Directors John Garvin and Jeff Ross talk about how Days Gone balances its narrative focus with its large open world.
Sony Bend have spent a lot of time talking about the harsh, brutal world of their upcoming game Days Gone, and what tools players will have at their disposal as they attempt to traverse and survive it– but as the last few years have shown us, more than anything else, Sony’s first party exclusives are more about a focus on narrative and characters than anything else, and Days Gone is looking to be no different.
Recent open world titles like The Witcher 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Sony’s own Horizon: Zero Dawn have all shown us that it’s possible to have an excellent focus on narrative while being set in large open world environments, but how does Days Gone balance those two disparate elements of its experience? It does so, among other ways, through its Storylines mechanic, which keeps track of, in the words of game director Jeff Ross, “the smaller threads in the larger storyline”.
“We wanted to make sure there was very little dissonance in the open world and the story,” said Ross in an interview with GameSpot. “We haven’t really shown a lot of the main story yet, but everything you do in this world matters for an important reason. The Storylines mechanics was a way to kinda emphasize advancing the smaller threads in the larger storyline. It’s a way for us to connect the open world activities that the player is doing and kinda frame it in a way that shows why it matters. There is a really tight integration between the two–the story and the open world systems.”
Creative director John Garvin chimed in as well- as per Garvin, character-driven stories have always been the primary focus of both Sony and Sony Bend, and Days Gone makes sure it doesn’t stray from that focus. “I can tell you that when it comes to making a Sony first-party PS4 AAA exclusive, there’s a heavy emphasis on character-driven storylines and narratives,” said Garvin. “You see a little bit of that in the demo, where you might see the storyline where you meet this girl you have to rescue. Last time I beat the game, it took me 30 plus hours to beat the golden path. That’s one of the things we’ve been doing at Bend Studio for all these years; Character-driven experiences, and Days Gone is absolutely no exception.”
Yesterday, we also found out (as Garvin pointed out himself) that Days Gone will be roughly 30 hours long, and that of those 30 hours, about 6 hours will be occupied by in-game cutscenes- which should give us an idea of the kind of narrative focus we’ll find here. Days Gone launches next month, on April 26, exclusively for the PS4.