A long and thrilling ride through a post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest.
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In April 2019, Sony's Bend Studio released Days Gone for the PlayStation 4. The initial release was met with a lot of mixed reactions from critics and players alike. Since release, the game was updated several times to smooth out some rough edges and bring numerous gameplay and quality of life refinements to players. It even received a lovely PlayStation 5 upgrade by way of a dynamic 4K resolution and 60FPS support for that next-gen platform.

I am happy to report that all those refinements, and more, have now made their way to the PC thanks to Bend Studio and PlayStation Studios. For the first time ever, this post-apocalyptic, action-filled title can be experienced at ultrawide resolutions, high refresh rates, and plenty of PC specific customization options. It does not feel like an exaggeration to say that Bend Studio really went above and beyond on this PC release.

Taking a quick step back for a moment, I'd like to briefly talk about what Days Gone is all about for those who may not have played this game yet on the PlayStation platform. Days Gone is an open world action game set in a post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest. It is a setting that Bend is intimately familiar with as their studio is in Oregon. It is now two years after a viral outbreak obliterated most of the world's population and turned them into zombie-like creatures called Freakers. While not exactly zombies per se, they are a close enough approximation that you wouldn't be far off the mark calling this a zombie survival game.

Players will step into the shoes of one Deacon St. John, a former Army vet that joined a biker gang. Before the viral outbreak happened, Deacon meets and eventually marries the love of his life, Sarah (played by Courtnee Draper, Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite). A wealth of background information and character building will be brought to light through playable flashback sequences involving Sarah and Deacon. Deacon is expertly voiced by Sam Witwer, the voice actor for Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Witwer brings a full range of emotion to his performance, making Deacon St. John one of the most believable and humanized gaming protagonists in recent memory.

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In general, Days Gone really excels when it comes to telling an engaging and fully fleshed out story. There are several twists, touching moments, and well-written characters that shine when given the opportunity to do so. Many of the conversations are optional, however, and can be skipped if you so desire or just want to play through the game again a second time. Interestingly, for as many collectibles as there are in the game, there are little to no text logs to read from other survivors. I kind of like this as all too often in these post-apocalyptic games you get lore and info dumps through text instead of through spoken dialogue. I appreciate the fact that Bend did not go down that well-trodden path.

As this is an open-world game, you can expect to run into a fair number of story missions, side-quests, and points of interest to engage with or explore during your adventures. While many will appreciate the sheer quantity of stuff to do in this game, some of the content does get to feel a little repetitive as the hours go on. Days Gone is not a short game by any stretch of the imagination. Even if you went through only the main story missions, you are still looking at a game that will take you around 38 hours to complete. Once you add in some side-missions and other content, you are looking at a game that is well over 50 hours long. The game also starts out quite slowly before opening up. I can see some players not being too keen on this, but it is important to know this before diving in.

Deacon has a few tricks up his sleeve that will help him to survive out in the wild. Like Geralt, Deacon can "scan" his immediate surroundings to locate clues or highlight nearby items. It isn't the most detailed of tracking abilities like those found in other games, but it is handy to have when you want to quickly locate loot in the immediate area you are exploring. Deacon also has the ability to craft and maintain several different weapons and items including things like spiked baseball bats for melee combat or bolts for his stealth-focused crossbow.

St. John's most important tool of the trade is none other than his trusty motorcycle. Deacon can upgrade his motorcycle with several different components, allowing players to ride longer, faster, and harder. It can even be customized with several different paint jobs and even outfitted with some sweet decals. You will have to maintain the bike throughout the game, which includes filling it with gas from time to time or performing quick maintenance on it if it takes too much damage. His ride is an invaluable piece of gear that allows him to quickly traverse the massive land areas in the game. It is also handy for quickly escaping from dangerous situations with Freaker hordes and other foes.

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Speaking of which, Freakers are not the only enemy that Deacon will square off against. Sure, there are several variations of Freakers that you will encounter, but they may not be the most dangerous group out there. There are groups of marauders, violent gangs that will set up ambushes along the road. There are NERO Soldiers, the heavily armored remnants of the US government. There are also the Rippers or Rest In Peace Cult, that worship Freakers and are, how shall I say this, a bit mentally unstable.

Each of these enemy factions need different approaches to take out. Some, like the NERO Soldiers, need to be avoided, so sneaking is your only tool. Others, like the Freakers, can often be taken out through stealth attacks, the use of several different gun types, the use of grenades, pipe bombs, or even a good old-fashioned smack to the side of the head with a melee weapon. Stealth approaches really are your best friend in Days Gone as loud noises can and will alert enemies to your presence. While the gun-toting human factions may be easy to take out in limited numbers, the Freakers can often overwhelm you with sheer numbers. You may think you're hot stuff when it comes to action games, but with limited ammo and stamina, you will be running for your life more often than not, especially in the early game. This is never truer than when the Freakers show up in greater numbers. There can and will be times where several hundred of them appearing on screen at once.

The combat often feels satisfying enough, but the melee does leave a lot to be desired. If you find yourself stuck in melee combat you may grow tired of your limited combo options and simplistic dodge roll evade maneuver. Combat while riding your motorcycle is also extremely simplistic, but at least these gameplay segments are largely limited to bounty pursuits against other bikers. I also took issue with the fact that after each successful stealth kill, Deacon wouldn't always switch back to the weapon I had prior to the animation playing out. Having to constantly swap back after a stealth kill did become a bit annoying over time.

