Days Gone E3 2017 Preview – Emergent Excitement

Days Gone is a title that has been featured prominently at E3 during the Sony Press Conference. This is for a good reason, the team at Bend Studio have managed to craft an engaging looking game that somehow mixes the bikers and zombies in the best possible way. But with so much hype around the game, it is good to finally have a better idea of what players can expect when they boot the game up for the first time.

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At the press conference, a new demo was shown off, giving viewers a look at what the game will play like, and while it still has the dark, broody tone that The Last of Us had, from the new demo, it is clear this is a different beast entirely. Besides the zombies and the post-civilization setting, little on display is similar to that game and instead is more reminiscent of games such as Horizon Zero Dawn and Infamous.

The press conference demo also gave an idea on what the combat and open world like setting would allow the player to do. This is a world where the challenges can be taken on how you see fit. Should you want to go guns blazing you can, but you can also use the zombies in the world against the humans that may stand against you.

Days Gone E3 2017 Preview - Emergent Excitement 1

Behind closed doors, on the E3 2017 show floor, I was shown a different take on the mission that was shown off during the press conference. The scenario was the same; you had to save your friend from an opposing human force. But with the demo, Bend Studio demonstrated a new take on the landscape, using the weather to show how it can change how the game plays out.

Beyond just looking stunning on the PlayStation 4 hardware, the dynamic weather will change how the game plays. The landscape in the demo was now covered in snow, and this changes the way the Zombies (Freakers) work. With the sun being out, the Freakers are far less prevalent; they also find it much harder to see. The weather goes further with the systems in the game, where your bike may have a harder time handling on icy and snow covered roads, people will seek shelter from the rain, and patterns may change as the weather does.

Days Gone E3 2017 Preview - Emergent Excitement 5As the team at Bend Studio outlines, the region of the Pacific Northwest that Days Gone takes place in has wildly different weather from day to day. From rainstorms to blizzards, it is unpredictable and exciting. This level of unpredictability will play a major way in how you as the player worlds with the world. Each day you take on a mission could be different, and these differences will force you to change tactics. In concept this could be an exciting way to ensure things don’t get bogged down, as with anything, you can only do the same task so many times before it gets dull. If the dynamic weather mixes up the experience, it could be a new needed aspect for open world games going forward.

 

Another aspect that was particularly interesting was the way noise plays into gameplay. As you try and go through a stealth playthrough, as the team demonstrated, you as Deacon has numerous ways you can take advantage of the world. Laying a trap and using noise to draw enemies in may not be new to gaming, but it played very well when shown off in Days Gone. Beyond that, just using noise as a way to spawn chaos, or to take advantage of the systems in place, seems to be a big part of the experience.

Days Gone E3 2017 Preview - Emergent Excitement

Ultimately, Days Gone is an open world game built on systems. The fun and enjoyment is based on you sorting out the systems in place and finding ways to make them work for you, rather than against you. From the way Freakers act, to the traps and other humans, all the way to the weather, Days Gone has numerous ways to play and experience the world; it is all up to you to take advantage of it all. With this unpredictability comes the fact that things may not always work in your favour, with so many factors in play, a trap that worked once, may not work in a similar situation.

With a landscape full of open world experiences, and games relying on that gimmick as a way to sell the experience, it has yet to be seen if Days Gone can stand out. But what Sony Bend Studio has shown off has real promise. It gives the chance to play as a morally ambiguous character, in a world teeming with life and emergent gameplay. While there is still little known about Deacon St. John or what the world of Days Gone is really like, with everything Bend Studio has shown, it is apparent it has all the elements to be a must watch title on the PlayStation 4.