If you’re a PlayStation fan, you’ve probably heard about Days Gone. And if you’ve played the open-world survival game, you’re probably wondering why there hasn’t been a Days Gone 2 yet. Well, you’re not alone. A Change.org petition for a sequel launched in 2021 now has close to 180,000 signatures.
Sadly, Sony still hasn’t greenlit Days Gone 2.
Days Gone is an action-packed zombie adventure game that was published by Sony Interactive Entertainment and developed by Bend Studio. It was the gaming company’s first open-world game as well as the first game they had released for home consoles since 2007 — when they gave the world Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow.
The game was inspired by a number of popular shows and movies of the time, like Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, and World War Z. It follows the protagonist Deacon St. John, previously an outlaw now a drifter and a mercenary, as he travels through a post-apocalyptic Oregon looking for his wife Sarah, who he had assumed was dead.
Upon initial release back in 2019, Days Gone actually did really well, but with so many in the gaming community (critiques and players alike) complaining about various things in the game — from the poor story to the extensive bugs (which is usually expected in the first-time release of a game) to the repetitiveness of game missions — the love and support for action-adventure zombie title very quickly decreased. There was still some praise for the brilliant graphics and amazing voice acting done by Sam Witwer (who did the voice and motion capture for Deacon) and others, but that did nothing to quell the many negative reviews.
However, despite the negative response, Days Gone still managed to become one of Bend Studio’s best-selling titles, with over 8 million copies of the game since having been sold. In 2019, it sold more than any of the studio’s previous games and became the 19th best-selling game in the US, the 8th best-selling game of the year and, at launch in Japan, it far exceed the launch sales figures of both God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn.
All of that combined with the many awards won by the game and the secret ending during the credits, had fans assuming that there was going to be a Days Gone 2, despite the critical reception of it. Let’s take a look at why that doesn’t look to be the case.
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What’s the story so far?
At the beginning of Days Gone, we are introduced to Deacon, Sarah, and William “Boozer” Grey (Deacon’s fellow biker outlaw and best friend) as they attempt to flee to safety on a NERO (National Emergency Response Organisation) helicopter, but they learn that the helicopter can only take two of them. Deacon puts Sarah on the helicopter and decides to stay with an injured Boozer so he can help him, promising Sarah that he will be reunited with her again one day.
Two years later, they are still very much separated. It is assumed that Sarah is dead after news of the refugee camp she was in being overrun by zombies (or rather Freakers, as the people in this world refer to them) reaches them and now the two men are in search of what they hope is a better like up North. On their journey, they are attacked by a group of cultists, known as the Rippers, who injure Boozer quite badly and later discover that the group has put a bounty on their heads. After all that and getting medical supplies for Boozer, Deacon runs into JamesO’Brian (the researcher from two years ago that was on the helicopter that evacuated his wife) and learns from him that she is probably still alive.
Boozer is still in really bad shape after the run in the Rippers and the steady decline of his health because of the injury leads to them having to amputate his arm at the Lost Lake camp. While that is happening O’Brian gets in contact with Deacon and the two of them come to an arrangement: Deacon will help NERO with their ongoing research project and O’Brian will help him find Sarah. He accepts of course.
Unfortunately for Deacon, alliances between the human camps seem to be fast deteriorating and a deal is struck between one of the leaders of Lost Lake Camp and the leader of the Rippers, part of that deal being to hand Deacon over to the Rippers.
When he arrives at the camp he learns that the leader of the group of cultists is an old enemy from before the virus outbreak and that he still wants revenge on Deacon. He manages to escape the cultists and later, with a bit of help from Boozer, drowns the Rippers and their camp, taking out the leader in a one-on-one fight.
After dealing with the Rippers, he continues to help O’Brian with the research and comes to a realisation that Sarah would have probably been one of the prioritised members of a NERO camp in the event of an evacuation because of her status as a researcher and her federal security clearance. O’Brian finally tells him where she is (a military outpost) and Deacon makes the journey to her. When he gets to the outpost, he wins over the leader and after two long years, the couple or duo are finally reunited.
He learns that Sarah is currently working on a bio-weapon that will be used to destroy the Freakers, but in order to complete it, she needs a DNA sequencer from her old lab. The two of them travel back to her old lab and when they get there they learn that the research she’d been doing before the outbreak had been used to develop the virus. She then tells Deacon that she is actually working on a cure, not a weapon and he suggests to her that she finishes it in her new lab.
Unfortunately, for the pair, they are separated once again, but this time by the military leader who has become increasingly overly suspicious (and who they later learn is a massive religious fanatic). He puts Sarah in protective custody and then arrests Deacon when he tries to rescue her. He’s freed a little while later by a sympathetic officer and returns to Lost Lake camp. He prepares the members of the camp to defend themselves against the attack and war that has been declared on all the camps by the religious nut and they do so successfully. He then decides that they need to retaliate against the military camp and unites the members of Lost Lake camp with the members of two other camps. Together the three camps successfully take out the outpost, with Sarah poisoning the leader to make sure it fully disbands and they no longer have to deal with him.
