Days Gone is an anomaly in Sony’s first-party titles as it was met with relatively tepid reviews and didn’t get a sequel. However, it still has its fans that are clamoring for a follow-up that will likely never come. Game Director Jeff Ross recently gave more details on the ill-fated Days Gone 2 by talking about the direction the team wanted to go in, what kind of gameplay advancements it would have had, and more.
Ross talked about about the theoretical sequel to USA Today and how it could have been the “definitive version” of the game. He drew comparisons to Uncharted and the Batman: Arkham series where they got more complicated with and streamlined (for the most part) with each release. Days Gone was supposed to be a base to which sequels could eventually build off of.
“First games – Batman: Arkham, the first Uncharted – are basic,” he said. “They are a platform to build on top of for subsequent titles. And if you look at a game like Uncharted, you could surface swim in the first game. In the second or third game, you could go underwater. Then in the fourth game, you’re scuba diving underwater. They didn’t start with scuba diving, they built towards it. That applies to every game. Horizon Forbidden West is going to have swimming underwater. It’s gonna have all the things that they probably wanted to do in the first game but just ran out of time. So you create the minimum viable entry and then hope you get to build the second one. Because you’re not arguing over the foundations, you’re arguing over the epic new ideas that you’re gonna be putting into it.”
Speaking of swimming, protagonist Deacon St. John was supposed to be able to swim in the sequel, a decent upgrade considering around 75% of the self-inflicted deaths (meaning when the player killed themselves) came from drowning. But that was just going to be only one of the upgrades as Ross also wanted better AI across the board, to give St. John some of the government’s abandoned weaponry, and cut down on the instant-fail stealth missions and bad boss fights that plagued the original. All of these are building upon what Bend Studio already created and are more systems that could add to the game’s depth.
“I was really looking forward to building on top of that,” he said. “I would add more systems. Systems are very simple. 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.”
But that doesn’t just apply to the gameplay as Ross spoke about how the narrative was supposed to carry right on from the first game. He wanted to explore how Deacon and Sarah’s marriage would work within the context of the apocalypse and said that they were together, “but maybe they’re not happy.” While he did not give many more details, he did say that it would have kept a focus on a “heavy, strong narrative.”
Even though Ross left Bend in late 2020, he has been quite vocal about Days Gone and Bend’s other failed pitches. He recently stated that the team pitched an open-world Resistance game and a Syphon Filter reboot to Sony, the latter of which he said was just to keep the developer busy until a better pitch came up. He started making more headlines as he claimed that Days Gone sold 8 million copies on PS4, a number he got from a now-defunct site Gamestat that tracks trophies. However, counting trophies would also mean it would apply to those who got the game through PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Now, the Instant Game Collection on PlayStation 5, rentals, and second-hand sales, meaning 8 million probably isn’t the most accurate estimate. However, he said he stands by his numbers.
Bend, on the other hand, is now making some mysterious new IP that it is “very, very passionate about.” This title will also be building on the systems the studio developed in Days Gone.