Most kids would rather have fun than learn anything. However, these educational mobile games educate and entertain at the same time.
For parents who want their children’s smartphone time to be more productive, here are the best educational mobile games kids will enjoy playing.
1. Khan Academy Kids
Khan Academy Kids is one of the best educational mobile games available. Led by a cast of colorful animal characters, children can learn skills like reading, writing, and problem solving by partaking in drawing, storytelling, and lots of other fun activities.
It’s suitable for children aged six and under. Each child has their own profile and learning path. They can also bring up a collection of books and videos to enjoy at any time, at their own pace. As they learn, kids are rewarded with fun things like hats for the animals or bugs for their collection.
And best of all? It’s entirely free, with no ads or in-app purchases.
Download: Khan Academy Kids for Android | iOS (Free)
2. ABC Kids – Tracing and Phonics
ABC Kids is a game entirely focused on helping children recognize and draw letters. Hosted by an upbeat lion, alongside other animal companions who dance and cheer in encouragement, kids can switch between a variety of games in order to have fun while learning the alphabet.
Whether it’s tracing letters, matching lowercase to uppercase, or pairing through phonics, this is perfectly designed for children in the early stages of education. There’s also a handy parent’s mode, where you can track progress and enable specific parts of the app if there’s something you want your child to focus on.
Download: ABC Kids – Tracing and Phonics for Android | iOS (Free)
3. Algorithm City
Aimed at older children, Algorithm City is a fun game that teaches the basics of programming across more than 50 levels. The aim is to guide a little blocky penguin along stages, collecting all of the coins possible. This is done by selecting actions through a simple graphical interface and then watching how it plays out.
There’s a smooth learning curve, with difficulty increasing with every level. Although there’s only ever a limited set of functions at the child’s disposal, they must learn how to create efficient code in order to get the highest score. Algorithm City is a great, subtle introduction to programming.
Space, the final frontier. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of space and this app lets children explore the solar system and wider universe with high quality animations and audio. They will learn about planets, constellations, comets, and more.
Information can be gathered by visiting places like the observatory and cinema, before eventually blasting their friendly cow companion into space. Occasional quizzes also pop up to test knowledge, blending the fun and learning together perfectly.
Download: Astronomy for Kids for Android | iOS (Free)
5. Math Land
In Math Land, kids take control of a pirate called Ray. He’s out to find the gems that have been stolen by the evil Max. With the gems scattered around various islands, children must solve math problems in order to unlock spy glasses and sail the sea.
The game covers all sorts of math problems—addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and more—and adjusts the complexity depending on the child’s age. There is a one-time fee to unlock the later islands, but it’s worth it thanks to the quality puzzles and bright, charming experience.
Download: Math Land for Android | iOS (Free, premium version available)
6. Logic Land
Logic is just as important as more traditional subjects like math and science. This is where Logic Land can help. All the games within are designed to improve development of logical reasoning, spatial intelligence, and memory.
These games include identifying the odd one out, completing a sequence, calculating how many blocks are in a shape, and more. As children solve them, they earn treasure and allow the characters Jack and Alice to progress to other islands.
You can’t go wrong with Cookie Monster and Elmo. Children can join both of them in the kitchen to help bake three and four letter words. They can adorn their cookies with colorful, tasty-looking decorations and then share them with Cookie Monster and Elmo.
Along the way, children will be practicing their literacy skills. While baking, the Sesame Street characters will be teaching children how to speak the words, what they mean, and how vowels are used to make different words. If you want to unlock all words, you’ll need to pay a one-off fee.
Download: Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen for Android (Free, premium version available) | iOS ($2.99)
8. Play and Learn Science
Play and Learn Science is all about exploring how science surrounds us in everyday life. Kids can test experiments, engineer solutions, and learn about things like temperature and shadows. There are loads of games and activities to keep them busy for a while.
It’s best to use this app as a co-learning solution. Each game has parent notes that prompt you with questions to ask your children to get them thinking and taking the lessons beyond the app. There’s even a Spanish mode, should you want to encourage your youngster to be bilingual.
