Those damn reviewers just couldn't handle playing as a "gruff white biker looking at his date's ass."
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I liked Days Gone, at least when I played through it again recently on PC. Did it have some issues? Oh, absolutely. The pacing was rather terrible throughout, but was especially poor in the opening few hours. The melee combat was also lacking. There were some other nitpicks here and there, but I generally had a good time with it. The acting was stellar in spite of some poor writing (which often pushed in the "very poor" territory at times). In fact, I reviewed the PC version of Days Gone back when it first came out and gave it a rather high score of 4 out of 5 stars.

Naturally, this PC release came out quite a while after the initial release on PlayStation 4 in 2019. This means that Days Gone on PC had the benefit of incorporating several major patches that developer Bend Studio had to release to fix the very buggy and somewhat janky PlayStation 4 release. The PC release also included several quality of life improvements and bits of additional content that were also added to the PlayStation 4 version after launch.

The fact of the matter is, the PlayStation 4 release was merely "ok" by most standards, held back from greatness due to bugs, pacing, several instances of poor writing, and various gameplay flaws. It didn't review particularly well, but it also didn't review terribly. MetaCritic has that PlayStation 4 release at a still respectable 71, while the PC release there has a 76 average score.

On December 6, the director and writer of Days Gone, John Garvin, took to Twitter to share the reasons he thought the game didn't review particularly well in its initial PlayStation 4 release. He says there are three reasons for the lack of praise.

Three reasons:
1. it had tech issues like bugs, streaming and frame rate;
2. it had reviewers who couldn’t be bothered to actually play the game(...)
I'd say that the first one is a fair critique. The game did launch in a rather poor state on PlayStation 4. That second one seems rather questionable. The game is massive in several ways. Even in my review of the PC version I wasn't able to finish the game before I put my critique up because of quest bloat and other areas that padded out the play time. That's not even mentioning the fact that reviewers tend to have a very limited period of time to get a game played and a review written. Still, I would argue that if a game has several glaring issues in the first ten hours, those probably won't go away in the later half of the game. Forcing someone to play another 10 hours of a game they dislike in the first 10 hours will not lead to a better score.

Where Garvin really jumps the shark here is when we get to his third point about why he believes the game reviewed poorly.

3. And three, it had woke reviewers who couldn’t handle a gruff white biker looking at his date’s ass
There it is. The word "woke." A term that once referred to those that brought awareness to social issues such as racism, sexism, misogyny, and other forms of discrimination. These days, it's become more of a meaningless catch-all term by those leaning right on the political spectrum. It's kind of the term they use at any and every opportunity to refer to literally anybody that favors even a tiny iota of progressive political ideas.

Garvin decided to double down on his take when several responses called him out for being a clown. One response read, "C'mon John: 'woke'? You're better than that." Garvin replied with:

"Nope, I’m really not… if a reviewer objects to a character because of identity politics, I call that woke … how am I wrong?"
Many responses to Garvin's take pointed out that there are several games that have come out with so-called gruff white dudes that scored better than Days Gone. Red Dead Redemption 2 came out in 2018 and featured gruff white dudes along with several instances of racism and sexism. Red Dead Redemption 2 has a Metacritic score of 97. And who could forget 2013's Grand Theft Auto V, a game that featured several gruff and vulgar protagonists, tons of sexism, nudity, violence, objectification, and the list goes on. Clearly, everyone took issue with that one as it scored a pitiful 97 at Metacritic, pulled in an astronomical amount of money, and is the second best selling video game of all time.

There's also Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, a game where you are literally playing as a "gruff white biker" scoring a 90 average. There's also most every entry in the Metal Gear Solid franchise. The franchise that feature a "gruff white guy" and plenty of sexualization (MGS5's Quiet, MGS4's Beauty and the Beast Unit, MGS3's Eva, MGS2's Easter egg posters, MGS's CODEC flirting and Meryl working out Easter egg and Snake literally staring at her ass as she ran away). Those have never reviewed well, right?

Thankfully for Bend Studio, Sony, and the gaming industry at large, John Garvin is no longer working at Bend Studio. Garvin left Bend Studio at some point in 2019. These days, when he isn't on social media blaming those damned "woke" people in the media for his own shortcomings, he's busy working on Ashfall. Ashall is described as "the first true Web 3.0 AAA title for PC, console, and the Hedera network." Hedera being a platform that uses "a native, energy-efficient cryptocurrency."

Yeah. Good luck with that, Garvin.