A Look at the Other Side: Entry 3

693 DAYS GONE

I am a survivor. I have always been a survivor. I survived for my daughter Alyssa. I survived as long as I could out here for her. The longer I survived, the longer her memory would remain in me. But now, a part of me knew it was going to end like this…

After years of abuse from my piece of shit husband, I would hide the bruises and the tears from Alyssa each night. Of course, she heard the yelling and screaming, but I stayed strong for her. She was so young and pure. I stayed with him because I thought it would be better for her. I didn’t want her to grow up in a broken home where I would only see her every other holiday. One day, I had enough. He went out to a bar like he normally would, so I told Alyssa we were taking a long trip. I had our bags packed and we left and never looked back. I started a new life with just me and her. That’s all I needed. Unfortunately, my time with her was cut short. The world came to an end and I lost her.

I pushed forward to make her proud. It sounds silly because she’s not even here, but it was the one thing that kept me going. Being able to still remember her laughter or her soft voice made my life worth living. That’s why I made it this far. Now, I became a different person. A person that I wouldn’t want Alyssa to meet. That fact alone makes me despise myself. Each day the memories of her faded. Each day got darker. Each day I would do something worse than the last.

So, here I am. Leaning against this tree struggling to even write down my last words. I got shot in the stomach and my blood is everywhere. Some drifter came into our camp and killed us all. I was the only one that survived. I guess our reputation got around of our ambushes and this time someone ambushed us. Survival of the fittest.

It’s getting dark now and I can hear the Freakers coming from all directions. Ironically, I have only one bullet left. Like I said, a part of me knew it was going to end like this.

For my daughter,

Katie

If you haven’t read the first two journal entries from Katie, you can check them out at the links below.

Entry 1: https://thebrokenroad.home.blog/2019/06/14/a-look-at-the-other-side-entry-1/

Entry 2: https://thebrokenroad.home.blog/2019/07/01/a-look-at-the-other-side-entry-2/

To Bend Studio, Thank You

A group of incredible fans from around the world contributed in creating a very special message dedicated to Bend Studio, the creators of Days Gone.  From the USA stretching all the way to Australia, we wanted to express our love for Days Gone and share with you our appreciation of your tireless effort in creating such an incredible game. Days Gone impacted us all in different ways, and became a favorite for everyone here. Now, I will go ahead and let their words speak for themselves.

*****

“You asked why I loved Days Gone. Well, here it is: Never has a video game brought so much emotion out of me. Anger, pain, joy, love…so many tears. This game took over, is still taking over my life, no other game has done this. It horrified me to no end. The sounds, the environment, the music, the story and the immersivity. This is my favorite game…EVER.”

@LizaMNavarro, USA

*****

“Days Gone became sort of an addiction to me. Not exactly because of one specific area of its gameplay, world, or characters, but an overall combination of them all. Exploring the wilderness, a place filled with so much beauty and yet so much danger, just invoked a complete sense of contrast. I loved it. I cared about the characters, and I can’t wait to see what Bend has in store for the series.”

@slashthrasher, USA

*****

“I will never forget the feeling I had watching the reveal trailer for the first time. The music, the emotion and the beauty of the world had me hooked from that moment. 

Since the first Day Gone, I have been following Bend Studio’s journey down the Broken Road with every piece of content they showed us, and I would analyze every frame just wanting to know each detail. I would share my excitement in every video about it that I would upload. 

Bend Studio have done such an incredible job of bringing the world of Days Gone to life. The characters feel like living, breathing people. The world of Days Gone feels vibrant and absolutely terrifying.  They told us that “this world comes for you” and they delivered.  The richly developed story and the pacing of this game is perfection. I have said many times during my let’s play how easy it is to get wrapped up in this world and forget you’re playing a game. To me, that is all I need to know if a game will become one of my all-time favorites. To be fair, I am still playing Days Gone. I am intentionally taking my time with it and enjoying every beautiful and horrifying moment.

To be honest, I didn’t know if this game could ever live up to the level of hype that I had for it. Once I was actually able to play for myself, I can say without hesitation that Days Gone has become one of my most beloved games of all time. 

Bend Studio brought their beautiful “backyard” of Bend, Oregon to us all and I’m so grateful that they did. I’m so thankful for every person who has worked so hard on this stunning game. 

For me Days Gone, the story of Deacon St. John and the Broken Road created by Bend Studio is iconic and my Game of the Year.”

“I’ll always remember”

@OCDeidre, USA

*****

“I’m not a huge zombie/horror fan but decided to give Days Gone a try. Probably one of the best gaming decisions I’ve ever made. The story, the acting, the gameplay. I loved every second of it.

My absolute favorite moment though, being able to give the dog a toy.”

@Virtual_Parkour, USA

*****

“There’s something magical about the singular moment you realize a game resonates with you on a personal level. That the story you are playing, and the world you’re journeying into, are becoming part of your own memories. By the end of Days Gone I knew the names of every character, as well as I knew the landscape and the intricate roads of post-apocalyptic eastern Oregon. And I cared about each and every one of them: our best friend Boozer, the determined Sarah, the wise Iron Mike, the genuine Rikki, the selfless Addy, the stern Copeland, the tragic Lisa…

In this day and age, with so many superheroes crowding the skies of fiction, it’s refreshing to see grounded characters taking the lead. Is Deacon St. John a hero? Is he even a good guy? Sometimes he reveals himself as a ruthless avenger of death, falling upon those who live to prey on the weak, with remorseless cruelty. Other times, he is ready to put his life on the line for little more than a filled tank and a few “scraps”. The world of Days Gone is populated with authentic characters, not without their faults and contradictions, people forced to confront their own demons, as much as they face the monsters living on the outside.

As I completed the game’s journey, I felt I had gone through not just a simple story, but an entire saga. I admired the slow start of the narrative, as our main character roamed the landscape seemingly without purpose or destiny. Deacon’s sense of detachment slowly fades away, as events unfold and mysteries are revealed. He becomes increasingly involved with the world around him, and someone close reminds him that, in such uncertain world, it is harder to belong than to survive. Light a candle in the dark, Rikki tells a reluctant Deacon – a lesson he will learn in the end, as the light he brought to those around him comes back to brighten his own path and maybe keep him from falling into darkness.

Days Gone will definitely stand among my personal favorite gaming experiences. Riding through the zombie apocalypse on a bike has never been so fun, and I can’t wait to see what comes next from the talented Bend Studio crew.”

@danielcarrapa, Portugal

*****

“The year was 2016 when the ad appeared on E3, my hype was high. The game in question is DAYS GONE a survival, action and adventure game with narrative, the kind of game I enjoy. It was Friday April 26, when the game was launched worldwide, and there I was waiting for the store to open the doors😁😁. I had to pick it up on the first day, and on that same day I read some analysis especially the negative one from IGN, but the analysis did not diminish my hype. I will not lie, it diminished a bit 😁😁, but when I started playing I immediately fell in love with the game. The gameplay, the story, scenery, beautiful music and the whole set. Of course, it had some flaws and bugs, but that did not ruin my experience. The game was getting better and better with the updates. I was sure a team like Bend Studio, that took care of Resistance, Uncharted Golden Abyss and Syphon filter would not make a bad game, even more being an exclusive on PlayStation. Anyway, I just have to thank them for this wonderful game, the whole team that created a single AAA player that went into my top 10. Thanks Jeff Ross, Eric Jensen, Sam Witwer, John Garvin and Bend Studio.”

