The PC version of Days Gone is a bit of a novelty. Had you asked anyone around the time that Bend Studios’ Freaker-infested romp launched if the game would show up on a non-Sony platform, you might have received a giggle. Following the surprise announcement and overwhelming success of the Horizon: Zero Dawn PC port, the floodgates for PlayStation exclusives to run wild on the personal computer have been opened. Days Gone is the second PS4 tentpole release to get this treatment and manages to use the additional power and flexibility provided by the PC to offer a definitive presentation.
Deacon and a fair bit of Freak’n
For those new to the Days Gone universe, the game follows the exploits of one Deacon St. John as he navigates a ruthless, post-apocalyptic wilderness that has been ravaged by a viral outbreak that can mutate humans and animals into rabid psychos. The narrative is presented to players in a few different ways, including flashbacks to the pre-Freaker virus world. It mixes some open-world exploration with survival and crafting mechanics. It isn’t the most original idea ever committed to the video game medium, but the high-quality production values, strong voice acting performances, and attention to detail help it stand out from the pack.
The big questions surrounding the PC port of Days Gone revolve around how it looks compared to the PS4 Pro version (and the recent PS5 upgrade patch) and how well it makes use of the flexibility of the platform. When Horizon: Zero Dawn arrived on PC last year, it offered a premium experience over its console counterpart, but came with hefty hardware demands and launched with its fair share of technical hiccups.
The biggest changes arriving with Days Gone’s PC version come in the form of arbitrary resolution support and an overall improvement in lighting and effects quality. While PS5 users can now run the game at 60fps with a checkerboarded upscaled 4K resolution, the PC version gets to take things even further. Right off the bat, jumping into the PC version with maxed settings presents a clearer, cleaner picture compared to the console. The PS5 edition operates at a 1920x2160 resolution that is upscaled to resemble 4K. Using 3840x2160 on the PC brings a new level of sharpness to nearly all parts of the game.
For almost all cutscenes, the detail in player clothing gets a massive jump quality. What looked presentable on PS5 is now blurry in comparison anywhere fine detail is showcased, including pavement textures, tree bark, and the oceans of denim. The resolution jump also affords cleaner versions of depth of field, volumetric light, and other post-processed effects. The highest Lighting Quality preset also introduces some screen-space global illumination simulation that is completely absent from the console version. The simulated bounced lights give off a look that mimics some of the recent ray-traced global illumination effects in recent PC games.
There is no ray tracing or DLSS support in Days Gone, but the overall image quality and performance are satisfying enough to prevent disappointment. On my admittedly high-end PC, I had no trouble coaxing smooth, stable frame rates out of Days Gone, even at 4K resolution. CPU usage was noticeably lower than I saw in Horizon: Zero Dawn, meaning that even those with modest CPUs should have little issue locking in 60fps once you adjust graphical settings to match your GPU. HDR is also supported and its parameters are easily adjustable to get the best results from your particular display.
The menus in the PC version also show how much thought was put into the port. Everything is laid out in a logical manner and fully supports the use of the mouse for fast navigation. You get a wide array of graphical toggles and the layout of the options page allows you to see how the settings affect the game in real-time, which is incredibly helpful for those who want to spend lots of time tweaking. The graphics settings menu also offers a frame rate and frame time counter at the top of the screen that also helps the end-user to better understand which settings have a bigger impact on performance. It’s not quite Gears of War 5 good, but as a fan of PC game settings menus done well, I found lots to like here.
The final superlative to mention for the PC version of Days Gone is loading times. This port clearly leverages the benefits of high-speed SSDs to good effect. Compared to the PS5 version, loading screens are nearly nonexistent, save for the initial load (which takes about 6-10 seconds). On PS5, you have enough time to go to the bathroom while the loading screen ring twirls around the bottom of the display. Even the loading screens that popped up between gameplay and cutscenes on PS5 are completely absent on my PC.
The one to get
Bend Studio deserves kudos for this port of Days Gone. The original release was a bit divisive depending on how folks took to its narrative and gameplay mechanics, and all those things remain intact here. If you are a big fan of the game, this new version will only serve to strengthen your opinion and should be the first choice for newcomers. It is a clear upgrade, even over the spruced-up PS5 edition, and offers hope that the next PlayStation exclusive to hit PC will receive the same effort and care.
These impressions are based on the PC Steam release. The game key was provided by the publisher for coverage consideration. Days Gone is now available on Steam and Epic Games Store for $49.99 USD.