An Interview with Jeff Ross the Game Director of Days Gone

After four months since the release of Days Gone, the PlayStation exclusive has seen tremendous success around the world. As of the end of July 2019, Days Gone was ranked the second best-selling game in the UK in physical sales and has sold very well in other European countries ranking in the top 3 in Austria, Sweden, Switzerland and Portugal, according to GfK Entertainment. Days Gone was also ranked in the top 10 in best-selling games so far in the USA, according to NPD. Along with their continued success, Bend Studio has released plenty of post-launch updates and free content, including survival mode, bike skins and weekly challenges that span across twelve consecutive weeks. The last challenge releases on Friday, September 13th, along with New Game Plus.

Days Gone is an open-world action-adventure game set in post-apocalyptic Oregon. You play as Deacon St. John, a drifter who rides the broken road trying to survive. The landscape is beautiful, but horror is around every corner not allowing you to catch your breath. Two years after the outbreak, millions of cannibalistic and mindless Freakers roam the world. Other survivors and even infected animals hunt you as you fight to stay alive. As terrifying as the world has become, what lies in the core of the game is brotherhood, trust and hope.

Today, I had the great privilege to speak with the Game Director behind Days Gone, Jeff Ross. Jeff was a designer for sixteen years at Bend Studio working on titles such as Syphon Filter, Resistance: Retribution and Uncharted: Golden Abyss. After six years of tireless effort, I wanted to find out a little more about the behind the scenes making of Days Gone during this time, and hit on points of the game that fascinated me during my playthroughs. Jeff took time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions about some of the thinking process during the development stage, the balance of design and gameplay, the strong narrative aspect of Days Gone and more.


The Broken Road: First of all, how’s your ankle doing? I hear Lost Lake has a pretty good doctor.

Jeff Ross: I was afraid Addy would try to use that Liston knife on me, so I opted for Bend’s fully functioning, state of the art hospital. Sorry, Addy! The ankle’s feeling much better now (just over one month into the healing). It turned out be a really small fracture from a relatively low-speed bike crash at 25 mph, it still had a pretty big impact on my day-to-day life. If I hadn’t of been geared up with proper riding boots it would have been much worse. Let my story be a reminder to everyone to ride safe.

What is one thing you had in the script that you really enjoyed, but didn’t make it into the final cut? Whether that is a character moment, side quest, extra storyline, etc.

We considered adding jobs called Survivor Stories. These were moments where Deacon could overhear people in encampments, learn about their struggles and unresolved emotional issues born from the sudden onset of the apocalypse. These were opportunities for Deacon to embark on adventures to find key objects, use tracking to determine the fate of loved ones, and other ways he could help bring closure to these survivors. It was a way to flesh out the world and expand the story lens to show the devastation was shared and not unique to Deacon. We ultimately realized these would be too distracting from the main narrative and decided against developing them. As it turns out we had plenty of other content to make an epic game.

What was the most complicated issue to work on during the development process? Horde mechanics, motorcycle movement, random encounters, gameplay balance or something else?

Of course it was all hard, but we had some developers who executed at the top of their game for the horde, motorcycle, open world, and everything else. The most challenging task for me was balancing and tuning an epic 30+ hour game. With narrow deltas between the start and end states for things like guns, melee, attributes, skills, and bike upgrades it really meant playing incredibly long loops to get a feel for their changes over time. Of course the more I played the better I got at the game, so I had to find a way to filter out my biases and try to see the game through the eyes of first time players.

What made you decide on the name Freakers?

This was all John Garvin. He’s a bold Creative Director who’s never content with easy answers. And he had this concept pretty early on. He was really just trying to capture whatever colloquialisms might emerge as survivors tried to describe creatures that were new to their world. Theoretically you could travel to another location where the locals had different nicknames.

When creating the horde at the Old Saw Mill, was 500 Freakers the magic number that you wanted to hit for the player to experience? Was there a time that you wanted to significantly increase or decrease that number?

We had to counter-balance performance limitations with our desire to visually fill the space with enough enemies to seem daunting or impossible to take-on. When you’re creating something new like the horde you really don’t have any data or examples to use as a starting point. I have to admit that we started with some wild guesses just to start the conversation, and 500 was design’s starting number, expecting to be talked down. But kudos to the engineering team for sticking with it and making that work. I really don’t think it would have been that compelling otherwise.

The motorcycle is not just a toy to use for transportation, but another character in the game. Do you have more ideas on how to continue that direction for design and upgrades for a possible sequel? Maybe attaching weapons to the bike, creating a sort of Mad Max style?

