A reader looks at Days Gone’s surprisingly negative critical reception and asks why it had no effect on the game’s sales.
I have watched with great interest the discussions about Days Gone in the Inbox and across the Internet in the last few weeks. As a PlayStation 4 owner I was naturally interested in the game, but like many was put off by it appearing to be too similar to The Last Of Us, in terms of setting, and other open world games in terms of general set-up. Especially after GC’s lukewarm preview I expected okay-ish reviews and a good but unoriginal game.
So I was very surprised that when the reviews hit GC’s 6/10 was by no means the most negative, with American websites in particular opening up on it in a way they never usually do. And, as far as I’m concerned the game doesn’t really deserve it.
Having now played around 20 hours I think I have the measure of the game and it’s pretty much what I expected: unoriginal but competent with a few unusual points of interest. The lack of focus on the hordes is very strange, and I don’t really like any of the characters that much, but I wouldn’t say any aspect of the game was bad and, as GC pointed out in their review, that’s actually quite a feat, even if it doesn’t necessarily sound like one.
What confuses me about the American reviews is why they have picked on Days Gone for being unoriginal, formulaic, and full of boring characters when the same could be said of so many other games. The only reason there is a formula is because of Ubisoft games like Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry and yet these were not criticised in anything like the same way. Even the recent Far Cry: New Dawn, which I considered one of the laziest open world games Ubisoft has ever produced, has the same or better score than Days Gone.
To me that’s ridiculous and shows just how inconsistent some reviewers can be. GameSpot and IGN suddenly remembering their scoring scale goes from 0 to 10 (or 100) is all very good but why now and why for Days Gone? It’s not even the fact that the game is from a small publisher that they feel they can get away with upsetting them, so I really don’t know what’s going on.
It’s also not that the game is poorly suited to an American audience. In fact, I’d say the dudebro main characters and pandering to survivalist and gun nuts is one of the worst things about it, from a non-American perspective. If anything the game is too America, so I really can’t understand why it was scored like this.
The subsequent backlash from fans, who have found the game to be nowhere near as bad as advertised, is inevitable and creates yet more animosity between them and reviewers. The behaviour of video games fans on social media is frequently embarrassing and there seems a general inability in Internet culture to either accept other people’s opinions or see an issue in anything other than black and white, extreme negative or extreme positive.
To me the reason Days Gone has been so successful, despite being a new IP, is obvious: it’s a competent game that’s able to explain what it is and how it’ll play in clear and simple terms. It also helps that Sony has earned a very good reputation for quality games, to the point where most people didn’t need a review or actively felt like rebelling against them. Sony, zombies, open world… that was all many needed to know and the sales prove it.
I’m not saying this is a good thing but I think by being so harsh on Days Gone some reviewers will find they’ve lost the ability to influence people when it comes to a really bad game. There’s nothing offensively bad about Days Gone it’s just… okay. Pretty good. Not game of the year material but also better than average and certainly worth the money when there’s not much else new out.
Whether that’s what Sony were aiming for with the game or not I don’t know though. And to me that’s almost the most interesting thing about it. They must’ve known when they greenlit an open world game with zombies in it that they were going to get a pretty familiar product, so I can only assume that how things have panned out is pretty much exactly as they expected.
The majority of gamers aren’t interested in avant-garde games or indie titles. In fact, the majority of people who spend time playing games aren’t interested in anything other than FIFA and Fortnite/Call Of Duty. So to get them to play anything else is an achievement and I really don’t think Sony should be criticised too harshly, especially when the game is a non-sequel.
Of course, there will be a sequel now, because of its success, and I’m curious to see how that will be pitched. Will the developer take the criticisms to heart or will they assume that being very familiar and predictable was part of the original appeal. I believe it was and I can’t blame them if they just double down on that.
By reader Korbie
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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