[REVIEW] Days Gone – The Mongrels MC rides to the PC

A big Harley-Davidson with a shoddy carburetor. If I had to use an analogy, then Days Gone can best be described as such. The consensus in 2019 was that Days Gone was mostly beautiful and had its interesting moments, but bugs and tediousness often took the momentum out of the digital motorcycle ride. Quite a few days have gone by now and Bend Studio has transferred the former MC member to PC. With the launch of Days Gone on PC, the studio will have the perfect opportunity to brush away the imperfections of the time and to show that there is more to the game. That carburetor has been overhauled in the past two years, but unfortunately, it is still not 100% squeaky clean.

I don’t need to tell most of you much more about the story. As befits most ports, the premise hasn’t changed. Same Shit, different platform. Days Gone still revolves around Deacon St. John, a grumpy, emotionally unattainable biker with a lot of mental baggage in his saddlebags. While Oregon suffers from an epidemic that is turning people into Freakers – a kind of reared zombie – Deacon has to deal with personal tragedies that keeps following him around wherever he goes. It is therefore not surprising that Deek, as everyone calls him, comes across as a distant grouch.

Anywho, Deacon is pretty much done with Farewell, Oregon. He and his MC brother Boozer can’t wait to open the throttle and leave the Shit behind. When things don’t go as planned and Boozeman has to stop his emigration attempt, it’s up to Deacon to make sure the ride can be resumed as soon as possible. And that takes a long time. Very long, I dare say. In fact, you spend at least forty hours running all kinds of errands for various camps. In the meanwhile, you’re also trying to figure out what happened to your wife during the Freaker outbreak. Standard sandbox stuff, basically.

So what has changed? Very good question! I would be lying to say that Days Gone on PC doesn’t bring some improvements. Since its launch in 2019, Bend Studio has done some tinkering with the game to improve it in various aspects. Critics in particular had quite some things to complain about. Days Gone did not really run on all cylinders on the regular PlayStation 4 and that translated into graphical issues. The framerate was not exactly something to celebrate. On the PlayStation 4 Pro performance was a bit better, but yeah. With a PlayStation 4 exclusive, you can’t get away with “Yes, but you should actually play this game on the Pro” rhetoric.

Days Gone seems to be doing a lot better on PC. Even on a dated gaming setup like mine (7th generation i7 FTW), the game runs like a well-oiled machine. Loading sporadically still takes excruciatingly long, but overall that argument seems to have been pushed into the background as well. Days Gone also often looks beautiful on the PC, despite the lack of raytracing. But you don’t even miss that. Even without the addition of this graphical enhancement, digitalized Oregon is bursting with detail.

Also in terms of controls – a complaint that I have also read a lot about – Days Gone is doing quite well. I don’t know if Bend changed anything about it, but I noticed very little of the “floaty” feeling. That doesn’t mean that everything’s immediately hosanna, because like I said, that carburetor is still showing some signs of malfunction.

Days Gone on PC

What kind of malfunctions are we talking about? Another excellent question! Anyone who recalls the reviews of 2019 a bit will probably also remember that reviewers were “bugged” by a few things. Bugs for example…(badum, tsss) Wonky audio, subtitles that were out of sync, NPC’s going haywire… that kinda stuff. As is often the case with sandbox games, Days Gone also contained more bugs than a square meter of soil. It is therefore regrettable that Bend did not pay more attention to some matters.

Subtitles are still a mess. As soon as the dialogue becomes more rapid and characters fiercely exchange sentences, the subtitles go all over the place. You can of course turn subtitles off, resolving that problem. But anyone who chooses to do so runs the risk of missing out on vital dialogue. When your conversation partner is a bit further away, he/she can often no longer be heard. Something could have been done about this by constantly keeping the dialogue volume at one level or ensuring that Deacon can never stray too far from his conversation partner, but no. Unfortunately, this problem persists consistently.

The spontaneous disappearance of quest givers or weapons that do not want to reload or swap… these are all inconveniences that can spoil the fun as you progress. To be fair, in many cases these bugs are inherently linked to the genre, but you’d expect them to be gone after two years. Not that Days Gone is a train wreck, because a lot of bugs have already been picked out of the game. But somehow it is just a shame that these kinds of things are still so conspicuously present.

Days Gone on PC

But should you give Days Gone another shot? That is of course the key question in 2021. Is it worth giving it a second chance? In any case, this strongly depends on your expectations and whether you can handle sandbox games. First of all, keep in mind that Days Gone is a very slow game. Deacon’s adventure is not action-packed to the brim. You spend a lot of time riding around, gathering stuff (for yourself or someone else), and surviving in an overwhelmed, post-apocalyptic Oregon. Of course, there is some shooting here and there and skulls are (delightedly) smashed to a pulp with a two-by-four, but not for 40 hours straight. Days Gone tries to tell an emotional story and that doesn’t work when you’re busting up Freakers, Rippers and Marauders non-stop.

You also have to be able to handle this slow pace manifesting itself in everything. For example, Deacon’s hog drives as if the brake is constantly on, unless you upgrade it considerably. Also, that thing guzzles gasoline, so you’re constantly trying to find fuel (which also decreases after upgrading). The bike also gets damaged every time you cough, so there is also a lot of tinkering. And then Deacon himself, who is regularly not one of the fastest, especially when sprinting is mandatory deactivated. And yes, if you despise fetch quests then Days Gone is not really for you, because that makes up about 75 percent of the game.

Anyway, if you do fancy a post-apocalyptic sandbox, Days Gone is a good choice. All things considered, Days Gone really isn’t perfect and there are sure to be things that will annoy you. Even if it is only Deacon’s whimsical behavior or the fickleness of other characters (who constantly bother you over the CB radio even though you just spoke to them in person). But if you can poke through that, you will be left with a graphically impressive survival sandbox that provides you with quite a few hours of gameplay.

Days Gone on PC

To conclude, Days Gone on PC can call itself a reasonably successful port. A lot of the annoyances of the PlayStation 4 version have been brushed out and even without the addition of ray tracing, the game looks great. Unfortunately, there are also some annoying issues in this version. Subtitles and audio are still a stumbling block and some bugs persist. If you have already dropped out on the PlayStation 4 because it all went too slow for you, then you can forget about the PC version. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a gently unraveling, emotionally charged biker story set in an infected Oregon, Days Gone can provide you a potential ride of the year.

(This game was provided to me by Gamersnet. The Dutch version of this review can be found there.)

Worth the ride, even if it's painstakingly long
The Yays
Farewell, Oregon looks absolutely gorgeous
There's plenty of gameplay to keep you off the streets
It's not just crackin' skulls, there's a story to be told...
...but the skull-cracking part is pretty sweet
Freaker hordes are quite a thing
The Nays
Days Gone is a slow burn, maybe too slow from time to time
Audio and subtitles are a mess
Deacon's grouchiness might put you off after a while
Certain bugs might "bug" you