@llobbosolitario, Brazil

*****

“April 2019- I own an Xbox and was playing Red Dead 2 but was needing something else. Someone else playing it on the PS4 suggested to get the up and coming Days Gone. So, April 28th I placed my order for a PS4 Pro and Days Gone. On 5/1 my life was changed.

I am not a writer, or a reviewer just someone trying to put my experience into words the best I can. Another small side note, the first game I bought for my original Playstation was Syphon Filter and bought the 2nd and 3rd when they came out on that platform.

I simply just loved this game, where do I even start? Right from the beginning I was attached to the characters. I mean I just let my wife go when the worlds ending to save her life. Immediately I feel a connection to Deacon, Sarah, Boozer, and even O’Brian. The further the story goes the deeper the connection went for me. I liked that at each camp, they really tried to have unique people that you might relate with, or you might be like that guys crazy. Along with the previously mentioned, I really dug Rikki and Captain Kouri. 

Getting into the open world is what really drove it home for me. I knew nothing of the game beforehand. I about lost my mind when I realized it was made in my backyard! I moved to Oregon in 1993 when I was 8, I have been living in the suburbs of Portland since then. They could have chosen L.A., New York or some other large city, or just some other state in general but they chose Southern Oregon. I myself have only been in that area a handful of times. Once I stayed at Moraine Lake to climb South Sister Mountain, which is also the 3rd tallest peak in the state. That experience was almost felt in the game with the attention to detail they put into the environment. Maybe we see the Pacific Coast Highway in the next Days Gone or maybe a DLC?

The plants, the trees, the water all was very realistic and very well done. The weather you experience in the game is for real. It’s not something the developers just threw in, “you don’t like the weather, wait a minute” is what some of us folks say here. It was funny to hear them joke about how much it rains here all the time. 

The animals were also spectacular. The deer, bear, wolf, cougar, and crow were all done very well. What I really appreciated was the randomness that you could encounter them. You could have set up a bunch of traps, or just been trying to be stealthy when a pack of wolves would run up on you or even a bear! With that said, you would also have the very well randomly timed encounters with the Rager, Runner, Breaker, Reacher, Screamer or Criers. I was also impressed at the randomness they would fight each other. I loved riding up on a Breaker fighting a Rager. Watching a horde devour a bear or a pack of deer was always fun to watch. 

The combat/movement did take me a minute to get used to, but it also felt very familiar. After I realized it was a possible spin off from Syphon Filter the memories hit and the controls made more sense. I really like that the aiming wasn’t just lock on and shoot like some games. I liked that you really had to try to be accurate. I think ALOT of people just expect when you shoot a gun in games that it’s going to be easy, but I think they really took into account of how someone in real life would be able to shoot a gun. 

Photo Mode- I’m just going to leave it at that. 😉

There is much, much more that I could touch on and keep going on and on about what and why I love this game so much. I just want to again from the bottom of my heart thank you for such a wonderful gaming experience and bringing the wonderful state of Oregon to life in such a beautiful way that all of you at Bend Studio did. I’m really looking forward to what your studio will be bringing into this world next. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.”

@Clearg88Ron, USA

*****

“From the moment I started playing Days Gone I was sucked into the world. It oozed atmosphere and I felt immediately connected to the characters and invested in their story, which only deepened as the game progressed. I wish I could list in detail everything I love about this game, but we’d be here forever haha. So, I’ll just say one thing that became clear while journeying with these characters through this incredibly detailed, immersive and beautiful world, is how much love and care has been poured into every aspect of this amazing game. Thank you to all the talented, hardworking and dedicated people at Bend Studio for bringing us such a fun and memorable experience. Days Gone has become one of my all-time favorite games. Respect! I’ll leave you all with one of my favorite captures from my journey.”

@Sim_nell, Australia

*****

“When I started Days Gone I knew nothing about it, but I quickly became immersed in its world and surviving in it felt believable and terrifying. Bend Studio created a game that by the end became a masterpiece to me! Thank you Bend Studio!”

@BigBadSerpent, USA

*****

“From the first minute I saw Days Gone at E3 2016, I knew this game was something really special. The setting, the main character, that FEELING – it all captured my attention immediately, and my heart. There was something new and unique to it, something that no one could deliver. It was to me that perfect mix of a post-apocalyptic setting with a strong third-person-character. A biker, that wasn’t really done before. And of course, the Hordes. I never saw anything comparable before and after. And I knew, if Bend Studio can keep their promise, I will love this game no matter what. And oh boy, you delivered so much. It’s hard to put my admiration for this game into words, but it is my first ever platinum-game. I think this speaks for itself. It is the most underrated game of the decade. I never understood people saying they couldn’t get what kind of game it was and that it was a mash-up of many other games. OF COURSE it was, but every game is. That’s like saying Horizon: Zero Dawn is just a mash-up of Tomb Raider and Dinosaurs. To me that’s no critique point at all. Days Gone mixed the adventure-genre so perfectly with a post-apocalyptic open-world and a crafting system, to me there is nothing like it on the market. With just one screenshot you can clearly say “that’s Days Gone”. And nothing gives me more chills then facing a horde of 300+ Freakers. Till date Bend Studio doesn’t get enough credit for what they pulled off with this. Not just graphics wise, but also in terms of tech and atmosphere. I have been playing videogames for 30 years now, but I never had feelings like I had with Days Gone. That’s freaking awesome. All that’s left for me is to thank you Bend Studio, from the bottom of my heart for this amazing game and your courage to create something new. Keep going, I can’t wait for Days Gone 2. If you would announce it today, I would pre-order immediately. Thank you.”

@g8mes4life, Germany

*****

“Since I first heard about Days Gone I was interested. I finally had the chance to view the trailer and was intrigued by beauty of the open road and photo mode. Then came release day! My first 20 minutes into the game I was hooked! Had everything I was looking for in an open world game, action, drama, terror, love, friendship and more. The beauty of the world around me was jaw dropping and the storyline kept me interested.

As I progressed further through the game, I was happy to realize how huge it was and how many different creatures roamed. I felt a multitude of emotions from loss, disappointments and trust issues. Also, many happy and inspiring moments from the storyline! At the end of the day I’m very happy with this game and glad it’s a part of my library. 

Thank you all very much for all the time Bend Studio crew invested in the making of a masterpiece. Excited for your future dlcs and other projects! You have a fan for life! Well done! 💪😉👍”

@Viduhe83, USA

*****

“From the moment the game started up, to the incredible ride and frightening experience with Boozer, building the bike back up, trying to find middle ground and peace, going through hordes and hordes for a love thought lost, Deacon’s amazing resolve. This game, this story shared, I consider a masterpiece. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this game is worth a million ten! The beauty of emotions shown by the incredible cast, gameplay, graphics and the mechanics. No matter how many compliments I give of the incredible experience I have, it will never amount to the way it made me feel, the feeling, so indescribable, literally brought out all my emotions!!! That is a feat!!! I am personally not a fan of zombie survival games or genre, but this one, since the first trailer dropped, I felt such a connection to this game I had to play it! PSX 2017 made me want to play further, getting to “ride” the bike, hangout with the rage bear and the amazing actors portraying the Freakers!!! And then don’t get me started on those Syphon Filter references!!! So glad I got to play and enjoy this game!!! Thank you so much, again and again for all your incredible work, developing, imagining, and creating such a beautiful experience into this gorgeous game!!”

