Read Part I here…
After more time with Days Gone, my opinion has not shifted drastically though I am able to provide more context and criticism.
The game remain enjoyable, with moment-to-moment play still feeling quite solid. Primarily, the most fun players will experience is the interaction between various systems with their own priorities: humans scavenging facing off against hordes of zombies or wolf packs. As I experienced, your carefully planned stealth mission goes to pieces because you didn’t notice the animal stalking you. But I experienced an incredible 20 minutes of play where my plan, despite carefully plotting it, fell apart.
To understand, I need to explain safe outposts.
Like many open world games, liberating safe spots means repeating a series of tasks – the famous “climbing towers” element of Ubisoft games comes to mind, as well as clearing areas of enemies in Dying Light. In Days Gone, this involves filling a generator with fuel, sometimes finding a missing fuse, then, a unique considering: making sure there are no attached speakers. See, when you turn the generator on, it activates a distress call that blasts out these speakers – attracting any nearby zombies like moths to a flame. These missions are also enjoyable since you have to solve a navigation puzzle: First, find the fuel can, second, think of how you will get it back to the generator.
In one instance, however, I found a safe outpost located right by a huge horde. This is where the game shows off its enemy system by having 50-100 zombies all operating as one heaving mass of rotting, angry flesh. The zombies are individualised, but if one spots you, the wave of horror washes toward you. It’s a terrifying moment. I attempted to liberate this outpost, careful to detach all the speakers but then the game decided to have fun with me: It hid some of the speakers in trees, meaning after I turned the generator on, the emergency sound blasted out from locations I had never seen before. The horde came screaming and I had to escape. With no fuel or ammo, I rode to the nearest safe location but suddenly a behemoth zombie appeared, as well as a new horde that had not been there before. Frying pan and fire.
This was a tense moment, which involved juggling depleting resources, knowledge of the map and stealth. Days Gone really outshone here.
However, what can’t be escaped is the repetitive nature of the tasks before you. You inevitably are performing 3 kinds of tasks: hunting down a specific person, liberating a camp of some kind (and maybe rescuing hostages held there), participating in insta-fail stealth sections in the year of our lord 2019.
The sameness is not helped by the fact that you can’t alter Deacon’s appearance; that the bike’s appearance changes aren’t as dramatic as, say, the car customisation options in Mad Max; that the camps you aid don’t change in any way (a feature that appeared in, um, Mad Max). The world’s lack of life comes through due to no other bikes being on the giant map, with people clustered only in 3 camps. You never see other Drifters or scavengers except the very occasional enemy – and those tend to be in the same few spots. I understand we’re dealing with a dead world but that’s fictional dead, not design dead.
It would’ve been wonderful to see Deacon actually have an effect on the world: The people that you rescue and send to camps are actually there, you see an increase in numbers.
In the end, the game feels empty and repetitive. I still enjoy playing it, but be prepared for a game that does little to propel you forward aside from its somewhat interesting story and an enjoyable main character.
(If you want an open world game involving a customisable vehicle, incredible combat – that includes vehicle combat – camps that are affected by your actions, a beautiful open world, then rather go for Avalanche’s Mad Max.)