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“Phreakers” – Days Gone Preview


Have you ever heard of the Bend studio? Not? Then do not bother too much – you are not alone in this regard. In fact, the most famous projects of this studio under the wing of a large company Sony are two spin-offs: Resistance: Retribution and Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Although the developers started with one of the worst games in history – Bubsy 3D. After that, the studio released a stealth shooter called Siphon Filter, which became a real hit and soon grew into a series altogether. However, now the developers from Bend Studios have been entrusted with a more serious project, and the matter lies not only in the scale, but also in the very significance of the project, since it can now only be compared with The Last of Us.


Mysterious pandemic in American style


In fact, Days Gone cannot avoid comparisons with The Last of Us, since there are more than enough similarities: an unknown epidemic, a kind of zombie apocalypse, American-style nature. But what can I say, even if the mechanics of the game are very similar. For example, take the same gunfights, improvement, movement in stealth mode, ferocious melee and much more. In general, after watching the first gameplay, you constantly think that Joel is about to get out from around the corner and save the position of the protagonist.

However, Days Gone is still a completely different game. The linear and chamber The Last of Us was replaced by a huge and open world, a larger world. The formidable opponents from The Last of Us were replaced by dexterous, but not too tenacious “freaks”, reminiscent of the zombies from the movie “World War Z”.

The Northwest United States was chosen as the scenery. Moreover, this place is justified, because the developers wanted to put players in a variety of, but invariably strictly harsh conditions. The main character will have to go through mountains, forests, and prairie. Moreover, the path will be complicated not only by a severe downpour (which can be seen in the presented gameplay), but also by hail, snow and even a hurricane. Apparently, the weather conditions in the game will change from one time to another, but at E3 2016 the demo version of the game showed little.

The main character of Days Gone is Deacon St. John. At one time, the guy was a member of a biker gang, so by nature he is a wanderer. In addition, during the zombie apocalypse, he slipped into an even more violent lifestyle and became a bounty hunter. The game takes place two years after a mysterious and unknown pandemic destroyed most of the US population, either killing people or turning them into “phreakers” – this is what the zombies are called in Days Gone. “Freakers” are translated as “touched”, “crazy” and they are divided into several varieties. Truth and “phreakers” are unusual empty-headed zombies, because they more resemble those who were in the movie “28 Days Later” or “World War Z”. However, this does not change their purpose, because they still need to either eat or kill a person.


Zombie park


By the way, about the variety – at E3 2016 they showed several types of “phreakers”. The first zombie that I met in a ten-minute video is a “newt”. What kind of rubbish is this? Triton is a mutated child, an unusual agile creature that eerily resembles everyone’s famous dastardly Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. As befits such creatures: attacks come strictly from an ambush and keep such creatures far enough from the bulk of the zombies.

The next type of zombie was a kind of “horde”. Horde is the typical ugly dead who prefer to crowd more and huddle together, as it was in the movie “World War Z”. It resembles such a heap of “dead stream”, which crushes with its mass and quantity. In general, a comparison with a liquid is just begging. Moreover, one has only to disturb the “phreakers”, as a huge wave of terrible monsters immediately rushes on a person, filling all passages, windows with their mass, knocking out doors and even tearing down walls.

By the way, due to the huge number of zombies, the “horde” is required in revision. For example, during the demonstration, such an error arose when the “phreakers”, having reached the main character, simply begin to push in place, while waving their arms menacingly. The main disadvantage of such an error is that all the oppressive ones during the passage of the revolutions immediately break off and the danger, along with the atmosphere, instantly disappears.

Another problem is that zombies fall from any shot, no matter which part of the body the Deacon shoots at. It turns out that the main character is able to single-handedly restrain the “horde” until the clip runs out of cartridges. And the stocks of bullets in themselves raise questions – there are too many of them. After all, as you know: at the time of the apocalypse, ammunition is one of the most valuable items. Although, there is a possibility that a huge amount of ammunition was presented just for the sake of the exhibition, to show the seriousness of what is happening.