@Purple_ShirtGuy, USA

*****

“I was on board for this game from the moment I saw that first announcement trailer, becoming even more keen when I heard of the photo mode options – in a big, busy field of good photo mode games I’m glad to say it hasn’t disappointed in the slightest and indeed, has added to the canon of photo mode. I love the implementation of game mechanics in a fresh manner, such as tracking hints prefaced by controller vibration. I am only on the second region so far, unfortunately being late with being able to get the game – but today I met Rikki and loved how the hint of a third area was introduced by her entering the game in a kind of reverse fourth wall situation. Like with Techland’s three zombie games, I just know I’ll be notching the hours up in a similar fashion with Days Gone – an excellent game, thank you very much.”

@JimdiGriz1, England

*****

“I found out about Days Gone in 2017, few months before E3. I’m a huge fan of zombies (now also freakers), so I was beyond excited. It was literally my dream game. 3rd person, open-world and zombies. I’ve watched every video, I’ve read every piece of info and I was hoping for a release date. Unfortunately, we had to wait until 2018 to get one. I pre-ordered the Special Edition and was counting down the days. Nothing would stop me from getting it, even mixed reviews! Days Gone, together with Dying Light are probably the most underrated games of this generation. Both deserve better. I still remember my first few minutes with the game. I was really excited. I will never forget when I was running out of fuel and I left my bike on the road and I saw a power plant. I decided to get down there and look for fuel. Suddenly the weather changed – it started raining, ‘Freakshow’ started playing in the background, goosebumps all over my body and I was so unsure and so afraid to look for the fuel because I thought freakers were close! I was also really low on ammo.

Or my first horde… That was intense! Hordes are outstanding. Something new, exciting and fresh. The whole world is beautiful and dangerous. I always had to be aware of my surroundings. It’s extremely immersive and relaxing. I can just play this game to chill, drive on my bike, hunt and kill freakers. The atmosphere is mind-blowing. Very dark. You feel lonely but you’re never alone. I loved to explore and see all the abandoned buildings, cars, trucks etc. Everything was left in a hurry and you see that. You can only imagine how hard and awful it was. It’s like a combination of The Last of Us and The Evil Within 2 but in an open-world. I love how the weather changes and how it affects the bike and freakers. Simply amazing. Huge attention to details. And when the danger is near… The music starts playing and you know that freakers are close. Soundtrack and sound design are just top notch. Songs perfectly fit the game. Sounds of the wind, total silence or screams somewhere nearby makes the atmosphere even better.

I have to compliment the main story. Some people complained that it was too long, but I have to disagree. Perfect length. When the game is great, I don’t want it to end. I can get to know characters better (they were very memorable), I could better understand Deacon, his actions and motivations. Raw but with emotions. Finally, a character that wasn’t nice from the very beginning. He wasn’t fake. His attitude made him more believable. Also, I was really impressed by the bike. Driving model? Best ever! The handling, the way it sounds, weight… Very realistic. I can’t imagine Days Gone without the bike. I loved customizations too! So many cool skins and upgrades to get! I just wish we could change clothes for Deacon. That would make the game even more immersive. Maybe in the sequel? It’s one of the best games of 2019 (if not the best, I will see at the end of the year haha). Most fun game of 2019 that made me love open-world games again (after groundbreaking RDR2 I thought it would be impossible). So, I’m thankful for that. Bend Studio did a great job. Amazing secret ending at the end gave me hope, that in the next few years we will see Days Gone 2. I just hope they’ll add more cities to explore! But seriously… I can’t wait for the sequel!”

@bluemjd, Poland

*****

“Days Gone. What a game. I went into this experience with my expectations low and came away with my mind blown. To come from a small team, Bend Studio really went the extra mile on this game and their love, passion and dedication is seen all throughout my 80+ hours through Farewell, Oregon.

From the first time I saw a Horde and the sheer mixture of excitement and terror I got, to the way Deacon grew over the story to a biker boy who only cared about his circle to a man who saved not only his wife, but himself and the town he called home. Thank you for this experience. Thank you for adding a photo mode so I could capture special moments and thank you for adding in free content after the fact.”

@liquid_gaming_, USA

*****

“Confession: I almost did not buy this game after reading some of the early previews, saying how cutscenes would account for a third of the main story and such.  I feared the game would offer little action here and there, and not much more than that. Boy, was I wrong! Days Gone turned out to be one of my all-time favorite games! 

Checks all the boxes that are important to me in a video game: single-player, action, weapon and enemy variety, open-world sandbox, visuals, side missions, characters, and replayability. Most of all, it’s just plain damn fun! We’re free to roam about the Oregon countryside on a kick-ass bike, fight off hordes and animals, and have the ability to try crazy and creative things with what’s been given to us. And to top it all off, Days Gone’s Photo Mode is exceptional, with its advanced controls and options not found in other current popular games.

THANK YOU Bend Studio team for giving us a fun, memorable game, and the terrific follow-on support with patches and DLCs!! Days Gone is one hell of a game!”

@warrior_musa, USA

*****

“Days Gone is a game that far exceeded my expectations. The story had me hooked, helped by its engaging characters and immersive music. The combat and riding your bike in the beautiful open world is so satisfying.

One stand out moment for me was my first encounter with a Screamer. I could hear that haunting hum, from taking shelter inside a house. As I looked to see where this tune was coming from. I saw her and discovered my new favorite enemy. So wonderfully designed!

Thank you Bend Studio for all these things and an outstanding photo mode to boot. All wrapped up in a game I just didn’t want to turn off and I will continue to enjoy.”

@gill_mackay, Scotland

*****

“Thank you to Bend Studio for the incredible new franchise (I hope!) that is Days Gone. The beautifully dangerous open world, the memorable characters and gripping story will forever be one of my favorites of this gen. I truly hope we see more of Deacon St. John and what Bend has to offer.”

@BlaseRaptor544, UK

*****

“Days Gone became more than just a game for me, it became an experience that went beyond the game itself. After anticipating this game to release, I was unable to play it due to my third child being born at the time. A few weeks go by and as I’m awake at 3 o’clock in the morning on a daily basis and my son has passed out on my chest, I would boot up Days Gone and play it in small chunks while he slept. This game was with me in life and provided an escape for me in death. Not too long ago my dog was diagnosed with cancer and just recently passed. During the last couple nights of her life, she would lay by my side as I played. Days Gone provided me with a lot of memories outside of the game creating a deeper connection with it.

It also motivated me to share my in-game photos on Twitter from the amazing Photo Mode and got me involved in the Virtual Photography community. Through this community I have met some awesome people (some of them you see above), and it’s a great place to share the beauty of art and video games. Not only that, but it inspired me to create this blog to share my passion for the game through writing. I love to write, and this gives me the ability to be creative and form stories inside a brand-new original world by picking up the world-building pieces that the team at Bend Studio crafted.

