We’ve always said that Days Gone is a narrative driven, open-world action game. We emphasised narrative driven because it’s a big game with a big story. The last time I beat the game, focusing only on the main storylines, it took me a little over 30 hours to complete. And I can tell you, it is quite an emotional journey.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve talked a little about who Deacon St. John is and why we care about his story.
It’s a story about loss and regret. In the 2016 launch trailer Deacon remembers his wife Sarah, the only woman he would ever love. Then, earlier this year, in the “Wedding” trailer we see that Deacon won’t let go of the past and will risk his life even for a worn photo of his wife.
It’s a story about brotherhood. In 2016, the launch trailer shows Deacon’s friend Boozer is by his side as they fight to survive a dangerous world. In the “Wedding” trailer we see how far back their friendship goes as Boozer was the only person to attend.
It’s a story about fighting for survival. This is the Days Gone story everyone is probably most familiar with. The launch trailer had image after image of the devastated world. The 2016 Horde demo showed Deacon fighting to survive against overwhelming odds. The 2017 demos showed the overwhelming dangers of the open world. The “Wedding” trailer showed who Deacon was before the world ended, and the man he’s become in order to survive the now harsh and brutal world. Almost every demo since launch has emphasized that everything in the world is trying to kill you. Freakers, infected animals, marauders, Rippers, Hordes. The world comes for you.
And these are all important storylines in Days Gone. Deacon’s feelings of loss and regret are explored in a storyline called “I Remember,” where, through playable flashbacks, we learn about Deacon and Sarah’s relationship. The bond and brotherhood he feels for his friend Boozer are explored in a storyline called “He’s My Brother.” Another half dozen storylines explore the brutality of the world and Deacon’s role in it as bounty hunter and mercenary.
But the overarching story in Days Gone offers so much more.
In the new Days Gone Story trailer you’ll see that the above storylines about Sarah, Boozer and Deacon’s fight for survival are still front and center. But, while trying to avoid spoilers, we wanted to draw back the curtain to reveal some of the other themes and storylines that define who Deacon St. John is.
We’ve introduced Mark Copeland before – in the 2017 demo, he’s the survivor encampment leader who had sent Deacon’s friend Manny, the camp mechanic, out on a supply run. The new Story Trailer gives us a sense of who Cope is and the desperation that drives his mercenary relationship with Deacon.
We meet several new characters. Iron Mike, who says of Deacon, “I know what kind of man he is. Has he done any worse than you?” An encampment leader we haven’t met before, Iron Mike represents a way of looking at survival in this world that is very different from Copeland’s or the others.
Members of his camp, Rikki Patil and Addison Walker are two strong voices for rebuilding and hope. As the game progresses, we see that Deacon isn’t just a mercenary for hire – he is a protector of the weak.
NERO and their black choppers are introduced and we get a hint of their storyline “Finding NERO,” where you learn more about the mysterious organization, their technology, and the back story of behind so much of what you see in the world – the mass graves, NERO checkpoints, abandoned refugee camps, death trains.
Finally, we see a bit more of the cult Rest In Peace, who are fully explored in a storyline called “Ripped Apart.” Rippers represent more than just a way to add more danger and brutality to the world, they allow us to explore the darker side of humanity that can be driven by blind obedience and obsession.
All of this represents less than half the storylines and half the main cast. We haven’t talked about things like the end game storyline, “Horde Killer,” where you, the player, are transformed right alongside Deacon, from someone who has to run for their life when facing a Horde, into a Freak killing expert who can seek out and destroy the 40 Hordes that live in and terrorize the open world.
Like I said, Days Gone is a narrative driven game with a big story. But the amount of story, its length, the number of cut scenes, isn’t nearly as important as the emotional impact of the journey. If you don’t care about Deacon and his search for hope, you’re not going to stick around to see what happens. So in the end, it all comes back to our three main characters: Deacon, Boozer and Sarah. Whatever you think is going to happen? We hope you’re going to be surprised.
Be there on 26th April when Days Gone launches, and see if you can survive long enough to find out for yourself.