DAYS GONE

De­vel­oper SIE Bend Stu­dio Pub­lisher SIE For­mat PS4 Re­lease 2018

EDGE - - SONY@E3 -

Be­hind closed doors, the day re­ally is gone. While SIE Bend’s press-con­fer­ence show­ing had pro­tag­o­nist Dea­con St John as­sault an enemy camp in broad day­light, here a stu­dio rep plays through the same sec­tion at night. Where the pub­lic demo took place in blaz­ing sun­shine, here St John pads through the driven snow. And while pre­vi­ously he’d lured a swarm of in­fected (here styled ‘freak­ers’) to clear out the set­tle­ment, this sec­ond playthrough has St John work largely from the shad­ows. On stage, the mu­tant swarm made for an­other con­vinc­ing show­case of Bend’s re­mark­able flow­ing crowd tech­nol­ogy. Be­hind closed doors, the stu­dio in­tends to high­light how dy­namic weather can af­fect the way a given sec­tion plays out, and to show off St John’s other, more per­sonal meth­ods for deal­ing with the enemy. Un­for­tu­nately, it’s noth­ing we haven’t seen be­fore. In fact, that’s putting it mildly. On this ev­i­dence,

Days Gone has barely a sin­gle idea to call its own, with St John’s abil­ity set mag­pied from other, bet­ter games, and a lin­ger­ing sus­pi­cion that it may even have bor­rowed the tech to power it. Hand-to-hand com­bat, for ex­am­ple, is all but in­dis­tin­guish­able from the sys­tem em­ployed in Un­charted 4, with some very Naughty Dog-like an­i­ma­tion blend­ing. An on-the-fly craft­ing me­chanic (ar­rows, of course, and heav­ens above, molo­tov cock­tails) riffs sus­pi­ciously heav­ily on The Last

Of Us – a game that clearly in­formed much of Sony’s E3 line-up, ad­mit­tedly, but here the com­par­i­son is an es­pe­cially un­flat­ter­ing one. Days Gone’s debt ledger ex­tends beyond the Sony World­wide Stu­dios net­work, too, with a track­ing me­chanic that plays out in­dis­tin­guish­ably sim­i­larly to Ger­alt of Rivia’s Witcher Senses. There’s even a bul­let-time sys­tem in there, for heaven’s sake.

All of which seems to im­ply that St John is some kind of mu­tant su­per­hero, but we’re told he’s noth­ing more than a reg­u­lar guy, al­beit one bet­ter equipped to deal with the mu­tant on­slaught by virtue of his past in a biker gang. His mo­tor­cy­cle is, we’re as­sured, a vi­tal com­po­nent of a game whose pro­tag­o­nist works with­out al­liance, drift­ing from place to place, em­ploy­ing his pil­fered toolset as he sees fit. If the bike runs out of fuel, it will be out of ac­tion un­til you find more. If it’s dam­aged, you’ll need to fix it us­ing scrap that you scav­enge out in the world.

It is, at least, a rea­son­ably orig­i­nal idea in a game that badly needs them. Rare in­deed is the open-world game that in­sists we stick to a sin­gle ve­hi­cle – even those that put you on horse­back break the rules with their tele­port­ing steeds. This demo was in­tended to show off all the things Dea­con St John can do when he isn’t trick­ing floods of mu­tated freak­ers into do­ing his dirty work, as if to re­as­sure us that there’s more to Days

Gone than its re­mark­able crowd tech. We leave, if any­thing, more wor­ried than we were be­fore.

It barely has a sin­gle idea to call its own, with St John’s abil­ity set mag­pied from other, bet­ter games

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