Download: Play and Learn Science for Android | iOS (Free)
9. Shaun Learning Games for Kids
Shaun the Sheep and his friends are on hand to make learning an incredibly fun experience for kids in this app. Primarily targeted at children aged three to eight, the difficulty can be adjusted depending on the child’s needs.
There’s a huge amount of games to enjoy here, covering topics like math, direction, memory, and creation. Kids can also take a break from it all and let their creativity flow as they draw, paint, and sticker various scenes. Around a third of the games are free, with the rest unlocked through a single purchase.
Download: Shaun Learning Games for Kids for Android | iOS (Free, premium version available)
10. Chess for Kids
Playing chess will help improve your child’s problem-solving skills, pattern recognition, concentration, and more. There’s a reason that the game is so popular with all ages.
This app is designed specifically for children, which means it’s colorful, easy to use, and kids are protected from chatting or adding friends without parental permission. It lets kids play chess with others around the world or tackle the bot at different skill levels. A single payment will unlock puzzles and videos, but the app is perfectly good without them.
Download: Chess for Kids for Android | iOS (Free, premium version available)
More Educational Apps for Kids
Hopefully, your kids will enjoy playing these games, but also learn a thing or two along the way. After all, that’s what these educational mobile games are striving to achieve.
Gaming on the App Store is often disappointing. While there are some hidden gems, they’re hard to find among the overgrowth of games that are free to download but full of in-app purchases, banner ads, harsh wait times, and other nonsense.
If you’ve played any of those, you know that the large majority have lost something every game should be—fun.
But Apple Arcade wants to change that. The gaming subscription service allows you to access a growing roster games on your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac for one monthly charge.
Let’s take a closer look at Apple Arcade and everything you need to get started.
Subscribing to Apple Arcade
The most important step before you install Apple Arcade is making sure you have the latest software installed on all your devices. That means at least iOS 13 for iPhone, iPadOS 13 for iPad, tvOS 13 on Apple TV, and macOS Catalina on a Mac.
On any of those four devices, head to the App Store app and select the Arcade tab.
You’ll then see a free 30-day trial offer. Sign in with your Apple ID and password to accept. After the trial period, the arcade subscription will automatically renew for $4.99 per month.
If you’re using the Family Sharing option, up to six family members can also access Apple Arcade without needing to purchase their own subscription.
To cancel the Apple Arcade subscription at any time, go to Settings > [Your Name] > Subscriptions on your iPhone or iPad. Select Apple Arcade, then scroll down to the bottom and choose Cancel Subscription.
Downloading Games on Apple Arcade
Once you’re ready to start playing, just head back to the Arcade tab on the App Store.
The design should look familiar to anyone who has browsed the App Store before. Apple features many games in different categories—like Action, Adventure, and Family—to make it easier to find something you’ll want to play.
To see everything that’s available on Apple Arcade, scroll down to the bottom of the section and select See All Games.
On each individual game page, you can read more about the title, see a promo video, check the age rating, and confirm whether you can use a controller. To download a game, select Get.
The game will appear on your device just like any other app and is ready to play. Apple includes all updates to the games as long as you have a subscription. Plus, all Apple Arcade games have no in-app purchases or ads.
Start Apple Arcade With These Three Games
When diving into Apple Arcade, you’ll probably ask the same question as with any new subscription service: “where do I start?”
Here are three high-quality titles, available on each device, that show showcase some of the best that Apple Arcade offers.
1. Oceanhorn 2: Knight of the Lost Realm
You can’t go wrong starting Apple Arcade with Oceanhorn 2: Knight of the Lost Realm. The original RPG, which arrived in 2013, was an instant classic thanks to beautiful graphics, an enchanting soundtrack, and its Legend of Zelda-like gameplay. And the long-awaited sequel delivers all that and more.
Set 1,000 years before the original, the game focuses on a young knight who must help save the world of Gaia. The family-friendly game looks beautiful on any Apple device, and is best played with a controller. It’s truly a high-quality title you’d expect to find on a gaming console.
