To say that The Day Before has been controversial would be an understatement. It initially debuted gorgeous screenshots that few could believe represented actual gameplay. As the months and years passed and the delays piled up, the lack of gameplay became more apparent.
Developer Fntastic finally debuted about ten minutes back in February, which showed a significant downgrade from previously released media, and also didn’t showcase any combat or infected enemies. Then there was the whole trademark nonsense, but that’s been resolved, at least according to the developer.
Before its supposed launch on November 10th, Fntastic released a new trailer and announced another delay to December 7th. On top of visuals that still didn’t approach the quality of initial reveals, The Day Before will launch in Steam Early Access.
As for Xbox Series X/S and PS5 players, they need to wait until it exits early access to get their hands on it. For those looking to jump in, whether you’ve followed since day one or are learning about it for the first time, here are a few things you should know about The Day Before.
What Even is This Game?
Contrary to the key art and title font which seemingly rips off The Last of Us, The Day Before isn’t a story-driven single-player game. It’s an open-world MMO survival title with third-person and first-person shooting elements and day/night changes. Set on the US East Coast after a pandemic, which has resulted in the zombie-like infected roaming the streets, players must fight through the horde and scavenge whatever they can to survive.
The only explorable city, at least at this point, looks to be New Fortune City. There are extensive streets, skyscrapers, stadiums, business centers and malls to explore, each potentially holding valuable resources like weapons, ammo, clothing, medicine, etc. You also must scavenge food and water since there are hunger and thirst meters to replenish.
You can modify weapons with different attachments and use different ammo types, like armor-piercing rounds, and Fntastic promises realistic reload and recoil mechanics. Thus far, we’ve seen assault rifles, semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns. There also appear to be throwable explosives like grenades and flashbangs.
What is Woodberry?
After creating your character – with options for voice, body type, face, skin tone, tattoos, scars, makeup, hairstyles and beards – you happen upon Woodberry after rescuing some survivors. This is essentially a colony which serves as the social hub. You can permanently store items, speak and haggle with different vendors, and even undertake quests for survivors. They require different materials and resources, not unlike the settlements in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2.
Complete these, and you receive Woodberry Coins, which are exchanged for various goods and services. Weapons, food, medicines, armor, backpacks and more are available to purchase. You can even buy cars to navigate New Fortune City’s roads. Though we’ve only seen sportscars till now, initial media did showcase jeeps. No word yet on whether those will be available at the early access launch.
Also, Woodberry has a Spa and gym. The Spa is probably inspired by Monster Hunter World’s Gathering Hub, a spot for players to relax and awkwardly state at each other, but what purpose does the gym serve? Maybe treadmill competitions between your buddies? Your guess is as good as ours.
Is This an Extraction Shooter?
More or less. The gameplay loop of discovering resources in New Fortune City and bringing them back to Woodberry, fulfilling requests for Woodberry Coins to buy weapons and armor, and then venturing back to the city to get more is pretty similar. You can customize your loadout before heading out and, as noted earlier, store any worthwhile weapons and supplies in Woodberry for safekeeping.
Also, as you roam around, there may be other players seeking the same resources as you. While some cooperation is possible, especially when facing the infected, you may also have to fight them and take their stuff. Lose and risk losing some of your own, including whatever you rode into battle with, though how that works with the vehicles is unknown. Perhaps you can “insure” some items for a price, ensuring they won’t be lost if downed, but again, it’s unconfirmed if this is a feature.
Why is There a Ranch? What is Happening?
Yes, there is a ranch. You can customize it with different furniture like sofas, armchairs, decorations (like lamps, carpets, a radio etc.), tables, wardrobes and whatnot, all costing Woodberry Coins, which makes you wonder if they’ll be purchasable with real money. The recent trailer indicates that you can upgrade and purchase houses, plural, which could mean having multiple buildings here. Is there any actual farming? Fishing? Anything else that you would see on a ranch? Again, it’s unknown, but there appears to be a lake nearby and a spot for chopping firewood.
Why Early Access?
The announcement of early access, since The Day Before has been hyped as a full game at launch, has caused some controversy. So why early access? As described by Fntastic on the Steam page, it’s pursuing this route because this is the studio’s “first huge game” and there may be “unforeseen circumstances. Early Access also allows us to refine and improve the game in collaboration with the community.” Which is all well and good, but how it adheres to that approach remains to be seen.
How Long is Early Access?
The current plan is to be in early access for about six to eight months, with the console versions launching around the same time, but this “could change.” While it’s easy to be skeptical of the developer releasing the game when it’s “confident that it represents the best version” possible, this isn’t a new thing for early access titles. Granted, not many have the kind of controversies that have dogged The Day Before, but I digress.
What’s in Early Access?
New Fortune City and its “surroundings” can be explored, and the core gameplay loop is implemented, so you can buy cars, take on quests, build houses on the ranch, explore the city, battle the undead, and more. While you can expect bug fixes and improvements for the core gameplay, additional content like new items, weapons, cars, houses (perhaps different housing types) and equipment are also planned. There’s currently no early access roadmap, but more details may be revealed closer to launch.
Firstly, there is no pre-order option – probably for the best, in case the early access version gets delayed. It will cost $39, and on the full release, the price will increase to $49, presumably what the console versions also cost.
If nothing else, the system requirements for The Day Before aren’t too crazy. You need Windows 10 64-bit, DirectX 12, 16 GB of RAM and 55 GB of installation space regardless of other hardware. Minimum requirements for Low-Quality Settings include an Intel Core i5-8400 or AMD equivalent, 16 GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD equivalent GPU. Recommended requirements for High-Quality settings include a Core i7-8700 (3.2 GHz) or AMD equivalent and a GeForce 1080 Ti or AMD equivalent. While a hard disk drive is supported, an SSD is preferred and mandatory at the higher end.