Sony Interactive Entertainment will release a big-budget video game created by the company’s Bend development studio on Friday, and local gamers are eager to play “Days Gone.”

The game, rated for mature audiences, is set in a High Desert landscape two years after a pandemic virus wiped out most of the population and turned many of the rest into “freakers.” Playing as lead character Deacon St. John, gamers will encounter human enemies, infected wolves and bears and life-threatening weather, creative director John Garvin explained in a recent promotional video.

“Everything is trying to kill you,” Garvin said.

Sony will not reveal how much it spent on the game, but it is the largest project to date for the local shop, called Bend Studio. The studio has gone from employing about 45 people in 2012 to about 130 today.

There’s no sign that the studio will shrink after “Days Gone” hits the market. Sony announced this week that additional content will become available this summer, so the team will be focused on delivering that over the next several months, spokeswoman Saori Ikeda said.

Since late 2017 the studio has occupied most of Crane Shed Commons, a new office building on Industrial Way overlooking the Deschutes River.

“Days Gone” is playable only on Sony’s console, PlayStation 4. Bend gamer Aaron Rametes, 19, is a lifetime user of Microsoft’s Xbox, but he said he’s so eager to see “Days Gone,” he will probably buy it so he can play it on a friend’s PS4.

“It’s another zombies game we get to free-roam,” Rametes said. He enjoys the genre, and he said he’s eager to see it played out in familiar pine forests and mountainous terrain.

Jessica Brenner, owner of White Rabbit Collectibles in Bend, is also excited about seeing her native Central Oregon rendered in a AAA game. “It appears they’ve represented it in a beautiful way,” she said.

Brenner is a fan of zombie games, but she said she’s looking for more than gore and violence. “I enjoy a rich story full of emotional characters and things I can get involved in, versus just a hack-and-slash,” she said.

“Days Gone” has been under development since 2012 and was first previewed during the video gaming conference E3 in 2016.

Bend gamer Brandon Burton said he doesn’t mind that it’s been almost three years since “Days Gone” first appeared at E3. “Every time I hear about a delay, I’m like, ‘That’s OK with me. Make it better.’”

The release date was pushed back because the Bend Studio team wanted to “deliver something they were all happy with,” Ikeda said.

The “Days Gone” release comes in the same week as “Mortal Kombat 11,” a long-running franchise available for multiple gaming platforms. Burton thinks a lot of gamers will spend their $60 on “Mortal Kombat 11” this week but that “Days Gone” will go over well with PS4 users like him. Sony has 90 million PS4s in use around the world.

“People trust Sony at this point,” Burton said. “They’re basically saying this game is awesome. Their track record so far has been pretty spot-on.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com

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