Sony Bend on Days Gone protagonist Deacon St. James

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Unintentionally subverting expectations.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think I’d connect or identify with Deacon St. John, the protagonist of Days Gone. After all, St. John’s a tattooed member of a biker gang, someone far removed from the squeaky clean games nerd writing this article.

As it turns out, I was wrong. After a three-hour stint with Deacon, I was able to look past the tattoos and see a passionate, empathic character. I used an opportunity to speak with Sony Bend’s Emmanuel Roth about why they settled on Deacon’s backstory and appearance.

“We always thought a biker [lead character] would be interesting,” Roth began. “And Deacon — as you will see in flashbacks that we will present — was a biker outlaw doing some not very nice stuff. Because of the love he had with Sarah, he changed; he wanted to be a nice guy. Suddenly the pandemic happened and he was thrown out of this world. It really hurt him.”

The loss of his wife Sarah, as foreshadowed in marketing materials recently released by Sony, means Deacon is forced to face the post-apocalyptic world of Days Gone without his partner. St. John’s loss seems to make him a shadow of his former, reformed self.

“You will see that for him surviving is not living,” Roth said, “and it’s very hard. He has to make the choice to live. He and his buddy [Boozer] are reclusive a bit, they try to be under the radar. At the same time, they have to deal with the encampment system [and dealing with the survivors living inside them]; they have to earn trust, they need to deal for upgrades and repairs. Deacon has to participate in that world.”

In the end, St. John is far more than just a biker, Roth detailed.

“He’s a military guy, so he has experience,” he said. “He knows how to handle his weapon, he knows combat.”

Good thing, too — St. John will need those skills to deal with the freaker menace with Days Gone hits the PS4 on 26 April. We previewed the game here.