Even the most casual gamer knows of the Monument Valley series. And the developer of those two great games, ustwo, is also behind Apple Arcade’s Assemble With Care.
Think of the game as a puzzler with a big focus on a narrative story. You play as Maria, an antique restorer who arrives in the unique town of Bellariva. While helping to put together prized possessions, you’ll also need to help restore relationships that are broken. Even though the game is short, it will stick with you long after fixing the 12 different objects.
There’s no need to worry; fans of fast-paced gaming action will definitely be at home on Apple Arcade. Speed Demons in more than just your usual trip down the highway. The top-down racing game features more than 25 different cars to drive and eight distinct game modes.
You accelerate automatically, so it’s your job is to avoid all the traffic, which can be up to 100 vehicles on screen at a time. The controller-compatible game will always keep you on your toes as the highways in 19 different environments automatically generate to provide a different experience each time.
With the wide variety of different games available to play on Apple Arcade, devoted games should definitely consider purchasing a physical controller.
The big advantage is that your controller will work across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac, allowing for a more unified gaming experience no matter where you’re playing. In many instances, using a controller gives you better split-second control for fast-paced titles.
A majority of Apple Arcade games support a controller. To confirm this, just look for the Controller Supported tag on the game’s page before downloading.
Starting all OS versions mentioned above, Apple has added support for two popular Bluetooth game controllers:
The Xbox One Wireless Controller offers a textured grip that makes it easy to hold while gaming. You can also use a compatible headset with the 3.5mm stereo jack.
You’ll need to provide a set of AA batteries to use in the controller. For colors, Microsoft offers everything from the usual black to more unique colors and configurations that celebrate Fortnite, Gears of War 5, and more.
Compared to the Xbox controller, the biggest plus of the DualShock 4 wireless controller is the built-in battery that you can recharge with a micro-USB cable. That will definitely save you some money on batteries in the long run.
The controller also features a built-in speaker and a stereo headset jack. Just like the Xbox controller, there are a number of different colors and designs to select from.
Sometimes, real-life can seriously impact on your gaming time. However, if you buy the right games you can start playing them on your PC and then continue playing them on your smartphone.
Here’s a short list of PC games you can continue playing on mobile, giving you the best of both worlds. Thus, these games will allow you to maximize your gaming time, no matter where you are.
It feels like Fortnite is on every console and system known to man, and your smartphone is no exception. Fortunately, if you get stuck into this wildly popular battle royale game, you won’t need to make a separate account for each system.
While Fortnite didn’t invent the battle royale genre, it’s one of its most popular entries. It also fought to bring cross-platform compatibility between all the devices it’s on. This feature means you can purchase and earn items on your PC, then retrieve them when you’re playing on mobile.
Fortnite also supports cross-platform play with PC, consoles, and mobile. This feature means that you can play with friends on different systems. Thankfully, if you’re not playing alongside anyone on a separate system, the game will pair you with other mobile players to keep things fair.
Another game that’s hard to avoid no matter where you are, Minecraft is playable on all modern devices. It takes a little more work to get Minecraft to work cross-platform, but it is possible.
For one, you need the Bedrock version of Minecraft on your PC. The Bedrock version is the standard that all devices should meet. Because every device uses the same version, they’re all on the same level and can play nicely with one another.
To run the Bedrock edition on your computer, you need Windows 10. Then, you need to download Minecraft for Windows 10 from the app store. You don’t need to re-buy this version; instead, you can get it for free after you buy the main version of Minecraft.
The Windows 10 version of Minecraft uses the Bedrock version, meaning you can cross-play with other systems. If you run Minecraft and it says “Java edition,” this is the new, flashy version of Minecraft and isn’t compatible with other devices.
You’ll also need Minecraft: Pocket Edition on your mobile device. Unfortunately, the mobile version doesn’t come free with the PC version, so you must re-buy it on your mobile device.
Once you’re using the Bedrock version, you can share a world between all your devices. The best way to do this is on a server which saves your progress as you build. You can either set up a server yourself or grab one from Minecraft Realms.
