Guide originally published on 26 April, 2019. We’re bringing this forward to 2021 since the PC version is out now.
Days Gone is an action-adventure game with a vast open world. It’s also filled with a ton of tough enemies and Freaker hordes that will end you quick.
Fortunately, your hero Deacon St. John can get buffed with Skills and NERO injections to stand a chance. But which Skills from the game’s three Skill Tree types should you invest in first? Glad you asked: here’s our advice.
NERO Injections: What To Focus On First
Every NERO checkpoint contains one NERO injection that can improve either your Health, your Stamina, or your Focus (for bullet-time aiming).
Since this game relies on your Stamina meter to do your running and dodging, aim to get shots for your Stamina first. After 3-4 shots, improve Health for the next few permanent boosts.
You will die a lot in the game when getting the hang of how Freakers and the wildlife attack, so you should at least boost the Stat that prolongs your survivability a tad longer via skilled reflexes.
Generally, you will need to spend 2 Skill Points here to unlock better Survival skills in Tiers II and beyond. These include:
- Thief In The Night (Tier II): Stealth kills can help save bullets. So sneaking around quietly when moving or dropping is always a plus.
- Green Thumb (Tier II): Get double resources when gathering plants. Cash in plants for more money and encampment trust.
- Ear To The Ground (Tier III): Using Survival Vision now lets you see enemies behind walls. Perfect for stealth ambushes and “wall-hacking” opportunities.
- Catch Your Breath (Tier III), Shape Up (Tier V), Six Feet Under (Tier V): Stamina is pretty important in this game, so any skill that reduces cooldown and also increases regeneration rate for Stamina is a must-have.
- Monkey Wrench (Tier IV): Us less scrap to repair your bike. You’ll need scrap to repair your melee weapon often, so it’s best to go for this skill to keep your bike in tip-top shape.
- Carry That Weight (Tier IV): More space equals more opportunities to craft.
If you’d rather just go straight to bashing Freakers up, go for the first two skills.
- Field Repairs (Tier I): A must-have. This lets you repair melee weapons with scrap. Your weapons will break easily, so repairing them on the go is useful.
- Busted Lip (Tier II): Regenerates Stamina for every melee kill.
- Lightning Reflexes (Tier III): Roll quickly to recover from a knockdown. Best when dogpiled by Freakers.
- Just Roll With It (Tier IV): Drastically reduces stamina cost from rolling. Perfect when fighting enemies with hard-hitting attacks with long recovery time, since you can dodge, shoot/melee, and repeat without running out of stamina too fast.
- Home Run (Tier IV): Save scrap from repairing melee attacks by making them hit harder than usual.
- Retribution (Tier V), Switch It Up (Tier V), Executioner (Tier V): Assuming you’re starting on the Melee Skill tree after the Survival tree, these three abilities are a must-have. The former lets you crit more than usual, while the latter makes your weakest default melee pretty formidable. Executioner makes it easier to sneak-kill larger zombies and wildlife that you usually avoid when you’re early in the game.
Bullets are hard to come by early in the game, so I suggest saving this Skill tree for last after Melee and Survival.
- Vicious Cycle (Tier I): Melee enemies, then combo it with a gunshot for extra damage. Guns don’t wear out like melee weapons, so it’s a good skill to have to save weapon usage.
- Focused Shot (Tier I): Slow down time around you while aiming a ranged weapon.
- Crowd Control (Tier II): Like Focus mode but wished you could use it more? Get this skill! Combo this with Focused Shot for maximum efficiency.
- Suppressing Fire (Tier II): Useful when stopping running Freakers and Runners; this allows your shots to hit harder and stop weaker enemies when in Focus mode.
- Nocked Up (Tier III): The crossbow is the only special weapon where you can create ammo out of crafting materials. Might as well add a skill point here to make them hit harder, especially when you get the Drifter Crossbow later in the game.
- Deadshot, Quick Reload (Tier IV): It’ll take you a while to get here, but these two skills will up your gunplay significantly once you face bigger enemies.
- Under Pressure (Tier IV): When you want to take on the Hordes in the late-game, this is a must. It lets you pause Focus drain when reloading.
- Up The Ante, Two Birds One Bullet (Tier V): More ammo + high chance of bullet penetration = saved shot and best way to deal with Hordes via machine gun.
How To Take Down A Horde
The Freaker Hordes are like bosses in the game. They’re basically a large group of Freakers (100 or so) who venture out at night and sleep in caves and abandoned train carriages in the day.
Here are a few tips on how to deal with them, since there’s a sidequest where you will need to cull the Freaker herd. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.
#1. Look for bottlenecks and choke points
Hordes travel in large groups, but since only two or three of them can only fit through small gaps, you can lure them to squeeze through without being overwhelmed. From there, you can just gun them down or use explosives. Keep in mind that your reloading animations for your guns can be slow, so you need to find concurrent choke points to run to.
#2. Get rapid-fire MGs and assault rifles
Speaking of guns, get special weapons that have decent stopping power but have good range, high rate of fire, and great penetration. Examples include LMGs, assault rifle/SMGs, and automatic sidearms with high rate of fire. The latter is better for picking off stragglers to save primary/special ammo.
Thinning the Horde requires you to use these weapons, so get to grinding and completing camp quests for cash & trust, drifter!
#3. Be prepared with traps
Before waking them up, lay down proximity and remote bombs along your route. This is useful especially if you’ve found crawlspaces and tight spots to lure them to.
#4. Buff up Stamina and Focus
If you’re caught by a Horde, you’re more or less dead. So why not just prioritize more on Stamina and Focus when getting those NERO injections instead? You need Stamina to run and do last-second dodge rolls. Focus helps slow down time and line up your shots so you can get headshots consistently.
#5. Work your way up to the Two Birds One Bullet & Under Pressure skills
Having a big gun plus high amounts of penetration means you can cut through the Horde like butter even if you’re getting just body shots. Last we checked, a military-grade light machine gun like the RPD can stop most Freakers in their tracks.
Also, saving Focus when reloading helps, so do get Under Pressure.
#6. Finish the Story Mode
Completing the main story quest unlocks all Horde locations. Sure, you can just faff about and kill a few of them, but unlocking the locations post-game means you have access to better equipment like the aforementioned RPDs and Napalm Molotovs (via crafting).