Speaking with David Jaffe, former game developer turned streaming host, Days Gone director Jeff Ross revealed some details about the rejected pitch Sony Bend gave to the publisher back in 2019.
Among the details he shared was an interesting note that the sequel likely would've included co-op, and in fact, it was always envisioned as a feature for the series, but couldn't make it into the first game because the team had to "make concessions for what you're not going to be able to do."
"It would’ve been a secondary mode if we’d have done it in the first one, or even in another one," Ross told Jaffe. "I wouldn’t have complicated the main narrative[…] because that’s really what we’re good at. That was the strength of the first title, so build on that and make it better."
Jaffe had Ross on to discuss the recent report from Bloomberg which revealed Sony had turned down a pitch for a sequel in the months following the original game's release. While Ross remains under NDA and thus couldn't speak totally freely about the fallout from the original game's launch, he did seem to suggest it was the critical reception, more than commercial reception, that tanked hopes for the follow-up.
“Days Gone has sold more copies than every game the studio has ever made combined," he revealed. "So it’s successful in that way, and the community and player response. But the critics, yeah, that was Normandy Beach.”
Days Gone launched in 2019 to "Fair" reviews, garnering an OpenCritic average of 71 from 142 critics. The release came amid an era where it seemed as though every first-party Sony game was a critical darling, and the mixed reception for its new zombie IP seemed to not fit what Sony was expecting after using multiple trade shows such as E3 to give Days Gone a major platform with extended demo sequences.
In the time since, fandom has appeared to only grow stronger, thanks in part to the games inclusion in the PS Plus Collection, a bundle of 20 games included for PS5 owners who subscribe to PS Plus, as well as it being in this month's lineup PS Plus games.
It was reported by Jason Schreier in the Bloomberg story that while Days Gone 2 was rejected in 2019 and the studio was thrust onto a new Uncharted game, the team vouched for itself and had its request to be removed from the project approved. Sony Bend is now working on an unannounced new game.