Days Gone PC: a quality conversion that elevates the console experience

Sony promised us more PC conversions of their stellar first party development output and while Horizon Zero Dawn illustrated that this is far from a simple process, Days Gone is on another level. The upgrades are strategically chosen but effective – and performance is solid on both Nvidia and AMD hardware. In fact, there are one or two touches here and there included in this game that really hope to see other developers bring to their own titles, especially when it comes to configurability. While we’re not getting the ultimate package here – there’s no ray tracing and disappointingly, no DLSS – there’s no doubt that this is a solid, impressive port.

Booting up the PC version of Days Gone, it’s immediately apparent that this isn’t just a basic PS4 Pro conversion. The game is based on Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 and I was happy to see that Bend Studio had updated the PC version to include a more recent UE4 innovation – software-based screen-space ray traced global illumination – available as an upgrade over the standard ambient occlusion tech deployed on the console versions. Essentially, the appearance of light bouncing around a game scene is emulated in screen-space, delivering a richer presentation with more realistic lighting and better, more realistic shadows. If light hits a red surface, for example, some measure of that ‘redness’ will illuminate the surroundings where appropriate. If this sounds familiar, The Coalition made a similar upgrade to the Xbox Series and PC versions of Gears 5, again by dipping into more recent UE4 engine updates and adding it to their existing codebase. The old SSAO is still there though for that authentic console look – it’s now simply the ‘high’ setting for the in-game lighting.

The second largest upgrade that the PC version of Days Gone gets over the console versions comes from texture quality. In side-by-side comparisons, the improvement via higher quality assets is pretty easy to see and affects nearly every texture you can find in the game, definitely improving the overall look. In terms of where the existing console version compares in terms of PC’s quality settings, it’s difficult to say. It doesn’t seem to align with any of the presets, honestly presenting as lower than PC’s lowest texture streaming option.

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