From what I’ve seen at E3 2017, Days Gone looked a lot like another Sony exclusive from earlier in 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn. The main difference is that, instead of fighting off hordes of robot dinosaurs (which is new, and awesome!), you are fighting off hordes of zombies (which I’ve done before, a lot).
In an extended demo at E3 2017, I saw the same mission you can watch below, but at night, and in the snow.
It began with main character, Deacon, accepting a mission from an NPC at a home base. From there, Deacon made his way to a spot marked on the map. Here he investigated using what the demo team called “Survivor Vision,” which laid out clues and a highlighted path to a kidnapped buddy. If this is already sounding a lot like Horizon to you Horizon vets, the list of similarities continued: Sneak attacks from high grass; Crafted traps; A silent bow for sniping; Gorgeous, weather-strewn “high desert” (their words) landscapes.
Days Gone’s similarity to Horizon Zero Dawn makes sense. Horizon is an amazing game. But while the similarities indicate a fun, open-world, stealth-optional game, the differences could mean trouble. First of all, Horizon had Aloy: A cyberpunk cavewoman warrior and a totally novel lead character. From what I’ve seen so far, Deacon could be easily mistaken for other grizzled, gruff, zombie-chopping protagonists like Frank West from Dead Rising, or Joel from The Last of Us.
I’d like to say I’m eager to learn more about Deacon, but after seeing his murderous streak in the camp of the demo out of context, he just came across as a coldblooded killer with a cool biker jacket. Finally, Days Gone doesn’t have robot dinosaurs (as far as we know). Instead, it has fast, massive, fleshy rivers of infected people, and infected bears.
While the idea of semi-intelligent swarms of flesh eaters looks next-gen in motion, the behind closed-doors demo I saw on the show floor at E3 2017 didn’t actually include an encounter with a so-called horde, which was really disappointing. You can watch a horde encounter in Days Gone from E3 2016 below.
Of all the games in 2017 that Days Gone could choose to emulate, there are few better than Horizon Zero Dawn, but it remains to be seen whether the characters, setting, story, and battles can live up to standard set by Aloy and her dinosaur buddies.
Samuel Claiborn is IGN’s Managing Editor and both fixes and breaks pinball machines in his garage. You can follow him @Samuel_IGN on Twitter.