Days Gone sets players in a post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest amid the onset of a violent pandemic that mutates its victims into deformed, rabid zombies. Sound familiar at all? Days Gone originally released for PlayStation 4 in 2019, but two years later, Sony Bend has returned to bring Day’s Gone to the PC. So how is it on this new platform? Find out in our Days Gone PC Review below.
Review System Specifications
Days Gone PC was reviewed on a system equipped with the following:
Intel Core i9-9900K @5.0GHz all core (8 Cores, 16 Threads)
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 (11GB VRAM)
32GB Memory @3200MHz
Samsung 860 EVO SATA SSD
NVIDIA Driver Version 466.27
A review copy of Days Gone PC was provided to Culture of Gaming for the purpose of this review.
The Apocalypse Is Here
Days Gone wastes no time throwing players into the thick of it. A quick, preluding intro cutscene sets the stage for players, showing the night everything went to Hell for the main (and player’s) character: Deacon St. John. After the stage is set, time fast forwards roughly two years, and players are taking control in the middle of a motorcycle chase. Right from the get-go, Days Gone acquaints players with perhaps their most important companion and tool in-game: your motorcycle.
I was quite impressed with how well the motorcycle handled and controlled, especially on mouse and keyboard which aren’t always the best when it comes to driving. After a short chase later, the new world begins getting fleshed out even further, and players are given a decent sense of what Deacon and his companion “Boozer” have been up to since that fateful night shown at the beginning. Misery hangs high in the air, as Deacon and Boozer mourn the loss of one of their friends, and figures out how to fix Deacon’s bike, which was damaged in the aforementioned chase.
The pair settle on going to find a part to fix Deacon’s bike. Through this little endeavor, players are introduced to the three primary groups of enemies they’ll encounter throughout Days Gone. The “Freakers”, a slang reference to those inflicted by the virus, and are now feral and reliant on hearing. The “Rippers”, a sadistic and masochistic cult, and finally, the “Marauders”, a group of…mostly normal humans who enjoy ambushing travelers on the roads and robbing them.
Days Gone does well to convey the character of each group, and sets them all up well. The Freakers are genuinely horrifying, and throughout my experience with the game, I perceived them to be the biggest threat due to their overwhelming numbers, that don’t really become easily manageable until the mid-to-late game. However, the Rippers were somewhat underwhelming, and I definitely encountered this group the least during my time with the game. Outside of the controlled encounters in say a story mission, or specifically going out to find them, I rarely encountered Rippers just naturally playing through Days Gone.
A Man And His Motorcycle
Before too long, players will find themselves roaming the world of Days Gone alone, just them and their motorcycle. The bike’s value becomes obvious incredibly early on, and it quickly becomes something that’s essential to maintain and upgrade. Due to the locations being fairly spaced out from each other, hoofing it is just simply not an option. Furthermore, the bike allows for quick escapes when the player might accidentally attract a “Horde”, a large cluster of Freakers that are challenging to deal with until much later in the game. And of course, exploration. The bike is essential for traversing the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest, and many locations the player will want to go to in order to upgrade things like health or stamina (more on that later) can only be accessed via the bike.
Because of the perceived value that the bike offers, I found myself spending money on bike upgrades for the most part. Upgrades like an engine to make your bike go faster, a quieter exhaust to attract less attention, a stronger frame, etc. The upgrades, while few in each category, offer noticeable improvements to the bike every time they are purchased. Sony Bend did a fantastic job balancing these these upgrades, and I’m genuinely excited to try them out whenever I get them.
However, the honeymoon period with the bike isn’t endless. The bike is significantly limited by one thing: fuel. Scattered throughout the world, are red containers of fuel the player will have to pickup and use to fill up their bike. While the containers of fuel seem to be infinite (I was never able to make one run out), the player can’t take them with them on the bike. This makes fuel management into a very important mechanic, as much like real life, if your bike has no fuel, the engine won’t run, and players will have to literally walk their bike places until they can fuel up again.
This seems to be the core survival element of Days Gone, keeping your bike “alive” (so to speak) with fuel. While it takes a while to learn fuel management, as you progress through the game you’ll get good at remembering to keep an eye on it, as well as spot stray fuel cans throughout the world. Furthermore, it might be smart to plan your routes to go by locations with guaranteed fuel, like gas stations. The gas containers seem persistent in the game, so if you drop one somewhere and comeback awhile later, it will still be there. Do with this information what you will. While the fuel mechanic will become easier over time both due to player’s skill as well as fuel tank upgrades to increase the capacity, the mechanic is incredibly punishing during the early-game when players are first starting out. One thing that is nice, is that if the bike is critical to use during a mission, Days Gone gives you unlimited fuel for the duration of that mission, which saved the mechanic from being downright unfun at times.
