The one where it all goes to shit
I’ve been neglecting almost everything else recently to keep diving back into the epic, post-virus ravaged world of *checks notes* Oregon. Yeah, I’m actually doing that a disservice as Bend Studio’s Days Gone is a pretty awesome game and the terrain is impressive!
Days Gone is set 2+ years after a virus has unleashed Freakers (see 28 Days Later style infected/zombies) onto the world. There are pockets of “civilisation” around but you aren’t part of one of them as you’re an almost-loner, biker dude with a best buddy and you’re taking on the world single/double-handed! C’MOOONNNN!!!
The name’s St. John. Deacon St. John. License to do whatever the fuck I want! Shoot things, people, animals, anything really. A law unto my own, but seeing as there aren’t any laws anymore then it doesn’t matter so much. The other half of this dynamic duo is William “Boozer” Gray: hard man and fiercely committed, but seeing as he has been out of commission for most of what I’ve been playing through so far, he doesn’t have much of a say in things.
The Oregon map is slowly revealed as you play through, unlocking new areas, clearing sites and finding map pieces. There are various friendly camps spotted throughout the glorious wastelands that you can frequent, do jobs for and build up trust so that you can buy flashier toys (Guns. Lots of guns) and fix up your pride and joy. Your motorcycle. You and your bike make quite the couple and, I’m not going to lie, riding around sure is a lot of fun, and even more so as you upgrade it.
Up to this point I’ve opened up the first 3 areas of the map: Cascade, Belknap and Lost Lake and I think I’m about ready to open the next area, whatever and wherever that may be. But, even so, there is still a good deal to do in these initial areas, and mainly the things that I’ve been avoiding for the most part as I wasn’t ready (I don’t think you’re ever really ready….) to take on the hordes. Yep, hordes of freakers. Ranging from 30 or so up to a hundred (that I’ve encountered so far. And I am aware that they do get larger still further into the game. Yey for me!).
Aside from the now commonplace third-person perspective that I love, Days Gone has a lot going for it. Open world with some amazing vistas and a variety of locations? Yep! Skill points to give you extra abilities? Of course! Different types of weapons with which to take down your foes? What kind of game would this be without them?!? And it wraps it all up with a pretty good story (so far) and a good difficulty curve as you go, with wiping out massive hordes being the top of the tree.
The further I get into this game the more I appreciate the familiarity and ease of use of the HUD display and the controls. The HUD tracks threats really well, you can tag enemies to keep a track of them and switching between weapons and running (done a lot!) is super easy. Throw in some melee weapons which are devastating (and you can craft yourself like a baseball bat + nails? Awesome!), a huge amount of special throwable items (Molotovs, attractor devices, bombs, grenades, rocks….) and you have a huge option of ways to take on the many, many adversaries that are, well, everywhere. Freakers wander around when not in a horde, sniffing and prowling (and making awful noises. And awful smells they keep telling me) and are ready to pounce on you at the drop of a hat. Or just by standing in the wrong place. On that, the stealth is pretty good. You can hide well in bushes or long grass, behind crates or obstructions and sneak up on these isolated freakers quite easily. The real problem is when they are together, and that leads us back to the bloody hordes.
In my last couple of sessions I’ve begun to feel a bit more confident as I honestly went off in search of some hordes to do. I know, stupid, right?! I did, however, pick them well as they were mostly at the tamer, more casual end of the scale but it all helps in learning the skills and tactics needed to take down a large number of them. Plus, as you wipe them out you get perks: better weapons, better gear, better recipes etc. Pays to do it, if you can! And the mechanics of the hordes is pretty well done. There is a huge number of moving parts on the screen but I’ve not hit any kind of hitch or glitch or even a hint of a slow-down, which is a real sign of the quality of this game.
There are going to be more of these posts, throughout the month of May, as I attempt to ride out into the sunset, beyond the end of the world of Days Gone. Maybe….