Days Gone is a post-apocalyptic open-world zombie game, focusing on the life of a biker surviving the apocalypse. Journeying across the wasteland-infested valleys of Oregon, you’ll see yourself fighting Hordes and the insane to try and make a home for you in this new world, where humans aren’t at the top of the food chain anymore.
When I started this adventure, I will be honest, I thought it would be another generic zombie shoot-em-up, focusing on zombie count on screen and little on actual substance. However, upon playing into this for over 30 hours of pure enjoyment, I saw its features so much more than I would have thought originally. The story focuses on Deacon St. John, a “Drifter” (a type of biker who travels from place to place with a posse), seeing his old world end, and trying to survive in a new one full of what the game calls Freakers, which you and I know as your more typical zombie type. As you progress you see his relationship with Boozer, another member of his drifter gang shine through.
Now here is where I want to stop for a second, the relationships. Throughout the entire game, the characters throughout the world are unique and complex, no single one is in the right or wrong. As one of the leaders pushing for making everyone work a fair share, some would see it as slavery, while others see it as security for supporting the group, many times I switched how I felt not just from how they acted, but why they acted this way. This can also be seen in the first few minutes of gameplay, with Boozer, a biker buddy from his past. Throughout the entire game, these two show genuine care for each other, giving everything for the other. Next are the camps you visit around the game’s huge open-world sandbox, hubs to buy supplies, and repair and refuel your bike. At many times random NPCs will talk to Deacon, asking how he is holding up or how is it outside of their walls, and this happens more than once, showing that a lot of love and care went into the characters of this world, even that of the random market owner or repair shop.
In terms of gameplay, the games open world ranging from sludgy swamplands to roaming forests, all of which is traversed with your trusty bike, ripping through the countryside at high speeds weaving between Freaker Hordes. Early on you gain access to customizing and upgrading your bike, from its suspension to absorb hits from jumps, all the way to the level of boost is stored on your bike for quick getaways or high jumps. It is a very in-depth system and shows that the developers especially cared about this part of the gameplay, and a good thing too because you are going to be using it.
Journeying through the map is rewarding, finding NERO camps (a type of research and military compound), to discovering raider camps littered across the map. Each of these has a purpose, be it as simple as unlocking a new fast travel location, to upgrading your health, stamina, or focus (a type of slow-mo, akin to Max Payne to Red Dead Redemption), all the way to clearing the roads of obstacles to allow for further fast travel.
Speaking of obstacles, three major players seem to stop your cruise ride. The first is that of raiders; unchecked, these groups of humans will set up traps, from snares when you’re hunting prey, all the way to the old “wire taught on the road”, sending you flying off your bike if you are not careful, right into a friendly baseball bat to the face. The next is that of the earlier stated Hordes. During the night, the Hordes spread out across the land, dispersing and making night travel slightly more dangerous, however, the real danger is during the day. If your travels take you near any gravesites, be it natural or mass graves, you will usually find a group of undead swarming around going upwards to the hundreds in later game engagements. Lastly, there are the random events that occur on your travels. These can range from finding a man trapped by Freakers or scanning an area to discover what happened after a major event.
Controls for the keyboard and mouse are solid across the board, the default key binds feel correct, except for a specific one that I’ll talk about soon. Gun controls feel tight and responsive, which makes taking on hordes of Freakers fun and fast-paced, and I rarely blame the game for any deaths that occurred. Bike controls are similarly tight, even with keyboard and mouse, turns feel natural, with skidding through the forest pasts quite a nice challenge without being finicky. The only issue I saw was with the airtime controls while riding your bike. By default, the controls are set to SHIFT to lean forward, CTRL to lean back, which at first seemed fine. However, when also trying to hold onto WASD plus ALT for nitro boosting, I felt my hands cramping up hard when going over bumpy terrain, having to correct each jump as to not damage the bike.
Next let us talk about the most important aspect in this review — the features added with the PC port, as well as how well it runs on PC.
The graphics configuration is extraordinarily strong and gives a ton of options for you to customize to hit that sweet frames per second (FPS) you are looking for, as well as personal choices such as film grain and motion blur. It covers all bases and I have little issue with constructing a setup that allows me to have it look as good as I can while hitting a solid 80 FPS at 1440p (2k) resolution. Bend Studios also added an enhanced photo mode, offering a wide range of angles, extra effects, turning off any unwanted scenery of characters, all down to changing the characters facial expressions to get the exact shot you want.
The actual graphical upgrades are a nice bump in quality, especially in forests. The foliage has been increased to cover a wider distance, so far that I could not actually see the pop-in of any textures. Some scenery genuinely made me stop and appreciate the effort put in by the developers to make this rural wasteland as gorgeous as they could, with lighting and weather effects to help really sell how alive the world is. All this is done without a major drop on my framerate, as even the highest number of objects on screen, that being the horde sections, I did not notice a drop at all and considering that’s a major selling point I’m glad they were able to transfer it over to pc with no drawbacks.
Lastly, bugs. The initial launch of Days Gone on PS4 had tons of it, but through time, Bend Studios was able to scrub most of them out. I will say, some still do live in the PC port, but in my 30 hours of playtime, only twice I encountered that stopped my progress. This bug was at a few points in missions side-characters I had with me would lose its pathing, being stuck in place, pondering their life choices as I stood literally 3 steps from the goal. The only other instance I had was a graphical bug, in which during a sneaking mission, a house turned into a blob of mass with low-texture assets that made it look horrible.
All in all, Days Gone is a solid PC port of a fantastic game from the previous console generation. With the enhanced graphical overhaul, it fixed the issues of the original PS4 version with solid overall performance. It’s made into a game we never expected to be this well-polished, plus the solid story and memorable characters, make the PC port of Days Gone the best version to play.
Days Gone (PC) – Review
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.