I didn’t know a Crazy Taxi mode is the thing that Days Gone was missing, but here we are. I didn’t bother with the free DLC that came out for the PlayStation 4 version, so playing again on PC—which comes with all DLC included out of the box—is my first exposure to Challenge Mode, and the pure joy that is zooming around a zombie-infested wasteland on a golf cart taxiing survivors around while “Surfer Lingo” by The Laurens blares out of the radio.
It’s ridiculous, in the best way possible. The silliness of it is a welcome contrast to a main game that takes itself a little too seriously, but it’s also a mode that lets Days Gone show off what it does best. The uneven mountain terrain and half-destroyed remnants of a time before the apocalypse make a perfect landscape for high-octane taxi work, it turns out, especially when you add extremely run-overable zombies into the mix. And if you’re lucky, you might even pick up a friendly Ripper in need of a lift.
The bigger point here is that the Challenge Mode—taxi one especially, but all the others, too—really leans into Days Gone‘s strengths. The base game is a very story-driven affair with a story that’s ultimately dull and forgettable, but its finely-tuned gunplay, stealth systems, and motorcycle traversal made the moment-to-moment gameplay consistently exciting. Challenge Mode is all about that momentary rush, with the added bonus of high scores to chase, various objectives within each challenge, and some unique riffs on the core game loop to give it that arcade feeling and let Days Gone‘s game design shine. You can also unlock some handy bonuses for the main game, but the challenges themselves are the real draw here.
Having all post-launch updates packed into the PC launch of Days Gone also means Survival mode and New Game Plus. The latter is exactly as you’d expect, letting you start a new game with most of your previous unlocks and character progression intact. Survival is more interesting: much tougher enemies, no fast travel, no UI, and an extremely limited survival vision that doesn’t show enemy outlines and alertness like it does in the standard game. It’s a demanding mode that leaves you to rely entirely on your own senses to survive, but a riveting challenge for those who are up for it. And when even that’s not enough, there’s Survival II: exactly the same as Survival, but with even tougher enemies.
As you’d hope, the jump to PC brings with it a raft of settings to tinker with and use optimise your Days Gone experience. There’s the usual assortment of quality sliders for different graphical details (shadows, geometry, textures, fog, etc), field of view up to 100 degrees, render scaling from 10% to 200%, support for ultra-widescreen monitors and resolutions at least as high as 4K, and the option to unlock the frame rate (alongside locked 60 and 30 FPS options). One nice touch is that the game renders a scene in realtime while you play with the settings, and displays both the current and median FPS and GPU load—allowing you to get a good sense of what performance you can expect without needing to drop in and out of the settings menu to try things out.
At max settings, it looks impressive. The level of detail in textures and weather effects, in particular, are far beyond what could be achieved on PlayStation 4, and the atmospheric nature of this game and its setting mean that sort of detail goes a long way. And if you really want to see the game at its absolute best—albeit only in screenshots—the Photo Mode has the options to render at up to eight times higher resolution than what you’re playing on. I don’t know if the game supports 12K resolution naturally since I don’t have a monitor to test it on, but with the super resolution option in Photo Mode, I can at least get a sense of what it might look like.
At the other end of the scale, Days Gone is also decently playable on lower-spec machines. The minimum requirements are relatively modest, and if you’re willing to play on low settings capped at 30 FPS, those will work just fine. (This is how I played, primarily, and while it doesn’t look great, it’s not terrible either). Granted, at this point you’re better off playing on PS4 if that’s an option for you, but failing that, minimum specs will still get you something functional, if a little rough. And if you feel like it, you could really lean into the lo-fi thing, drop the resolution to 320×200 (which is supported!), and play it like a PS1 game.
With its console origins, controller is the more natural input for Days Gone, with full controller support in the PC version. That said, the mouse and keyboard control scheme works well, too, with all your key inputs mapped to the buttons around WASD and a weapon wheel / crafting interface that’s nice and responsive to the mouse. Mouse has the added benefit of aiming accuracy, too, which always comes in handy. I still prefer playing with a controller for comfort reasons, but mouse and keyboard folks are well supported here.
So, as far as PC ports go, Days Gone hits the mark. The wealth of settings can accommodate a wide range of devices from potatoes to beasts, and there’s none of the weird control issues that sometimes crop up when a gamepad control scheme is dropped onto mouse and keyboard. It’s a promising sign for the future of PlayStation exclusives coming to PC.
Beneath all the new technical capabilities and extra DLC features, the core of Days Gone on PC is still Days Gone, for better and worse. It’s a game that can be a lot of fun to play in the moment, with a good balance between stealth, action, and exploration and the exhilaration that comes with fighting its zombie hordes. But it’s also a game that struggles to stand out from a very crowded room; that despite its story-driven focus and early signs of promise, ends up tracing all the same cliches as every other zombie outing before it.
But hey: you can play Zombie Apocalypse Crazy Taxi while you’re visiting. That’s gotta count for something.
Title: Days Gone
Developer: Bend Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment, PlayStation Mobile Inc
Platforms: PC via Steam (reviewed), PlayStation 4
Release date: 18 May 2021 (PC), 26 April 2019 (PS4)
A review copy was provided to Shindig by the publisher.