PS4 Gamers thought Sony's eight generation console had finally answered their prayers for a high-quality offering in the zombie genre with Days Gone (especially as The Last of Us – Part II’s status remains uncertain), but these people were mainly disappointed when the game turned out to be average at best.
A lot of issues stop Days Gone from being used in the same lines as groundbreaking zombie games such as Resident Evil 4, The Last of Us, and The Walking Dead, although the game does get a few things right. Hopefully, these faults will be erased if there’s a sequel, but for the time being let’s look at the things Days Gone did worse and better than other zombie games.
10 Better: Zombie Speeds
Every game, film (with the exception of World War Z), and TV show has zombies who move at such a slow pace, fighting them becomes secondary in nature; often, it seems sluggish to have to kill them since it’s not that much of a challenge.
In Days Gone, the majority of zombies have been boosted up to run with ridiculous levels of speed. This doesn’t feel like a minor part of the game either, as running away from these zombies causes a huge adrenaline rush that keeps you invested and on your toes.
9 Worse: Story
Games like The Walking Dead show there is a lot of wiggle room in the formerly one-note dynamic of zombie-based stories. Days Gone opts for a rather straight and uninteresting plot, with the game feeling like an amalgamation of several other films and games.
Deacon losing his wife in quick fashion reminds of I am Legend; his story taking him to multiple far-reaching places is reminiscent of The Last of Us, and the fight against the zombies even feels like Resistance 3. All in all, the plot isn’t engaging, and doesn’t build upon its strongest points; had it done so, maybe Days Gone would’ve felt like its own thing.
8 Worse: Protagonist
In a zombie-based story, you just need to hit home runs with the protagonist. That’s the secret sauce to creating a delicious post-apocalyptic tale. Days Gone’s recipe tastes bland, with the protagonist not having any real characterization.
Deacon St. John starts off by losing his wife (which has been done to death in stories), and then becomes a bounty hunter…and that’s it. He goes on to search for his wife while fighting the Militia, but that’s basically an extension of the same tropes explored earlier on through the protagonist. There is no hook attached to this guy that makes him memorable, or for us to really care about him.
7 Worse: Combat
The template set by Resident Evil 4, Gears of War, and Uncharted have now been invoked to the point of ho-hum status. Even amazingly well-received games like The Last of Us employ a similar kind of gameplay, and Days Gone follows suit.
That’s not to say it’s a bad thing per se, but the combat in Days Gone is definitely not an improvement over what is offered in other quality games. It doesn’t take an original direction like The Walking Dead, nor does it feel like a horror game like Resident Evil. It lacks the brutality of The Last of Us as well. The combat is pretty much point-and-shoot, or use stealth that we’ve seen many times before.
6 Worse: Zombie Terminology
You might feel this is nitpicking, but it gets extremely annoying to have to use the word “Freakers” in abundance. The name stinks in the first place, and it gets even more difficult to hear when the game’s characters keep on saying it.
Zombie stories often try to avoid calling a spade a spade, and we’ve heard terms like “Walkers”, “Geeks”, “Clickers”, and “Roamers”; however, “Freakers” really has to be the worst of the bunch. It would’ve been better had the game just used the actual zombie terminology, because calling them “Freakers” makes it seems like the developers were just trying too hard to be edgy.
5 Better: Having An Open World
Now, this is something Days Gone has that sets it apart from the rest of the apocalyptic games. Zombie stories in particular rarely have explorable open worlds, since the focus is always on plot and the progression of the main characters across different settings. Days Gone subverts this trope by presenting options to the player to roam around and not be dependent on the plot.
It’s definitely a good change from the norm if you’re used to games like Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed, with Days Gone offering a similar setting, only with zombies. It might spark interest from gamers who usually avoid the zombie genre.
4 Worse: Depth In Gameplay
It’s the small moments that spell the depth in gameplay, such as Leon having to protect Ashley in Resident Evil 4, or Joel carrying Ellie in a raft during The Last of Us. These instances give the gameplay additional layers and avoid it from becoming a generic shooter.
Days Gone can’t claim to have much depth since it basically lays out everything for us. There’s an open world, but there’s not much to do in it – you’re just free to roam. There’s melee combat, but it’s mainly just swinging the weapon around. The game doesn’t provide insight into the things it presents, and you’re supposed to just do the same thing once it’s introduced.
3 Worse: Sequel Hook
Clearly, the developers were very confident the game would be getting a sequel – the sales numbers will give them more confidence over this, too – and they ended the story with a hook for the next installment. It had to do with Deacon being warned that the virus is evolving and that NERO is coming for him, naturally setting up a story of future resistance.
This isn’t a good thing since, first of all, this plotline sounds unoriginal and lame, and because it leaves you with an unfulfilled feeling. All you’ve gone through with the story now feels like a prelude to an upcoming chapter, and you’ll have to buy the next game to know more. Self-contained stories like The Last of Us and Resident Evil 4 never made you feel slightly cheated this way.
2 Worse: Pacing Of Story And Gameplay
When it takes around 20 hours to get into the main story, then you know there’s a problem with the pacing. Days Gone has you scrounging around in bounty hunting quests for some time at the beginning of the campaign, which distracts greatly from the story arc.
A few hours into the game, you’re made to endure several hunting tutorials that make it seem like you’re working rather than playing. The pacing is all over the place, with gameplay suddenly taking priority over the story. In comparison, The Last of Us would progress the storyline, while introducing the newer parts of the gameplay as you proceed further.
1 Worse: Side-Missions
An open world is no good when you don’t have anything to do in it. Games like Assassin’s Creed have hundreds of side-missions to keep you company, and these add to the game’s value. While side-missions are something zombie games don’t generally have, they make up for that by adding meaty material in the main game.
Days Gone would’ve benefitted by foregoing side-missions in favor of better major stuff, seeing as the side-missions are pretty awful. The bulk of it consists of using Deacon to complete bounty hunting quests or just to fight generic groups – both of these are also present in the main game, which means the side-missions don’t offer anything of distinct value.