These steps represent quite a lot of work, so it’s best done if you have friends who want to play along. Fortunately, if you performed the above steps, you now have a server that’s running the standard Bedrock version. This means any friend, regardless of how they play, can hop on.
If you want to play card games while you’re out and about, Hearthstone is a fantastic choice. This fantasy-based trading card game (TCG) takes inspiration from the characters and settings within the hit game World of Warcraft. Since its release, Hearthstone has been taking more liberties with the source material and creating a style for itself.
Hearthstone’s core design is for PC and mobile cross-play. This means you can build and play decks on PC, then continue your card-based conquest while on the go. All of your cards and decks follow you, so you never need to rebuild the decks from scratch.
Best of all, TCGs have a slower, turn-based pace than other games. If you’re on mobile and a PC player challenges you, they don’t have an inherent gameplay advantage over you.
If you’re not keen on Hearthstone, give Shadowverse a try. This is an anime-based card game that is not as popular as Hearthstone but has an active fanbase that appreciates the art style.
Shadowverse is an excellent pick if you don’t want to spend too much on a TCG. The developer is generous with its gifts, so you can make a decent deck while paying nothing. The option is there to buy more packs if you feel inclined, but it’s a lot less restrictive than other TCGs.
At the time of writing, the gameplay revolves around playing “one-hit knockout” (OHKO) cards that win the game on the spot. As such, Shadowverse may not be an ideal choice for people who enjoy creature combat over combo wins.
A lot of games start on one platform, then expand to others when their success warrants it. Crashlands is unique in that the developers designed it to span both PC and mobile by default.
The PC and mobile versions are so in-sync, the developers wanted one game purchase to span both systems. Unfortunately, they couldn’t sell the PC and mobile version in a bundle, so they split the total asking price of the game between the two editions. As such, when you buy both versions, you’ve essentially bought the full game.
Crashlands has a similar style to games such as Minecraft and Don’t Starve. You play as Flux Danes, a space delivery man who’s shot down and lands on an alien planet. You’re forced to make a life for yourself by building a base, fighting off the wildlife, and collecting alien eggs to hatch as your pet.
Given that it’s designed to be cross-platform, you don’t lose progress between the PC and mobile versions. The game uses BscotchID to sync up the saves between both games. Once you have finished playing on PC and need to travel, just tell your phone to sync up the saves and you can start playing where you left off.
Steam shares your gameplay activity by default. If you’re playing Hello Kitty: Island Adventure or Bad Rats, you might want to keep your gameplay a secret. Here’s how to hide your Steam activity from your friends.
Hide Played Games From Your Steam Profile
Your Steam profile page normally lists all the games you’ve been playing and shows how many hours you’ve spent in all of them, focusing on what you’ve been playing in the last two weeks.
Steam profiles used to be public by default, but Valve made them private by default. Still, you may have made it public to work with a third-party service that reads information from your Steam profile, like IsThereAnyDeal, which scans your wishlist for games and lets you know if they’re for sale on other game stores.
To access your profile in Steam, hover over your username on the top bar and click “Profile.”
Click the “Edit Profile” button at the right side of the page to edit your profile.
Click “My Privacy Settings” at the right side of your page to find Steam’s profile privacy options.
Adjust the privacy settings here to control what people can see. To hide gameplay, you have two options.
To hide gameplay information, set “Game details” to “Private.” Not even your friends will be able to see the games you’re playing, the games you own, or the games you’ve wishlisted. They can still see your friends list, inventory, comments, and other information, depending on the options you have selected on this page.
You could also just hide everything by setting the “My Profile” option to Private. If you do, no one can see your entire profile page. You can also select “Friends Only,” and only your Steam friends will be able to see your profile.
Hide Gameplay Activity From Steam Chat
If you’re only kind-of embarrassed about the game you’re currently playing—maybe you don’t care if it’s listed on your profile page but you don’t want all your friends getting a notification that you’ve started playing the game or see that you’re playing it on their friends list—you can go offline or become invisible on Steam chat.