Kill or be killed


In general, the mechanics of Days Gone are designed in such a way that the main character is constantly pushed into battle with the “horde” or other dangerous risks. In the presented demo version of the game, Deacon had to go to an abandoned sawmill behind the head of some “Dog” (another order for a bounty hunter). At the sawmill, he had to actively interact with the outside world: close the doors; rummage through the parts of a rotten truck to make a silencer for a pistol; shoot at bundles of logs to block the path; lower rails and much more.

You have to interact for various reasons, and all these “catch-up” resemble either a movie or a game, for example, Silent Hill. However, the main difference between Days Gone in this regard lies in the fact that the “horde” really attacks from completely different sides, and any obstacle, artificially created or not, will delay the “phreakers” for only a few minutes, because sooner or later they will either blow everything, or they will break through. During the breaks of these chases, the main character spends time to shoot from the zombies from a machine gun, a pistol with a silencer, or tries to stop them altogether with Molotov cocktails. Not to mention the fact that you can blow up a variety of barrels and columns.

In fact, in the presented demo version of the game, interactivity impressed separately. For example, when the main character set a mine on a bundle of logs, the “horde” of advancing “wave” of zombies was covered not only with an explosion, but also with heavy logs that had already taken off and ripped apart. And in one of the scenes under the “horde”, the wooden floor generally collapsed.

By the way, not without the classic edged weapons and elements of the environment. Close combat is fierce, ferocious and bloody. So a knife can be thrust into the eye of a “freaker”, and an ax can literally cut the enemy in half. There was even a moment when Deacon finished off the zombies with a huge circular saw.

And the presented battle with the “horde” might seem like a typical scripted scene, if not for one “but” – the game has an open world. The bottom line is that at that time it was possible to go to the sawmill in absolutely any way – by any route. So in the battle against zombies, not a single algorithm existed. The Days Gone demo says that in any battle you will have to improvise to the maximum, because the path to salvation is not always the same. After all, it also depends on many factors, which include not only the behavior of the zombie: the available tools, weather conditions, actions – almost everything plays a role.


Do it yourself


From the presented demo version and my words, it was already possible to understand that there is “crafting” in Days Gone. This system resembles the same as in The Last of Us. For example, the process of creating useful items occurs in real time. The essence of the creation is the same: to create, for example, a Molotov cocktail, it is necessary to combine the appropriate objects (in this case, a bottle, a flammable liquid and a cloth).

Tools can be either collected or crafted. Thus, this makes it possible to create new weapons, or modify, for example, old weapons. In the presented demo version there is a great example of an impromptu silencer, which I mentioned above: Deacon rummaged in an old truck, found a part that looked like a silencer, attached it to a pistol and got a kind of silencer already for a pistol. In addition, given that a hidden version of the passage was also presented, the muffler will be extremely useful. However, a quiet passage and useful in that you do not have to face the “horde”.

The only detail that is embarrassing is that the man who was chased by the Deacon at one point attacked him, they fell down, where they inevitably had to meet the “horde”. It remains to hope that this is only one of the possible options for completing the assignment, or inevitable training, because otherwise such a cutscene contradicts all the promised freedom of action. In any case, as far as crafting is concerned, in the presented demo version this system was not shown in all its glory, so Days Gone can still surprise everyone with this detail.


Eventually


At the moment, Days Gone is not just intriguing – it is mesmerizing. And it’s not just about the technical side of the game, but the detailed details that have filled the game’s environment. The landscapes promise to be incredible as the events unfold in the territory of the state of Oregon, which stands out for its climate, scenery and riot of colors.

The demo version of the game was actually rich, especially the mechanics of interacting with the environment: a sawmill, special effects from various actions, and much more. And although there were some drawbacks, now they can be attributed to the fact that all this was done for display (this includes a large amount of ammunition and errors in the behavior of the “horde”). Nothing is really known about the plot, but there will definitely be some kind of sad story and a story about the preservation of humanity. A bright and rich situation was presented at E3 2016. It’s difficult to judge Days Gone right now because the game still needs to be monitored. But it would be nice to see an improved version of The Last of Us, and even with a certain touch of “Sons of Anarchy”.


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