I’m really happy with how the bike systems turned out. We have a key philosophy, “the bike is essential for survival.” Combined with the Action Survival pillar, we were able to make tough design decisions (things like saving at the bike, adding saddlebag ammo upgrades, and requiring the bike for fast travel) that helped fill the open world loops with tons of tension that became a trademark of the game. Finally, Days Gone will always be grounded in a believable day-after-tomorrow reality and tone that keeps players grounded. We’ll continue to push the creative gameplay limits, but we never want to transport players out of that grounded reality.

From the very start of the game we see Deacon and Boozer chasing down Leon and ending with Deacon killing him. Toward the end of the game, Deacon goes back to that same spot to save Manny. Are these two story points supposed to show the transformation of who Deacon became by the end of this journey?

The Days Gone story is a complex, highly-interwoven tapestry. Every detail, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant is intended to serve the larger story and world.

The details in Days Gone are truly something to witness. From the movements of Deacon’s finger for trigger discipline or shifting gears on the motorcycle by using the clutch and gear shift, to blood splattering on Deacon’s hand from a knife blow. How important was it for your team to get these little things right?

Details like these are essential for immersing and keeping players locked into believing our world is real. I have to be honest and admit I didn’t even have to ask for many of these details—each team in the studio pushed their elements as far as they could, and the result was often times me being just as surprised as you whenever I discovered these nice little touches.

The stories are what attracts me to video games. What I love so much about Days Gone is that everything you do relates to the overall narrative with the intertwining storylines. Not only does this impact the story elements, but it makes the gameplay feel worth it. What made you choose this style over the normal open-world checklist missions?

John and I made a decision early on there would be no superfluous activities in our world. Everything available to players would have to advance the narrative in some way (whether it was the main story, or secondary world building). The Storylines menu was added quite late in development, mainly to as a way to reinforce how everything mattered to the story, especially when players spent significant periods of time in the open world between missions with cinematics with overt storytelling.

I hate to put you on the spot Jeff, but how are you doing in the challenges so far?

There was a time I used to joke I was the best Days Gone player in the world because I got to present the game in public demos like the E3 2016 Sawmill demo. But with the release of our challenges, my days at the top are gone. The players are really good, tactical, and cleverly using the rings and patches in ways to go back and run up their scores. I’ve resigned myself to achieve Gold in every challenge, but making a run for the top of the leaderboards just isn’t in the cards.

What is your favorite challenge, and which character do you prefer to use?

First of all, I love the crazy variety our designers have come up with. They also did a great job generating sub-challenges with a lot of depth. Having said all of that, I love the raw simplicity of Surrounded especially played with Boozer, my bald brethren.


I would like to give a big THANK YOU to Bend Studio and Jeff Ross for their support and coming onto my blog to speak to me. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I couldn’t say thank you enough. You can catch all the latest news about Days Gone from Bend Studio on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

[Sources: NPD via: VentureBeat; GfK Entertainment via: TheSixthAxis]

Days Gone PlayStation 5 Roundup

Your one stop shop for all things Days Gone for the PlayStation 5 launch week!

In case you missed anything, check out all the new information below…


NEW LOOK

Bend Studio celebrated the launch of the PlayStation 5 this week with new artwork for Days Gone! When you search on the PlayStation Store or boot up your PS5, Days Gone will now be graced with an awesome new look. (Blue: Standard Edition, Red: Digital Deluxe Edition)


SHARE YOUR DAYS GONE PS5 SHOTS

Bend Studio is looking for your new photo mode shots from the PlayStation 5 over the next couple of weeks. Make sure to use the tag #DaysGonePS5 for a chance to be featured on their page!


FIRST REACTION TO DAYS GONE ON THE PS5


HANDS-ON IMPRESSIONS OF DAYS GONE ON THE PS5


NEW PHOTOS

Photos by @vikingdad278

Captured on the PlayStation 5 in Photo Mode


LIVE STREAMS

Starting the story all over again on the PlayStation 5!

