Days Gone drops you in an open world zombie apocalypse that can be as beautiful as is it terrifying, at times. You play as Deacon St. John, former member of the Mongrels Motorcycle Club. You must fight to survive a zombie infested pacific north west.
The story Days Gone was telling is one of its redeeming qualities, making me want to keep playing to uncover more of it. However, there were problems from start.
The story is told through a combination of cut scenes, collectables and character interactions during gameplay. As you progress, the story missions quickly get very repetitive, but I had a blast with them during my first 15 hours of playing. The story is told through a combination of cut scenes, collectables and character interactions during gameplay. The cut scenes look nice enough, but while playing I experienced several frame drops during important scenes that really broke my immersion. The performance issues are not limited to the pre-rendered cut scenes. The game jitters and drops frames a lot, often when fighting multiple enemies.
There are several different types of zombies, or Freakers, wandering the land, but there isn’t much noticeable difference when fighting them. Alone or in a small pack, they are not really challenging to fight. However, when you end up with well over a hundred of them surrounding you, your options to fight are nonexistent. They are attracted to scent of blood and any loud noises you make will be sure to draw a crowd.
Freakers are not the only threat. Human enemies such as the Rippers, and other scavenging groups, set up road side ambushes to catch you by surprise. This gives the feeling of constant uneasiness, hoping you don’t trip a wire while riding down the road. It’s also a change of pace from the persistent presence of Freakers.
Your motorcycle is one of the major focal points of the game, especially since it’s your only mode of transportation. Progressing through the game will give you access to performance upgrades for your bike, along with cosmetic items. Damage can put your bike out of commission, requiring you to repair it with scavenged salvage. It also needs to be refueled, but gas is plentiful, so getting low is only an inconvenience and not a constant burden.
You will never have to search for something to do, as there are tons of optional quests, infestation nests and ambush camps to keep you busy. Although this sounds good, all these activities get relentlessly tedious. Also, some of these quests and activities really have no reason to be there, and not really doing much for you.
For example, 10–12 hours into the game you’ll get a quest to learn to hunt by tracking. Tracking was explained about 10 minutes in. You don’t eat and can’t cook, so the meat you obtain can only be traded to settlement kitchens for a very small, basically useless, amount of XP.
Every time you level up you get a skill point, which can then be used to unlock a Skill from one of Days Gone’s three skill trees: Ranged, Melee and Survival. The skills are pretty straightforward, with nothing exceptional about them. The trees include skills like being able to repair your melee weapons with salvage and allowing plants to be spotted through your Survival Vision.
Days Gone features both gun and melee based combat, as well as a stealth system. You can get upgrades for all these from skills The melee combat really shines, as it should, especially since guns can attract the attention of wandering Freakers. Melee weapons break very often, but there’s typically several more strewn about if you’re in need. While melee is good for most situations, but you can get caught off guard by Freakers that happen upon you while you’re already duking it out. Although, chopping down enemies with a machete made of a lawn mower blade is a blast. Like most games, stealth and melee go hand in hand. Seatlh is forgiving, so is quite easy to pick off a bunch of zombies without being seen. Personally, I felt the stealth system could have been harder, as the ease of it made it boring.
To me, the gun play is not very satisfying. Aiming, recoil and handling is stiff. If you don’t have a silencer, there is a real threat of getting swarmed when you use a gun. A lot of times, it’s just easier to stealth and melee everything, so guns feel like they have little purpose.
The Bottom Line
Days Gone provides a lot of thrills, chills and action but quality trumps quantity every time. There are great moments in Days Gone, but this is quickly countered by performance issues, repetitive play and the lack of anything truly interesting. Days Gone is not worth picking up for $60. Wait until it goes on sale for a good price if you buy it at all. In the end, it’s just a zombie action game with the basic elements of any RPG…and a motorcycle.