So, what draws me in so much? To me, the story, world and characters always comes first. I placed myself in Deacon’s shoes and connected with this character on multiple levels. How would I deal with regret and loss? What kind of person would I become to get my wife back no matter the cost? Deacon is such a relatable character because he isn’t a god and he doesn’t have superpowers, but a man who served in the military and lived within a brotherhood. After the world went to hell and Sarah was placed on that helicopter, he had one mission and as little as the odds were he kept fighting. To never give up is an admirable trait, and that resonated with me from my previous trials I have faced in my own life.

I would be amiss to not even mention the other spectacular characters that surrounded Deacon, who helped mold the person he became by the end of the story. The standouts for me were Boozer, Sarah, Rikki, Iron Mike and Captain Kouri. Each character played a critical role in Deacon’s story, and each one proved to be unique. I was excited every time I saw these characters on screen. I loved hearing conversations between them giving me a background of who they are and what they have experienced. I never felt so connected to a group of characters in any medium before, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them.

As I’ve said multiple times, Days Gone has become my favorite game of ALL-TIME! Between the story, characters, world, gameplay and music, it grabbed me and never let go creating a beautiful, thrilling and captivating journey on the broken road. What makes this game even more special to me is all the interaction I have received on Twitter from the people at Bend Studio. It makes the experience that much more enjoyable.

Once again, thank you for all your hard work and commitment in creating Days Gone! I never thought I could be so invested in a game, but you have captured my heart and created a huge fan for life. I truly look forward to the future of this franchise! In the mean time I will continue taking photos, playing the challenges, going through the story repeatedly and writing more about Days Gone. THANK YOU!”

@vikingdad278, USA

*****

Christopher Reese

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Ella Trowbridge

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Phil Baca

Marc Mayer

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What I Would Like To See In Days Gone 2

Taking a break from the journal entries of “A Look at the Other Side” for now, I wanted to talk more about the game itself, specifically Days Gone 2 and beyond. As I’m making my way through the survival run of the story, a few ideas popped into my head that I think could be fascinating features to this franchise. Probably nothing the development team at Bend Studio hasn’t already thought of, but rather my own preferences of what I would like to see. The ideas I discuss below will be related to the story, and not on the technical aspects or other game modes such as, multiplayer.

Customization

Being able to pick the colors of your motorcycle, along with adding decals and customizing the appearance of your bike was a great feature in the game. I loved switching the look of my bike every so often, especially with the stunning bike skins you would receive as rewards. I would like to take those same features and apply it to Deacon too. Take a Red Dead Redemption 2 style approach to it to fully customize Deacon any way you want. From the colors of his weapons, to the different types of hats, pants, boots, shirts and so on. Do you want Deacon with long hair or short hair? Beard or no beard? That would give the player the ability to create a unique look for Deacon. For Days Gone, no customization worked in its favor because it served the purpose of the story. It would have made no sense for them to add in this feature because wearing his Mongrels colors (cut) were a key part in the progression of Deacon’s story. The cut was symbolic toward the actions of Deacon and the path he was taking.

How would you acquire these new clothes? In Red Dead Redemption, you can go to multiple stores to buy anything you need by searching the catalogue. In Days Gone, there are no more stores or customer service left in the world. So, there are two ways you could outfit Deacon with different clothes:

  1. Buy clothes at the camps using credits.
  2. Since this world is about surviving, you could scavenge clothes from abandoned cars or take the clothes off the back of a deceased body.

Camps

This world comes for you, right? That means you need to stay on your toes and be prepared to fight at any given notice. Camps may be safe for the most part, but what happens if a horde comes through? A couple guards and barbed wire fence may stall the oncoming attack, but eventually they will break through and that camp will no longer be safe. My suggestion is to have the ability to create defensive strategies and equip your camp with traps, weapons, guards, etc. Look at the concept of upgrading Mother Base on Metal Gear Solid V. When you are out in the world, you gather materials to help you expand your base creating more room to recruit soldiers and build a stronger army. You can also extract weapons you find to better suit your soldiers for any potential attacks. You even can send people out on missions to gather specific supplies that you need. See where I’m going with this?

The same concept could be applied to the camps in Days Gone. Wood is scattered all over Oregon and could be a useful material for Deacon to gather to help create more houses in the camps or larger walls on the perimeter. That hatchet you can equip could come in handy for this mechanic! Another searchable item you could find in the world could be plants. Yes, you find plants in Days Gone already, but this time it could be used to stock up the infirmary to help not just you but the whole camp.

Weapons you find from taking down ambush campers and marauders, could be stored in the armory. The armory would be used to equip your campers with better weapons to protect the camp. This would also apply to extra kerosene, bottles, remote bombs, and other traps you craft to be placed there. Instead of Deacon using all the materials for himself, he is also finding materials to help the camp strive.  

Remember riding along the broken road and finding somebody trapped in a car surrounded by Freakers? In the story, you can help that person and send them to a camp and in return you gain trust and camp credits. Instead, that person could now be used as a guard too. As the player, you can equip him with a specific weapon and place him wherever you want in the camp. Same thing with traps, you can use strategy to place them where you think your camp is weak or vulnerable. I know I said I wouldn’t talk about game modes, but this could add an intriguing online mode with players trying to infiltrate your camp to steal materials and recruit more people for their own camp.

Trust is a huge theme in the story and plays into the gameplay part of it as well. The more missions you do, the more bounties you collect and hordes you take out increase your Trust status for the camps. With the added feature of upgrading your camp, another points system could come into play as you do missions throughout the story, Security. Not only will you as a player gain access to more weapons and upgrades with the Trust you earn, but the new Security status could open another tree of upgrades and items to improve your camp.

More Freaker Animals

We are not exactly sure how the virus operates yet as we see some animals are not infected, such as wolves, bears, cougars and dogs. However, there are three infected animal species that we do see during the story. The Rager Bear, Runners and Criers. The Rager Bear is a fierce monstrous bear that is hard to take down, consuming a lot of bullets to defeat it. Runners are wolves that can run as fast as Deacon’s motorcycle. When they get close they will lung to throw you off your bike and attack in packs. Criers are annoying crows that create nests high up on trees and telephone poles. If you don’t burn out the nests, they will swoop down to attack you. Infected bats were also mentioned in Researcher Field Note 0701. Since we see that the Freaker virus infected these animals, which other animals could it infect?

I did a little research and looked at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website to see what other types of animals inhabit that territory that we could possibly see in future games. I came across an assortment of wildlife including a moose, elk, bighorn sheep, wolverines, badgers, fox and more. Think about riding your motorcycle to your next objective to get intercepted by a large infected moose standing in the middle of the road. That could be just as terrifying as coming across a Rager Bear with their massive size and large antlers. With each infected animal having a nickname in the world of Days Gone, I took the liberty in calling the infected moose Chargers. I chose this name because moose are very territorial and can become aggressive if they feel threatened. If they think you are a threat, they will charge. Adult moose can run up to 35 mph too, so there would be no outrunning it for Deacon.

Larger Hordes

This is probably going to happen in the next game regardless but doesn’t hurt to add this in too. The largest horde in the game (excluding the Surrounded challenge mode) is about 500 Freakers located at the Old Sawmill. That is a very large horde on screen at one time, and you feel it as they come at you from all directions. Imagine increasing that size to about 1,000 Freakers in one location. If you listen to the constant world building throughout the story between characters and Nero recordings, you know that the hordes can get to this size and more. That gives me anxiety thinking about it!