November 14 – 9:30 PM EST & November 15 – 9:30 PM EST

Watch on twitch.tv/thebrokenroad

PS5 Launch with Days Gone

Hey Mongrels! The PlayStation 5 will be landing in my house on Thursday, November 12th! I am beyond excited to finally hold the DualSense controller in my hands, play more incredible games and experience the full effect of next gen. With the backwards compatibility function and Days Gone receiving a PlayStation 5 upgrade with up to 60 FPS and Dynamic 4K, I am treating this like a brand new game release. That means you can expect to see a lot of content showing off the PlayStation 5 version of Days Gone on the weekend of launch. Check out the schedule below:

Friday, November 13

  • Hands-On Impressions

Saturday, November 14

  • Live stream at 9:30pm EST as I start the story all over again with New Game + on Survival II difficulty

Sunday, November 15

  • Continuing the story with another live stream at 9:30pm EST

Catch all the live streams at twitch.tv/thebrokenroad or view them later on YouTube. Plus, expect new in-game photos scattered over the weekend on Twitter and Instagram to display the graphics of Days Gone on the PlayStation 5. In the meantime, head on over to our Days Gone Discord or r/DaysGone to talk everything and anything about the game.

Days Gone will run up to 60 FPS with Dynamic 4K on PS5

Earlier today, Bend Studio announced some exciting news. Days Gone will run up to 60 FPS with Dynamic 4K on the PlayStation 5. Plus, you will be able to transfer your saves from the PlayStation 4 to the PlayStation 5 via PS Plus cloud or by a USB drive.

You can take advantage of the new PlayStation 5 upgrade on launch day by visiting the PS Plus Collection. Days Gone is included here with 19 other generation-defining games on the PlayStation 5 with no additional cost (as long as you are an active PS Plus subscriber).

Rev up your Drifter bike and head out across the Broken Road to experience the best Days Gone has to offer on PlayStation 5 on November 12th.

*Patch 1.70 will be required to install before playing.

Days Gone Starter Kit

With the addition of Days Gone to PS Now today, I put together a “starter kit” for all new players who are about to embark on an epic ride. Below, you will find my previous blog posts that include My Thoughts on Days Gone, A Beginner’s Guide and how Bend Studio Proved the Review Scores Wrong. Each post is tailored to new players in mind and contains zero spoilers. (I’m a stickler for spoilers, so do need to worry on having your experience ruined.) You will also find a gallery of in-game photos that I captured to display the high quality graphics Days Gone provides.

*Days Gone will be available to play on PS Now until January 5, 2021. You can sign up for a free 7 day trial on PS Now HERE to begin riding the broken road.*

For PlayStation 5 owners, you can play Days Gone through the PS Plus Collection for free with an active PS Plus subscription. Days Gone is receiving a PlayStation 5 upgrade with up to 60 FPS and Dynamic 4K. Your PS4 saves will also transfer to the PS5 via the PS Plus cloud or a USB drive.


A Beginner’s Guide

Excerpt: The world of Days Gone is unforgiving, and any advantages you can get can be beneficial to your survival. There are four important elements in helping you survive the post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest; bike upgrades, weapons, skills and boosts. I want to give you some advice on what to focus on and how it can help you gain an advantage early on.

Read the FULL VERSION


My Thoughts on Days Gone

Excerpt: Things are constantly changing in the game from enemies, to the environment, camps and hordes. It creates for fun gameplay when you must strategize with what weapons you should use on which enemy, but also how to keep your supplies lasting just long enough to finish the mission. You can enter a camp guns blazing or go in stealthy. There is an assortment of weapons to choose from to your specific playstyle. I never once felt bored in this world. If anything, I was constantly on the edge of my seat being terrified on what was coming for me next.

Read the FULL VERSION


Bend Studio Proved the Review Scores Wrong with Days Gone

Excerpt: Days Gone was nominated for multiple awards in 2019 and rightfully snagged a few of them. Days Gone received PlayStation Game of the Year and Best Storytelling for the 37th Golden Joystick Awards. Days Gone also won 2019 Best Visual Design for the TIGA Games Industry Awards.

Read the FULL VERSION


In-Game Photos

Browse the GALLERY

Download mobile wallpapers


For more Days Gone, go to:

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

DISCORD

REDDIT

Days Gone FreakFest

It’s October, so you know what that means – spooky season time! As the leaves begin to change colors, the air gets a little cooler, football is back on television and pumpkin spice flavored everything is here, our eyes are set upon the conclusion of the month with Halloween. This is the time of year when people watch horror movies, play scary games and delve into the creepy and dark stories that make our hairs on the back of our necks stand up. With that, this year I wanted to take advantage of the horror themes in Days Gone and enjoy the spooky month of October with… Days Gone FreakFest!

