Hideo Kojima’s new project, Death Stranding, has raised our eyebrows so much they’re basically flying off our collective skulls.
Kojima has set a high bar for weirdness with the twists and turns that fans loved in the Metal Gear Solid series. Since departing the franchise, he’s set his sights on a new project: the PlayStation 4 exclusive Death Stranding. Outside Kojima Productions and the halls of Sony, concrete details about Death Stranding have been relatively sparse.
On Friday, Kojima spoke more about the game at the Garage Museum of Modern Art in Moscow. In a Reddit post, he revealed a few tidbits about his upcoming game. For one, there will be non-playable characters in need of Sam’s help during the game. It’s up to the player to decide if they want to help, or not help, which can determine the fate of certain characters. Whether this has any major impact on the game is yet to be seen. The other small news is one that Kojima has mentioned before is that Death Stranding will take a long time to beat.
After working our way through trailers, teasers, fan speculation and rumors galore, this is everything we know about Death Stranding. We’ve collated all the teasers so far, and dived into its world, the famous faces involved and a few of the gameplay elements.
What is Death Stranding?
Death Stranding is the first game from Kojima Productions, a studio founded by legendary game developer Hideo Kojima. After a rocky departure from Konami, where he built up the Metal Gear franchise, among other projects, Kojima started his independent studio and revealed the first title would be exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation 4. The reveal trailer premiered during Sony’s 2016 E3 conference and sets the stage for the weirdness we’re delving into.
Still confused? Don’t worry. Ever since its initial announcement, Death Stranding has been shrouded in mystery. Kojima is famous for his unconventional promotional methods (at one point pretending to be part of a non-Metal Gear studio making a non-Metal Gear game) and for building strangeness into his games (see any Metal Gear ever), and Death Stranding is no exception. It’s important to note that much of what we’ve seen so far is ripped directly from the game’s cutscenes, as confirmed by Kojima.
He’s responsible for the scenario, game design, production and direction of the highly cinematic offering, while longtime collaborator Yoji Shinkawan, who worked on Metal Gear and Zone of Enders, is the lead on character and mechanical design.
Going by what’s been revealed so far, Death Stranding takes place in a futuristic US that has been torn apart by a series of supernatural events called Death Stranding. Invisible beings called beach things, or BTs, that came from another dimension called the “other side” began decimating the population of the country leading to a destruction of the government infrastructure. Now called the United Cities of America, a government organization called Bridges tries to link the cities across the country together in what’s called a Chiral Network, similar to the internet.
This is where Sam comes in. A former member of Bridges, he’s asked to continue an operation conducted by the next president of the UCA, Amelie (Lindsay Wagner). She led the expedition to connect the cities, and in three years, Amelie finally made it to the west coast to Edge Knot City. It’s there where she met up with a militant group call the Homo Demens who captured her. Sam is asked to take up the cause of linking the cities together and bring back Amelie.
Death Stranding release date
Mark it down in your calendar: Nov. 8, 2019.
That date was revealed in a lengthy trailer thatwith all sorts of new info. That trailer can be seen below and features a ton of new footage directly tied to gameplay: gunplay, stealth and… ladders?
A Sept. 26 from Kojima confirmed the game has gone gold, meaning development has ended after three years and nine months.
The latest Death Stranding trailer
Every Death Stranding trailer so far
Kojima hasn’t been stingy with Death Stranding trailers, dropping a number of teasers and extended cinematic looks at the game since its first announcement three years ago at E3. That first trailer (and a crowd going wild for Kojima) is below and features the first time we came to see the star of Death Stranding, Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame, as a naked and hunched over Sam.
The second trailer introduced us to famed director Guillermo del Toro wielding a baby in a portable tube and a terrifying Mads Mikkelsen, complete with goth eye makeup (OK, its not goth, but don’t tell me he wouldn’t fit the bill perfectly).
A highly cinematic third trailer dropped at The Game Awards in 2017.
Then bang! Gameplay trailer at E3 2018. This was our first real look at what players might be doing in-game — so what did it reveal?
Gameplay! Death Stranding will have exploration elements and gorgeous vistas that bring to mind the best elements of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Decima Engine, used to build the game world, provides stunning hyper-realistic landscapes.
A teaser came at the Tokyo Game Show in 2018, revealing Troy Baker’s character wearing a Gold half-mask and. You can watch that here:
On May 29, a more action-oriented trailer for Death Stranding came out as more of the game is being revealed. Sam is seen using several items to traverse across the world. This trailer also gives some backstory to the Homo Demens, a violent separatist group that has captured the future president of the United Cities of America.
July’s trailer for the game introduced Heartman (Nicolas Winding Refn). A member of the Bridges organization, he dies every 21 minutes and stays dead for three minutes before being resuscitated. Heartman searches for his family in the three minutes he’s dead but has yet to find them.
The largest Death Stranding reveal came at Gamesom 2019. In an almost half-hour presentation, more of the characters are revealed, including Mama (Margaret Qualley) and Deadman (Guillermo Del Toro).
Mama is another member of the Bridges organization who gave birth to a child that’s on the other side. Although the baby isn’t visible, she cares for it and it’s this connection to the other side that prevents her from leaving the Bridges compound.
