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Zombie Thriller Days Gone Pits You Against Hungry Hordes

Although E3 2016 was rife with sequels, there were a few new pieces of intellectual property that stood out, and Days Gone was one such title. Developed by Bend Studios, the survival horror game places you in the weary boots of Deacon St. John, a survivor of a global pandemic that's wreaked havoc on the human race, turning most people into zombie-like creatures called Freakers.

I had a chance to watch a behind-closed-doors extended demo of the new title, from which I learned more about the ways of the horde.

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A World of Beautiful Ruin

Set in Oregon, the story focuses on St. John, a member of a biker gang who describes himself as a drifting bounty hunter. The small peek at his past compared to his freaker-occupied present makes me think that this game is going to be "Sons of Anarachy" meets Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." That means that while being devoured by hungry monsters is always going to be an underlying concern, you'll also have to contend with the formidable wildlife, as well as your fellow humans, to survive.

If you expect to stay in one piece throughout this game, you'll need to get familiar with the terrain and the things that inhabit it. For example, Freakers tend to be sunlight-adverse, but they're not above coming out in the day if a tasty human snack is on the line. So if you have to travel, it pays to do so before sundown.

But in those instances when you aren't fighting for your life, you should definitely take the time to bask in the breathtaking views of the Pacific Northwest. One moment you could be navigating a dense, sun-dappled forest, the next making your way through the snowy peaks of the mountainous regions.

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Know Thine Enemy

If you've seen "28 Days Later" or the "Dawn of the Dead" remake,  you know there's nothing scarier than a fast zombie. The same goes for Days Gone's freakers. Transformed by the pandemic, those humans affected by the virus have turned into little more than animals, but they are relentless and frighteningly smart.

Unlike the zombies you've seen in games like Dead Rising, you can't outsmart freakers by climbing on top of a car or taking shelter in a building. Freakers are just as agile (or more so) than you and will shimmy right up that ladder to take a bite out of St. John's butt. And when you have a horde chasing you, it seems that the infected move as one massive living form, throwing themselves at obstacles like the zombie tidal wave in the movie "World War Z". To create this effect, Bend Studios used a heavily modified version of Epic's Unreal Engine 4, allowing every member of a roving horde to make its own decisions about how to access the player while working in tandem with its fellow horde members.

In order to counteract this virus-riddled mass of humanity, you'll have to lure the freakers to various chokepoints and try to thin the herd little by little until you can proceed safely. Luckily, in the open world of Days Gone there will be a variety of ways to accomplish your goals, which leaves plenty of room for experimentation.

Bottom Line

The Days Gone demo has the makings of a great survival horror game. I'm looking forward to running and gunning my way through hordes and admiring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest wilderness.

However, I'm still curious about the human components in this game. For example, in a world beset by infected, cannibalistic humans, who needs a bounty hunter? But I guess this a question that will have to wait until Bend Studios is ready to announce a launch date.