The bizarre epic comes to PC next month – here’s everything you need to know.
Death Stranding made an impact when it launched for PS4 later year, enthralling us with its unorthodox systems and strange story. PC players will get to experience it for themselves on July 14th courtesy of publisher 505 Games. Before that, let’s take a look at 10 things you should know about the story, gameplay mechanics and various PC-exclusive features.
Story and Setting
Death Stranding takes place in the future where an event called, well, the Death Stranding has brought ruin to Earth. Various Beached Things or BTs have emerged while Timefall, a special rain that will rapidly age living things and deteriorate objects, appears where the creatures are most active. This leads to the majority of the surviving population either retreating underground or staying in Knot Cities. The United States is gone – it’s now the United Cities of America.
You play as Sam “Porter” Bridges, voiced by Norman Reedus (who, like many cast members, lends his likeness to the character). Working with the organization Bridges, Sam delivers various packages and supplies to survivors and residents in the wasteland. That’s more or less how the game starts off in a nutshell. We won’t spoil Death Stranding‘s plot because (a) that’s a whole other video and (b) you’ll really, really want to experience it for yourself. Suffice it to say that there’s a lot going on (and that’s not even getting to the BB or Bridge Baby).
As a courier, Sam’s job seems pretty simple. He’ll take on various requests to transport goods to different clients. Deliver the goods quickly and with minimal damage to rack up “Likes” which can be used to improve stats like weight capacity. Sounds simple, on the surface, but there’s a lot more going on.
Different goods and materials have different weight which can affect Sam’s mobility. The overall position of these items on your person will also influence how often you’ll become unbalanced and eventually stumble, which can result in packages dropping and getting damaged. Along with various goods, you’ll also need to pack different items like shoes, weapons, grenades, ladders, ropes and much more for the journey.
There’s an entire aspect that’s focused on expanding the Chiral Network and building bridges, safe houses, shelters against Timefall, zip-lines and even roads to better help traversal. You won’t have to walk everywhere – there are different bikes and trucks that can be used to transport goods. Sam can also equip exoskeletons which increase his carrying capacity, increase sprinting speed and jump distance, and provide easier navigation through rough terrain. Vehicles and exoskeletons require batteries so it’s important to know when to use them.
BTs and Combat
There are several major threats in the world. There are the MULEs, former Porters obsessed with obtaining cargo; Demens who are MULEs out to kill; and the mysterious BTs. Human foes should generally be dispatched through non-lethal means like melee combat or bola guns since corpses can lead to Voidouts (aka big explosions that leave craters behind).
The BTs are a little weirder to fight. Sam has DOOMS which allows for sensing – but not seeing – BTs. A scanner will physically point to the BTs to help in that sense. If Sam is detected, then special BTs called Catchers will attempt to drag him away, leading to a boss fight against a massive BT These bosses – and BTs in general – can be defeated with Hematic Grenades created from Sam’s blood and an anti-BT handgun that fires blood bullets. There are plenty of conventional firearms as well, which come into play for different situations. Should Sam die, he’ll repatriate – which involves swimming through the Seam to his body and reviving.
Much of the marketing has hyped up the game’s “Strand” gameplay but what is it? Essentially, Death Stranding‘s multiplayer is asynchronous. You’ll never physically encounter other players but can interact with them in a variety of ways. These include recovering their lost cargo and completing deliveries for them; creating structures and supplies they can use or contributing materials to larger projects; and even leaving messages. Players can give “Likes” for these, which helps your progression, but sometimes, you might see other appearing during boss fights and providing assistance in the form of items.
Death Stranding is already an incredibly good looking game on PS4 and the PC version is poised to look even better. While extensive graphics options have yet to be revealed, Kojima Productions and 505 Games have confirmed support for Ultra-Wide monitors and “high frame rates” (with 60 fps only confirmed thus far). One can likely expect sharper textures, anti-aliasing options and a field-of-view slider but we’ll need to wait and see.
Thankfully, the improved visuals aren’t too demanding on one’s system. The minimum requirements on PC include an Intel Core i5-3470 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 with a GeForce GTX 1050 3 GB or AMD Radeon RX 560 4GB. To run it at 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second, an Intel Core i5-4460 or AMD Ryzen 5 1400 along with a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4 GB or Radeon RX 570 4 GB will be needed.
Finally, to run it at the coveted 60 fps/1080p standard, an Intel Core i7-3770 or AMD Ryzen 5 1600 and GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB or AMD Radeon RX 590 are recommended. In all of the above specifications, you’ll need 8 GB of RAM, Windows 10 and a whopping 80 GB of hard drive space.
Though originally unveiled for the PC version, Photo Mode has been available for months for PS4 players. It’s an incredibly in-depth tool, allowing players to shift the camera’s position and height, adjust the angle of a shot, change Sam’s expression and pose (or remove him entirely), add a frame and logo and so on. You can also adjust the aperture, depth of field, focus, exposure, contrast and filter type. Based on samples provided by Kojima Productions, players can create movie posters, high-quality stills, wallpapers and much, much more.
Digital Standard Edition Extras
The Digital Standard Edition has its fair share of goodies. Picking it up nets the base game, a Gold and Silver Armor Plate, a Gold and Silver Power Skeleton, the Chiral Gold and Omnireflector Ludens Mask Sunglasses and a Gold and Silver All-Terrain Skeleton for use in-game. You’ll also receive the digital Death Stranding Original Score – Expanded Edition and digital selections from Titan Books’ official “Art of Death Stranding” book.
But wait, there’s more. Pre-purchase this edition and you’ll also receive some HD wallpapers along with the Chiral Gold and Omnireflector versions of Sam’s sunglasses, a Chiral Gold and Ominreflector cap, a Gold and Silver Speed Skeleton, and a Gold and Silver Armor Plate Lvl 2 and above. Aside from the wallpapers, OST and digital art, all of this is unlocked through story progression so you’ll need to play the game to earn them.
Half-Life Crossover Content
Death Stranding will be available on Steam and the Epic Games Store but the former comes with exclusive Half-Life content. This includes Gravity Gloves from Half-Life: Alyx and a Headcrab hat, each having a special feature as per director Hideo Kojima. We’ve also seen a special paint job for trucks with the classic orange color scheme and Lambda symbol along with a virtual Strider from Half-Life 2 that can manifest in areas hooked up to the Chiral Network. You can give Sam some Gordon Freeman-esque glasses and a red valve on the back of his head.
But wait, there’s more. According to 505 Games, there are actual missions that crossover with the Half-Life universe. A “familiar face” is apparently impersonating employees from Bridges and mailing Sam to locate Companion Cubes in the open world. If the missions are completed, Sam will receive new items and also find out just who this “friendly impostor” really is. Dare we hope for the G-Man to make an appearance?
Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that the PC version will have Denuvo Anti-Tamper DRM included at launch. The overall effect on performance be remains to be seen but considering the controversy that Denuvo usually attracts, its removal wouldn’t be all that strange several months down line. If it’s a deal-breaker, then it be worth holding off on the PC version at launch.