Naughty Dog changed the face of the game industry when they brought The Last of Us to consoles in 2013, this game showed just how well a story could be presented in a hopeless world plagued by zombies. This showed story driven games could be given to make the player care about every detail, and it showed how you could make a zombie game more than what it typically was. The Last of Us was a renascence for story driven games and to date is one of the best games I have ever played, and truthfully, I thought nothing could beat that, but yet Days Gone has given me hope.
In a lot of ways, the reveal trailer for Days Gone reminded me of The Last of Us, it seemed like Bend Studios had acknowledged what Naughty Dog did for the industry and wanted to create a truly deep game. They wanted to present a dystopian society crumbled by some sort of pandemic but show a different side to the story, in a way that is different to The Last of Us, and even Fallout, they wanted to explore how the world fell apart, and the emotional toll it took on the people.
It is this idea that is so rarely explored, sure we see the aftermath years later, but only a short space of time in, and how often do we explore the emotional weight of a character's actions? Sadly, this is exactly what the reveal trailer said to me, as the narrator discussed what he remembered about the world collapse, he shared how he remembers people losing their minds, when things stopped working, but in the end, what did it matter. What he really remembered was the girl he loved, and doing the thing's he loved like riding the open road, but as he shares his memories, he realises those days are gone and now he has to live a different life, and I think it would be interesting to explore his thoughts and his tragic past.
But to the burning question, how can Days Gone be good? Sure, that cinematic reveal trailer was brilliant and got you excited, but then we saw gameplay, it looked a bit more like a generic third person shooter as a man mowed down a whole swarm of zombies. To be honest, I was still excited but this did leave many questions of what the game would try to do, was this just a simplistic shooter with a trailer that lied, I don’t think so.
Despite what seemed like a poor choice in showing on the part of the gameplay, it is what we didn’t see that is exciting. The one consistent thing people say about The Last of Us is that the gameplay is average (personally I disagree and think it complements the story, but to each their own), and Days Gone seems to present a similar vibe, yet if years of playing games have taught us anything, poor gameplay does not mean a bad game. Look at Beyond Two Souls, The Last of Us and even Spec Ops: The Line, by most people’s opinions the gameplay was terrible, but the stories were what kept us interested and invested, and I feel Days Gone could actually have this.
The gameplay footage barely showed anything of the story, and this means that the story that will be in the final game is still an enigma and as long as the trailer has presented the right emotional tone, we can still be excited. In truth, we know next to nothing about Days Gone but the answer to the burning question is a simple one, present a good and memorable story.
To make a strong story we need to actually explore our character and already I want to know more, throughout various shots we got to see a multitude of ideas, in a world reminiscent of The Last of Us crossed with Fallout we saw our character brutally murder somebody as a showing of losing our minds. This brings to mind a question. Why is he doing this? What did this person do that was so bad? Does this have something to do with the girl we see later on? Beyond that I feel that the game also wants us to feel for the character and at times it could cut back to the past to show how our character has changed because of the world, and give us a chance to reflect and present his own thoughts on events.
How has he been affected by the worlds collapse, and how has his life changed? What has truly affected him and caused his change in mindset? These are the questions I want answered and I feel that the story of Days Gone could properly explore this as well as the ins and outs of this particular dystopia. Of course the big thing that needs to be explored is our protagonist, I feel like he has an interesting story that is slightly distanced from the world and it could be fun to explore his story. Not to mention with a great protagonist whose story is exceptionally interesting, Days Gone can be fascinating and make up for potential problems.
If we can have a Fallout style open world full of missions that explore our character's current life and his overall goal, I think we could be satisfied with Days Gone. But for me, I think it is the narrative that will be the most important factor in this game, if our main character can prove to be interesting in his history and show plenty of evolution and an interesting perspective on the crumble of society, Days Gone could be something special!