- Days Gone PS4 release date: TBC
- Developer: SIE Bend Studio
- Publisher: Sony
- Format: PS4
Usually you'd think the sound of a revving engine - especially the catastrophically loud ones associated with motorbikes (don't act like the sound hasn't woken you up at night at least once) - would be something to avoid during a zombie apocalypse. Especially when the zombies - ahem, sorry - Freakers have super-sensitive hearing and enough adrenaline coursing through their infected veins to make you suddenly doubt the speed of your beloved chopper. Deacon isn't that kind of person, however. Coursing down roads on his motorbike, he's the poor sod you'll be trying to keep out of harm's way during the worldwide viral outbreak of a virus that's turned most of the human population into slavering, bloodthirsty beasts. We know plenty more about Days Gone than just that one (rather obvious) fact, so read on for everything you need to know about SIE Bend's apocalyptic RPG.
Update: June 28, 2017 - Everything we found out from E3 2017
We got another glimpse of Days Gone at Sony's E3 press conference, and while it still looks a lot like The Last Of Us But With Motorcycles, the video shown on-stage gave us a better glimpse of its open environments, its improvised weaponry, and the ability to turn a seething tide of zombies against your opponents.
The demo opened on our hero, Deacon, getting on his bike to rescue someone from a group of bandits. As he drove down the highway, I wondered how many of the side streets and other pathways he could take through this open-world, but there wasn't enough time to think about it as a group of zombies wolves called Runners spotted him speeding around. Uh oh. These undead animals can outrun his bike, so it's a good job he managed to shotgun one in the face and make his getaway. Unfortunately Deacon's luck ran out just at that moment. He got taken out by a tripwire, flying off his bike in the process. Ouch.
After he stabs some of the nefarious bandits in the stomach and strangles another, Deacon pushes his way through a meat wall bordering a bandit camp - i.e. hanging corpses that'll distract Freakers if they get too close. Freakers will nosh down on any type of meat, so cannibalism doesn't particularly bother them. Sneaking down the path that leads to a group of arguing bandits, our biker boy carefully places a bear trap near a sign before hiding. You can distract targets by throwing stones around, leading them to investigate the source of the noise - which, sure enough, one of the bandits does. Then he gets caught in the trap. Screams as loud as any engine erupt from his mouth, which attracts a swarm of Freakers - thankfully Deacon is far enough away by then to simply watch the carnage.
Some more fighting and sneaking ensues, until Deacon comes across his target - but he's heavily guarded by fist-fighting henchmen. Luckily, behind a shoddily-built wall is another swarm of Freakers ripe for manipulation. Deacon places an explosive charge on athe wall and blows it, alerting the ravenous swarm to the sound, and therefore his enemy's presence. They move through the pass like a river of flesh, sending the enemy bandits scurrying away.
This is the bit where the demo introduces us to a Rager Bear. Huge, hulking, and impaled with various sticks and blades, the undead grizzly acts as a mini boss encounter - but this is where the demo ends. An alternate path interview after the stage demo revealed that the zombies are stronger in the cold, and that the time of day drives the density of the Freakers. When it's raining the infected humans will be easier to sneak up on, roads will be scattered with dangerous ambushes and dynamic, unpredictable events.
If the demo's scenarios are as organic as they look, Days Gone could be something very special indeed.
Update: April 24, 2017 - Bend Studio has moved into a new studio, and has a "longer-term plan"...
We're about to start stroking our chins, because the people behind Days Gone, Bend Studio, has into a new building recently. That's not all either, as they've increased its headcount from 45 to well over a hundred...looks like something's afoot. Interestingly, there are no plans to downsize once the game's out either, with Bend's Chris Reese reported to have said, "we have a longer-term plan". While nothing's confirmed it does sound like some sort of post-release content or support might be likely, or perhaps a sequel could even be in the works already. That might be us jumping the gun a bit, but having seen how stunning Days Gone looks on PS4 Pro and getting a look at just how many zombies will be filling our screen, we're about as eager for the game as its protagonist Deacon St. John must be for a shower.
*Original article continues below*
Days Gone trailer has zero zombies
The Days Gone announcement trailer is a heartfelt, melancholy reflection on the enigmatic 'pandemic' which swept the world and what it did to people. Surprisingly, there are no zombies in sight, suggesting that we're in for a more character-based game that's not entirely focused on shooting zombies every other minute. Well, there will certainly be breaks in the action - don't expect a sweeping character piece like The Last of Us. Days Gone is clearly more focused on the explosive element of survival, rather than the human.
