After countless long nights and who knows how many hours I've put into Days Gone, I have successfully completed the main game. What a ride.
Some reviews I've read online complained about the story, or the repetitive gameplay, or the bugs in the game, but I found it not only to be a fun game, but a story that drew me in and kept me wanting to play so I could advance the story. Now that I completed the game and have the whole picture, I wanted to return and share my final thoughts.
Like with any game there are positives and negatives. We'll start off with the positives.
* The story: The game opens up with a flashback scene somewhere in Oregon. Buildings are on file, you can screens and gun shots. People are running from their lives. From what? It's not clear, but you know it's bad. Deacon St. John, the main character, is on the move trying to escape the city with his wife, Sarah as well as his best friend, Boozer. His wife is injured and the scene ends with Deacon putting her on a NERO (National Emergency Response Organization) helicopter.
Fast forward two years and Deacon and Boozer are held up in a observatory tower trying to survive. There are three different camps that survivors have built up. You can run errands for them, gaining credits (in game currency) as well as building your trust with each camp. The higher the trust, the better weapons and upgrades for your bike you can purchase. Most of this is optional, but highly recommended as it does help flesh out points of the story, as well as help you later on in the game.
The cause behind the outbreak is not known, but you do see NERO helicopters later in the game that have researchers checking out points of interest. You know there is more going on to the story, but you have to keep playing to figure out how NERO works into the overall story. In the midst of this, you are presented with more flashbacks pre-outbreak of Deacon and Sarah. Most of these scenes help set the stage on how Deacon and Sara met. Some of these are playable scenes while others are just cinematic. I like it when the story jumps back and forth as it helps keep you interested, getting little glimpses of how everything is tied together.
Towards the end of the game you infiltrate a militia camp and this is where I felt the game was ratcheted up a notch, in both the story and gameplay. You get access to new weapons and better gear as you have two new camps you can run errands for. There are even new Freakers to kill, the zombie like creatures that now exists because of the outbreak.
* Gameplay: This may be debatable for some, but I loved the gameplay. From the motorcycle travel, to the gun play, crafting and even the inventory management - it all feels pretty authentic.
I've never been on a motorcycle before, but playing this game makes me want to jump on a dirt bike and hit the road. At first it's a little tedious riding your bike because you are constantly running low on gas and have to pause your current objective in order to search for gas. Luckily you can always find a gas canister on the back of a tow truck, at a NERO checkpoint or fill up at any camp. Once you're able to upgrade your bike some the traversing the large open world map is so satisfying. You can fast travel between camps, but I found myself wanting to drive there just because it was fun.
Weapons. You can only carry three weapons at a time, your main gun, a sidearm and your special weapon. You also start off with a boot knife and can pick up a melee weapon (which can be upgraded). I like it when you are limited to what you can carry as it feels more authentic. You see all of your weapons on your character at all times, another nice touch in my opinion. You have rifles, automatic weapons, shotguns, sniper rifles and more and all of them are so fun to use on the neverending supply of Freakers you'll face.
In addition to your weapons, you can also craft throwables such as pipe bombs, molotov cocktails, smoke bombs and attractors to lure Freakers. Many of these I never used much of in my initial playthrough and what a mistake that was. You can also craft health packs which you'll need. At times it may feel like a collect-a-thon as you'll constantly be picking up items, but you'll need them as you'll go through some of the craftable items quickly at times. It's easy to craft anything and you can even do it as you're running around, though you can't craft while on your bike.
Inventory is managed using a onscreen wheel you can bring up at any time. When doing so the game does not stop, but does slow down. This allows you to change weapons or craft an item while running or shooting, but with you still being vulnerable you have to be careful.
* Freakers / Hordes: Freakers are fast moving zombie like creatures. I look at them as a cross between the cave dwellers from the movie The Descent crossed with zombies from the movie 20 Days Later. They are ugly, make blood curdling noises and can be a pain in the butt to kill at times...especially when you encounter a horde of them. At the onset of the game you just encounter "normal" Freakers, but later on you come across more advanced versions, similar to the zombies in Valve's Left 4 Dead franchise.
At first I ran from hordes as there was no way I was equipped to take one on, but once you get the proper gear (and the guts) to take them on oh what fun it can be. Don't get me wrong, there are times when the story tasks you with taking out a horde and it can be frustrating, but there are so many different strategies you can use that part of the fun is trial and error.
* Graphics: This game is beautiful. The Oregon countryside is gorgeous, whether you're in the woods, the rocky terrain or in the snow. The changing weather and day and night cycle are also great. Watching the ground underneath your bike change area to area or during the rain or snow is equally as impressive. The character models are also done well and the Freakers are pretty eerie looking.
* Stealth Missions: The NERO agent (O'Brien) that takes your wife to safety at the beginning of the movie later crosses paths with Deacon and eventually asks you for help in exchange for information. These missions involve sneaking around a NERO landing site and eavesdropping on NERO researches. The problem is these researches are always accompanied by NERO soldiers. You can't harm or kill these guys and if you are spotted you have to re-start the mission. You have to use stealth tactics to sneak around, throwing rocks to distract the soldiers while you run from cover to cover. In some case have to follow the moving researcher which can be tough to stay hidden, yet stay within ear shot. I hated these missions even though they are there to help advance the story.
* Bugs & Glitches: For a AAA title such as this, I didn't expect to find so many bugs in the game...even more so since I didn't play the game until after it had been out for some time. There were times while playing the frame rate would just drop, barely chugging along. I also found times were the textures just disappeared and I'd be surrounded by smooth, nondescript landscape. These glitches didn't ruin the game for me, but it was a little annoying at times and ultimately disappointing.
I give this game a solid A+. The open world exploration and large map will keep you busy, even after you complete the main game. I'm sort of a completionist when I play these games so I opted to complete all of the side missions and optional objectives before I tackled the final mission, but you can play the game however you like. I don't want to spoil the ending of the game, but it has an awesome secret ending you can unlock that leaves a doozy of a story twist. It seems as if this game falls into the Syphon Filter game universe, a game franchise I'm not familiar with...but may have to look into now. Days Gone is a great game with a few hiccups here and there. I've enjoyed the game so much I'm now playing the New Game Plus on Hard II difficulty and I'm finding it to be just as much fun a second time around. Highly recommended...even at full price I feel this is purchase worthy.