One last thing to touch on regarding the bike, is its durability. Doing things like crashing or roughly landing with the bike will damage it, hindering its performance the more damage it has sustained. Players can use collectible scraps of metal found throughout the game to repair the bike in-field, or repair the bike for a modest fee at mechanic shops, located in the various settlement camps. I never quite found this durability issue to be such a critically important mechanic like I did fuel.
Of course bike fuel isn’t the only thing players need to be concerned about. Throughout the world, scraps and parts of things are scattered, and the player can pick these up in order to craft various things, like bandages in order to restore health, as well as Molotov Cocktails, which are an incredibly effective weapon against the Freakers. There’s also a hunting system in-game, as well as a bounty system. The hunting system is quite obvious, players can hunt and kill the various animal denizens found in the forest, and skin them for meat. This meat can be turned into cooks at the various settlement camps for credit and trust. Credit is the currency at each camp, and trust is essentially a reputation system for each camp as well. The more trust a player has with a camp, the more things said camp will sell them. Collectible herbs and plants found throughout the world can be turned in for a similar reward as well.
The bounty system works much the same way, but rewards players for killing Freakers. Stronger Freakers offer better rewards, etc. Not really a complicated system. The core fault at both of these systems is I never really felt compelled to go out of my way to hunt for these items. The credit and trust reward are so miniscule compared to what you get for completing missions for the camps, that it’s just simply not worth it to rely on either of these systems to grind currency or trust. It’s a nice bonus for just passively playing the game and making use of them when they’re convenient for you.
In the apocalypse, Ammo is as much a resource as food is. Days Gone is no different in this sense, as it reasonably knocks how much ammo you can carry on your person. This is of course done to impose a sense of scarcity, and while the limited quantity is something to look out for, it can be mitigated by being accurate with your shots, as well as the ammo drops on the ground. Of course you’ll always want to replenish your ammo at camps by refilling at the weapons vendor. Let’s just say, I’ve never run out of ammo on a mission before (but have definitely come close), so I’d consider the ammo scarcity well balanced in this sense.
Gameplay and Design
Ammo is obviously useless without the guns to shoot it with. The third-person gameplay in Days Gone is nothing all that innovative or spectacular, but is passable, and certainly not bad to the point of having a poor experience. While I found the character movement to be somewhat on the clunky side, the gunplay surprisingly performed well. One notable aspect was the sound design of all of the weapons. The guns and melee weapons all felt powerful, and really “punchy” when being used. Props to the sound design in this regard.
Perhaps the most egregious element of the gameplay was the verticality. Days Gone allows the player to climb up certain ledges, but doesn’t do the greatest job of differentiating between what ledges can or can’t be grabbed. Because there’s no “jump” in the game, I found my self occasionally rolling into cliff faces thinking that I could’ve climbed them. Obviously not.
Stealth is a surprisingly large mechanic in Days Gone, which is a shame because it doesn’t really do it well. The enemy detection AI is rudimentary at best, and I found myself getting away with things like running directly in front of an enemy without being detected because their cone of vision has such a limited range. The most complicated stealth mechanic is the ability to use a rock that you can throw in order to lure enemies to a different location to sneak past them. Furthermore, on occasion the enemy’s animations didn’t really provide a clear picture of whether or not they were searching for me, or not.
Days Gone also has a progression system, albeit quite basic. Players earn XP by doing various things, and eventually they level up, earning a skill point. This skill point can be used to invest in perks or skills in one of three trees. While this mechanic is done well, it’s nothing really special, and nothing that really hasn’t been seen before. The scope of the perks is fairly limited, and not neccesarilly unique to situations in Days Gone. There are perks like doubling the meat you get from hunted animals, or a reduction in wepaon recoil, but not something like “Throttle Control” for your bike to make it more efficient.
Health, Stamina, and “Focus” (essentially slow-motion aiming) can be improved by tracking down abandoned “NERO” research sites, and injecting yourself with a mysterious substance to increase a bar of your choosing. There are quite a few of these throughout the world, and are definitely worth going out of your way to obtain. However, again, it runs into the issue of not really being anything new. While the context makes sense in the world, it’s nothing we haven’t seen done before.
Speaking to the open world, the Pacific Northwest setting in North Eastern Oregon is quite pretty, but isn’t very natural when it comes to setting the boundaries. While the space between locations is pretty far, begging the neccessity of the motorcyle, the actual, accessible open space you would actually want to go to and explore feels quite limited and tiny. Perhaps because of the scarcity of ammo, if I was on my way somewhere, I would be less inclined to detour because I would want to make sure i had enough ammo to complete said mission.
Finally, perhaps the high point of Days Gone is its sound design. While the soundtrack its self isn’t something too memorable, the actual ambient sound effects in-game certainly are. So much of the gameplay is reliant on sound, so it would make sense this is the case. The sound of Freakers in the distance aids in the creepy atmosphere Days Gone tries to project. As alluded to as well, the player can be tipped off to many in-game events by paying close attention to the sounds around them, whether its a wolf about to attack, or a Marauder about to bash your head in.
