Jeff Ross has been in the news the last few weeks, mostly talking about his time at Bend Studio and Days Gone. Now, the former director has returned with new details about the sequel that never came to be. In an interview with USA Today, Ross details some of the things players would have seen if Bend Studio was able to deliver a follow-up to the 2019 first-party title.
For starters, Ross says had a sequel been in the pipeline, he would have been able to “create the definitive version” where he “didn’t have to necessarily apologize for so much,” a sentiment that can be traced back to franchises such as Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed — where the sequel completely eviscerated the quarrels of the first game in their respective series.
We would have spent the sequel with Deacon St. John again with the sequel exploring the relationship between the protagonist and his wife Sarah. “Yeah, they’re back together, but maybe they’re not happy,” Ross says. “Well, what can we do with that? Okay, we were married before the apocalypse, but what about the future?
The goal would have been to deliver a strong narrative, keeping the bike mechanics and expanding the tone and technical direction of Days Gone. In-game, Deacon would find NERO technology, the sequel would have expanded these items to greater highs. No more instant-fail stealth sections that no video game ever needs to include, and Deacon would be able to swim (he wasn’t able to in Days Gone). Ross says the swimming constraint was due to an engineering constraint that was later written into the script to showcase character growth.
A lot of the first game criticisms were meant to be addressed in a potential sequel. “We have to be able to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run,” Ross said. “I just see that as a trilogy. First games — Batman: Arkham, the first Uncharted — are basic. They are a platform to build on top of for subsequent titles. And if you look at a game like Uncharted, you could surface swim in the first game. In the second or third game, you could go underwater. Then in the fourth game, you’re scuba diving underwater. They didn’t start with scuba diving, they built towards it. That applies to every game.”
Once things began to shift from one creative director is in charge to a group of individuals leading the discussion, Ross left the studio. “We moved from a singular creative director to a creative committee,” Ross said “And committees aren’t cool. You would have been able to create a more collaborative environment where people can contribute ideas, but unless there’s structure to it, it’s just going to be chaos. And that was the new direction the studio wanted. I was like, ‘Hey, it doesn’t even have to be me. It can be anybody, but we need one person where the buck stops.’ And it wasn’t happening. I like to collaborate and get people’s ideas, but somebody has to make a call on direction.”
While a sequel isn’t in the cards at the moment, things could change in the future, however, I wouldn’t hold my breath.