Back at E3 last year, Days Gone grabbed my attention like pubic lice on an unwashed crotch in the most humid of weather. Sure, it’s another zombie apocalypse, but dammit it’s a good-looking one at that. First impressions still strike me as it being the kind of game that blends the stealth of Hitman in a dangerous sandbox, but if there is one aspect of the game that I could not stop gushing at, it was the Freaker showdowns.
I still played one of these events at E3, and I got my ass handed to me several times before I finally learnt how to do it right. Which basically boiled down to not running at hundreds of Freakers and screaming like a pinhead while firing blindly into the mob. No, there’s an art to whittling down their numbers, as the actual environment in which you face off against an army of flesh-eaters is more of a puzzle box than a sandbox.
You’ve got to use that specific locale to your advantage, plan ahead and scout out the area. “This is a scenario where you really have to think about these things, because you’ve got 300 Freakers that you have to try and take on,” Lead Open World Designer Eric Jensen said to IGN.
You’re going to survey the environment, you’re going to look for things that you can use to your advantage to take them out. They are faster than the player, so just running away is not always an option. You have to use the environment, you have to climb on stuff, you have to use explosives in the area. Deacon has a whole arsenal full of traps and things that he can craft to use to his advantage. You definitely want to use that full arsenal to take on the horde.
When you actually do pull that trigger, the ensuing brouhaha is a chaotic yet focused chase where you have to keep the Freaker horde a few steps behind you. You’re setting off traps, funnelling them through tight spaces that create a chokehold and using Deacon’s talents to take them down one by one while still being aware of stragglers who don’t join the initial horde rush at you. “The minute you start making noise, all of them are going to start coming down on you,” Jensen explained.
When they’re in these big groups like this, they think in a hive mind. If you start alerting them, they’re going to let everyone else know that there’s a threat nearby and they’re going to start coming after you. So it’s good to sneak around the environment, we’ve got a lot of very good stealth mechanics and you can sneak around, you can place traps and set up what you want to do. Pick out your path, and then execute it from there.
It’s all about maintaining that gap between you and the horde. Climbing on objects, you’re going to be able to get ahead of them, that space is your opportunity to act on it.
I think Days Gone may just be one of the more underrated sandboxes coming out this year. It’s a technical marvel, the suspense looks on point and the opportunity to take down an army of infected using everything at your disposal looks novel in its execution.
Last Updated: January 21, 2019