Another day, another Days Gone article. The director of the original game, Jeff Ross — who left Sony Bend at the end of 2020 — can't stop sharing details surrounding the developer itself, management, and the scrapped plans for a sequel at the moment. After sharing some fairly unreliable stats on how Days Gone sold, he has now appeared in an interview with USA Today detailing his pitch for the rejected Days Gone 2.
Ross saw his plans for a sequel as the "definitive version" where he "didn’t have to necessarily apologize for so much". The follow-up would have explored protagonist Deacon St. John's relationship with his wife Sarah and their dynamics; Ross remarks they may not be happy together. "Well, what can we do with that? Okay, we were married before the apocalypse, but what about the future?" Days Gone 2 would have kept the heavy focus on narrative as well as the bike, but the tone would expand to a bigger scale.
"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." AI would also have been improved, particularly for animals. Ross explains how he wanted "bears to dig through trash cans, wolves to roam and hunt more dynamically, and generally give every enemy and ally more varied behaviours".
The sequel would also allow you to swim, which wasn't a thing in the original game due to story reasons and engineering constraints. Ross doesn't explain why swimming wasn't possible, but due to the setback, water was used as a boundary throughout the map. Telemetry data showed that many playtesters were actually dying to drowning (as well as their own Molotov cocktails), so a very basic animation was implemented to allow players to temporarily enter the water. However, a decreasing bar would quickly appear telling you to swim back to shore.
For Days Gone 2, Ross wanted to build on that very basic mechanic. "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."
After the Days Gone 2 pitch was rejected by "local management", Jeff Ross pitched an open world Resistance game. It too was rejected and the director wasn't interested in rebooting Syphon Filter. Fast forward to today, it's widely accepted Sony Bend is currently working on a brand new IP.