Days Gone FreakFest will run all month long ending at the end of the night on October 31st and will replace #VPDaysGone for this month only. This little event invites you to celebrate the Halloween season by sharing the horror of Days Gone. This can include video clips, gifs, screenshots, photo edits and anything else horrific and creative! From a short video clip of you taking down a horde, to a shot captured of a Freaker in photo mode and everything in between. All you have to do is use #DaysGoneFreakFest to participate. Have a spooktacular time!

*Due to the change for this month, there will be no #VPDaysGone Feature of the Month. Feel free to share as much Days Gone horror as you want! All your posts will be added to a Moment on Twitter at the end of the month. Plus, a weekly moment called Freaker Friday highlighting that week’s photos/videos for the event.

Top 10 Favorite Boss Fights

Boss fights in games aim to test your skill, introduce new enemies and aid in moving the story forward. Sometimes a fight may take you several attempts to defeat, but when you do it feels like a huge accomplishment. In my opinion, the best games have the most memorable and challenging boss fights. You immediately connect that games enemy to an encounter you had with them. For example, when we think of God of War our minds immediately go to the challenging Valkyries. Moments like that in games gets your heart racing, palms sweaty and a stubborn drive to beat that boss before you go to bed. Days Gone has multiple boss fights that checks those boxes. I present to you my top ten favorite boss fights in Days Gone… (I obviously did not include ALL the hordes, only the ones that connected to the story.)

**WARNING! Spoilers below!**


10. Bear

Luckily, this is just a normal bear but it is the first boss fight in the game. It still provides a challenge as you take it on with low ranked weapons. Make sure you grab some ammo before getting to Hungry Jim’s. Hint: There’s a police car on your way shortly after the house you find Lisa in. Find the flammable barrels and propane tanks to make the fight a little easier for yourself.

9. Skizzo

As bad as it sounds, it was the most satisfying conclusion to a character arc.  Deacon was stabbed in the back one too many times by this guy and he rightfully got what was coming to him at the end. This boss fight is rolled into one with the attack on Wizard Island as Deacon makes his way through the camp mowing down the militia. Only Skizzo remains. Right before you enter Colonel Garret’s chambers, you must roll between barrels avoiding his shots and then sprint forward to finish him off with a cinematic cut scene and quick time event.

8. Rager Bear (2nd encounter)

Heading back to the spot where Deacon lost his bike in the beginning of the game, he picks up the tracks to try and find Manny. To get to Manny, you must face a few Freakers (dead and alive) and a camp full of Marauders. Once they are all defeated, you may think you’re done with the mission. Then, here comes a Rager bear to enter the scene. Keep your distance and fire away!

7. Carlos

This was the most challenging fight for me. Boss fights that rely on countering attacks are a weakness of mine and Carlos proved that. No weapons, critically low health and a woozy Deacon made this fight unique amongst the rest.

6. Chemult Horde

The first horde in the story. Everything you’ve learned, the upgrades you’ve received and the weapons you’ve gained are for this moment. It’s time to test your skills and to see what the Napalm Molotov can really do. Plan your attack and execute.

5. Iron Butte Horde

The second biggest horde in the game with a fun playground to take it on. Use the propane trucks and flammable barrels scattered around to cut the horde down. Climb onto semi-trucks for a good vantage point as it provides a clear line of fire, and a perfect spot to throw down Molotovs on top of Freakers.

4. Rager Bear (1st encounter)

Riding over the Thielsen Pass was a beautiful moment. Once you reach the top of the Pass, Deacon takes the picture of Sarah out in hopes he will find her. However, that peace abruptly ends with a blast. Deacon rides down the trail to find two people trapped on a roof with a Rager bear below clawing at them. Now, it becomes a man vs. beast fight in the post-apocalyptic winter wonderland.

3. Reacher

As you make your way through the dark cave with the only directional light coming from the red glare of the flares, the anticipation looms. From O’Brian’s conversation you know that a new type of evolved Freaker lurks somewhere in the cave. Deacon finds a few NERO soldiers that died in gruesome ways, something he hasn’t seen out in the shit yet. You get to the end of the trail to discover a NERO scientist on his last breath. Then, a terrifying growl is heard as the Reacher flashes across the screen. It is faster and tougher than any Freaker yet! That’s not the only thing you should worry about though. Your consolation prize for defeating the Reacher is a… horde!

2. Breaker

The atmosphere is hard to beat with this boss fight. A memorable moment in Days Gone is painted in the middle of Ripper territory, pouring down rain and a crashed plane serving as the backdrop. This is where you get introduced to the Breaker, a strong, fast and tough enemy that will take a lot of ammo to take down. Not only is this a fun boss fight, but you know that you must recover the antibiotics to save Boozer’s life. 