To do so, click the “Friends and Chat” option in steam, click your username, and select “Offline” or “Invisible.” Your friends won’t be able to see what you’re playing right now, although this information will still appear on your profile page.
Note that setting your “Game details” to Private will prevent your friends from seeing the games you’re playing, even if you’re online in Steam chat.
People with access to game details on your profile will still be able to see any achievements and playtime you have in that game. However, anyone with access to your PC won’t see the game in your normal Steam library.
With Steam now offering adult-only games and other not-safe-for-work (NSFW) material, the ability to hide games you’re playing only becomes more important. But it’s useful even if you’ve been playing other games, like Bad Rats, that you don’t want anyone else knowing about.
Days Gone is repetitive, typical, predictable, and mostly uninspired. But after looking past its shortcomings, I realized something: it’s also a blast. Not every game has to be revolutionary, and Days Gone is a perfect example of that.
Zombie games (and most other horror-survival titles) make up a lot of my gaming time, so when I saw the launch trailer for Days Gone three years ago, I was psyched. Watching Deacon St. John—a character I would later come to know as “Deek”—run from a massive horde of what the game calls “Freakers” in that first look was exciting. While it was more cinematic than gameplay, it looked intense, fast-paced, strategic, and most of all, horrifying. It instantly sold me.
Fast-forward three years and several delays, and I got the game in my hands on launch day, April 26, 2019. I popped that bad boy into my PlayStation 4 Pro to get rolling (literally—the motorcycle action was something I was looking forward to), hoping for what would ultimately become one of my new top five games.
I went into the game as blindly as I could. I watched the trailers and gameplay teasers as they were released, but avoided reviews so I could go in without preconceived ideas about what the game is, isn’t, should, or shouldn’t be. The intensity of the launch trailer made me think of a specific moment from my favorite game of all time—the hotel basement from The Last of Us—so I had high hopes that it would live up to that. Spoiler: It didn’t.
And that’s okay. Let’s talk about why.
Warning: Major Days Gone spoilers ahead.
A Great Story Can Make a Great Game…
A great game makes players care genuinely about the characters and what they’re going through—I love Joel and Ellie (The Last of Us) on what feels like a personal level. In Horizon: Zero Dawn, I cared about Aloy’s quest—I wanted her to find the answers she was so desperately seeking. In God of War (2018), Kratos showed a side we’ve never seen before and is such an incredibly dynamic, multi-faceted character who makes you feel.
It isn’t just these characters that make up the stories, though—it’s the other characters they meet along the way, how they interact with them, and the relationships built throughout the journey of the game. Sure, Deek (and by some extension, his best friend Boozer) is a relatable, (mostly) likable character, and his quest is easily the most meaningful part of the game. It’s the other characters that leave a lot to be desired—especially early on.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Days Gone (which, if you’re reading this, you really should be, because there are significant spoilers throughout), it starts with Deacon trying to deal with the death of his wife, Sarah. Deek is a drifter—that is, he’s not a part of any particular camp—so he runs errands and does missions for surrounding camps. In return, he builds trust with these camps and gets “camp credits” (the in-game currency) to buy things. It’s a necessary game mechanic. You start the game by running errands for these (mostly unlikable) camp leaders with no real goals outside of just that.
The first few hours of the game lack meaning—it’s not until you learn that Sarah may be alive that the real quest starts. At that point, you have something to care about. But even then it’s filled with fluff—there are so few meaningful moments in between the repetitive quests, it honestly gets hard to keep playing at some points. It gets better when you get to Iron Mike’s camp, even if only marginally, with more in-depth conversations and interactions happening between Mike and Deacon. Mike is a good guy stuck in a bad situation—a true diplomat who has to make the tough calls but ultimately wants everyone to get along. This adds some much-needed complexity and reason to the whole thing.
The story finally takes off in a meaningful way when you leave Lost Lake and journey south to the Diamond Lake and Wizard Island encampments. This is where you find what Deacon has been looking for throughout the first half of the game: Sarah is at Wizard Island. She’s working as a researcher to create a “weapon” (lol jk it’s really a cure) against the freakers for the militia.