Sarah and Deacon are reunited once again and, together with Boozer and the rest of the friends they’ve made, they settle at Lost Lake camp. The Days Gone credits roll and while no one has cured the Freakers yet, it seems like everything has been tied away in a neat little package, and not too many questions are left unanswered. Then one final clip starts to play and it completely changes the ending.
In the Days Gone post credits scene, O’Brian gets in contact with Deacon one final time and the two of them meet up. O’Brian reminds him once again about how the virus evolves, the same way he has been doing throughout the entirety of the game. He then takes off his helmet and reveals to Deacon that he is one of those evolving Freakers, still mostly in control of himself and with plenty a coherent thought. He warns him that NERO is coming for him and there will be nothing that he will be able to do to stop them.
Both Deacon and the players are then left with way more questions than they had before and no answers to be found while the vague promise of Days Gone 2 hangs in the balance of things.
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What was wrong with Days Gone?
Everyone in the gaming community had something to say about Sony Bend’s open-world zombie game and not a lot of them were positive.
The most frustrating thing for a lot of players was the technical problems throughout Days Gone. They had to deal with plenty from audio not syncing with the movement of the character or at times completely dropping out during cut scenes to graphics that were unable to keep up with the speed at which the players were moving, making everything a bit too frustrating for players to properly enjoy. Fortunately, for players who want to give the game another chance, Bend Studio has spent a lot of time taking care of those technical issues.
The Days Gone story was another thing the people find a little bit lacking. Fans complained that the story was too clichéd and the dialogue was downright cringe at times. Players didn’t find themselves wanting to work their way through a story they found boring or uninteresting.
At its core, Days Gone is a story about love, companionship, and loyalty in a world that has been destroyed by zombies. While the deterioration of the world is one of the focuses of the game, the story brings the focus back down to Earth as it shows us the impact that the apocalypse has had on Deacon.
Days Gone’s repetitive missions are what brought down the final blow that killed the game for critiques. Doing the same task over and over to get the same result for different people becomes monotonous after a couple of times and that was made abundantly clear by people who didn’t enjoy that mechanic of the game. And while the open-world gameplay was a great idea, there isn’t much to do in the sparsely decorated world of the game.
There were also a couple of players who didn’t enjoy that their high-speed, high-powered motorcycle could be taken out by trash cans. We agree that it would be a lot more fun if it were possible to ram into Freakers while speeding around the open world.
Of course, all these are issues that could be easily fixed with Days Gone 2.
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What was great about Days Gone?
While there were many people with strong negative opinions about John Garvin and Jeff Ross’ Days Gone, and a couple of problems that Bend Studio needed to deal with, there were still some fantastic aspects of the game that many fans loved.
While Days Gone is more story driven and doesn’t completely allow players to pick their own destiny, there were still choices that could be made by players that would affect the grand scheme of things. It’s a great little mechanic that makes what you do throughout the game feel like it’s having a direct impact on the world around you and not just being another objective you have to follow as a player so you can get to the next task.
The graphics of the PlayStation Exclusive was one of the high-selling points. Being able to see the micro-expressions on the character’s faces and the sparsely laid out, but still heavily detailed world was something every player could be appreciative of. Something a lot of people seemed to particularly enjoy was the sight of a horde of Freakers chasing you down. While it was an extremely stressful situation trying to find a way to escape the horde, there’s something very satisfying about watching them crawl over each other to try and get to you in a giant mass. The unpredictableness of the AI was a fun challenge for players to take on.
Another great aspect of the third-person action-adventure title was being able to customize and upgrade different items like Deacon’s bike and bat. The bat is one of the more fun craftable pieces in the game as you can customize and change it with objects you have collected in the world and there is the chance of it breaking on you while you’re fighting if it isn’t repaired regularly.
Of course, these are all strong features that Days Gone 2 could have built upon too.
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Will there be a Days Gone 2?
With the secret ending at the end of the game giving NERO more of an antagonistic role than players were expecting and the ominous warning that O’Brian gave Deacon, it would make sense for Sony Bend to give us Days Gone 2, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon.
In April of 2021, a Bloomberg report by Jason Schreier revealed that a sequel to the game had been pitched, but Sony had rejected Days Gone 2, despite it having been a profitable game. The report said that this was done because of the negative response towards the original game as well as how long it had taken to make it.
Although the rejection of the sequel pitch is an understandable decision made by Sony, who have previously published far more successful projects, such as Ghost of Tsushima, Marvel’s Spider-man, and Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, the chance that we may never be getting a Days Gone 2 is a big disappointment for players who were fans of the game and actually enjoyed it.