Conclusion

Those are just a few of my ambitious ideas that I would like to see implemented in Days Gone 2 and beyond. However, I have complete confidence that Bend Studio will impress everyone with the next installment whether these ideas come to fruition or not. Let’s just wait and see what they’re cooking up in Oregon, but for now it can be fun to imagine! What would you like to see added for the sequel? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter!

A Look at the Other Side: Entry 2

650 DAYS GONE

A lot has happened these past couple of weeks. We lost some people, but I’m still here. The question I have been asking myself lately is, do I want to be here? Maybe, I’ve been in this shit too long now. Let’s face it, I could care less about this group of assholes in this camp. They only help me survive and that’s all I need. Sure, I’ve met some decent people along the way, but no one I would jump in front of a bullet for. The only thing I cared about was lost some time ago. I thought if I kept going I could honor her in some way, but that was just a fantasy. Honestly, I should have blown out my brains that day and saved myself from all this.

Enough of my sob story.

We had to be proactive today. There is this group of riders that we call the Raider Patrol. They continue to ride in our area looking for god knows what. They think they’re like the damn police of the apocalypse I guess. Anyway, one of the guys came up with an idea to cut them off because not only are they sending Freakers toward us with their loud motorcycles, but they could have some supplies on them that we need. We’ve done things like this before when we become desperate and today was one of those days. The Raiders have been taking the same route each day for the past few days. Only one rider would travel the road during the day, so we sent three of us out to make sure the job gets done. A couple of days ago, Big Ed came across a junky sniper rifle found at an abandoned camp. Who knows what happened to those people. He cleaned it up the best he could and ensured us it was functional for our plan today. Long story short, it was.

Big Ed decided to climb up a tree to get a better vantage point he said. A little unorthodox I thought, but hey the plan worked. Jim hid in a bush just off the road a little ways not too far from the tree Big Ed was in. I ducked behind an abandoned car on the road. The trap was set and behold, that idiot rider came right into our trap. Big Ed took one shot with his sniper rifle and threw the rider right off his bike. Jim and I jumped out of our hiding spots and dashed toward him. I was carrying a wooden baseball bat and Jim had a hatchet. The rider was a little dazed from being shot in the shoulder, but he got up and fumbled for his weapon attached to his hip. I met him first and took a nice swing to his chest before he could pull his gun up. He bent over from what I assume took the wind out of him. Then I swung at him again, this time hitting him square in the back sending him to the ground. Jim rushed right up behind me and stuck the hatchet right in his spine. He ripped the hatchet out of his back and then struck him again and again until I had to pull him off. I’ve seen this too many times when a man loses control of his feelings and unleashes all his anger on a helpless corpse. It’s disgusting.

I understand the situation of these ambushes we conduct. It’s the survival of the fittest. I just wish so many people didn’t have to die. Freakers are another thing, we kill them because we must. People can be talked to, negotiated with, maybe even helped sometimes. As much as that Raider was annoying me with his motorcycle, there should always be a better way in getting the things we need to survive. I know I’m not myself anymore, but each time I see another man or woman die I lose the good memories. The smile from my daughter’s face, the smell of fresh baked cookies coming from the oven and the holidays we would share with friends and family. All that vanishes with each kill and now I see their eyes. The eyes of the people we have had to kill to survive. The puddles and puddles of blood. All that for what, a little extra meat or some bandages to last us a couple more days. That’s what we got today. That’s all we got.

Until tomorrow,

Katie

A Look at the Other Side: Entry 1

The next few blog posts that you will be reading are part of a new mini-series I am writing titled, “A Look at the Other Side.” This mini-series will be written as journal entries aimed at showing you the life of an ambush camper trying to survive in the harsh wilderness of Days Gone. As you read these entries from a camper’s viewpoint, discover a different side of the ambushers that you didn’t see in the game. Read snippets of their past life, along with their struggle to survive in this post-apocalyptic stage and decide for yourself if the ambush campers truly are the “bad guys.”


635 DAYS GONE

A world filled with emptiness, and yet it feels so crowded. Everything is different, and nothing is different. We look after our own, we eat to survive, and we fight to live another day. Sounds a whole lot like the time before this all happened, at least for me anyway. Now the world has crumbled, and the government still doesn’t care about us. Every day we run for our lives, scavenge what we can find and kill just to do it all over again the next day. We all tell each other the same stories repeatedly to pass the time. If its not about the worthless government, it’s the survival, the killing, what supplies we need and so on. So, here I am writing down my own thoughts to try and keep sane. It’s funny though because I didn’t imagine myself being this type of person to write in a diary. Well, journal sounds a little more sophisticated. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re out doing the same shit every day. I had to spice it up a little!

It all started earlier today when we took a small supply run to Crazy Willie’s and I stumbled upon this dirty notebook and pen sitting on the backseat floor of an abandoned car. I swear I’ve searched this car before, but I must have been looking with a different lens today. I honestly don’t even know why we went to that place again. It’s been searched a thousand times from people all over the area. By us, marauders, rippers, drifters you name it! Not to mention, there are a few Freaker nests there that I don’t care to be around. I asked Clark one day if we should try and burn them to get rid of the Freakers in that area, you know to create safer travel for us. I guess that was a dumb idea because he shot me a look and said, “we can’t spare the supplies.” I wasn’t going to argue though, I am just here trying to get along like everyone else.

It was actually an easy day today. Its nice to have those days occasionally. We got in and out of Crazy Willie’s without no one dying, and now I have this awesome journal to write in. That’s a success in today’s world! I had to take down a couple Freakers in our path, but nothing I couldn’t handle. A few swings of the ol’ hatchet seems to do the trick. Plus, we found two kerosene cans and some rags for future use, along with some gas to help us get back. Supplies become scarcer as the days go by, but hey we have some deer meat being held over the fire right now to get us by for the next couple of days. Thanks to our good friend Roger. I don’t know if I would really call him a friend, more of an acquaintance I guess. He’s a quiet man, but he always lends a helping hand for the camp. I had a conversation with him once, and he told me he used to be an avid hunter before all of this. Luckily for us, that is one skill that is needed now. Well, the cook just called us all over to eat. I better go before someone takes my ration.

Until tomorrow,

Katie

What You May Have Missed

In a generation of stellar video games with incredible voice acting, astonishing graphics, large immersive open worlds and layered narrative, we as players are currently living in the golden age of video games. With that, it also brings us to the state of being spoiled with the quality of games, leaving us to miss some moments or details that should be applauded more. Unfortunately, those moments or details go unnoticed or are underrated for the accomplishment that the developers achieved. This is the reason why I wanted to write this little piece today to give those moments and details the proper acknowledgement they deserve in Days Gone. It isn’t to say that you or other players didn’t appreciate these intricacies, it’s more about how they impacted me during my playthrough.

The first thing I would like to highlight is the dynamic real time weather. The weather in this game is quite impressive and something to behold. From bright sunny days, to the peacefulness of fallen snow, to the strong winds that forcefully sway the trees and the pouring rain. Oregon has it all! The strong winds (which is visible in the Cascades region where Copeland’s camp is located) is a weather condition barely used in video games. The only game that comes to mind with remarkable wind features is from The Witcher 3. The wind breathes life and brings energy to the environment as you hear the whooshing sound of the leaves and seeing the trees move in a realistic way.

