Days Gone Serves Up Beautiful Brutality

I killed three kids today. Granted, they were infected with a highly contagious virus and it was a video game, but it was still brutal.

And that's part of the reason I'm excited for Days Gone. It doesn't pull any punches about what a post-apocalyptic catastrophe, zombie or otherwise would look like. After two long years of watching theatrical trailers, I finally got to take the upcoming third-person action-survival game for a spin, and it was definitely worth the wait.

Set in the Pacific Northwest, Days Gone is what would happen if Conrad McCarthy's "The Road" happened to a bunch of Hell's Angels. Gamers will become Deacon St. John, a former member of the Mongrel's MC biker club trying to survive in a world where a plague transformed most of humanity into bloodthirsty monsters. 

But in addition to the freaker hordes, you'll have to contend with infected animals, both of which are faster and more aggressive. And there's several other rival groups who will be more than happy to put you out of your post-apocalyptic misery.

I played two separate missions during my E3 2018 demo. The first tasked me with scavenging for bike parts after I sent my friend Boozer off on his bike to be a distraction and lead some of the freakers away.

I stealthily made my way to a nearby auto mechanic's garage. I crouched and moved slowly past stray freakers, stopping to stealth kill isolated ones. Thankfully, it was daytime which meant most freakers were resting in their nests. If I was so inclined, I could have crept into the myriad of buildings around my ultimate destination and burned the nests to the ground. Luckily for them, getting this fuel pump was my number one priority.

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Once I got my hands on the fuel pump, I called Boozer so he could come and pick me up. To my dismay, he had gotten ambushed by the Rippers, a rival gang. By the time I caught up to Boozer, they were administering some majorly painful torture. Using some car parts I scavenged, I made a silencer for my sidearm and killed the rival crew members without too much noise that could potentially draw any freakers.

For my second mission, I had to clear out a freaker horde. And while freakers might resemble your garden variety zombies, they're more "28 Days Later" than John Romero's "Dawn of the Dead." Since freakers are technically still alive, they seem to have some sort of dull intelligence left when it comes to hunting down prey. They react to loud noises and most importantly they swarm. That means when you're running away from a group of freakers, they're not following you in a straight line. Freakers can and will attempt to cut corners to close the distance or climb up any scaleable obstacle.

So when I decided to thin out the herd, I laid a myriad of proximity mines around what looked to be an abandoned junkyard. When I was ready to start the mission, I let loose a few shots from my Desert Eagle. And led the horde into my explosive traps. I managed to eliminate about half of the freakers before they overtook me in a bloody fashion. Even after several attempts, I still ended up as freaker food. I'm hoping I'll have better luck when the final game hits PS4 on Feb. 22.

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