Welcome to the crazy mind of Hideo Kojima.
It feels weird to say, but Death Stranding is now less than a month away, and to say that people are hyped for it would be a massive understatement. Recently, we talked about fifteen key pieces of information that you should know about the game, but there’s just so much to dive into with this game that we didn’t even come close to covering all of it. So in this feature, we’ll be taking a look at fourteen more things that you need to know about Death Stranding.
Very early on in the game’s pre-release marketing cycle, Hideo Kojima revealed an aspect of Death Stranding that immediately caught our attention- Timefall. This mysterious rainfall that fast forwards whatever it touches is surely going to be an integral part of the story- we’ve seen it rapidly ageing a man, we’ve seen it dropping birds out of the sky – but how is it going to function as a gameplay mechanic? This is something Kojima hasn’t said anything about, but we can probably expect it to be a key element in the game. Delivering unharmed cargo is what many missions in Death Stranding will boil down to, and given the fact that Timefall and BTs go hand-in-hand, it’s probably going to be a pretty big hurdle.
Death Stranding’s world doesn’t have just supernatural threats. As is the case with any fiction setting hit by a cataclysmic event, there will be other regular humans looking to take advantage of a bad situations to square off against as well. Called mules, their encampments and bases will be scattered throughout the game’s world, and players will be able to infiltrate them to come across better equipment to help them on their journey. Both stealth and out-and-out combat will be viable ways of getting through these camps- let’s just hope the mules pose a proper threat to Sam and his cargo to make things interesting.
Beyond the BTs and mules, players will also be running into another major threat in Death Stranding– the Homo-Demens. An extremist separatist group looking to safeguard the independence of Edge Knot City from the UCA, the Homo-Demens are led by Higgs, a character who claims to have “a good connection to the other side.” And given the fact that he can manipulate weather and summon massive monstrosities to do his bidding, we’re inclined to believe him. How frequently we’ll come up against the Homo-Demens in the game’s open world remains to be seen, but we can probably expect them to be the centrepiece of a few boss fights.
Oh, and speaking of the other side…
THE OTHER SIDE
The other side, an upside-down dimension where BTs rule the roost, is one of the biggest and most mysterious plot points in Death Stranding, but something else that’s worth asking is- how will it factor into the gameplay? Being pulled in by BTs will take players into this alternate dimension, where we’ll have to fight our way back out into the real world, but just how extensive is this mechanic? Is this alternate dimension just a single static room? Is it a whole another map? Is it something else entirely? One thing’s for sure- it’s going to make combat encounters and the threat of failure very interesting.
Over the last three and a half years, across various trailers, we’ve also seen glimpses of wartime locations in the game, from World War 1 to Vietnam- except they haven’t been straight up flashbacks, instead being dominated by BTs, skeletal soldiers, and otherworldly sights, while Cliff also seems like a character who has some special connection to this place. We’ve also see gameplay in these areas- first person sections, as well as some shooting combat. The logical conclusion to draw here is that this is “the other side” – or part of it anyway – but it should be interesting to see whether this is an area we’ll be able to visit dynamically, or if it’ll be restricted to just scripted sections.
Death Stranding is going to be a long game, to no one’s surprise, which is great- but the issue that open world games often run into is that they’re unable to maintain a proper pace. Hideo Kojima, however, seems to have gone with a very particular progression of the game’s pacing. According to him, Death Stranding will start out really slow, and players will probably e confused about it in multiple ways in the beginning, but as it progresses, players will begin to naturally fit in. At about the halfway point, as per Kojima, the game will truly pick up pace.
“There is no explanation or anything,” Kojima said in a recent interview with Game Reactor. “It’s very easy to do it that way and I can do it, but the story progresses slowly. Especially at the beginning. You will feel lost, but don’t worry – you will naturally fit in. The system is explained.
“Some people say it’s almost like the movie Alien, where you are gradually finding out what the whole world is about, what you can do and not do. Maybe it gets really fun when you have completed 50 percent of the game. The player, like in shooters and other genres, go into the game with a known rule and you think you know what a game is about. I didn’t want to have that feeling. Everyone should start from ground zero.”
Of course, pacing isn’t the only thing open world games struggle with. Often, a more open-ended design and greater amount of freedom comes at the cost of a focus on story and storytelling. Hideo Kojima’s own Metal Gear Solid 5 suffered from this, in fact. But according to Kojima, this won’t be an issue in Death Stranding.
“In Phantom Pain, I started a kind of experiment by beginning it linearly, and as soon as the world opens up, the story fades in a way,” he said in an interview with 4Players. “Some Hideo Kojima fans weren’t happy about the fact that the story was pushed into the background, but this was done very consciously.
“This time with Death Stranding, the biggest challenge and the biggest obstacle was: it’s an open world game, but at the same time, we don’t want to reduce the importance of the story, so that fans of Hideo Kojima games will not be disappointed.”
Death Stranding has given off some pretty interesting vibes since the day it’s been revealed- equal parts scary, weird, and desolate. Many have been calling what looks like empty open world environments into question- but it seems that’s very much by design. According to Kojima, Death Sranding is a game that will make you feel lonely as you traverse its world, and make you feel equally tense while you fight off the mules and the terrifying BTs.
As you may have probably guessed, Death Stranding will offer players multiple difficulty options. Regular options like easy, normal, and hard can be expected, but as per Kojima, there will also be a Very Easy difficulty setting in the game. This has been included to cater more to players who don’t have a lot of gaming experience and want something more accessible and still enjoy the story.
So far in what we’ve seen of Death Stranding, its world has largely been dominated by rolling, green plains, but we can probably expect plenty of environmental diversity in the game regardless. The game’s trailers have also shown glimpses of snow-capped mountains, large cities, ruined settlements, barred landscapes, and more. How frequently we’ll be traversing these areas remain to be seen, but considering the fact that we’ll be crossing the entire United States in the game, environmental variety seems like a given.
Hideo Kojima games have always been known for excellent and memorable boss fights, and though Metal Gear Solid 5 faltered in this area, Kojima says things are going to be different in Death Stranding. We saw a fight against a massive BT during the game’s TGS 2019 demonstration, but apparently, that wasn’t even an actual boss fight. Kojima gave assurances during the demonstration that there would be many set-piece boss battles in the game.
Survival mechanics are going to play a huge role in Death Stranding, as we discussed in our previous feature, and one important aspect of that is going to be stamina. We’ve seen that the weight of Sam’s inventory, his balance, how long it’s been since he rested, and what sort of terrain he’s traversing will all impact his stamina, which, in turn, will impact how effectively he can do the things he needs to do. Stamina as a central mechanic can become an annoying things that needs to be constantly micromanaged in games, so here’s hoping that isn’t the case here.
Sam won’t just be travelling the world of Death Stranding on foot. As we have seen across multiple trailers now, there will also be other means of transportation. For example, players will be able to use bikes, which you can either fabricate at safe houses, or hope that some other player will have left behind for you to use. There are also other vehicles, like jeeps that you can hijack in mule camps and drive away in. Finally, there’s also Sam’s floating carrier, which isn’t technically a vehicle and is mostly intended as a carrier for your cargo, but can also be used as a makeshift skateboard of sorts for short distances.
NO PS PLUS REQUIRED
Online elements and indirect multiplayer gameplay are a huge part of the experience in Death Stranding – it’s what the entire Social Strand System relies on, after all – but if you were worried about having to get a PlayStation Plus subscription to engage with that part of the game- well, don’t be. It’s been confirmed that you won’t need a PS Plus subscription to access Death Stranding’s online features.