June 20, 2018

E3 2018: Hands on with Days Gone

Days Gone has now had a number of showings at E3 and each time it appeared, it looked better and better, but now that it has a release date, they finally made it playable and after spending time with the game, I am conflicted on it still.

Deacon St. John is the main character and apart from a strange name, is a down to earth biker, who just happens to be living in a world populated by zombies and that is the basics of the game. When I sat down to play it, one of the developers explained that I had two things I could try, one was story based and early in the game, the other took place not long after it and contained a section where you had to try and kill one of the massive hordes of zombies, being unsure of how things would progress, I stuck with the story part to begin.

Deacon and a friend are near an auto repair shop, in the hopes of finding a part for Deacon’s own bike, the plan that he has is simple, his friend will ride through the space, on his bike, drawing away the vast majority of the zombies, or freakers as they are called, leaving only a few remaining for Deacon to deal with. Bike guy away and it was time to play, now what you might be expecting is a shooter, but the game really plays out as more of a stealth game, you can run around and shoot, but doing that creates noise, which draws freakers to you, so keeping low and quiet is your best bet, so with a crouch, off I went.

As I got close towards some buildings, little freakers were spotted, these guys look more like children, something I don’t think you see a lot of in other zombie games and the developer pointed out a few facts about them. First up, they are weak, given their smaller size, they will stay away from you and other freakers if they can, secondly, they like to stay up high, because if they are down on the ground, the ‘adult’ freakers will eat them and finally, while they are weak solo, in a group they can deal significant damage, so avoiding them is key, unless you want a fight. Taking out a few of them around the edge, was all I did, because I did not want to start a massive fight, but clearing them out, gave me an easier time moving forward, however that did not last.

Getting around the fence, I almost walked into a full size freaker, something I did not expect, so with a quick input from the dev, who was watching me play, a silent takedown and I was ok, the problem was, I was not as quite as I would have like to have been, my struggle drew the attention of another one. I was thankful that I shot it, without drawing others to the noise, but it drove home the lesson, that just because you do a silent takedown, does not mean others wont see you. Clearing the next barrier, I was soon within the building that would contain the bike part, a quick look around proved to be fruitful as there was more things to find and then it was time to regroup with biker guy, but before I could, something happened to him, he encountered other humans.

I won’t say what happens at that point, needless to say, its quite violent, but the demo moved on and it was now time to see if I could survive the zombie horde, turns out the short answer is no. The horde was down in a crater, just doing whatever they do, so I had plenty of time to lay down traps, proximity mines and such, when I felt ready, I launched a few shots from my very large gun down into the mix and then all hell broke loose. There were a few barrels I could shoot, blowing them up, one of which was right next to a collection of logs, which when disturbed, rolled around, crushing a few freakers, the problem though, was that the horde was far large than I thought and faster. They managed to catch up pretty quickly, so I made for a truck, hoping to get away from them, I managed to climb up, knowing that they would follow from the front, the problem was, when I pulled the gun up to aim, I fell off and was quickly covered in them and died.

In fact, the three times I died, was all because I fell off of a truck, the second and third times around, I tried layout out traps further out, with the plan being that I would draw them on the bike, to where I wanted them, but the traps would only take out a few at a time and there were a lot of them. Eventually, I got stuck on the bike, so I climbed up to a truck for safety, but fell off and died, leaving me to try again, on the third try though, I was using more of the environment, something the dev thought would help, there was a fuel truck, which when exploded, dealt some significant damage, but still not enough. After playing that section, I walked away knowing that the game was going to be great for some and not for others, the stealth section was wicked, because how I played, would change what happened for me, but the horde part was just too much.

Days Gone has only a little while before its February 22nd release and it needs to prove that the hordes can be taken out or skipped, because right now, those hordes are going to be the noose around its neck and I know some people will be like, just get good, the problem is, as a game mechanic its fun as heck, mandatory missions, not so much. I want to like the game, but I feel I need more time with the game.

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