Days Gone release date remains elusive... for now
Currently TBC, Days Gone is looking likely for a 2017 release. While we haven't seen masses of gameplay yet, it's smart to assume this zombie-blasting adventure will be with us around October with a full reveal at E3 in June. Why? Sony doesn't have a whole lot on its slate right now, and those PS4 Pros aren't going to sell themselves. We're definitely going to get a game that showcases the Pro at the end of the year (Horizon: Zero Dawn is doing the job for the first half of the year) to help sell consoles, and we already know that Days Gone is taking full advantage of all Pro's best features. It's either Days Gone or God of War for late 2017 and, given that we've seen slightly more of this game, it's a safe bet you'll be playing before Santa empties his sack in your living room.
Days Gone gameplay lets you play at your own pace
Days Gone is is set in a true open-world, with objectives you can pick and choose. Bend has been talking about how you might decide not to do a mission until you’re better prepared for it - which suggests much of the world will be accessible as a result of your abilities and skills as you progress, rather than a gated level progression. What we've seen so far is a very action orientated shooter, although stealth is also an option. So expect to have a range of choices depending on how you play.
It'd better be a damn good world too (and, let's be honest, it certainly looks the part right now), as Days Gone will have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Red Dead Redemption 2 if it launches at the end of 2017.
Days Gone multiplayer is unlikely but meet Deacon, its enigmatic protagonist
There's nothing suggesting that Days Gone will feature any multiplayer yet; instead everything is pointing towards a character-led single player experience. Expect a very story-driven game focused on Deacon, a former biker who, post-apocalypse, has become a bounty hunter. Bend is heavily hinting at a troubled past, with flashbacks showing a girlfriend in happier, less-likely-to-be-eaten, times. She not around when the game starts and clearly whatever happened will play big part in Deacon's character and story. The game takes place two years after the 'event' that wipes out a good chunk of humanity. That's enough time for Deacon to have adapted to his new environment, but definitely not long enough to be untroubled by his past.
Days Gone zombies are speedy, flesh-hungry hordes
Days Gone’s monsters aren’t traditional zombies in the undead people-eating sense. They do eat people, but that’s because a strange virus turned them into feral animals. And there's a lot of them, with the game demonstrating hordes in their hundreds to be dealt with using guns, environmental kills, obstacles and good old fashioned running away. We’ve seen two types so far the basic model - fast runners prone to lots of biting - and Newts. The latter are adolescents that seem to like lurking and jumping on people’s backs. We’re promised a range of behaviours from these creatures based on needs and reactions.
Days Gone has an open road (and world)
Days Gone takes place in an as yet unspecified Northwest region of America (although much of the landscape is based on the view from Sony Bend's office in Oregon, US). The area’s been specifically picked for its potential to provide a range of different environments from mountain ranges to deserts, as well as the forest we’ve seen so far. Abandoned towns and suburbs are also on the cards, with the promise of a range of different weather types to vary things up.
Given that we're only a couple of years after 'the event' that causes Days Gone's apocalypse, don't expect this to be a reclaimed wilderness. Humanity's stamp will still be on the landscape, which will make it a little less alien than - say - The Last of Us 2.
Days Gone has a bike which is an inventory on wheels
A biker with a bike. Who would have thought it? It’s more than just a set of wheels though as it’s Deacon’s mobile base, rolling inventory and window into the world. You can’t change vehicles in Day Gone, it’s the bike all the way. It's where you can load up on gear, get around and presumably manage all the little things a post-apocalyptic survivor needs to worry about.
Handy for exploring the open-world too. Given that we're in the end times, it's likely that gas will be a resource, so expect to be stocking up on it from time to time. What we'd love to see is plenty of survival elements, like having to gather fuel and food, but it's more likely that Days Gone will stick to a more action-heavy resources model (guns, upgrades, health items - stuff like that).
Days Gone crafting will have you scavenging EVERYWHERE
Days Gone on PS4 Pro looks properly good
So far, the extent of Deacon's Crafting skills have involved sticking an oil filter on a gun and calling it a silencer. The game is promising way more than that though, with Bend hinting that your options, plans and progress could be deeply linked to what you can scavenge and make. According to the devs, crafting will advance and change as you go through the game. This could be something that really sets Days Gone apart if it can offer up enough options - the world is already offering a wealth of routes and choices, if you can build a ton of mission altering extras on top of that, then who knows what you could get up to.
During the reveal event for PS4 Pro, Sony showed off a little extra Days Gone footage and Sony Bend gave an interview about what we can expect from the game and it's enhanced version on Pro. That interview is below, but to summarise... when you burn the zombies, the fire will look bloody amazing on your 4K TV. You have one of those right?