The snow is beautiful! It will begin as a slight flurry and then continue to accumulate as it covers the environment including vehicles, objects, the clothes on Deacon and dead bodies. When you ride your motorcycle, you can see the snow covering the boots and pants of Deacon as the spinning wheels dig up the snow on the ground. The sun creates picture perfect shots through photo mode as it glimmers through the pine trees and rises just above the snowy mountain tops. With the sun comes superb lighting as it dances across the landscape around you.

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The weather doesn’t just serve as an appearance though. If you listen and pay attention, the weather influences the enemies and sounds around you. For example, the rain will dampen the sound of Deacon’s footsteps and create less visibility creating a stealth opportunity into an ambush camp. However, the rain creates a slippery terrain when riding your motorcycle down roads and dirt paths covered in puddles. Of course, nothing can be easy in this world as the rain makes the Freakers stronger (along with the snowy weather) and they will appear more in numbers during the day as it rains. Here is a little experiment for you to do to show just how excellent the audio sound is compared with the weather conditions. After it rains, and the grass is wet have Deacon walk down the road and listen to his footsteps on the cement as they clomp along. Now, walk him onto the grass and hear his footsteps change as his boots sink into the ground creating a sloshing sound. It’s incredible!

The day and night cycle go hand in hand with the weather, creating a survival experience for the player to use strategy with the current condition of the environment. Want to take out a horde? The best time to do that is during the day when the Freakers are hibernating in their nests or cave. They will all be in one spot creating a perfect place to light them up with some molotovs. You will also see them less in number and weaker as they stumble around the wilderness during the day. Want to be brave? Try to attack the hordes at nighttime when the Freakers are stronger and more active as they leave their nests to roam around.

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The next thing I would like to praise the people at Bend Studio for is the attention to detail. You might have to look close at a couple of these, but its truly amazing how far they went to create a rich experience. First, look at Deacon’s hands when he pulls up a gun. (You may have to use photo mode to get a good angle). When you aim your weapon, his finger is on the trigger. When he is just holding his weapon without aiming, his finger is off the trigger. This is considered proper trigger discipline. Now, look at Deacon’s hands again when riding the motorcycle during acceleration. You can see his left hand squeezing the clutch to switch gears, along with his foot pressing down on the gear shift. Both details are something that most players probably won’t see, but putting small details like this in a game creates that immersive experience you hope for. This next detail is more noticeable than the last two. After Deacon performs a knife blow to a Freaker or another enemy, you can see the blood splatter onto his hand that is gripping the knife. That blood will stay on his hand for a good duration too. The last detail that I noticed was the empty bullet casings flying out of your gun when firing. You can see this in the picture I took below. This is certainly not the only details in this game, but just a few that really caught my eye and gave me a deeper appreciation of the creative process.

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**This section may contain possible SPOILERS. Please proceed with caution.**

Lastly, there are two moments during the story where you get that sense of freedom that motorcycle riders talk about. The first comes on the mission, ‘Ride South to Lost Lake.’ You have Boozer on the motorcycle with you as Deacon talks about leaving Farewell and the thousands of Freakers devouring the people trying to outrun them. The song, Soldier’s Eyes begins to play creating this amazing and beautiful ride through the night sky on the broken road. The second moment begins on your ‘Ride to the Summit’ once Iron Mike takes you to the Thielsen Pass. The song, Hell or High Water starts as you weave around the snowy curves with the hope of finding Sarah on your mind. The lyrics to this song fit perfectly with the story and the emotion that Deacon is feeling. Both moments captured my focus and put me into the shoes of Deacon. The ride with Hell or High Water was captivating, emotional and left an imprint on me for one of the greatest moments in video games.

Those are the moments and details that felt most fascinating to me and hopefully they did to you too. The Internet tends to focus on the faults of games and not praise the games that deserve it. So, take a second and go on social media to thank Bend Studio and their team in creating Days Gone as they spent the last five plus years making this game for the players. You can find all their information below.

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Twitter: @BendStudio

Facebook: @SonyBendStudio

Instagram: @sonybendstudio

My Thoughts on Days Gone

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I know I may be a little late to the party, but I finally finished the story of Days Gone last week. That was one hell of a ride! Once, I completed the story I was determined to receive the Platinum trophy. I am not one of those extreme trophy hunters, but I do love getting that sweet notification in the top left corner of my screen while playing a game. I say this because I have less than ten total Platinum trophies associated to my account. I only attempt this feat when I am totally invested in a game. For example, off the top of my head my Platinums include God of War (2018), Marvel’s Spider-Man and Batman Arkham Knight. All games that really pulled me in to continue to live in those worlds. Most of the time I play through a game’s story and move on to the next one because I play for the stories and the characters. In Days Gone, I received the Platinum trophy this past weekend, but I didn’t want to stop there. So, I finished clearing out the rest of the hordes and was on a mission to find every single collectible available. Even after all that, I wanted to keep playing! Good thing Bend Studio just released some free DLC including a Survival difficulty mode. It’s safe to say that Days Gone has become my favorite video game of all time!  

Let’s get on to some of my thoughts by breaking down parts of the game. There are NO SPOILERS ahead, so if you haven’t bought the game maybe this will help!

Story

Without giving away spoilers, I was captivated by the story from beginning to end. Deacon St. John had a great and satisfying story arc that I found relatable. He was a man who kept fighting to find his wife no matter the odds. Love was a central point to the story. You might say, how was love a theme in Days Gone when the world became an infested dangerous hole and you are constantly surrounded by Freakers, animals and humans all looking to kill you. That is the poetic beauty of this game. Behind the curtain of it all, love, brotherhood and trust were the central components to the story. That’s how you know the writers did an incredible job! Not only do you get the story through cut scenes and by the actions of Deacon, but take a moment to listen to the world around you too. Look at the environment and listen to the Nero recordings; you can gather a lot of information and world building from it.

Characters

What a well casted and written group of characters! Deacon and Boozer showed exactly what brothers should be. They have their ups and downs, but that doesn’t affect their relationship. They have been fighting together even before the outbreak occurred during their time in the MC (motorcycle club). Trust and respect is built into their relationship. Boozer felt like a brother and not just to Deacon, but to me. He is loyal, funny and someone who would have your back for anything. It was a pleasure to see them both working together.

Sarah and Deacon are now my favorite couple in video games and maybe even all of entertainment. Every time they shared a scene, it was heartfelt and honest. There was one moment in particular that made me cheer out loud! Their relationship felt very real. I found myself laughing to Deacon St. John more than I would have thought too.

Iron Mike is a true leader and someone that civilization could be built around. As soon as you meet him, you can tell that he is the man. His strength and vision gives you hope during the dark times of Days Gone.

Rikki was always honest and forthcoming and was a great character to interact with. She is fearless and is a person who will get stuff done. Rikki was one of my favorite characters in the story. I could go on and on listing characters and why I enjoyed each one, but I don’t want to give anything away.

Photo Mode

Photo Mode has been a very popular feature with Days Gone due to the advanced settings of providing players with total creativity with colors, transition, bloom, far and near adjusting, etc. I can honestly say I have taken my best photos out of any game in Days Gone. That is due to the incredible artists at Bend Studio creating such a beautiful world in the Pacific Northwest wilderness. The day and night cycle, along with the weather adds some unique shots that you can take.