1. Old Sawmill Horde

My favorite boss fight and favorite gameplay moment of Days Gone is the Old Sawmill horde. From the level design, to the technical achievement, the atmosphere and the pure adrenaline rush, this is not only my favorite boss fight in Days Gone, but of all games. Nothing compares to 500 Freakers on the screen at the same time chasing you down. This isn’t just a one on one battle. It’s a fight to survive, to use strategy and to use all your resources to get the job done. Just like the rest of the hordes in the game, there are multiple ways to defeat this horde due to the large sandbox they give you to tackle it whatever way you want.

Ranking The Challenges

Over the summer last year, Bend Studio added 12 free challenges to Days Gone to test player’s skills in various ways. Recently, I was reminiscing about the pure excitement I had every Friday waiting to get my thumbs on the sticks to play the next challenge. Feeling the adrenaline rush as you take on an unlimited horde, or the pressure as you race across the map on your drifter bike to complete a trial, the challenges were unique and an absolute blast to play. Occasionally I go back to the challenges to try and beat my previous high scores and move up in the leaderboards. Challenge modes usually are not my cup of tea in games, but these challenges were done so well that I couldn’t (and still can’t) stay away from them. That gave me the idea to rank all 12 challenges from hardest to easiest. If you are one of those players that haven’t tried the challenges yet, maybe this list will help you begin where to start to boost your confidence and start earning some credits.


*Each challenge shows a Gold rank run

12. OUTRIDE

This challenge took me way more hours than I would like to admit. You need to be almost flawless with your bike skills for this one to achieve the gold score.

Tip: Best rings to use – Engine, Tire/Snake

11. SURROUNDED

In my opinion, this was the hardest horde challenge and was actually the very first challenge that was released. It took me a few weeks to finally get gold on this one. Surrounded is the perfect name for this challenge because Freakers will come at you from everywhere!

Tip: Best rings to use – Bullets, Ram

10. SURVIVE

Headshots, headshots and headshots. Surviving this challenge is more than just taking down waves of enemies. You need to be proficient with your marksman skills to achieve the highest score possible and come away with gold.

Tip: Best rings to use – 1%ER, Lionheart/Joker

9. AMBUSH CAMP RUSH

There’s not another challenge like this one. Whether you go in guns blazing or take the stealthy approach, you must calculate each move to get the best possible score.

Tip: Best rings to use – Fleur De Lis, Vampire

8. DRIFTER’S RUN

You either love the bike challenges or hate them. Learn the best possible path, nail the ramps and drift to your heart’s content and you will achieve that sweet gold rank as you cross the snowy finish line.

Tip: Best rings to use – Engine, Snake

7. DEAD DON’T RIDE

Two words… Crazy Taxi.

Rings don’t matter here

6. DEAD BEFORE DAYLIGHT

Are you claustrophobic? This may not be the challenge for you. Survive the night in the cabin as Freakers barge through windows and doors as you fight for every breath. Hint: Head upstairs… There’s a surprise that you don’t want to miss.

Tip: Best rings to use – Lionheart, Reaper

5. RELOAD

What do you get when you have a sniper rifle and a horde of Freakers? A ton of chaos and fun! Plus, if you like explosions then this one is for you.

Tip: Best rings to use – Bullets, Ram

4. BLACK FRIDAY

Old Sawmill. Good luck.

Tip: Best rings to use – Bullets, Ram

3. HOG WILD

You will hit a lot of trees in this one. Riding the twists and turns of the Cascade region can be dangerous, but once you master steering you’re in for the funnest bike challenge out of them all.

Tip: Best rings to use – Engine, Tire/Snake

2. KEEP THEM SAFER

Whether I tackle this horde in the game or in the challenge, I came to the conclusion that it is one of my favorite hordes to face. It’s the second biggest horde in the game with 300 Freakers. In this challenge, you must avoid rolling and utilize your crossbow to earn gold. It sounds intimidating, but if you know the layout of the level well it should be easier than you think.

Tip: Best rings to use – Ram, Fleur De Lis

1. INFESTED

On my very first try, I achieved gold on this challenge. However, the sub-challenges are more difficult to achieve, which makes my number one easiest challenge tricky. If you want to simply get gold, then you can very well knock it out without getting gold on all the sub-challenges – it may just take a little longer.

