Days Gone 2 being shafted is such a bummer. Sure, the original was a fairly generic open-world affair set amidst an increasingly stagnant zombie genre, but it still had heart. It was subject to lukewarm reviews at launch, but its reception amongst fans has warmed in the months since. Players have embraced the life and times of Deacon St John (yes, I still can’t believe that’s his name) in a way I didn’t expect, and I honestly think that’s because Days Gone doesn’t try to ape the emotional melodrama and dedication to narrative of its blockbuster siblings.
By comparison it feels rather scrappy and inconsistent, not afraid to experiment with unusual open-world ideas and mechanics that you likely wouldn’t find in The Last of Us or Ghost of Tsushima. Admittedly, they don’t always work, with the act of having to manually refuel your motorcycle all the time proving to be a frequent frustration. Despite its tired and predictable premise, Days Gone managed to be different and distinct enough that a sequel unfortunately doesn’t have a place in Sony’s plans for the future.
It didn’t meet the “greatest game of all time” standard that Sony is ever so eager to maintain with its modern blockbusters, and thus a sequel pitch was rejected shortly after the original game launched. I can’t say it’s the biggest surprise in the world, with the game’s setting and characters being sufficiently one-dimensional that expanding on them likely wouldn’t lead anywhere too groundbreaking. But Sony Bend could have uprooted and taken the franchise to a new state, or even an entirely new continent to continue its undead story.
Now that won’t happen, as Sony Bend begins work on an entirely new project after abandoning work on Uncharted spin-offs and The Last of Us: Factions. The studio feared that contributing to Naughty Dog projects and being labelled a success alongside the legendary development house would see them absorbed into its blockbuster mass, and thus it asked to be cut loose, free to focus on its own projects.
This turn of events gives me hope – perhaps Sony Bend is now working on a new IP, or a revival of a PlayStation classic like Syphon Filter. Its freedom was granted, so the PlayStation master clearly has faith in them. With any luck, we’ll see this materialise in the form of a fascinating new project later down the line. A cynical part of me is wishing it isn’t another third-person narrative adventure with open-world elements, but that feels unlikely given Sony’s formula.
Part of what made Days Gone special was its notable shortcomings and campy tone, both of which it wore on its sleeve as a community of players began passionately gathering around the new IP. Its goofy dialogue, including the infamous wedding scene, is ingrained into my memory because of its sheer absurdity, and I would have loved to see this expanded on in a sequel.
Many franchises reach the height of their potential with a second game, recognising flaws and building on them with ingenious new ideas. Uncharted pushed into masterpiece territory with Among Thieves, and The Last Of Us made similar strides with its second instalment
Days Gone won’t receive such an opportunity, so its shortcomings will remain exactly that: flaws that Sony noticed amidst poor critical reception before deciding that the franchise wasn’t worth investing in. Guaranteed wins like God of War and Ghost of Tsushima sequels are safer bets, and ones that will sell millions of copies without any shadow of a doubt.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Days Gone by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s largely why a sequel would have been so exciting. Sony Bend could have proven me wrong, delivering a new experience that blew my previous critiques out of the water. Never say never, maybe we’ll see it emerge one day.
Next: RIP To Sony’s Experimental Phase
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Jade King is one of the Features Editors for TheGamer. Previously head of gaming content over at Trusted Reviews, she can be found talking about games, anime and retweeting Catradora fanart @KonaYMA6.
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