After years of anticipation, Hideo Kojima’s crazy, ambitious open world epic, Death Stranding, is finally here, and as is usually the case with Kojima Productions titles, there’s a lot to wrap your head around. Death Stranding is a mechanically dense game, and there’s plenty that you need to contend with – a lot of which is quite unusual – so to make your first few hours in the game a little easier to digest, we’ve prepared a list of fifteen basic tips and tricks. Without further ado, let’s get started.
The Social Strand System is something Kojima has spoken about a great deal in the months and years before Death Stranding’s launch, and while the jury is still out on whether or not it constitutes a new genre, there’s no doubting that it’s an important part of the core gameplay loop here. Given how traversal-heavy Death Stranding is and how reliant that traversal is on structures built by yourself and by other players, if you play the game offline, it’ll be a lot harder. Trips will be longer and getting past simple obstacles might prove much more challenging. So make sure you’re always online, because making use of structures left behind by other players is a huge help.
KEEP CONTRIBUTING RESOURCES
As Death Stranding progresses onward, more elaborate structures are introduced to make traversal easier for you- but the more elaborate they get, the more resources they require to be built. For example, building a bridge isn’t as simple as plonking a ladder down, while building roads and highways is even harder. These structures require a lot of resources, which you can find out in the open world or withdraw from the various terminals you visit, so make sure that you keep contributing to these structures. They make take a while to get completely built, but once they’re done, they make journeys across previous hospitable landscapes much easier.
PLAN YOUR JOURNEYS
Planning your journeys is key in Death Stranding, and thankfully, the game gives you the tools to do that properly. When you’re setting out on a trek, simply pinning your marker on your destination isn’t enough. Use the game’s 3D map (hold down the touchpad and tilt the controller) to study the terrain. Later on in the game, you also get the ability to see weather forecasts, so keep an eye on that as well, to make sure you are avoiding areas with Timefalls and potential BT encounters whenever possible. With all of that in mind, place as many custom markers as you need to, and as much as possible, actually stick to your plan.
Oh, and speaking of Timefall…
Death Stranding’s supernatural time-distorting rainfall – or Timefall – is something that you will want to avoid whenever possible (though it isn’t always possible). Not only does it damage your cargo, it also usually brings BTs. If you do find yourself in an area with Timefall though, make sure you build a Timefall shelter using your PCC (which you will get the ability to do a few hours into the game), or to use a shelter built by another player. Not only do these shelters recharge your batteries and repair your equipment, you can also skip time here in chunks of ten minutes until the rain stops and it’s safe for you to go out again.
TAKE IT SLOW WITH BTs
BTs are by far the biggest threat in Death Stranding, and they’re also pretty terrifying, but once you get the strategy down of how to deal with them, getting through BT-infested areas can be pretty easy. The thing you will need the most is patience. Make sure you’re always crouching when BTs are nearby- then scan your environment, see where the BTs are in your vicinity, and slowly move around them. Also, always keep an eye on Sam’s odradek. It changes the colour of its light and starts spinning like crazy if you ever get too close to a BT, so as soon as it does that, stop, and scan your environment again.
HOW TO ESCAPE BTs
If, however, you do get caught by BTs, that’s still not the end of the road. You get a small window of opportunity to escape their grasp before they pull you into the other side for a boss fight against a Catcher. Depending on how badly you messed up, the area around you will become covered in black tar- all you need to do is get to the edge of that area. Occasionally, BTs might try and pull you into the tar, but if they grab hold of you, just mash square to break free of their grasp. This can be a bit tricky, because you also have to maintain your balance while doing so, so be mindful of that as well.
HOLD L2 + R2 (ALWAYS)
Balance is an important mechanic in Death Stranding. Sam’s balance while moving around and how quickly he loses it will vary depending on how much cargo he is carrying, how he is carrying it, and what kind of terrain he’s traversing, and anytime he starts leaning more toward one side, the game will prompt you to push the opposite trigger to retain his balance and prevent him from taking a stumble and damaging his cargo. But there’s something you can (and should) do that’s a lot easier- just hold L2 and R2 constantly. It’s easier than having to survey the terrain constantly, and it means you won’t have to constantly keep pushing L2 or R2 to retain your balance.