Tip: Best rings to use – Bullets, Ram

There you have it, my personal rankings of all 12 challenges! Remember, the challenges that were difficult to me may be easy for you and vice versa. Jump into one of the challenges and give it a shot if you haven’t. Your skills may surprise you! Plus, by completing each challenge and ranking in each one, you get a new patch that boosts your stats and carries over to the main story. They look pretty snazzy on Deacon’s vest too! You can also equip the bike skins you unlock in the challenges to the story.

Let me know what challenges were the easiest and hardest for you in the comments below or on Twitter!

Days Gone Best Character Tournament

In last week’s PS I Love You XOXO podcast by Greg Miller and Blessing from Kinda Funny games, they conducted a 72-game tournament to decide the best PS4 exclusive ever. That got me thinking, how can I put my Days Gone touch on that?

I present to you our exclusive Days Gone Best Character tournament! The bracket includes 32 different characters in Days Gone that YOU will vote on to choose the best Days Gone character. Including bounties, minor characters and Freaker types there are over 50 total characters in Days Gone. I narrowed that down to 32 to fit the tournament style format. The 32 characters were based on screen time, impact in the story and how familiar the characters would be to the player.

Here is the bracket:

How It Works

Each day for the next 31 days, I will post one matchup on Twitter as a poll for you to vote on. The first matchup will be in the Lost Lake bracket with number 1 seed Deacon vs. number 8 seed Blair. The poll will stay up for 24 hours with the winner being chosen by you. The following day we will continue to move down the left side of the bracket. After the first round is complete on both sides, an updated bracket graphic will be shared to show you where the field stands before we move on to the second round.

I hope you enjoy this little event and I look forward to seeing the results! Bonus: Share your predictions with me by filling out your own bracket before voting begins.

First matchup will be up tomorrow!

8 Questions that Days Gone 2 might Answer

After completing Days Gone again recently, I started to think about the future of the story and the possibilities that it could lead to. Days Gone provided players with a brand new world, new location, new enemies and a new story told through world-building pieces, environmental story-telling and the overall narrative. It gave us a lot of answers on the post-apocalyptic world, but left a lot of questions as well. Here are my top eight questions that Days Gone 2 might answer.

WARNING!

**MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!**


Will Boozer be able to ride again?

The tragedy Boozer faced in Days Gone was heartbreaking. He was on the verge of taking his own life after losing his arm during the Drinking Himself to Death mission. With the help of Deacon, Boozer found a reason to live and to keep going. He may not be able to ride anymore, but is it a possibility for the future?

It’s pretty difficult trying to ride a motorcycle with one arm, but that ice cream scoop can shift one hell of a gear in a truck. What will Rikki come up with to give Boozer the ability to ride the broken road again? If she weaponized the Boozeman, I’m sure she has more ideas up her mechanical sleeve. At the end of the game, Boozer gets pulled back to Lost Lake in a wheelchair attached to the back of Rikki’s bike. There was also concept art in The Art of Days Gone book that includes a three-wheeler bike that was not seen in the game. Maybe this is how we see the drifter boys riding together again?

Does Sarah find a cure?

The main question we should ask ourselves, is a cure even possible? Sarah’s time at Wizard Island consisted solely on research to try and find a cure. With Deacon, she gathered the final supplies she needed at Cloverdale and Chemult Community College to be able to test her research on a Newt. After all her work, her mission failed. Which brings us back to the question, is a cure even possible?

Since Colonel Garret and the militia are eliminated, Sarah now has free rein to conduct her research at Cloverdale. What other supplies will she need? How far will they need to travel to gather the said supplies? If anyone can create a cure for the virus, Sarah is the one to save humanity.

How many more “O’Brians” is there?

The biggest twist in the game comes post-credits from the mission There’s Nothing You Can Do. This is where we see the big reveal from the man behind the mask we’ve been following the whole game. The Freakers are evolving and in ways we didn’t see coming. O’Brian takes off his mask and we see that young intern we encountered at the beginning of the game slowly turning into one of “them.” This is called the Intelligent Freaker type and the only one we have seen so far. O’Brian implies that there is more of him at NERO with the chilling words…

“They’re coming.”

“There’s nothing you can do to stop them.”

How many Intelligent Freakers are under NERO’s control? That’s the question that should terrify us. Do we see a horde of this type of Freaker? Will they be able to carry weapons? (That would just be unfair!) This scene should get you really excited for the future of Days Gone!

Do we find the headquarters to NERO?

