Written by: Nick Farinola // Published by: Joe Ahart Remember, remember the eighth of November…for that is when Kojima’s much anticipated Death Stranding releases. Tokyo Game Show took place recently, and fans got a rather hefty look at some of the core gameplay loop. Though I can confidently say that I am no longer completely in the clouds on […]
Written by: Nick Farinola // Published by: Joe Ahart
Remember, remember the eighth of November…for that is when Kojima’s much anticipated Death Stranding releases. Tokyo Game Show took place recently, and fans got a rather hefty look at some of the core gameplay loop. Though I can confidently say that I am no longer completely in the clouds on what this game is about, I’ll have to admit, I’m still a bit lost – and that’s even after the hour-long, edited gameplay trailer. IGN recently posted a subtitled version of Kojima’s presentation, to where I commented this:
“I think that now I understand what this game is about and how it’s basically a new video game genre, I will be more appreciative when it comes out. It’s different and bit off-putting at first, but I’ll admit, it looks incredible. I feel that if we didn’t get an explanation or this in depth gameplay, people would be frustrated expecting an entirely different experience. Anyone else agree?”
I closed YouTube and left the comment to marinate a little amongst the community. When I came back online, I was pleased to see a couple of non-troll replies. The result? It seems a ton of people are in the same boat, but are equally as intrigued. One reply in particular perfectly explains Death Stranding within a couple of sentences. The anonymous YouTuber replied:
“It’s about playing a single player game making connections with others playing the game. It’s about helping each other out in a different way other than a co op experience: Rebuilding civilization in America, making buildings/highways, delivering packages to a disconnected nation. A story driven game that had a tragedy happen to the world with main character sent on a mission to fix it in an eerie tone themes like BT supernatural monsters & homodemons ppl who kill creating blackouts ( craters ) for there own agendas and mules who are bandits who steal from you packages resources even your OWN shoes all while bonding and taking care of a baby.”
Kojima is creating a new genre, the “strand” genre.
Exploring the gameplay videos and trailers further, it’s tough to not commend Kojima for his talent as a writer, director and producer. The short dialogue snippets and cinematic trailers are, to its core, engaging in every sense. I want to know more about this world. I want to know how the supernatural, horror aspects of the game feed into the overarching narrative. I want to know how gameplay will develop as the game progresses. So many questions. Death Stranding is carrying an unrealistic amount of hype on its back, but Kojima’s vision – his passion for telling stories – is so utterly fascinating that I wholeheartedly believe he can pull it off. I mean, an entirely new genre? Is that even possible?
Most of the TGS gameplay footage in Kojima’s presentation followed Sam Bridges (Norman Reedus) on the move throughout the United States. Kojima mentions that traversing this world is no easy feat, and that once you reach a new destination, there’s an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. The graphics on display are top notch, almost life-like. Death Stranding is the perfect example of how far we’ve come in technological development. Something that does raise concern amongst the community is, well, what the hell we’re going to be doing. Sam is, according to the internet, an Amazon delivery boy. He carries cargo on his back that could be easily damaged on the rough terrain or while crossing a river (it was rather odd reading Kojima explain the dangers of crossing a river in this game because it felt like he was describing real life) Sam is also equipped with this leg exoskeleton-type thing that grants him temporary, battery-powered speed boosts outside of hub worlds, a strand weapon that serves as a type of rope to stealth enemies, and this rope weapon that shocks and ties enemies together. If you’re really fancy, you could combine this weapon with Sam’s own blood to trap BT’s – the supernatural, other-worldly spirits that use their sense of sound to detect you.
After this gameplay preview, it’s safe to say that Death Stranding is not what I was expecting, and that’s awesome. I’m skeptical on some things, but excited for many others. The meat of the game, or the biggest surprise of it all, is the exploration of what seems to be the United States. 90-percent of the preview showed off the social “strand” system and exploration mechanics. The terrain is dangerous, but Sam comes equipped with specific tools that make traversal a little less daunting. Allow me to explain this “strand” idea to the best of my abilities. Think of Death Stranding as a multiplayer experience without another player affecting your Sam’s world. Kojima’s version of Facebook, if you will. Throughout your world, players from other worlds can place markers throughout the map signifying anything from a motorcycle (a little easter egg for Norman Reedus’ Ride on AMC network) to a charging station for your speed prosthetics. Players could even work together to build bridges and buildings across the map. We saw many examples of the markers in the preview, and the player could drop a like on the marker. The world is lonely, but not quite as lonely as we’d think. This is the “strand.” Players from other worlds can even appear as white Sam ghosts to offer you items that will aid you on your adventure. For example, in the preview, Kojima showed off one of the earliest bosses you could encounter (extra emphasis on could). Since the BTs are vulnerable to only hearing, Sam attempted to traverse the tar-ridden environment by holding his breath. One of the child BTs detected him, signaling all of the BTs in the vicinity to come out of the tar and pull Sam towards a boss. Kojima made it specifically clear that this boss was one of the easier ones the player could encounter. To defeat this boss, the player had to traverse the environment so that he or she could avoid the tar from slowing Sam down, adding a layer of verticality. The only way of attacking this creature was by hurling or shooting vials of Sam’s blood at it. Eventually, he ran out of vials, forcing him to call for help from another strand world. The ghost player appeared and offered that Sam more blood vials. So, to my knowledge, this strand system aids in both exploration and in combat.
Our demo ends with a tour of Sam’s rest area at one of the Port destinations. Honestly, that could fill up loads of pages in and of itself.
Death Stranding is probably one of my most anticipated games ever, and by the looks of it, I’m not alone.
Death Stranding released on November 8, 2019 for the Playstation 4 console.