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Camps

Going back to the different camps to trade in bounties and meat, gather more supplies and receive new jobs is a fun and addicting loop. Lost Lake became my favorite camp out of them all due to the characters that you interact with there. It seemed the most civilized, and a place you could call home if you were stuck in this situation. Lost Lake had a good variety of upgrades for your motorcycle and weapons to prepare you for the unforgiving world. Hot Springs was the camp I liked the least due to the environment Tucker created. You work for your keep there, but it was crueler than just that. Each camp had its own identity from appearance, to the leaders, motorcycle upgrades, weapons and how the campers interacted. You can hear some stories just by doing a little eavesdropping or listening to the merchants when you trade in bounties, buy new weapons or fill up your motorcycle with gas.

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Loot

We are over two years since the world has went to hell. Not much can be left, and what is left people will try and get it. It makes sense that we can only find the bare minimum materials peppered in the world such as rags, kerosene, bottles, bandages, cans, 2x4s, etc. From a story standpoint, I understand why we don’t find “epic or rare” rewards sitting in abandoned cars. This reminded me a lot from The Last of Us. The game gives you just enough to succeed giving you that sense of survival. When you complete certain storylines, you do receive new weapons or crafting recipes making you feel rewarded from the work you just did. The motorcycle skins were great rewards. I would find myself switching the look on my bike a lot through the story.

Gameplay

One of the things I loved about this game was the constant evolution. What I mean by this is, every time I would jump into Oregon I felt like I was experiencing something new each time. For example, I’m riding my motorcycle to the next story objective until suddenly a trip wire takes me off my bike by a group of ambushers. Another time, the road is blocked by a horde walking through. Next instance, I have some wolves chasing me or a mountain lion trying to eat me. “This world comes for you” is a perfect tagline for this game! Things are constantly changing in the game from enemies, to environment, camps and hordes. It creates for fun gameplay when you must strategize with the weapons you should use on which enemy, but also how to keep your supplies lasting just long enough to finish the mission. You can enter a camp guns blazing or go in stealthy. There is an assortment of weapons to choose from to your specific playstyle. I never once felt bored in this world. If anything, I was constantly on the edge of my seat being terrified on what was coming for me next.

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Issues

You may be aware that since Days Gone has launched, it has had some technical difficulties. I am not going to sit here and tell you its perfect, but some players may experience different issues than other players. The one thing I can say is that the most common issue is frame rate, more specifically in the second half of the game. Did this happen to my game? Yes, it did. However, it did not hinder my experience at all. It only occurred to me when I was at the camps during the later part of the game and nowhere else. Other than that, my playthrough was perfectly normal. Bend Studio has stated that, “Our current plan for our team is to slow down the amount of patches we release but to add more fixes, features, and optimizations with each patch.” You can find this on the Days Gone reddit thread HERE.

Well, those are my thoughts for the exhilarating game of Days Gone. Now, its time to jump into Survival mode and to get ready for the challenges to come. If you have played Days Gone, I would love to discuss the game with you. Just leave a comment below. If you haven’t had a chance to play, keep an eye on this space as I will be doing a giveaway for a free copy of Days Gone very soon. Thank you for reading and now go collect those bounties!

The Defector

A large black shadow hovers over the desolate mountainous region of Oregon. The pouring rain rapidly knocks on the metallic roof of the helicopter. The long propeller blades cut through the dense fog throwing debris up from the wet ground. A white beam of light shines from the front of the helicopter to provide safe passage. The engine is muffled by the sounds of the rain and wind creating an ideal time to get boots on the ground.

Another day at the office and another day for this dramatic weather. The world has gone to shit, but the northwest weather remained the same. Private McCormick can barely see out of the small bullet proof window as the rain diminishes any visibility. This is about his tenth mission or so and each one gives him more temptation to run.

“Nero, who the hell gave you authority to rule the world?” Private McCormick thought to himself.

“Each and every day I guard this so-called scientist, to give us the same damn answers. Why does he matter more to them than me? He’s in white and I’m in yellow? There are people down here lost and barely surviving while we make our little field trips down to this shit to protect one guy,” McCormick continues to be lost in thought.

“Private, do you read me?” says Corporal Franklin.

“Private McCormick, copy?” Franklin repeats.

“Private!” yells Franklin.

“Yes sir! Sorry sir! My mind…was on the mission sir,” McCormick stutters.

“That’s good kid, but next time you answer me on the first damn call,” says Franklin.

“Of course, sir,” says McCormick.

“My job is to make sure each one of you are prepared for each mission. Do you know your route Private?” asks Franklin.

“Copy sir,” answers McCormick.

The black helicopter with NERO written across the side in white lettering descends to the ground with multiple soldiers quickly jumping out of the bay door. Each soldier armed and protected by military grade armor begins to encircle the area where the helicopter has landed to scan for any nearby threats. Private McCormick is the last soldier to hop off with the barrel of the gun firm against his shoulder, head tilted slightly as he aims down his sights, finger on the trigger, and knees slightly bent ready to engage in any oncoming enemies.

“All clear over here!” shouts one of the Nero soldiers.

“Clear, sir!” another one calls out.

“O’Brian time to move, sir,” Corporal Franklin commands.

A tall skinny man steps down from the helicopter in a white hazmat suit that covers every inch of his body from head to toe. He’s protected with a full-face self-contained breathing apparatus, chemical resistant gloves and a two-way radio attached to him. The white sleeves fit loosely on his scrawny arms. McCormick stands about an incher shorter than O’Brian with broad shoulders and an athletic build. He brushes past O’Brian to ensure the path is safe to the dark mucky cave handing him off to the lead soldier in charge of protecting the cave entrance. O’Brian walks past both soldiers in preparation to analyze the area, while Private McCormick begins to take his routine path to protect the perimeter. Each soldier is placed in a specific spot pertaining to the circumference of the helicopter. Their flashlights are on and attached to their bullet proof vest to help visibility through the rainy night sky.

“Lieutenant O’Brian field note 2…” O’Brian begins to talk as his voice fades away the farther out McCormick scans.

McCormick continues to walk his route making sure no one gets through, the same thing he has done every single mission and yet the Corporal asks the same question every time. He pauses for a second and looks out toward the tall trees through the rain. Drops of water trickle off the brim of his helmet onto his goggles. He hears the haunting shrills and groans from Freakers off in the distance as they constantly pursue something to feed on. The smell of rotten flesh with scents of mold, burning and rancid waft through the wind sending him back to the day of Pillette Bridge.

“The day where I was doing this same exact thing I am doing right now, checking the fucking perimeter. The only difference… I had friends there on Highway 97 and I abandoned them in that box, while I ran like a coward,” McCormick mumbles under his breath.

NERO Checkpoint, Pillette Bridge. One Year Ago.

“Do you hear that sir?” asks McCormick.

“What the hell is that?” says Sergeant Bullock.

“Sarge, look,” says McCormick pointing ahead.

Both men stand on the opposite side of the bridge looking on at the largest horde they have ever seen. The noise coming from the Freakers becomes almost deafening making it hard to even think. They are a few hundred yards away and the smell is atrocious, even through the mask. The Freakers were on a slow shamble milling down the highway, until something caught their eye. Now, they have picked up speed and the whole horde is moving rapidly toward the checkpoint. In this moment, between hearing and seeing the horde, it felt like an eternity for the two men. There is now a sudden burst of gun fire coming from two automatic weapons echoing off the mountainside. McCormick sees multiple Freakers drop. The men look at each other realizing what is happening. They spring forward to the other side of the bridge holding their guns across their chest. Two more Nero soldiers are seen running away from the horde toward the checkpoint shooting behind them as they go.

