Over the course of the summer, Days Gone developer Bend Studios has been adding a series of arcade-style challenges to last Spring’s zombie survival game. All of these updates have been free. Now that they’re all collected, they make for a really fun set of standalone activities with a couple of great surprises tucked in. Like, did you know Days Gone now has a Crazy Taxi homage hidden away in it? Because it does!
A quick recap: Shortly after Days Gone’s release, the developers at Bend Studios announced they would be releasing 12 standalone challenges, one per week. These generally fell into three types: Horde challenges, which pit you against one of the game’s trademark swarms of Freakers on a reworked portion of the map; bike challenges, which were often checkpoint races against the clock; and combat challenges, which had players eliminating armed foes.
Now that all 12 challenges have been released, Challenge mode has become a great grab bag full of bite-sized pieces of Days Gone action. It reminds me a bit of the Mercenaries mode from later Resident Evil games, but with more variety. There’s even some range among challenges of the same type.
The first Horde challenge, “Surrounded,” was a fight-until-you-die affair; later Horde challenges would task you with more specific directives as you tried to survive, like killing 300 freakers. The last Horde challenge, “Black Friday”, does the same, only it leaves you unarmed, seeds the map with survival packs, and only lets you buy more weapons on the map with Freaker ears.
Then there’s that Crazy Taxi homage I mentioned earlier. “Dead Don’t Ride” puts your character (either Deacon, or another member of the main cast you’ve unlocked) in a golf cart with a taxi sign on the roof as music plays and checkpoints pop up all over the map. Each checkpoint means a passenger is waiting for you to pick them up, and once you do, you have a limited time to get them to their destination. Again, it’s Crazy Taxi, but with zombies. The juxtaposition is hilarious.
Altogether, the challenges also address one of the main problems I had with Days Gone’s huge open world when I played through the story: It was too damn serious. While they’re not integrated into the open world, these challenges do use parts of it to create a version of it that’s a little more whimsical, or just one that just cuts to the chase and drops you in front of a horde of freakers. Days Gone is a game that shines in moments, and the moments here? They’re great.