At E3 last week, SIE Bend Studio unveiled its brand new PlayStation 4 title Days Gone. A brutal, post-apocalyptic open-world adventure, Days Gone follows the story of Deacon St. John – a drifter and bounty hunter eking out his existence in the High Desert of the Pacific Northwest.
We caught up with the development team backstage in Los Angeles to find out a little bit more about its main protagonist and why his background is so important to the game.
If there’s one thing the team at Bend is keen to impart about the universe it’s crafting, it’s the uncompromising, dog-eat-dog nature of things. “Desperate people do what desperate people need to do to survive,” Senior Designer Ron Allen explains.
“In most open world games, when there’s danger, it’s usually because you’ve brought it on yourself. Days Gone is a dangerous world – always.”
Watching a horde of infected ‘Freakers’ pour over the environment in the extended footage shown on stage at the PlayStation E3 press conference, we’re left in little doubt as to what he’s getting at.
“Pretty much any of the survivors of the pandemic had to have a certain something about them – the appropriate skills to steal, kill and survive in a harsh world,” he continues.
“If you didn’t know from the biker cut on his back, in his previous life, Deacon St. John was member of a motorcycle gang. He learned a lot from being part of that group, and that’s helped him survive.”
The team doesn’t flinch from its protagonist’s anti-hero persona. “He’s a dangerous guy. He’s using his skills where he can – his appetite for violence and mayhem help him excel at his job.”
“He can find things out in the field and create better tools. For example, you’ll see he’s actually threaded the barrel of his pistol with the same thread pattern as an oil filter, so if he finds oil filters out in the world he can screw them on and it’ll allow him a couple of suppressed shots.”
We ask him how much of a role Deacon’s vehicle of choice – a muddied, off-road, dirt bike – plays in the game.
“The motorcycle plays a huge, huge part,” he assures us.
“It’s extremely nimble – a car can’t fit into certain spaces, and can’t do certain things a motorcycle can do. It’s not the normal biker gang motorcycle. He’s adapted this thing to work in the wild. There’s no way you’re going to pull off jumps or cross the kind of terrain you saw here on a Harley-style bike.
Ron explains that not only can you store extra items on your bike, it’s also your primary means for traversing the game world and, of course, escaping from those aforementioned ‘Freakers’.
Despite the team’s insistence on an uncompromising world though, Ron is anxious to share Bend’s deeper ambitions for Deacon and his story.
“It’s about the human condition – this guy’s a broken man,” Ron explains.
“A lot of us are motorcycle riders. It’s a really vibrant culture. It’s often associated with criminals, mayhem and violence, but it’s also about brotherhood and family. Because Deacon has suffered so much loss he holds onto that aspect of his past, and cherishes those relationships. It’s about him finding himself, because he no longer has his motorcycle gang.”
We’ll have more on Bend Studio’s exciting new project as development progresses. In the meantime, make sure you bookmark the Days Gone page on playstation.com.