“No, no, no, no! What are they doing?” shouts McCormick.

“Diane! Vince! Do you hear me? Get inside the trailer!” yells McCormick through the two-way radio.

The radio stays silent. McCormick and Bullock continue their pursuit toward the trailers. The horde is on the tail of Diane and Vince as they get closer to reaching the door. McCormick pulls up his submachine gun that resembles a MP-5 and tucks it tightly against his shoulder and under his chin. He stands with his legs squared to his shoulders and with one quick breath, unleashes his extended magazine clip at the front row of the horde creating just enough space for his friends to reach inside. Bullock quickly follows his lead, but abruptly ceases fire. The trailer is overrun with Freakers. They jump frantically on top of the trailer pounding their hands on the roof. Others gnaw and claw at the steel door creating a pile of Freakers as they continue to pile on top of each other trying to get in. They look like mindless creatures trying to escape their own bodies. Part of the horde deviates due to the previous gun fire from the two men and one by one the Freakers follow each other heading in the direction of McCormick and Bullock.

“We can’t just leave them there Sarge!” McCormick yells.

“We have no choice!” Sergeant Bullock says frantically.

With a pause of hesitation from McCormick and a glance back toward the trailer, it takes every fiber in him to not charge through that horde to at least try and save them. Both men make a 180 degree turn with Bullock already ten feet ahead of him, sprinting as fast as they can back across the bridge.

“HQ come in. HQ do you read? We need an immediate evac at Pillette Bridge! We have a large horde trailing us,” Sergeant Bullock says into his radio.

McCormick runs with one hand stretched behind him with his gun upright firing away on the oncoming Freakers. He manages to take several of them down, but they are relentless in their pursuit of the men.

“Hear you loud and clear Sergeant. Our bird will be at the emergency LZ in ten minutes. Good luck sir,” replies the woman on the radio.

With one smooth motion, Bullock unclips a frag grenade from his belt and launches it over McCormick’s head reaching about thirty yards into the horde. Luckily, the grenade lands right next to a flammable red barrel taking out a good chunk of the Freakers. McCormick slams in another clip and sprays bullets to the front of the horde that wasn’t affected by the blast. This creates a little wiggle room to gain some space between them and the Freakers. Bullock looks up and spots a trail of black smoke rising into the sky up the hill in the trees.

“Look! We need to make it there and fast!” shouts Bullock as he looks back at McCormick.

McCormick knows exactly what his sergeant is planning, but this world comes for you and if you can’t adapt you won’t make it. They continue to fire their weapons behind them as they run. The grenade may have helped to gain separation but compared to the size of the horde it looks like it made no difference. They struggle to run up the steep hill as they are already exhausted from trying to get away, but adrenaline kicks in knowing they might just have a chance at surviving this. The sound of their gunfire echoes around them and through the trees alarming anything and anyone within a half mile. They are almost to the top of the hill when marauders start running down the hill toward them away from their fire to take out the trespassers. All five of them stop dead in their tracks seeing the horde trailing behind the Nero soldiers. They immediately turn around to head back to their camp with shotguns and hatchets in hand. The marauders don’t get far as bullets penetrate the back of their heads dropping to the ground in a rapid succession. Smoke rises from the barrels of McCormick and Bullock as they continue the trudge toward the camp. Nero soldiers have been around long enough to know camp fires bring people and people bring motorcycles. Both men ran past the dead marauders fallen face first onto the ground as they reached the top of the hill. The Freakers stop their pursuit of the men for a moment to feed on the freshly dead campers that were gunned down. This buys just enough time for McCormick and Bullock to steal the motorcycles and get out of dodge to meet at the LZ.

Present Day

Reminiscing about the past only brings trouble for McCormick as he continues his internal struggle of living under the government’s boot. Since the beginning, his day to day tasks remain the same. Answers remain the same. Friends lost and part of himself will never return.

“What is all of this for? There are too many questions around Nero and we get told nothing in return. It’s them or no one,” McCormick mumbles under his breath.

“Time to head back everyone,” calls Corporal Franklin over the radio.

Each soldier begins to head back to the helicopter continually scanning their surroundings. McCormick still stands in his same position lost in thought. He runs the pros and cons quickly through his head knowing which side he already is leaning on. The rain becomes a nuisance with its persistent tapping on top of his helmet. He can hear his name constantly being called through the radio while he slowly moves his hand upward to turn off his flashlight.

“Private McCormick, do you read me? We are leaving!” says Corporal Franklin.

He reaches down to his hip to turn off the radio, closes his eyes and lets out a sigh of relief. For the first time in a long time, he felt free. He knows what this world has become and still he rather be let loose in the shit than feel trapped. He can feel the presence of the soldier’s guns being pointed at him from the helicopter, giving him one last second to turn around and jump on.  He opens his eyes and suddenly dashes forward through the trees. The helicopter ascends with two soldiers firing in his direction. The bullets ricochet off the trees splintering the wood as McCormick weaves his way through the forest. More bullets impact the ground directly behind his feet causing dirt to spray in the air. The helicopter gains more altitude now as it hovers right above the trees shining its light through the dense forest where he ran. The tops of the pine trees sway from the force of the wind coming from the propeller. After a few minutes of the helicopter encircling the area trying to find him, it ascends farther into the sky leaving McCormick behind.

McCormick sits on the wet ground with his back leaning against a tree. The sound of the helicopter becomes fainter. He peeks around the trunk of the tree and looks up to see the helicopter flying away. His head flings back and lets out a small laugh realizing he somehow survived that. His laughter doesn’t last long as he tries to catch his breath and coughs instead. He fumbles around to take his flashlight off his vest and turns it on to shine it around him. He quickly points the light to the left of him where he hears twigs snapping. A faint humming noise follows coming from the right. He rushes to turn off the flashlight and drops it on the ground directing the beam down his leg and past his foot. The light catches a large splotch of blood against the yellow backdrop of his pant leg. He leans forward to touch the area right above the knee cap on the left leg and realizes that one of the bullets got him. McCormick tries to stand up bracing himself against the tree and quickly falls back down to the same position. He picks up the flashlight one more time thinking he saw movement up ahead. On the edge of a small cliff overlooking the edge of the forest where McCormick lies, three Runners stand with blood dripping from their teeth. Patches of fur can be seen missing from their body, as if they were burned alive. Scars run across their face as they stare back at him. The humming noise becomes louder now as it gets closer to him. A shadowy figure appears with long hair and a skinny physique. It stands about twenty-five feet away between the trees. The white glare of the moon hits the body just perfectly for McCormick to recognize the rotten and torn female Freaker known as the Screamer. As soon she sees McCormick, her jaws open wide, wider than any normal human could open their mouth. It lets out a loud and piercing scream causing McCormick to cover his ears as tight as he could. Muffling the sound made no difference though, as his head started to ring causing a temporary vertigo effect. Once the scream was finished, he heard feet running all around him. Ravenous cannibalistic monsters were coming for him and there was nothing he could do to stop him. This world comes for you, rings in his head one more time as it did the day the horde at Pillette Bridge came through.

“Well… damn it,” says McCormick.