PAX South 2019: Days Gone hands-on preview

Bend Studios gave us a shot at two Days Gone demos that show significantly different experiences within the game.

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On April 26, 2019, PlayStation 4 owners get a new open-world nightmare. Days Gone from Bend Studios aims to tell a tale about survivors and what makes them human, specifically while facing a post-apocalyptic world riddled with hostile creatures. The game was delayed from a couple months out of February for polish purposes and I got a chance to check out the latest build at PAX South 2016.

days gone bend studios hands on demo pax south 2019

This was my first opportunity to play Days Gone and I was immediately impressed with the fluid controls. Sneaking around and stealth-killing zombies (called Freakers in the game's world) felt polished and I never stumbled over what button needed to be pressed for a specific action. The space I played it had a linear objective, but a lot of paths for me to take.  Ultimately, I had a lot of fun handling the smaller amounts of zombies, moving around quietly, and collecting resources.

At the end of this particular demo, I ran into enemy human characters. I had the drop on them initially, so I attempted to use a melee weapon to take out a group of three. Big mistake. The human enemies immediately started shooting at me and I got a taste of a very different combat experience in Days Gone. The aiming felt a little bit loose, but the gunplay upped the excitement in a good way. There will likely be settings to adjust the aiming at launch.

days gone hands on demo bend studios

In the second demo, I faced off against a massive horde of Freakers and my task was simply to whittle it down. There were dugout trenches, explosives, broken down vehicles, and crates scattered about. I started out by tossing all of my explosives, which took out a hefty chunk of the horde. Then I guided them around to explosive barrels and tried timing the explosions when a large group was passing by.

I outran them for a good while, but my stamina did start to wear down. I also didn’t think very vertically throughout my attempts. Climbing only slows the zombies down so much, but every additional inch of breathing room I got was useful and there were a few spots around where I could have taken advantage of this. Another takeaway is that players will have to constantly be aware of the path the zombies are being guided through. There were a few times where I’d double back by mistake and end up having a pathway cut off by stray Freakers.

Three hundred hungry zombies are nothing to wag a finger at, but one of the developers let me know that this group was considered a “baby horde”. With just this experience under my belt, I already know that the much larger hordes are going to be a sweat-inducing affair.

Bend Studio is known for taking popular Sony properties and carving them into solid portable experiences on PSP and PlayStation Vita. With Days Gone, the studio aims to answer for fans and for themselves whether or not they can put out a quality, original title on a major home console. The game continues to get comparisons to Sony's other post-apocalyptic action-adventure, The Last of Us, but Days Gone will have an opportunity to build a legacy all its own on April 26, 2019. Stay tuned to Shacknews for additional updates.

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Charles Singletary Jr keeps the updates flowing as the News Editor, breaking stories while investigating the biggest topics in gaming and technology. He's pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to reach out to him @The_CSJR. Got a hot tip? Email him at Charles.Singletary@Shacknews.com.

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