Days Gone game director Jeff Ross has said in a recent interview that a sequel to the game would have moved the series in a "more technical direction" had Sony decided to revisit the franchise for a second time.
In a recent interview with USA Today's ForTheWin, Ross spoke further about where he would have taken Days Gone 2, stating that among other aspects he'd have liked to have delved further into the relationship between the series' main protagonist Deacon and his wife Sarah – who for large parts of the first game the player spends time searching for.
“Yeah, they’re back together, but maybe they’re not happy,” Ross explains in the interview when talking about the pair. “Well, what can we do with that? Okay, we were married before the apocalypse, but what about the future?" With a strong focus on the game's characters, it's no surprise that Ross says a sequel would have also kept in theme with the original's "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."
In Days Gone, NERO (or IPCA) tech refers to technology that can be found across the game at its various NERO Research Sites. Once collected, the tech could be used to unlock a secret weapon (known as the Unknown NERO Weapon), which acted as a stun gun and was able to electrocute and (sometimes) set fire to the freaker enemies.
With that in mind, it sounds as though a potential sequel could have drawn a little more on sci-fi esque tropes than its predecessor, with players able to rely a little more on the inclusion of advanced weaponry instead of the more familiar tools that were present in the first game.
While it currently seems unlikely that fans will ever get to see a sequel to the 2019 action-adventure game, Ross explained in the interview that he'd learned a lot from working on the original and would have liked the chance to make further improvements to the franchise in a sequel.
According to the report, such improvements would have built on the world in a range of ways, adding more complex elements to characters' behaviours, further lifelike representations of its creatures and animals, and improving upon the game's mechanics with factors such as allowing Deacon to swim – a factor that Ross says wasn't possible in the first game due to an engineering constraint.
“The swimming thing in Days Gone, it’s the worst,” Ross explains. “(Writer and director) John Garvin acquiesced to a certain point and just brought it into the narrative. It gave him an opportunity to have character growth too. I think that’s why he really liked it."
"This character can swim but refuses to, and later makes the decision to do it. There’s a screenwriting principle behind all that. But from a gameplay point of view, I hated it. I’m like, ‘Alright, we’ll figure this out later.’ By the time we circled back around we were probably in the final year when the user testing was coming back, and people were complaining about the water.”
Sony has long since rejected a pitch to a sequel for Days Gone, which is a decision that some fans may find disappointing given that Ross seems to have had a wealth of new ideas to bring into the fold. While this most recent interview delves much further into his thoughts, the Game Director has previously spoken about Days Gone 2, explaining that the game's initial pitch featured plans for a shared universe and cooperative play component.
Ross also recently made headlines after comparing the success of Days Gone to Ghost of Tsushima. Following the news that Ghost of Tsushima had sold over 8 million units globally, the Game Director commented on the fact that local studio management had always made his team feel like it was a big disappointment, despite Days Gone selling a similar number of copies in the same timeframe – though it should be noted that the figures quoted by Ross were a ballpark and may not be wholly accurate.
For more on Days Gone, make sure to check out this article where Ross spoke further about the struggle to get a green light for the game's sequel and how, in part, those hopes faded after Sony head Shawn Layden left the company.
Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.