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First Hour of Days Gone Released, Still Lacks Originality

When SIE Bend Studio, developers of Days Gone, took the stage during Sony’s E3 press conference back in 2016, spectators all around the world were a bit surprised to see Sony roll the die with a new zombie IP. Especially with how it closely resembles one of their biggest franchises, Last of Us.

Last of Us 2 = Days Gone?

Despite the similarities, the stage demo successfully created excitement for Days Gone. Dubbed as a survival horror, post-apocalyptic open world game, Days Gone would set itself apart with its use of Zombie hordes and unique features like dynamic ambushing. The other features that were being highlighted included dynamic weather effects and a day and night cycle.

After Days Gone’s second showing at E3 2017, I started to worry. The game started to look like a cookie cutter open world zombie game. Beautiful graphics and the ‘Sony Exclusive‘ title wasn’t going to make it an automatic purchase for me. I was hoping to see SIE Bend Studio build off the stage demo from 2016, but all we got was another freaker horde tech demo. I’ll admit, the biker culture is unique, and the setting where the game takes place is breathtaking. And yes, they did show off stealth gameplay, and how using the environment can be beneficial to players, but that’s been done hundreds of times. After its disappointing showing at E3 2017, Days Gone went from “DAY ONE PURCHASE!” to “I need to see more.”

Game changer? Nah. None of that.

Days Gone was missing ‘that something’. I couldn’t place my finger on it then, but its obvious now that ‘that something’ is originality. Days Gone is going to have a hard time setting itself apart from the already crowded zombie space without bringing an x-factor to the table. I believe Sony realized that and pushed the release of Days Gone to 2019. That delay might have something to do with Last of Us 2’s release. The casual market might find correlations between Last of Us 2 and Days Gone, and Sony doesn’t want to lose sales because of that.

This month’s Game Informer cover features Days Gone, and with that comes new information and never before seen footage. I was excited to watch how this game plays like without the flashy freaker hordes, and unfortunately, the needle on my excitement meter didn’t budge. The first hour of Days Gone suffers from ‘playing it safe’ syndrome. Symptoms include: decision making, long rides with characters conversing, an emphasis on stealth, (janky) close quarters combat, gun fights, and not having the cojones to experiment with new concepts.

Keeping hope

Mind you, I’m not implying that my expectations of the game are low, all the things I listed are perfectly fine in other games. I’m just disappointed that a Sony exclusive is staying in the comfort-zone. The game is far from finished though. The first hour footage was recorded from an alpha build of the game, so there’s still hope. Days Gone still has the time to flourish into a praiseworthy game, but the lack of a game changer will hinder its chance to impress the masses.

Resetera user Loudninja compiled a list of information extracted from both gameplay videos. There’s a lot of attention to detail, which is always a good thing. Thankfully, we’re only less than a year away from being able to play Days Gone. The developers still have enough time to polish the game, and quiet the skeptics like me. I’m rooting for this game. I want it to be great, but its failed to captivate me at this point, and I can’t ignore its blandness. Days Gone will dynamically ambush retailers on 2019. It’s been in development since 2015.