Will Deacon make it a mission to search out the headquarters for NERO? I don’t think Deacon is a man to just ignore the warning O’Brian gave him. Just like the strategy he used for Wizard Island with “hitting them first,” Deacon will want to find exactly what O’Brian warned of. Following the helicopters is the only lead Deacon has right now, but how far will he have to follow them? If Deacon is able to find the headquarters, will the camps be enough to take NERO on? How close do you think NERO is to our camps in Oregon? There are so many questions to this world that we still need to uncover and that’s what makes this story fascinating!

Will we see Kouri again?

After Kouri saved Deacon from being hung at the hands of Colonel Garret, Kouri and a couple of his men went east heading towards Reno. That was the last we saw from him after the passing of mutual respect between him and Deacon. Kouri asked Deacon to come with him, but he respected and understood Deacon’s actions to continue on to save Sarah and defeat the militia. (A part of me thought that we were going to see Kouri come back at the end and fight Wizard Island with Deacon.) I truly believe “Reno” was mentioned for a reason here.

Does Kouri make it to Reno? If so, I could see him building a new camp where he takes command and helps build a network to the other camps in Oregon. Maybe he doesn’t make it to Reno due to unforeseeable reasons and heads back to help Deacon with Lost Lake? Whatever the case, I surely hope we see Derrick Kouri again.

Will a new leader rise from the Rippers?

Yes, Deacon and Boozer single-handedly (see what I did there) took out the Rippers including their leader Carlos. However, there are some stranglers that still roam around. Not all the Rippers were at their camp when the dam exploded and flooded it. Will one of the Rippers want to take revenge for Carlos after they find out what happened? Will the legacy of Carlos live on and still unite the cult in One Mind? The Rippers have been around since after the outbreak happened and they have accumulated a lot of followers. I wouldn’t be surprised if a small band of Rippers rise up and become deadlier than before…

Does Lisa stay at Lost Lake?

After the credits roll, we get one last scene with Lisa Jackson. She rides up to the gate of Lost Lake and gets misidentified by the guard thinking she is a Ripper. Deacon arrives just in time to deflate the heated conflict and talks to Lisa for the first time since they parted ways at the Ripper’s camp. She comes to Lost Lake with a bag full of bounties and insisting to Deacon that she does not want to stay.

Lisa is a survivor and now taking on the role of drifter. As she speaks to Deacon about not wanting to stay at a camp, we immediately see the resemblance of Deacon from the beginning of the game. That brings us to the question, will she continue her daily life as a drifter, or will Deacon and the others convince her to stay? I for one hope she does stay, and becomes part of the camp with our core group of characters. Watching her tragic storyline unfold, I anticipate seeing a larger role for Lisa in the next game.

Do we leave Oregon?

The militia is defeated, the hordes are eliminated and the main camps are for the most part united. I really enjoy riding around the high desert of Oregon and taking in the beautiful landscape is one of the best things about Days Gone, but how much longer can we stay? Cloverdale is a critical piece in the puzzle and could be the main reason why this will always be the central point to the story. We may even see a camp move there to live due to the electric fence, crops and large building to hold survivors. I have a feeling we may have to venture out further than the areas we already explored.

Finding the NERO headquarters or meeting up with Kouri at Reno are two possibilities that could lead Deacon and company out of Oregon for a period of time. Another possibility could be in search of rare supplies to help with Sarah’s research at Cloverdale. If we do leave Oregon, I believe this will be one of the reasons why.

What are some of your burning questions you want Days Gone 2 to answer? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter!

The Last Days

The seven year wait is over… The Last of Us Part II is out today! In celebration, I wanted to put my own spin on this week’s preparation for the game the only way I know how, Days Gone style. On Monday I started a little series called The Last Days combining Days Gone and The Last of Us together for one ultimate crossover. Each day I posted photos, fun questions and comparisons on Twitter for people to join in on the discussion. Thank you all for participating, it was a lot of fun! To end The Last Days series, I wanted to dive a little deeper into the comparisons of both games and reveal the winners you answered for the questions during the week.

*Major SPOILERS ahead for both games*

They’re Not Zombies

First and foremost, both games do not include the term zombies. This is a similarity between the two games, but also a difference. The word zombie is casually thrown out by people in regards to any dead or undead human that has formed into a cannibalistic creature in media. Both games took the sense of a zombie, and spun the genre to fit their own creative story.