Narrative and Writing
Days Gone exposits a very inter-personal story. The narrative is much less about the greater world (i.e “You need to save the world”), and more about the characters, the individuals rather, trying to make their way in this world. The writing wasn’t particularly egregious, nor stellar either. However, one thing that Days Gone handled surprisingly well was subtlety and deliberateness. Lots of bits from the story can be garnered by really paying attention to what the characters are saying. Everything said seems to have a purpose, which is commendable. Perhaps the worst part of the writing is the pacing, and how it ties into the missions the player is doing, specifically with the timescale presented. The writing inside the story missions seems to clash with the actual timescale being presented or experienced. The occasional plot hole crops up as a result of this. For example, Deacon has apparently been living as presented in Days Gone for the better part of two years, yet doesn’t know how to properly hunt until someone in a mission explains it to him. While a lot of it can be chalked up to “video game logic”, and a convenient excuse to teach a player, this entire issue could be alleviated by just using an in-game tutorial popup to explain the hunting mechanic to the player, leaving it out of the story completely.
Another point of contention is the voice acting. Or rather, the voice delivery. While the acting its self is fine, the delivery can be all over the place, and I honestly think it’s a mixing issue. For example, if Deacon and another character are riding their motorcycles together, and having a conversation, the companion character is projecting their voice, which makes sense to be heard over the engines. Deacon on the other hand, is almost literally screaming while talking during a situation like this. In fact, this is an issue in general. Deacon’s voice lines are simply too loud, and it makes for a hilarious (albeit immersion breaking) situation when he takes someone out during stealth, and borderline screams after he’s done so, usually talking trash to the enemy he’s just killed. Luckily the other enemies around can’t hear him.
The themes explored by Days Gone are nothing quite new either (I’ll omit getting specific to avoid spoilers), so it comes down to essentially another, different creative group of people’s take on a post-apocalyptic situation.
Technical Performance and Polish (Or In This Case, Motorcycle Wax)
Luckily, Days Gone performs really well on PC, and to its credit, looks pretty good as well. On my system (specs listed above), I was getting a median 80-90FPS at 2560×1440, with settings maxed out. There were no severe or notable performance drops or dips, and I experienced no game-breaking bugs or crashes during my time with the game. The PC port has been done quite well, but lacks support for some cutting edge features like DLSS or ray Tracing. The graphics options were somewhat granular, but as seems to be a theme with Days Gone, doesn’t break new ground in this regard either. Graphically, Days Gone looks quite good on PC, I was particularly impressed by the fidelity of the character’s faces. Furthermore, the draw distance being on PC allows for, does well to draw the player into the world, and the loading times on a SATA SSD were plenty quick. Finally, the addition of Photo Mode is nice for those that are into in-game photography.
There’s no doubt that Days Gone met its full, previously unrealized technical potential on PC.
While there aren’t any real, horrific issues in Days Gone, in a lot of areas Days Gone is in need of a polishing patch. The two real pain points to point out are “animation fishing” and the voice line volume. Often times, when going to interact with something (i.e open a box), you can press the button to interact, but the animation might start right where you’re standing. So the animation doesn’t always line the player up with the thing they’re interacting with, which just cancels the interaction altogether. This made it a necessity to line up the character properly manually, before beginning the interaction. Second, the voice line volume (as previously mentioned). Deacon’s lines could really be toned down to make for a better overall experience.
At the end of it all, Days Gone excels at some very specific things, but only puts up a passable product in so many others. I have to wonder if the issue comes down to saturation of the market at this point. There’s a lot of other open world games like Days Gone also vying for player’s valuable time and energy out there, that do a lot more much better, or more creatively. So perhaps it comes down to the player to choose their setting. Would you rather play a game set as Days Gone is, or opt for a different setting?
However, at the same time, Days Gone certainly isn’t a waste of time, and if you’re really looking for essentially a zombie/survival itch to scratch, Days Gone would definitely be worth the pickup, and the absolute best platform to play it on would be PC. Just make sure to temper your expectations to expect a fine, but not stellar experience.
Thank you all for reading, and if you liked this review, be sure to check out our review section.
- THE GOOD
- Motorcycle Is Fun and Useful
- Ambient Sound Design
- Narrative Excels At Nuance
- Performs Well On PC
- THE BAD
- Recycled Genre Mechanics
- Some Polish Issues
- Narrative – Timescale Clash
Days Gone benefits from the port to PC, with increased fidelity and performance. As for the game its self, while it doesn’t do a lot extremely well, there are some specific areas it excels in, and overall provides a competent, passable product. If you’re at all interested in Days Gone, it is certainly worth the pickup.