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E3 Preview: Days Gone – This ain’t your run o’ the mill zombie game

Happy Days

Days Gone
When Days Gone was first announced at 2016’s E3, the footage blew everyone away. We all witnessed thousands of zombies on display, running at high speeds to get a piece of the game’s protagonist, Deacon St. John. The environment was shifted several times throughout the footage in order to divert the zombies to different areas of the game’s world. But like water, they somehow would find a way to slip through the cracks and continue the hunt.

Now, I know what you’re probably saying. “Another zombie game?!” To be honest, I thought the same exact thing, but after seeing some new gameplay at E3, my expectations have been exceeded. After viewing the action packed 20 minute demonstration, I’m under the impression that Days Gone may be significantly deeper than your run-of-the-mill zombie title.

Days Gone puts players in control of Deacon St. John as he fights to survive a zombie apocalypse.

The first thing I was informed of while watching the gameplay was that the rabid zombie-like humans in the game are not called zombies. They’ve been given the name “Freakers”. Unlike the previous videos that I’ve seen, the gameplay that I was shown at E3 was set primarily during the day time, providing me a new perspective on how the game works.

The footage started off in a camp that seemed like it had been well established, hinting that the Freaker epidemic had at least been around long enough for society to start semi-rebuilding. Our protagonist has been called upon to search for a member of the camp who has went missing. After some quick dialogue, the next thing we know we are hopping on a motorcycle and zipping out of town at top speed.

Ragtag factions are humanity’s last stand in Days Gone, and they don’t play nicely together.

According to the info given in the dialogue we are headed to a part of the woods where our missing friend was headed last. The forests are full of trails and it seemed as you could completely disregard the mission and do your own thing, but for the demonstration we were sticking to the mission at hand.

Once we arrived at an area in the forest that looked suspicious, we hopped off our bike and started investigating. Finding some clues proved to be quite difficult since the ground was covered with fresh snow and this is something that the player will have to think about when embarking on missions. A fully dynamic weather system is built into the game making each scenario require some extra thinking since the world reacts differently depending on the day’s weather. Additionally, vehicles will handle differently depending on road conditions due to the weather dynamic, making mission planning an important part of the game.

So now that the road is covered with snow, should we pick a path and just wing it? Since the world is so big that’s probably a bad idea. Deacon is a tracker and possesses an ability to locate parts of the terrain that have recently been traveled. This is tracking ability is very similar to Geralt’s, from the Witcher series, it’s so similar that I would go as far as calling it verbatim.

Days Gone Freakers

The number of Freakers that fill the screen in Days Gone is indeed impressive.

So back on the bike we go, and this is when I noticed the bike was definitely skidding all over the fresh snow, with spinning tires being a good indication that maybe we should have brought a shovel. The HUD included a gas meter, letting us know it may be wise not to travel far enough where we’d end up stranded in the woods, especially since the sun would eventually be setting, adding strongerFfreakers to the mix.

During the ride I noticed plenty of wildlife. Deer, rabbits, and a few other creatures scurried away as the bike rumbled toward them, but it didn’t take long until we ran into a group of people the Deacon called “Squatters”. This small group of people seemed to be living off the land and had a small, makeshift camp set up. Deacon turned off his motor and quietly made his way to the squatters. A well planned stealth attack was being put into effect and Deacon planted a bear trap by a patch of long grass sticking out of the snow. Once the trap had been set, Deacon stealthily made his way to the other side of the camp and tossed a large rock toward the hidden trap, which alerted the squatters. Needless to say one of them took the bait and found himself with a nice set of metal spikes piercing into his flesh. The others rushed to help and that gave Deacon time to snatch materials around camp to craft a Molotov cocktail. Once done he tossed that sucker into the pack and watched them all go up in flames. Despite Deacon’s efforts, his missing friend was still nowhere to be found, but he gained new Intel by activating his tracker sense.

Days Gone freakers

A view to die for.

Our newly discovered tracks led us to a huge camp inhabited by people called the “Marauders”. These guys were heavily armed and did not look like they were as dumb as the squatters. We got a look at another ability the Deacon possesses as he was able to mark his enemies, similar to Snake’s binocular ability in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Once all were marked an impressive fire fight broke out that provided plenty of “wow” comments from other E3 attendees who were watching the gameplay. Once all the enemies were dispatched Deacon finally located his missing buddy, but the celebration only lasted a few seconds. Off in the woods we came out of we heard a blood curdling roar that shook the chairs in the theater. Before we knew it, a mammoth bear wrapped in barbed wire came rushing out of the woods towards Deacon and his partner. This wasn’t an ordinary bear though, this ungodly beast had glowing red eyes and appeared to be possessed. This thing was a Freaker bear!

The gameplay ended on a high note as the Freaker bear came rushing toward any noise it heard. The room erupted in applause and the lights came on. This isn’t an ordinary zombie game folks. This is going to be something special. From what I’ve gathered in the gameplay footage, Days Gone seems to be using several well received components from games that are highly regarded. This may feel like a cop out for some people, but I believe it’ll differentiate itself from the games it borrows from and becomes something of its own. Be sure to check back here as our coverage of Days Gone will surely continue.

Mike Vito has been a slave to gaming ever since playing his grandfather's Atari 2600. A collector of all things retro, his main focus is obtaining a full NES collection. Being a father has rekindled his spirit for Nintendo and he now spends most of his time teaching his daughter about the games of yesteryear. Current favorite games: Air Zonk, NHL Hitz 2003, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, & Super Dodgeball.

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