The Day Before: An Unreal Engine 5 Survival Game with Ambitious Scope

By Shaan Khan

Screenshot Courtesy of FNTASTIC on YouTube

In January 2021, game dev studio, FNTASTIC, revealed a gameplay trailer on ‘The Day Before’—an upcoming MMO-Survival game they are developing.

The gameplay reveal was reminiscent of the original trailer to Tom Clancy’s The Division, invigorating the same shock & awe for spectators. However, The Division was a triple-A game that failed to capture the wonder from the trailer—having to downgrade the game upon release.

Fortunately, hardware has advanced since The Division’s launch, and to silence the cynics and fuel the hype train, FNTASTIC began releasing more information and gameplay footage on The Day Before, and it worked—boosting the game to the number one spot as Steam’s most wishlisted game. 

So, what makes the game so promising as the next big thing in the survival genre? Or do we have another snake oil pitch on our hands where the game fails to live up to its expectations?

The Expectations

With so many devs creating hybrid survival games, The Day Before brings us back to the basics with a traditional hardcore survival experience where your primary goal is to survive and rebuild. As the voiceover says in the game’s trailer, ‘Take me back to the day before the world ends’.

So expect the standard survival features like hunger & eating, temperature & hygiene effects or bleeding & bandaging. The game inherently will send you on a looting spree to survive, so what will it be like exploring the world?

Locations & Traversal

Screenshot Courtesy of FNTASTIC on YouTube

A selling point to The Day Before is the environmental diversity & detail. Most survival games have you exploring either a city or forest, while The Day Before allows you to experience both within the same map—including farm pastures and snow-capped mountains!

To get around, there are vehicles such as jeeps and tanks. The suspension on these vehicles is ultra-realistic when off-roading, with the chance of your tires getting stuck in the mud. The style of driving gameplay is heavily reminiscent of a popular off-roading game on Steam called ‘Spintires: MudRunner’.

The map is a playground of open buildings you can roam. The trailers highlight how each building’s interior looks different, and all include immense detail for that sweet environmental storytelling you find in games like the Fallout and Resident Evil series. It’s more impressive given the scale of this MMO world, to have large portions of the map articulately crafted instead of copy-pasted assets thrown around that other survival games are guilty of.

 Combat, Raids & Gear

Screenshot Courtesy of FNTASTIC on YouTube

MMOs and graphically intensive games don’t tend to blend well in providing a good net code; PvP tends to be a broken mess that doesn’t live up to the immersion of the graphics.

Gameplay videos prove otherwise in The Day Before, with fluid PvP combat involving groups of players in single standoffs in multiple locations. 

While the gameplay footage tends to be scripted, it was recorded entirely in-game to show off its capability.

Raiding buildings are spiced up with features such as traps and alarm systems you can set up or take down through puzzle gameplay—providing a Rainbow Six: Siege style of gameplay to raiding.

A major incentive to raid & loot outside of storytelling, PvP & puzzle-solving pleasure is to secure unique gear to customise your character with and stand out from the rest of the crowd!

Settlements

Screenshot Courtesy of FNTASTIC on YouTube

Settlements bring order and organisation to the gameplay and crafting your own online stories. Many modern games such as Destiny have hubs where you buy/sell gear, use workshops for crafting and meet other players in these safe zones to roleplay, team up or challenge one another.

The Day Before uses the same hub formula under the label of Settlements. You can also build your own settlements as part of the overarching narrative of the game, to rebuild & restore to the day before society collapsed.

Controversy

The Day Before was initially expected to launch in June 2022 but delayed the release date to 1st March 2023. This created concern and people began to investigate the past titles of FNTASTIC to judge the studio’s credibility. As a result, the curtain was pulled on the studio’s list of uncomplete and unpopular games, with only a mobile game they once developed that reached the most success.

So it began to seem like FNTASTIC were taking on more than they could chew with this ambitious project. The studio then decided to transfer The Day Before project onto Unreal Engine 5 from Unreal Engine 4, then finish developing the game on this latest game engine.

FNTASTIC are now looking for unpaid volunteers to aid them in completing this game. Still, for many gamers, this was the tipping point of hope they had in The Day Before. However, could Unreal Engine 5 be a blessing in disguise for the game?

Unreal Engine 5 to The Rescue?

Screenshot Courtesy of FNTASTIC on YouTube

Based on the controversy, you can quickly assume the game is far from ready. However, the gameplay trailers out there have showcased a detailed, handcrafted world far into development. It’s plausible to assume the team want to strive for perfection with an already solid game they’ve got on their hands.

In fact, the studio has stated they want to include new innovations in The Day Before and the best chance of that is to use a new & revolutionary game engine like Unreal Engine 5 that hasn’t been used to develop many games just yet.

What the studio created with Unreal Engine 4 could’ve likely limited their potential to utilise current-gen hardware to the fullest extent. Unreal Engine 5 could be the necessary tool in creating an ambitious MMO Survival game of this calibre that’s never been done before.

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