will need to collect supplies can take pick up new melee weapons and guns as you go and there will be plenty of different kinds. Between the two demos, we have seen axes, bats, pipes, glass bottles, Molotov cocktails, beartraps, explosives, makeshift silencers, and a range of guns. The game encourages sandbox combat where challenges and objectives can be approached multiple ways. Day’s Gone will also feature a real-time crafting system. Players can create traps and weapons as they play without breaking the flow of the gameplay.

Bend Studios want players to explore the detailed open world they have created to collect and craft the items that define their gameplay style. Scavaging abandoned buildings and vehicles will yield all the supplies you need to stay alive. Using your environment is critical. In combat, you can create and destroy barriers as well as set traps to dispatch enemies, buy time for crafting, or turn the tide of an encounter.

Traps are particularly interesting and take many forms. We have already seen how Deacon can set up and lure enemies into traps. We now also know that a special ability called “survival” will also let you identify enemy traps to be avoided or even disarmed.

There is a raw brutality in the melee kills of Day’s Gone that adds to the weight of the story Bend is trying to tell.

Yes, there are many elements in Day’s Gone that we have seen in other games, even a few other games on display at E3 this year but it is the experience and freedom that makes it stand out. The team at Bend Studios want every encounter in Day’s Gone to feel unique. That extends to even the same mission played by two different players. The world is alive and dynamic so even though the story itself may be linear with specific set pieces the experience will be different for every player or every playthrough.

No release date has been set for Day’s Gone so it would be surprising to see it in 2017, but whenever it drops it will be exclusively for PlayStation. Do you think Day’s Gone can set itself apart in the genre?

This article first appeared on DVSGaming.org

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