More details of what Days Gone game director Jeff Ross envisioned for a sequel to the open world zombie game have come out in an interview with USA Today. This includes how he and fellow director John Garvin planned to continue the story of Deacon St. John and his wife Sarah, the introduction of NERO tech, and Deacon plucking up the courage to figure out how to swim.
In the interview, Ross admits that Days Gone was far from a perfect game, with pacing issues, yelling at the radio, and plenty more, but asserts once more that “We have to be able to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run,” while pointing to other first-time games like Uncharted and Batman: Arkham Asylum that grew significantly from one game to the next.
In his vision for a sequel, Ross revealed that the relationship between Deacon St. John and his wife Sarah would have been explored further. He said, “Yeah, they’re back together, but maybe they’re not happy. Well, what can we do with that? Okay, we were married before the apocalypse, but what about the future?
“We would have kept the heavy, strong narrative. We would have kept the bike, obviously. And I think we would have expanded the tone a little bit in a more technical direction, kind of like, ‘Alright, now we have all this NERO tech – what can we do with it?’ The tone would have expanded one ring outward towards some of the new reality. I think this would have been a little bit more – I don’t want to say Avengers, but something where the player had resources, he had some sort of the remnants of whatever the government had.”
Further reading: Does Days Gone deserve a sequel after all?
Beyond that, they would have wanted to add to the world to have things like bears rummaging through trash cans, encounters with wolves and more varied AI for both enemies and allies. While swimming would have been included after it was taken out of the first game for causing too many technical challenges and given a narrative explanation.
In essence, Ross would have wanted to introduce more lays and systems to the game for a richer tapestry of gameplay. “Systems are very simple,” he explained, “And if they’re simple, they can be elegant and very rich for the player. I knew adding one or two more layers to the systemic elements of it would have been something that we could have wrapped our heads around, it would have led to a ton of richness for the players and a ton of unique open-world moments and responses that we haven’t seen before. Let’s sink our teeth into this and do something even more epic.”
Released in 2019, the open world zombie game debuted to a good, though not great critical reception. It was still a sales success for Sony and sold around 5 million copies by the end of the year, but behind the scenes, as the management at the top of PlayStation Studios changed hands, the pitches for a Days Gone sequel ended up being turned down. This, it transpires, was seemingly on a studio management level, as opposed to reaching new PlayStation Studios boss Hermen Hulst’s desk.
The decision not to greenlight a sequel made headlines in early 2021, two years on from the game’s original release. Both Ross and Garvin had departed the company in late 2020, and there were reports of discontent at the studio not being able to make a sequel and having to work instead as a support studio to Naughty Dog. Last April, the two of them gave a number of interviews and made podcast appearances that revealed some of their vision for Days Gone 2, such as having a shared open world, and the lack of a sequel became percieved as one of the greatest injustices in video gaming history by those who enjoyed the game.
Time has passed, confirmation that Bend is working on a new original IP has come, but then the bandage has been ripped off the wound once again in the last few days as Ross stated that Days Gone sold around 8 million copies within its first 19 months on sale, a figure that’s comparable to critical darling Ghost of Tsushima. This, it seems, was partly an estimate from trophy tracking data, but is likely to be within the ballpark. Either way, it’s prompted fresh discussion of a game that, frankly, is never, ever going to get made.
Will this be the end of the Days Gone 2 trail? I guess we’ll find out in roughly 8 months time.
Source: USA Today