Of the many tools Death Stranding hands you to make traversal easier, exosuits are among the most useful. As the gam progresses, you acquire new kinds of exosuits that give different benefits, and they really do make a difference. The Power Suit increases your maximum carrying capacity, and also reduces the impact your cargo has on your speed and balance. The Speed Suit, as the name suggests, speeds you up, and is great for long-distance treks, especially across flat surfaces. Then there’s the All-Terrain suit, which counteracts the negative impact tough terrain can have on your speed and balance- essentially, anytime you’re in the mountains, make sure you’ve got the All-Terrain Suit equipped.
As we mentioned, how Sam carries his cargo – as in where he places what object and how much that object weighs – are all variables that can define your balance. Death Stranding lets you micromanage this stuff, but again, there’s a much easier method that comes heavily recommended. As soon as you take all the equipment and cargo you need, just press triangle to auto-arrange, and the game will automatically give you the most optimal solution. It saves time, and it’s super effective.
DON’T CARRY A LOT OF WEAPONS
Death Stranding is inherently a very non-combative game (though you can still get into plenty of combat if you really want to), and though there are plenty of different weapons in the game, we wouldn’t really recommend carrying too many of them with you at a time. They add to your cargo’s weight, and that weight can be better occupied by more useful things, like lost cargo deliveries, equipment to help you with traversal, or resources you might find in the open world. Against human enemies, your rope – which you always carry with you – is a very useful tool most of the time, especially if you’re stealthy. And if you ever find yourself squaring off against Catchers, you can always just use your hematic grenades, which do plenty of damage and weight a lot less (and are also easier to carry once you install more grenade pouches on your backpack). During these bosses, you can also always request aid from other players, which essentially means you have a limitless supply of weapons, so there’s really not much point having too many weapons on you at any given time.
While you’re traversing the world of Death Stranding, you’ll often come across pieces of lost cargo left behind by other players. While it might be tempting to ignore them and leave them lying where they were, it’s still a good idea to take them with you whenever you can. If their intended destinations fall in your path (or are close by), go ahead and deliver them. If not, you can at least deliver them to postboxes built by yourself or other players.
DON’T GET TOO ATTACHED TO VEHICLES
A few hours into Death Stranding, you’ll start getting access to vehicles, from bikes to trucks, and as you might imagine, they’re a big help. They make long journeys quicker, and they can also be used to store cargo, allowing you to take more stuff with you on journeys. That said, keep in mind that they’re only going to be with you temporarily- very temporarily. Thanks to the consistently rough and changing terrain of the world – and other threats like BTs – you’ll often be forced to leave your vehicles behind and continue onward on foot. Think of vehicles as disposable tools, and don’t try to hang on to them for too long. You’ll get plenty of chances to make more, or get your hands on vehicles left behind by other players, either in various Private Rooms scattered throughout the world or in the world itself.
EX Grenades – or grenades made using Sam’s excrement – are weapons that are particularly useful against BTs, for reasons we won’t mention to avoid spoilers. Make as many of these as you can. Any time you enter a Private Room, use the toilet to answer the call of nature – either way will work – and the game will automatically craft grenades for you. Soon enough, you’ll be swimming in excrement…. er, in grenades made of Sam’s excrement.
Scattered throughout Death Stranding’s world are little items known as memory chips. Sometimes they contain curious little easter eggs, while sometimes, they contain important and fascinating bits of lore and backstory. Keep an eye out for these, because often, they really do have very interesting things to say. A lot of the times you’ll find these in BT infested areas, so your natural inclination might be to ignore them and get the hell out of dodge, but we’d still recommend keeping an eye out.
READ ALL THE INTERVIEWS
Death Stranding is a story-heavy game, and it’s got a lot of things to say. Thankfully, it does so in a much more direct and interesting manner than Kojima’s previous open world game- but there’s still plenty of important and interesting information tucked away in the Interviews that can be found in the game’s menu. They often contain vital bits of lore and backstory, and they definitely add a lot to the game’s story and setting. To get the most out of Death Stranding’s narrative then, make sure you’re reading all the interviews.
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