Days Gone, Sony Bend’s new post-Last Of Us biker gang survival game, might be taking a slightly more evolutionary approach to the standard tenets of survival design.
Crafting, of course, has long appeared in some form in most open-world games. Between the extended influence of Tomb Raider and Far Cry, few modern triple-a releases of their ilk are without some sort of system for gathering resources and making things.
But it’s even more vital in a zombie apocalypse. I always found a sort of grim humor in how much time The Last Of Us made players spend gathering resources and essentially scavenging when outside of combat, because it’s a strangely un-game like thing to do, closer to a survivalist sim in some ways than an dramatic horror game. A real post-apocalypse existence wouldn’t be an enjoyable one, since the opposing mundanity and nerves of gathering supplies to stay alive and risking one’s life to do it would be hard to endure.
Not that your perspective in a situation like that would even bother considering entertainment value versus simply being thankful you were still alive, or that I don’t consider The Last Of Us one of the best games ever made. That Naughty Dog didn’t really make much attempt to gameify the activity is commendable.
A few years on, Days Gone looks heavily inspired by The Last Of Us in more ways than just color palette and some environmental art direction. Though it wasn’t really explained at Sony’s E3 press conference, there’s a much greater emphasis on improvisation throughout the environment, which includes a world full of junk to salvage and turn into tools.
Though environmental kills, which Days Gone appears to have a lot of, have been around for years, the potential for the game’s crafting aspect (much less of a frivolity that Far Cry, seemingly – too grim business here) seems interesting. The most notable example seen in a behind-closed-doors demo was an airbag bomb, which is exactly what it sounds like, accompanying the homemade silencer that baby-faced biker hero Deacon uses in the press conference demo.
Unlike Joel, Deacon’s use of the environment seems a bit more extensive, or at least it was in the scripted level shown. Using parts to upgrade equipment is pretty basic stuff. If Days Gone has been tailored towards picking through leftover junk to make new things, it would be a nice switch towards an overall more organic experience.
After all, how many times has your progress in a game been halted because you didn’t have what the developers’ have programmed as the proper tool when something thats just as good might be in the same room?
With the necessary limitations of finite memory, it comes down to a matter of how much Sony Bend might want to make accessible to search machines, cars, refuse, materials – there definitely seems to be a touch of State of Decay at work here. If that’s as much a priority of Sony Bend is indicating, Days Gone has a chance at being an uniquely sim-like take on a narrative and genre where finding an identity beyond tropes can be an uphill battle.