But even then, when Deacon and Sarah see each other for the first time, it’s missing a real holy shit moment. You want them to have this fantastic scene; instead, it just kind of…happens. She barely acknowledges Deacon is standing there, and he doesn’t say a word to indicate that it’s really Sarah. With this first interaction, I seriously thought it was Sarah’s sister or some weird lookalike.
After playing the game a bit more, it becomes clear why they react this way: the Wizard Island Militia’s leader, Colonel Garret, is a lunatic. He goes on long rants about the end times and why the freaker outbreak is happening, how they’re the chosen people to rebuild society, and worst of all, how they should kill all other camps. How the hell are you going to repopulate the world if you want to kill everyone else? The man’s ideology is seriously twisted.
His batshit craziness should’ve been established earlier on—you know; before you find Sarah—and then their meeting would make a lot more sense. As it stands, it plays out like Deacon already knows more about the camp than we do, despite learning about it at the same time as the player. It’s a huge disconnect.
It’s not until about three-quarters of the way through the game, however, that the story starts to get good. As Deacon and Sarah begin to reconnect, it finally sparks some real emotion in the player. There’s finally a reason to do the things Deek is being asked to do—even the repetitive “go kill this ambush camp” missions feel like they have some reason; after all, Deek has to fit in with the militia. For Sarah.
But therein lies the problem: it shouldn’t wait so long to bring forth an emotional response. It’s like watching a two-hour movie that’s just okay but then gets really good for the last half-hour—or reading a 600-page book, only to really start enjoying it for the last 150 pages.
Don’t get me wrong—the story in Days Gone is good! The journey to get there, however, isn’t as much. It’s missing that one thing that makes so many other great games, well, great. Once you come to terms with that, however, you start to realize how much fun Days Gone can be.
Days Gone isn’t a revolutionary game. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table—the mechanics are tried and true, the weapon system is typical, and battles are pretty much what you’d expect. But you know what? That’s okay! Not everything has to be revolutionary. Every new game doesn’t have to break a mold or reinvent a genre. They can’t all be zingers—nor should they have to be. There are some decidedly good games out there that still deserve your hard-earned money and time. Doom 2016, Mortal Kombat X, or Just Cause 2, anyone?
Days Gone is fun, and it does exactly what a game should do: it kept me coming back for more. Sure, some of the gameplay is repetitive (how many marauder, ripper, or anarchist camps do I have to kill, anyway?) and there are slums here and there where it starts to feel stagnant like everything is dragging. But it seems like every time I look at my wife and say, “yeah, this is starting to get a little boring…” I get a call from someone, telling me they have a job for me. And nearly every time, a new, major storyline emerges from that call. So right as the game starts to feel a bit stale, it revives itself at the right moment.
Of course, great games never feel stale. But Days Gone isn’t a great game. It’s an okay game. At worst, some may call it a bad game (they’d be wrong). At best, it’s a good game. But it’s not—nor will it ever be—a great game. Again, though, that’s okay. There’s plenty of room in every gamer’s catalog for good games.
Now, all that said, there are some weird things in Days Gone that I couldn’t overlook. For starters, it’s one of the glitchiest release titles I’ve ever played—something Bend Studios has been doing a pretty good job of fixing through updates. But still, it’s hard to understand how some of this stuff gets through testing in the first place.
For example, the audio was out of sync with the cinematics early-on, which was maddening. Fortunately, that was recently fixed. But that’s just the first on a long list of bugs I experienced: I wasn’t able to finish a handful of quests for various reasons. Some of them required I do other quests; others required me to restart the console. The same thing happened with the start of a couple of quests—like the one where you first find the Reacher in a cave. The cave was completely sealed off, so I had to restart my PS4 and re-load the game. It was fine after that. The same thing happened in a later quest, where the element to spark the quest wasn’t available. Again, a restart fixed it. Sure, I’ve experienced a few glitches in games, but none as severe as Days Gone. And that is frustrating.