Since then, the game director Jeff Ross (one of the two who worked on Days Gone) has confirmed that while the sequel had been pitched to Sony Studios (which was an uphill battle from the start), he was unable to give any further details about the project due to an NDA that he had signed. This gave fans a little bit of hope for Days Gone 2.
While Ross has been unable to give fans any news about whether or not there will actually be a sequel, he has revealed that there is a plan to create a sort of similarly themed multiplayer version of this universe, which they hadn’t been able to include in the original game because of staffing constraints.
The other creative director John Garvin (who has since separated from Bend Studio as a personal choice after deciding that his personality didn’t work in that kind of environment) had a four-hour-long interview with David Jaffe, the creator of God of War, in which he commented that players shouldn’t expect a sequel to a game if they weren’t willing to pay full price for the original, implying that the reason players weren’t getting Days Gone 2 was because the game hadn’t turned enough profit. This was not received well by fans, something which Garvin expected when he’d made the comment.
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Other upcoming adaptations
While it definitely isn’t Days Gone 2, there has been talk about the game getting its own film adaptation, which has been described as a “love ballad to motorcycle movies” in a post-apocalyptic “modern-day western”. Deadline has reported that the adaptation was already in the works.
It will be produced by Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan from Sony Playstation Productions and Jennifer Klein and Shelden Turner’s Vendetta Productions. The story will be written and developed by Sheldon Turner and Sam Heughan (who plays Jamie Fraser in Outlander) is being considered to play the role of Deacon.
While it’s not exactly the news gamers were hoping for, it’s still good news. The potential popularity that could be garnered from Turner’s script and Heugan’s acting could give Sony the push it needs to let Bend Studio proceed with Days Gone 2.
What Days Gone 2 That Could Have Been
The PlayStation brand has had a string of hits and misses over the past few years – mostly hits if we’re being honest. However, there’s a game that sits in a somewhat strange place for Sony’s first-party releases: Days Gone. Everyone who has played the game might tell you that it’s one of the most entertaining zombie survival sims available on the PS4, and yet, despite its promising sales and positive fan reactions, the development of Days Gone 2 was never greenlit by Sony.
In a recent interview, Days Gone director Jeff Ross shared his vision of what a sequel would have looked like, and also gave some insight as to why he believes that the first game did wrong. It’s sad to think that we might never get a sequel to this unique title – especially with Sony’s current trend of releasing remake after remake of relatively recent titles.
The Birth of a Franchise
As Ross himself explains in an interview with USA Today, games like Days Gone serve to establish the basics of what a video game franchise might look like in future entries. He cites the first Uncharted as his idea of what the first game in a series should be like.
Even though Nathan Drake’s first outing was already a bombastic adventure chock-full of the moments that would define the Uncharted series, it’s plain to see just how barebones the entire experience feels compared to its sequels. Ross believes that the same principle would apply to Days Gone.
The groundwork for an engaging zombie game was there in the first release of Days Gone – so what was missing for Sony to cancel the game’s sequel? Ross believes that it had nothing to do with the game itself, but rather with the negative reviews it garnered on release.
It seems like Sony has some pretty high standards when it comes to the reviews their first-party titles accumulate on sites like Metacritic. In the case of Days Gone, the game ended up with a Metascore of 71, and Ross believes that’s the reason why the sequel was abandoned.
“I really do feel that Days Gone should have been an 80,” Ross said. “79 to 82 was what I thought it would get on Metacritic. I think that the technical issues set us back 10 points.”
Though it’s not a negative score by any means, they were partially to blame for the game’s slow sales. Most PlayStation exclusives end up with scores around the high 80s, and some others, like The Last of Us, are considered video game royalty nearing perfect Metacritic scores across the board.
Plans and Dreams
Ross also shared his plans for some mechanics he wanted to introduce in a potential Days Gone 2. One of the areas that the team would focus on was the game’s lacklustre performance, especially on the base model PS4. With the release of the PC port of the game and the advent of the considerably more powerful PlayStation 5, it’s easy to see a sequel running at a stable 60 frames per second even in the most demanding scenarios.
Improving some elements of the core gameplay experience – such as giving Deacon the ability to swim – would also have been implemented in a sequel. Days Gone 2 would also continue Deacon and Sarah’s story, going deeper into their relationship dynamics.
“We have to be able to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run,” Ross said. “I just see that as a trilogy. First games – Batman: Arkham, the first Uncharted – are basic. 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.”
In the end, Ross maintains his belief that the technical problems that surrounded Days Gone at the time of the game’s release were ultimately the franchise’s demise. It’s not all bad news, however, as Bend Studio (developers of Days Gone and the Syphon Filter series) are currently working on an entirely new IP that uses some of the groundwork set by the Days Gone open-world model.
It will be fascinating to see what the studio delivers next, and how the release of Days Gone affected the team’s approach to developing this kind of exploration-focused game.
Are you still hoping for PlayStation to develop a Days Gone 2?