I wanted to write a mini-review up as unbiased as I possibly could be to maybe help some people out sorting through some of the mixed reviews and trying to figure out if they should take the dive and get it. I've been waiting for this game for what feels like ages now and even after reading a lot of mixed reviews and pessimistic comments yesterday I decided to keep my pre-order. So I picked it up last night, downloaded the newest patch (1.04) and booted it up.
I desperately wanted this game to be great and for it to be the next Last of Us or Horizon. So first things first, it's not. It does not have that same polish or smoothness or the sense of, 'holy shit, this is incredible' that those game had. I wish it did. I really wanted this to be special and in some ways, it still is but it's not on that level.
So before I get to the good, I'll just get some of my initial thoughts on the bad out of the way. Deacon's movements and the gunplay are probably the biggest negatives. The movement feels similar to RDR2, though controlling Deacon is nowhere near as slow as Arthur but it's also not quite as smooth, if that makes sense. Sometimes I'll be trying to run and I'll just start walking or trying to coast my bike and Deacon will just stop. It doesn't happen all the time and it's not ruining my experience but you do notice it. The gunplay is similar to something like Uncharted 3 or Mad Max. It's not perfect by any means and coming from playing the Division 2, where it was so on point, that's probably my biggest issues so far. It's still totally serviceable and I suspect I will get used to it and come to enjoy it as the game goes on. I've already found turning off the run toggle and turning up the look/aim sensitivity helps with these issues.
On to some of the good, at 8 hours into the game, I'm having a lot of fun with it. The crafting, menu navigation, the inventory system, upgrades and missions have all been great so far. I also love the bike and everything around that mechanic. I was worried fixing it and getting gas would be a chore but they're not and there's a great balance of giving the system a feeling of stakes but not having it get tedious. I will say that it feels a bit sluggish at first but it's clearly designed that way so that with the upgrades you'll really notice and feel the difference (again, much like Mad Max). It's so much fun riding near an enemy encampment, throttling down, walking the bike quietly to a spot before hopping off, grabbing my binoculars and figuring out how to proceed.
The story is another positive for me, though it's one area where I don't know if I can say I'm being unbiased. I love all things undead and I don't have zombie fatigue. I enjoy Sons of Anarchy and the biker gang stuff. So I'm sure my personal opinion is colored by those facts and this is where the biggest swing in review scores would come into play, imo.
Deacon is a pretty good protagonist and a lot less 'gruff' than you might suspect. Without getting into any spoilers, there's a lot of good here, in my opinion. Also, he's a tracker so for those people that were complaining that the 'hunter vision' is out of place, they do give it an explanation. The world is another huge positive. It's beautiful to look at. Dense, wet, cold and dangerous. Playing on normal difficulty, I've found the game to be tough but fair. The freakers are deadly and you definitely feel it. It makes it much more intense when you come across a horde, knowing that only 2 or 3 out of those 50-100 can take you out with a couple swipes if they catch you off-guard and taking on those hordes is sooo much fun.
I can say that after reading reviews I was surprised that, at 8-10 hours into the game, I've yet to experience a single glitch. So no, it's not the broken mess some people would have you believe. It's definitely not as polished as the other Playstation Exclusives though. I've had some pop-in and textures slow to load (the opening cutscene there was a billboard that was blurry then popped into focus but outside of that nothing else I can remember) and the frame rate feels totally fine to me with no noticeable slow down (though I'm not great at noticing when things drop from 30 to 24-25 but I definitely notice if it drops sub 20 and I've not experienced anything like that).
That's all I really have for now. I can't say if the mission types will get repetitive, I'm not far along enough to have any repeating yet so that's to be determined. I can say that it was worth the money for me and the fears I had after reading reviews and before picking up the game were totally not necessary. I think Mad Max is the best overall comparison so far in a lot of ways but Days Gone has a lot more density and variety to the world compared to Mad Max. Really the biggest thing that would drop my score is story and repetition.
Just for comparisons sake, here's how I'd rate some other games along side of Days Gone:
The Last of Us – 10
Horizon Zero Dawn – 9
God of War – 9.5
The Division 2 – 8.5
Mad Max – 7
Days Gone – 7.5 or 8
Red Dead Redemption 2 – 8.5
Uncharted 4 – 9.5
Hope that helps some people out! I guess my conclusion would be that if you're looking for something to play, are a fan of open world games or were planning on picking this up but were hesitant because of the reviews, I think this is definitely worth checking out. If you have a backlog already, you'll probably want to wait because I can see this going on sale for $40-50 over the summer. If you think everything you've seen from this game just doesn't look great than, yeah, you're not gonna suddenly have your mind changed by playing it.
Edit: Totally forgot to mention sound. The voice acting, sound design and soundtrack are all top notch and on par with other Sony Exclusives and even better than some. The only negative right now for me is that sometimes the freakers sound like they should be closer to you than they really are, but I also have terrible hearing so I don't know if that's it. Someone else might be better able to speak on that.
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