Days Gone certainly has its legion of dedicated fans that have fallen in love with its open world and survival based action gameplay. The overall quality of the game aside, it is difficult to ignore the many trials and tribulations that Days Gone has experienced both before and after its official release. Upon its reveal at Sony's E3 2016 conference, the game immediately drew comparisons to the flood of similar titles already on the market, both stylistically and in terms of gameplay mechanics.
Developer Sony Bend is responsible for some of the most memorable PlayStation exclusives over the years, including the original Syphon Filter series on the PS1 and Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the PS Vita. So even with a trust team working on it, and being a member of the prestigious PS4 exclusive lineup, Days Gone unfortunately had an uphill battle against it from the very beginning. Whether it was the overly familiar genre choice or factors outside of Sony Bend's control, Days Gone was sadly handed the short end of the stick.
To place it into a category, Days Gone fits the description of being an open world action adventure with RPG elements. Nowadays, if it isn't a first person shooter or battle royale, the aforementioned genre is one of the most common releases on the market. Everything from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to Assassin's Creed Valhalla fits the bill of dropping players into a huge sandbox, tasked with completing objectives and slowly leveling up the main playable character.
This is by no means a bad thing, but by the time Days Gone was released in early 2019, this formula was anything but original and could even be seen as tired by some players. These open world adventures are typically bursting at the seams with content and can take numerous hours to fully complete and enjoy. Also consider that just a few months before Days Gone launched, two juggernauts were unleashed onto the market: Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2. These titles were critically acclaimed, with the latter going on to win several Game of the Year Awards. For such prominent releases to make a big splash mere months before Days Gone was set to hit shelves potentially stole a lot of its thunder, with gamers having their fill of open world action games for the moment.
Another potential reason for Days Gone having a difficult time to resonate with gamers was its post apocalyptical/zombie theme. It goes without saying that popping zombie heads in video games is as satisfying as bursting balloons, but this genre is even more overdone than the aforementioned open world gameplay style. Resident Evil, Dying Light, Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and countless others are all major zombie based video game franchises in a market absolutely swarming with other similar titles. Many of these games are very well made, but with so many of them, it can be extremely difficult to stand out in an already crowded group.
So with Days Gone already bearing uncanny resemblance to both zombie and open world themed games, it was going to be difficult to stand out as something unique from its contemporaries. However, the final (and possibly biggest) nail in the coffin comes from one of its fellow PlayStation siblings released just a few years earlier. The Last of Us was an enormous hit for Naughty Dog and Sony, even breathing new life into an otherwise overused genre with a refreshing tale filled with gripping drama and emotion.
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