Interview: SIE Bend Studio’s David Lee on the days behind Days Gone

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The big AAA exclusive landing on PlayStation this half of the year is Days Gone, the post-apocalyptic bike adventure by SIE Bend Studio. GameAxis flew down to Bangkok, Thailand, in Feb for a media hands-on that you can read all about here.

After the demo, we were shuffled into a group Q&A with community manager David Lee, who shared a little insight into the game’s narrative and development. Lee discussed several topics, such as the inspiration behind the Freakers, their considerations for in-game morality, and why a tough guy like Deacon can’t actually swim.

The following has been edited for length and clarity.

GameAxis: Did the team ever consider making the narrative change according to Deacon’s moral choices? For instance, during the opening mission, Deacon was presented the option of a mercy-killing. Was there ever any discussion about the story changing if Deacon left him to die by the Freakers’ hands instead?

Lee: Yes, moral considerations were something that we did experiment with during the alpha. However, after getting feedback from our team and game testers, we decided to scrap it.

How would you say Days Gone is different from other zombie games?

Lee: Well, I believe the secret lies within the experience, and how people can feel very differently about a given scenario. For instance, as I walked around during the playtest period I could see everyone perceiving the narratives in their own way. In a sense, it’s about how dynamic and personal the experience can be for each individual.

Where did the team find inspiration for the Freakers?

Lee: Hmm. In terms of behaviour, I think the zombie film 28 Days Later was one of our core inspirations. The Freakers in Days Gone have a sporadic, hive-mind style of operation and I believe that’s where a lot of the conceptual designs came from.

Regarding the various storylines, are their progress dictated by the plot or can they be pursued at their own pace?

Lee: To be honest, the storylines are something we added quite recently. They’re optional objectives which players can pursue at their own pace without any influence on the main story. Outside of achievements, the team thought it might provide a more complete and in-depth look at the world of Days Gone.

While we were playing, we’d occasionally get an interaction that allowed Deacon to “insta-kill” an opponent, regardless of what weapon we were carrying. Is there a particular prerequisite for this?

Lee: Not really. The insta-kill feature is purely chance-based and all weapons have a flat probability to “proc” it, so there isn’t a prerequisite condition per se. However, performing stealth kills or levelling certain skills will offer you a higher chance of doing so.

On a more light-hearted note, why can’t Deacon swim? Surely a rough, tough biker should be able to tread water, right?

Lee: Don’t worry, that’s actually a valid question! Unfortunately, there’s a narrative reason for that, which is all I can say at this point in time.

Thanks for your time!

***

Sounds like we’ll just have to find out ourselves why our gruff bounty hunter can’t deal with water. Once again, we’d like to thank Lee for his time and the opportunity.

As it stands, Days Gone is shaping up to be an emotional roller-coaster that everyone should try out, not just those who love a good story.

Days Gone releases on April 26 in three versions: Standard, Digital Deluxe, and Collector’s Edition. The first two are retail at S$79.90 and S$97.90 respectively, with the limited edition set going for S$219.90 — it’s packed full of stuff!

I personally think the sew-on patch and decals are awesome. There’s nothing quite like having the spirit of Days Gone travelling with you on your own vehicle. Pre-ordering gets you some early in-game upgrades and weapons, too.

Be sure to catch our hands-on with Days Gone as we spent nearly two hours with the demo! (We also took a stab at Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in our latest preview.)

Disclosure: Flight and accommodation provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Kenneth Ang

Kenneth Ang

Kenneth is your dedicated jack of all trades gamer and borderline anime nut. When not writing, he likes to wind down with Overwatch, Apex Legends and enjoys a bit of Fate: Grand Order on the side.