Visually, I'd say that Days Gone looks pretty damn good, especially when the weather systems come into play, which they often do. It probably won't win any awards for best visuals, but it's still a very pretty game at times. PC players get the benefit of being able to run at all sorts of different resolutions and framerates, a luxury that PlayStation owners do not have. And while I do not personally own an ultrawide monitor, there is supposed to be support for ultrawide resolutions included in this PC release. Furthermore, there is a slider to adjust the FOV in the game. The default wasn't terrible for a third-person game, but I did bump it up to 80 just out of personal preference. It can go much higher than that if you desire. Other PC specific improvements include an increased level of detail distance and foliage draw distance, both of which can also be adjusted via the in-game options.

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Days Gone on PC pushes the GPU hard, very hard. Using mostly "high" visual options, my Nvidia GTX 1080Ti was at near constant 100% utilization. This is with the resolution set to 1440p and a max framerate set to 144FPS. I was often north of 80-100FPS in most situations, but I would see occasional dips into the mid-60s at various times. Still, if your target is 60FPS, most GPUs released in the past couple of years should not have much issue hitting that. Bend Studio did an excellent job with the graphical options they offer to players on the PC. Going into the Display and Graphics tabs brings up a small performance graph in the top right of the screen showing both the current and average framerates, along with the GPU utilization. This is a very handy feature that I would like to see more games implement.

During some cutscenes, I did encounter what I would call microstutters. These were small, almost imperceptible framerate hitches that were most apparent when the camera moved around or panned during the in-game cutscenes. During gameplay, I cannot say that I really noticed these, but they may still be something to keep an eye on if you are sensitive to unstable framerates.

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Left: All high settings | Right: All low settings

Controlling Deacon on the PC is kind of a joy. There are remappable keys for those running with a traditional keyboard and mouse setup. Riding the bike was not as difficult as I thought it might be. However, I did play through most of the game using an Xbox controller. Bend once again shows that they mean business on the PC here as they offer up several controller button prompt options to players to choose from. The prompts you see displayed on the screen can be those of the Xbox 360, the Xbox One/Series X|S, the PlayStation 4 DualShock, and even the Nintendo Switch Pro controller. Like, it blew my mind seeing the Switch Pro controller as an option in this game that was developed by a Sony studio and being played on the PC. I do not think I have ever seen an option for the Switch Pro controller prompts in any other PC game.

Other quality of life improvements from the PlayStation release makes their way to this PC release now. The game features one of the most robust photo modes I have seen in any game. There are basic options such as tilt, FOV adjustment, and whatnot. Those options aren't unusual to see in a photo mode. However, Bend Studios takes things a step further by allowing players to take massively large screenshots, up to 8x your current playing resolution. They also include an "Advanced" mode that allows you to adjust the color grading temperature, individual RGB adjustments on gamma, gain, and offset, and a plethora of other settings that most people, including myself, won't have a clue about.

Additionally, Days Gone on PC includes features like New Game+. There is also a Survival Mode difficulty that goes above and beyond the game's already robust difficulty options. In the PC release you will be able to choose from Easy, Normal, Hard, Hard II, Survival, and Survival II difficulty options. Survival II is for those who have something to prove to themselves. It disables fast travel, hides the HUD, makes enemies incredibly tough, and is said to be "for players who have what it takes to survive." I played on Normal for my first go around and it already offered up a decent challenge at times.

Also included are several different Challenges. These are separate from the main game and will put all your combat and survival skills to the test. You can think of them as mini challenge arenas or even like something akin to the Mercenaries Mode from the Resident Evil games.

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Players can also decorate their bikes with some bonus custom skins that made their way over from the PlayStation release. I saw custom skins based off games like Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn. Those two titles saw release on the PC already. There is one special skin included from a game that isn't out on PC, but it is published by Sony and that is a skin for God of War. It could mean something, or it could mean nothing at all. I just found it interesting is all. That's all I'm saying. It was included in the PlayStation release, so it makes sense that it's in the PC release now, right?

Really, what more needs to be said about Days Gone that hasn't been said already? I know a lot of people have probably already made up their minds about this game whether they've played it or not. I personally enjoyed the hell out of this game. The characters were superbly acted, the combat was largely engaging and varied, the dynamic day/night cycles and weather systems were top notch, the storytelling was fantastic, and the PC specific features are the icing on the cake. I will freely admit that some parts of the game did drag on for just a bit too long and some missions felt a bit too samey for my liking.

Priced at just $49.99 (USD) from either Steam or the Epic Games Store, you are looking at a tremendous bang for your buck. Bend Studio really went above and beyond on this one and I appreciate the hell out of them for the extra care and attention they gave this PC release. They included features that even most PC-first developers often overlook and have set the bar high on other potential PlayStation to PC releases in the future.

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Additional Information
  • Days Gone (PC)
    • Developed by: Bend Studio
    • Published by: PlayStation Studios
  • Price: Starting at $49.99 (USD) via Steam and Epic Games Store
  • Platform reviewed on: PC
    • Reviewed on: i7-6700K, 32GB RAM at 2666, GTX 1080 Ti, and installed to a Crucial MX500 1TB SSD
    • Also available on: PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
  • Release Date: May 18, 2021
  • ESRB: M for Mature 17+ (Blood and gore, drug reference, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language)
  • This game was provided to Total Gaming Network for review purposes.

Additional Screenshots
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