E3 2016: Days Gone is a Zombie Game Behind the Times

Days Gone isn't bad, it just seems so very outdated. 

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Sony Bend’s latest looks beautiful. With a Northwestern US backdrop, it is set in beautiful woodlands with lush plant life surrounding abandoned and broken artifacts of humanity before the apocalypse.

Beautiful as it may be, everything about Days Gone feels like it’s about five years too late. Combat is standard third person action fare, made up of crafting weapons and tools, carrying an arsenal of rifles, shotguns, and handguns, and going back and forth between taking cover and running and gunning. Nothing appears to be necessarily new or inventive.

Days Gone stars a grizzled and disgruntled straight white man who once was in a biker gang, but now tries his best for survival by making use of his violent tendencies as a bounty hunter and mercenary. Is there anything wrong with having a straight white male protagonist? In theory, no. But it happens so often that it has become the default, the assumed standard starting point for any and all game characters. By sheer volume, this makes Deacon—the lead in Days Gone—little more than protagonist #6372, almost unrecognizable in a vast video game lineup.

Maybe the biggest indication of how behind the times Days Gone is is its use of zombies as the source of the apocalypse.

These aren’t the creepy, dangerous clickers from The Last of Us, nor are they the slow, shuffling herds from Dead Rising. They’re somewhere in the middle.  Like the zombies seen in World War Z, these undead act like liquid, their bodies spilling over each other as they attempt to reach Deacon.

In any zombie fiction, the higher the volume of zombies, the less we care about them. One lone zombie in a quiet setting is much more terrifying than a thousand zombies in broad daylight. The zombies in Days Gone are the latter.

During the closed demo I saw at E3, Deacon was running around some sort of base made up of barns, outbuildings, and upper-level walkways. Wherever he went, a massive wave of zombies followed, tethered to his every move as they snarled, writhed, and stumbled toward him at an alarming speed.

Deacon ran away from them, occasionally using environmental effects like exploding barrels and log piles to trip up the horde and give him a chance to pick off a few “freakers” using an assault rifle. That was it. Run, shoot, repeat.

It’s still in development, and it’s possible things could change up enough to give Days Gone the personality it needs. As it stands, it feels like a relic from 2010. And where that may have been a justifiable design choice years ago, it comes across as generic and unremarkable today. 

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

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    June 16, 2016 8:54 AM

    Cassidee Moser posted a new article, E3 2016: Days Gone is a Zombie Game Behind the Times

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      June 16, 2016 9:13 AM

      Game sounds bland as fuq

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      June 16, 2016 9:16 AM

      Is criticism of a straight white male protagonist something that outlets are contractually obligated to provide at this point?

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        June 16, 2016 9:26 AM

        It's a valid criticism when your game is Zombie Survival Clone #345. It's just brings no new angle to the scenario.

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          June 16, 2016 9:30 AM

          I fail to see how putting a woman, or transgender, or what have you makes what we saw more compelling. It's a silly thing to point out from the very limited gameplay we saw.

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            June 16, 2016 9:37 AM

            It doesn't automatically make the character interesting but playing as an unconventional character does offer a slightly bigger chance of a compelling story than just playing Generic Guy #413

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              June 16, 2016 9:42 AM

              Maybe there is a compelling story with white generic white man but we didn't get to see it cause it was 7 minutes of shooting at world war z zombies

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                June 16, 2016 9:49 AM

                Yeah, I guess we'll find out some time after this first ever preview of the game, like it says at the bottom of said preview. The whole point is to give a first impression of this generic-ass looking zombie lawnmowing game with a generic-ass protagonist.

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            June 16, 2016 1:05 PM

            It would change the story and if they wanted, gameplay. If you're a woman in a post apocalyptic environment there are more dangers.

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              June 16, 2016 1:07 PM

              What are some of the examples of "more dangers" a woman in a post apocalyptic zombie setting would face?

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                June 16, 2016 1:12 PM

                Well it'd be hard to instill the seriousness of the situation without anyone around to explain the zombi apocalypse in baking metaphors. And they can't run away from zambonis in high heels. And if the zebras are also vampires the whole thing would be over in a month or so.

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                  June 16, 2016 1:22 PM

                  Those are just modifiers to existing dangers. What dangers are unique to women in zombie times.

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                    June 16, 2016 1:30 PM

                    Getting funky with a boy who's immune but still carrying the virus, then getting pregnant with his zorro baby and then the baby eats its way out of the mummy's womb and she dies writhing in the street while the zucchini baby rips her flesh apart with its chubby little fingers

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                      June 16, 2016 2:22 PM

                      "Getting funky with a boy..."

                      Wow, real progressive there Hemtroll

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                        June 16, 2016 5:57 PM

                        I mean, why not just make the main protagonist a straight white male while you're at it.

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        June 16, 2016 9:28 AM

        I think if you read the context it is that even the main protagonist is completely safe and uninteresting. It isn't a bad thing by itself, but together with all the other uninteresting decisions it makes the whole game look bad.

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      June 16, 2016 9:28 AM

      It gives off a Last of Us vibe.

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      June 16, 2016 9:30 AM

      I would agree the game looked very generic when shown, was surprised Sony was promoting it so hard.

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      June 16, 2016 9:37 AM

      Game features a white male protagonist, it must be behind the times.

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      June 16, 2016 11:45 AM

      I thought the game looked awesome, I love zombie games and it looked really cool, I dig the pace.

      I really like the locations, to me this looked better than Dead Rising 4 which I will be getting as well. They are sort of different styles so I don't think you should really compare them. I think the Last of Us vibe this one has is why I like it better.

      Then you have State of Decay 2 as well which looked really awesome as well, man its going to be a Zombie overload next year I can't wait.

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        June 16, 2016 1:17 PM

        i think i agree. i really like the horde of zombies almost as a liquid particle effect, only l4d really was similar to this and this looks like it takes it to the next level. i do agree that the main char is super fucking generic though, if youre gonna make me care about a character the protag lost at least give it the treatment naughty dog did for joels daughter(the feels!)

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      June 16, 2016 11:47 AM

      my interest in that game plummeted as soon as they showed the gameplay

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        June 16, 2016 1:31 PM

        Same. "tons of zombies on the screen" impressed me back when Dead Rising 1 did it, not so much these days.

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      June 16, 2016 1:48 PM

      I don't really understand the point of mentioning that the protagonist is a straight white man. As if the dynamics of the game would change if the guy turned in to a transgendered female? The game is bland and unremarkable so somehow including diversity would suddenly make it amazing?

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        June 16, 2016 1:50 PM

        It's just another way to point out how bland it seems. Basically saying it doesn't stand out of the crowd at all.

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      June 16, 2016 1:53 PM

      Bunch of haters. i think it looks cool but then again I'm a sucker for the genre BRING IT ON!!!

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      June 16, 2016 2:00 PM

      Sorry but this article is retarded. Remove "Days Gone" and replace with a new MOBA, CoD, BF, TF clone. It applies to every single one of those games as well.