This week, Bend Studios (a member of the Sony Interactive Entertainment family) will release Days Gone for the PS4, a post apocalyptic open-world adventure that sees a road wandering outlaw navigate a monster-filled world on his beloved motorcycle.
Said vehicle, referred to as the Drifter Bike, is the latest in a long history of video game companions that are both crucial to the gameplay, but also close enough to the main character that a bond is developed over time. Much like the way folks fell in love with the horse Roach in The Witcher 3, the Drifter Bike is the only constant for Days Gone hero Deacon St. John in a world corrupted by an outbreak. In fact, players must maintain and even protect the bike, which makes it seem almost like a character unto itself.
Companions like the Drifter Bike are among the most important things that gamers remember after hours of time spent in these vast worlds. With all of this time put into a deep story that includes many new faces, names, and problems to solve, it’s no wonder that Deacon’s motorcycle will become one of the more familiar companions throughout the journey.
That said, here’s a look at some of the most influential animals and vehicles in gaming.
The Evolution of Crucial Companions
It was games like Nintendo’s flagship release of Super Mario World in 1990 that gave us our first real taste at companion characters that made a huge difference. The world fell in love with Yoshi immediately, as the hungry dinosaur changed the way Mario interacted with the world. By giving a mounted Mario the ability to jump higher, move faster, and cross large ravines, Yoshi altered the concept of a Super Mario Bros. game.
Things would evolve further when Link met a young horse, Epona, during the first 3D adventure within the Legend of Zelda universe, Ocarina of Time. That relationship was the key to unlocking the door to a whole new way to play open-world adventure games, how much of Hyrule we could access, and even what we would expect from the franchise moving forward. Most recently, in 2017’s Breath of the Wild for the Switch, the concept of Link’s steed grew even further. With upgraded equipment from a stable, Link’s horse could instantly travel to his location.
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Expanding on this bond between protagonist and horse, 2018’s Red Dead Redemption 2 gave players even more elaborate options for both the care of one’s mount and their customization. This incredible depth made everyone’s horse more than a simple means to get around. Dare we say that some of us wound up caring for in-game RDR2 horses more than we expected, maybe even more so than our actual pets. At least the RDR2 horse doesn’t need to be walked at 6AM.
The 15th installment of the Final Fantasy franchise also brought to the gaming world the Regalia. A much beloved unofficial 5th member of the party that the boy-band often called “the old girl”, the Regalia was not just the towncar expended to the prince in order to traverse the massive open-world of FFXV, it grew alongside you. From parking spots, petrol stations, tune-ups, and an astoundingly deep tray of albums to enjoy, cruising down the highways with your three best-friends made the Regalia unforgettable.
A Hero’s Friend
Whether we’re talking about rideable dinosaurs, horses, or diesel powered bikes, we’ve had the pleasure of travelling with and leveling up some of the most intriguing companions the gaming universe has to offer, whether they are living beings or not.
As you set out to survive the new world alongside your trusty motorcycle in Days Gone, don’t forget all of the companions and beloved forms of transportation that have come before it.
Days Gone will release on April 26th.
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