There are also questionable decisions in the way the game works, like the fact it tells you that all freaker nests have been burned and shows a completion chart the second the final nest is gone—it doesn’t matter if you’re still trying to kill all the surrounding freakers or not, the interruption is coming. And good lord man, it’s frustrating as hell and super jarring. I hate it.
Then there’s the navigation system. Unless you’re on your bike, it just sucks. It doesn’t give offer any navigation when on foot, only an arrow that points in the direction you need to go in. I guess that’s better than nothing, but it’s still not clear to me why the highlighted route disappears the second you get off the bike. Sometimes I wanna walk, you know?
Speaking of the bike, there are a lot of details Days Gone leaves out that you have to figure out for yourself—like the fact that you can roll up to a gas station pump and fill up. For hours I got off the bike and searched the area until I found a gas can. There are several little things like that—not total game changers, but small things that make it easier to play. I’m not sure why these things aren’t made more clear.
Fortunately, most of the game’s issues like this are things that can (and hopefully will) be fixed or tweaked with updates. As I said, Bend Studios has been doing a pretty good job of this so far.
But Days Gone Lacks in Both (and That’s Fine)
The main story in Days Gone really is terrific, but it takes a long time to get into it. The bulk of the game is managing lots of little side quests, which mostly comes off as filler content. The gameplay is fine, but a bit glitchy. Overall, neither of these things made for a great game, but that’s okay because Days Gone is fun.
While killing the camps—marauders, rippers, anarchists, etc.—is mostly the same idea over and over, they’re one of my favorite parts of the game because they’re still dynamic. The environments change for each one, which means you have to adjust your approach each time. But what makes the camp kills even more interesting is Deek himself—as you get more skills, the way you play changes. For example, the skill that allows you to see enemies with Survival Vision will dramatically change the way you play. That’s not just for camps either, but the entire game from that point forward.
Speaking of skills, the skill tree upgrade system is one of the best things in Days Gone because it’s not a slog. So many games that use this kind of system make you grind for new upgrades, which is one area where Days Gone goes the opposite direction: skill points come frequently. There were even a couple of times where I had two (or more) skill points at one time because I didn’t realize I had already gotten one when the next one became available. You can plan your upgrades two or three points in advance most of the time and hit that goal pretty fast, which is rewarding. And the more upgraded Deek is, the more fun the game becomes.
That brings me to the best part of the game: the hordes. My God, the hordes. While so much of the game is a lot of the same stuff, the hordes are insane. They’re the one truly unique thing in the game—I can’t say I’ve ever played another game with anything like the hordes. But the thing is, you don’t have the equipment to take on hordes until many, many hours into playing—in fact, they don’t become a real focus until after you’ve completed the main storyline. Once you get there, though, things get wild. Some of the hordes are small (and optional), but they’re a lot of fun.
The real challenge, however, is with the mandatory hordes —especially the sawmill. If you watched the first Days Gone trailer, you know the one I’m talking about. I was so jazzed to see that it was a real thing you had to face in the game and not just some cool-looking cinematic the company worked up to build interest in the game. It’s an enormous horde, and it’s incredibly hard to beat. I tried a handful of different tactics before I landed on the right one, which was a refreshing deviation from the rest of the game that I had primarily been playing the same way. I love the hordes so much.
The biggest issue with the hordes is that you can only play them once. You can’t repeat them, and there is no New Game Plus mode (yet, at least) so you can’t re-do them without starting from scratch. This is a pretty common request from Days Gone players, so here’s to hoping Bend brings new options soon—I’d love to see New Game Plus soon. Like I said, the more powerful Deek and his weapons get, the more fun the game is. So a second playthrough with New Game Plus would be amazing. Also, here to hoping for a way to reset the hordes, too. Let’s get granular, y’all.
Ultimately, there’s been a lot of utterly negative press surrounding Days Gone, and it’s honestly kind of weird to me—almost like a narrative was set early on and fell into some bizarre internet echo chamber. And while many of the negative points aren’t technically wrong, I think that this focus made it too easy to overlook the fact that this game is fun. Sure, it’s probably won’t go down as one of the best games in history, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick it up and enjoy the absolute shit out of it anyway.