The world of Days Gone may be out to get you, but here are some handy developer tips to hit the hostile ground sprinting.
“Our game is not about saving the world. Deacon will not be the hero finding the solution to this pandemic. The pandemic is something that hit people in the world. They don’t know where it came from. One thing’s for sure: survival is not [simply] living.”
That’s SIE Bend Studio’s Emmanuel Roth talking about what to expect from Sony’s latest big first-party release, Days Gone. It’s an open-world game that pits biker against flesh-eating foes (Freakers) and bloodthirsty human threats (Marauders). Now that it’s out in the wild, you’ll need all the help you can get to tame this brutal post-apocalyptic game world.
Roth’s pro-est tip is to focus on upgrades. “You want to upgrade your bike. You want to upgrade your weapons. There is an advantage to doing all those tasks for surviving; it’s not an easy world.”
The best way to do that is to avoid the main path (temporarily) and burn rubber off the beaten track. Speaking of the main path, Roth estimates it to be around 30 hours. Going bush means you’ll not only boost your chances of survival in Days Gone, you’ll also be upping the game’s length.
“It’s very important to explore because the resources are scarce.”
“It’s recommended to go around and find other stuff around you,” says Roth. “Checking the cars in ravines or looking inside houses. You will discover new stuff. Maybe that will unlock some new elements. It’s very important [to explore] because the resources are scarce.”
While danger is more abundant than Game of Thrones spoilers, there are some certainties. Time spent exploring every nook and cranny of each dilapidated house regularly reaps resources in our experience. Plus, there’s the guarantee that the boot of every police car holds ammo, though using it to go loud is best avoided when Freakers are out in force.
Like Sony’s other ‘don’t call them zombies’-populated post-apocalyptic action game The Last of Us, Days Gone has risk/reward baked into its crafting. For instance, you can choose the fiery fury of a Molotov cocktail or use some of those crossover resources to make a bandage for when you inevitably take damage against the many bumps in the night.
The same logic applies to scrap. It can be used to boost the big-bada-boomstick potential of your arsenal or it can fix your bike. Considering how important your bike is and how hordes can grow to sizes that are a couple of hundred more than King Leonidas had to defend at the Hot Gates, this isn’t always an easy decision. You can also stack initially smaller hordes into something infinitely less manageable, so it’s best not to aggro them.
After all, your bike is your save station away from home and you’ll invest in it along the way.
“You have a chance to upgrade that bike,” says Roth. “You start with a bike that’s not very good: it doesn’t have a big gas tank and takes a lot of damage. But by collecting all the resources, you will be able to upgrade: a better engine, a better gas tank and more resistance in suspension. You can also use it as an armoury to store weapons and ammunition. The bike is essential to Deacon’s life.”
And you’ll definitely need that arsenal when the undead hordes start a-swarming your way. Far from completely mindless, the Freaker foes of Days Gone have a pecking order in their demented ecology. “The fact that [the Freakers] are alive means they have their own ecosystem,” says Roth. “Like, the big Swarmers will eat the Newts.”
Keeping quiet is the best way to ensure you, the pillager, don’t become the pillaged by the not-so-friendly local villagers, and each of the Freaker archetypes have different behaviours that necessitate different strategies.
“The Newts are small, timid creatures,” says Roth. “[They’re] very feral but very deadly, taking advantage of your weakness. When your health bar goes down, Newts feel stronger and they will come at you. A Newt will drop on you from the roof. Swarmers will jump to reach you. And the Swarmers really come for you.
“They usually hunt for meat, but when they are aware of you, that’s the end. If you fire your weapon, you will alert the ones around. The Horde, the way they move is different to the Swarmers. They are relentless. They are trying to get you by any means, meaning they go around obstacles, they will climb and really try to get to you.”
“Given this world isn’t only populated by the undead but also the living, it’s worth pitting one enemy against another.”
Given this world isn’t only populated by the undead but also the living, it’s worth pitting one enemy against another. “You can use your environment,” says Roth. “In some situations, you can weaponise it by using it against a camp, for example. You can attack a Marauder camp by dragging some Swarmers inside the camp.”
Attract the infected. Then run like hell. Come back afterwards to mop up the mess. It’s that or try your hand at stealthing Marauder camps and risk wasting precious ammo, or bandaging bullet holes, if you’re spotted. As if the living and infected weren’t enough to worry about, there’s also the threat of the vicious fauna.
There aren’t lions and tigers, but there are bears. And, oh my, do they pack a punch and take a walloping to put down for good. Then there are Freaker wolves. They tend to attack in packs at the most inopportune moments while you’re riding, so even once you’ve partially purged an infected area, cruising is never safe.
“When we say our tagline is, ‘The world comes for you’, we are not lying,” says Roth. “Every time you go somewhere, be ready to get surprised by what can happen. A bear can enter your camp. It can be an ambush on the road from Marauders. It can be a sniper on the side of the road. All of that, we throw out dynamically. The player better be careful.”
PS4 exclusive Days Gone is available now.