In Days Gone, the infected humans or animals in this case are called Freakers. The Freaker Virus was developed from research done at Cloverdale Lab. The virus was spread across the world by one person who unknowingly was infected by trying to expose the corrupt Cloverdale at an environmental convention. At the convention held in Portland, Oregon the infection spread from person to person where they then traveled back home all over the world. Freakers have multiple stages including Swarmers, Bleachers, Newts, Screamers, Reachers, Breakers and an Intelligent type. Freakers are not dead in the way you think of zombies. The virus also crossed species infecting different animals including wolves, bears, crows and bats.

In The Last of Us, a parasitic fungal infection or commonly known as the Cordyceps Brain Infection is what devastated humankind causing the fungus to grow while the host is still alive. The infection grows in multiple stages with each stage more dangerous than the last. If infected, a host begins as a Runner. If the host continues to “survive” it can move on to a Stalker, Clicker or Bloater. It all depends on the length of infection.

Quick Points:

  • Both games use the term “Runners” as a type of infected. Both are dramatically different.
  • Both games use a “heavy” class for their infected. The Last of Us – Bloater. Days Gone – Breaker.
  • The Last of Us infected is classified as classes based on the duration of infection. Days Gone is classified as types depending on how the virus infected a person based on structural DNA or evolution of the virus.

Story Beats

If you examine any story close enough to another you will find some similarities most of the time, especially in a post-apocalyptic setting. Looking at the story alone, here are some of the story beats I found that relate to each other in some way.

Let’s start at the beginning. In both games, the story begins pre-apocalypse as we start to see the world go into chaos. Deacon and Joel both lose someone (in some capacity) they love very much. As a player, we are then connected to those characters because we feel their grief; we are invested on where the story goes, what happened to the world and how does this character move on from here? The title of each game then pops up onto your screen, giving you goosebumps knowing that these stories are going to be emotional. Days Gone pushes you 2 years later from that opening scene and The Last of Us pushes you 20 years later. Right away, we learn who Deacon and Joel have become in this new world; Deacon a drifter and bounty hunter, and Joel a smuggler. Both men also have a companion in Boozer and Tess. We begin to put our thumbs on the sticks and experience what life has been for both pairs in the apocalypse. Deacon and Boozer begin a chase with Leon, and Joel and Tess head to see Robert for their guns.

Now, let’s fast forward a little further and go back to the infected, more specifically the “heavy” class we talked about earlier. The first boss fight in each game involved the big brutes, the Breaker and the Bloater. The Breaker and the Bloater interrupted Deacon and Joel’s missions to gather an item; Deacon the antibiotics and Joel the car battery.

Fast forward even more to see the relation of the importance to the school missions. In Days Gone, Deacon and Sarah go to Chemult Community College to find a centrifuge for her research. In The Last of Us, Joel and Ellie went to Eastern Colorado University (Go Big Horns!) in search of the Fireflies. Each story beat to a school was a critical moment in both stories.

The last story beat I wanted to hit was the ending to each game. In Days Gone, Deacon shoots his way through a heavily fortified camp to rescue his wife Sarah. In The Last of Us, Joel shoots his way through the hospital to save Ellie. Both endings included a lot of casualties with two men determined to reach their goal of saving someone they love. In the end, Deacon and Joel went through a lot more than any man can bear, but they survived and they moved on with the person who they love and who changed them as a man.

Character Match

Days Gone and The Last of Us have an incredible cast of characters making each one just as memorable as the next. With strong women characters, to a great display of diversity, villains and original characters, it shows why these stories are so well received. Below, I have put together a list of some of the characters from both games to show how each character relates to their counterpart in the other game.

Deacon — Joel

Survivors, seeking redemption

Sarah — Marlene

Stubborn, focused, aimed at the greater good

Boozer — Tommy

When you need them, they will be there for you

Iron Mike — Bill

They’ve seen it all. You want these men on your side if you can

Lisa — Ellie

Innocence turned into survivalist

Rikki — Tess

Tough, independent, will take care of business

Twitter – The Last Days

If you missed anything regarding The Last Days short series, you can look back at all the tweets here. Also, the winners are revealed from each question that you answered during the week. I was very happy to see all the love for Days Gone!

Winner: Deacon St. John

Winner: People would rather face the Runner in The Last of Us

Winner: Breaker

Winner: Colonel Garret

Winner: Freakers

Winner: Boozer

I hope you all enjoyed The Last Days crossover series! Somehow, I always find a way to sneak Days Gone into something. Have fun this weekend, don’t post spoilers and endure and survive. Those Days are Gone waiting for The Last of Us Part II!