Developer Bend Studio Publisher SIE Format PS4 Release TBA
The majority of humanity has been reduced to predatory monsters known as Freakers
Days Gone’s setting may feel like an uncomfortably familiar blend of The Walking Dead, The Last Of Us and Sons Of Anarchy, but on first showing Bend Studio’s first new IP since
Syphon Filter manages to carve out a fleshy space all of its own. Set in the Pacific Northwest that serves as Bend’s backyard, players are cast as Deacon St John, a former biker gang road captain who now finds himself scavenging and collecting bounties in a world raked by an as-yet-unexplained pandemic.
While the origin of the disease remains a mystery for now, its effects are horrifyingly clear. The majority of humanity has been reduced to predatory monsters known as Freakers, gnarled individuals who move considerably more quickly than you despite their poor health, and are often encountered in groups hundreds strong (they’re not zombies – a fact the team is forced to point out several times to the rather unreceptive group of journalists in our behind-closed-doors presentation). You can try to run into the wilderness if you want, but you’ll be quickly caught out in the open. This sets up the core of Days Gone’s crowd-management combat, in which you must try to impede the relentless onslaught of a swarming mass of killers.
They move like a viscous fluid across the landscape, forcing their way through windows and doorways and tumbling over each other as your bullets cut the head off a writhing beast that continually replenishes itself. This isn’t simply an AI kiting simulator, however, and St John can use the environment and a selection of jury-rigged tools to increase the distance between himself and a particularly nasty evisceration. Doors can be slammed shut and bolted, a hinged conveyor belt line provides a convenient (if temporary) blockade, while an explosive pack placed on a pile of logs at one point during the demo buries dozens of Freakers under heavy timber. The respite lasts seconds before they begin scrambling over the top, but it’s enough headroom to plan the next move. The panicked scramble is punctuated by other environmental kills, such as the moment St John forces the head of a Freaker unfortunate enough to break through a door first into a static circular saw blade.
Your greatest ally is your customised motorbike, which functions as a mobile inventory as well as a rugged mode of transport capable of squeezing through narrow gaps and, crucially, outrunning the horde. The machine can be damaged, however, and a ‘check engine’ light on your HUD will let you know if a spot of maintenance is in order. You’ll also have to worry about fuel, especially given all the Molotov cocktails you’ll be crafting.