Deadman is the resident BB expert for Bridges. He explains that the BBs are taken from the body of their still mothers. They are then used to detect BTs and carried around in a pod. BBs are only in service for a year.
At the Tokyo Game Show 2019, a trailer called “Briefing” explains Sam’s mission and gives some answers to the many questions people had about the game. Amelie, the President of the UCA has been captured while trying to connect the cities. It’s up to Sam to complete the mission and saving Amelie.
The Death Stranding cast
Death Stranding’s most recent trailer gave us a ton of new information about the cast and the characters they are playing in the game. Some of the names are classic Kojima. Here’s the entire cast we have so far:
- Norman Reedus is Sam
- Mads Mikkelsen is Cliff
- Lea Seydoux is Fragile
- Margaret Qualley is Mama
- Guillermo Del Toro is Deadman
- Nicolas Winding Refn is Heartman
- Tommie Earl Jenkins is Die-hardman (yes, seriously)
- Troy Baker is Higgs
- Lindsay Wagner is Amelie
- Voice-over work provided by Emily O’Brien, Jesse Corti and Darren Jacobs
Sam is unlike any other hero you may have seen in games before. A typical hero is usually some sort of elite or someone with a military background. Sam is not. He is a working man of sorts — a hands-on professional. Someone with a skillset akin to a blue-collar worker.
Reedus and Kojima previously worked together on the canceled Silent Hills project. If you’re lucky enough to know someone with that project’s demo, P.T., still installed on their PS4, drop everything and play it.
Reedus elaborated on his experiences with Kojima and teased the weirdness to come in an interview last year with CNET:
“It’s mind blowing. He’s a genius. He came out to San Diego for Comic-Con, and he had some stuff on an iPad that he wanted to show me. I sat in a little restaurant at a booth watching this iPad and the things he’d created, and I was just blown away. I was like, ‘Whatever you want to do, let’s do it. I don’t even know what you’re talking about.’ It’s unreal. People will do whatever he wants because he’s a visionary.”
Mads Mikkelson’s Cliff appears to be an antagonist to Reedus’ Sam. It appears the characters played by del Toro, Wagner, Seydoux, Winding Refn and Qualley will all aid Sam in his journey in some way. On the flip side, you have Troy Baker’s gold-faced Higgs, who may have some connection with Cliff and Tommie Earl Jenkins’ Die-hardman is surely just involved because of his excellent name. Little else is known about their roles in the story so far.
It’s an intriguing cast, and Kojima said as much in a blog post.
“Although it wasn’t my initial intention, we now have a cross-generational, international cast… Across countries, time and generations, we have come together to realize this vision. Coincidentally, this theme is strongly connected with that of the game, and is a theme I strive to realize as a game creator.”
What do we know about its gameplay?
Kojima helped create the stealth-action genre with Metal Gear, so his area of expertise is well defined. But he’s strayed into horror with P.T. and tried bizarre concepts with Boktai (a game that required you to take your Gameboy into the actual sun), so there’s no guarantee Death Stranding will be MGS in a new universe — though it certainly has that feel at the moment.
Kojima has persistently hinted at “ropes” and “sticks.” Citing a Japanese play titled “The Man Who Turned Into a Stick,” Kojima has said that he has focused on the idea that humans first invented ropes and sticks. Sticks are for protection, to create space between a person and harm, while ropes tie people to things they treasure.
“Most of your tools in action games are sticks. You punch or you shoot or you kick,” Kojima told IGN upon the game’s reveal. “The communication is always through these ‘sticks.’ In [Death Stranding], I want people to be connected not through sticks, but through what would be the equivalent of ropes.”
In a later interview, Kojima hinted at Death Stranding’s death mechanics. Players will be placed in an interactive purgatory, where they can gather items before being brought back into the game world.
“Death will never pull you out of the game,” Kojima said, meaning that in Death Stranding, death… will never leave you stranded. *points finger guns*
Kojima has since expanded on the game, creating a new genre he calls “strand games.” He says Death Stranding sequels may be necessary to refine it.
At this year’s Tokyo Game Show, there was a 49-minute gameplay demo released, but it’s in Japanese. The video showcases several elements of the game such as the user interface, combat and exploration.
Players will have to pay attention to multiple factors when playing, such as the weight of Sam’s equipment, the demeanor of the BB and a number of “likes” that represent the connections he’s making while delivering cargo. There’s even a gauge for Sam’s footwear as the more worn out his boots get, the more stamina he consumes when traveling and possibly falling down. When traveling, certain terrains and obstacles will slow Sam down and deplete his health or cause him to be swept resulting in cargo dropped and added stress to the BB. Sam also wears an exoskeleton called the power skeleton that lets him run fasters and jump across gaps at the expense of its battery that will need to be recharged.
Combat is a mix of stealth and gunplay similar to the Metal Gear Solid games. Sam has a small arsenal of weapons that can subdue enemies up close or take them out from afar. BTs will attempt to pull him under to the other side where Sam will have to fight them with grenades and guns making use of his blood.
Death Stranding has a multiplayer aspect to it similar to Dark Souls, where other players can help by leaving items in the world for you or appearing as white figures in the other side and dropping items there.
In a Sept. 27 tweet, Kojima confirmed a new, albeit weird feature, in the game. The Bridge Baby, or BB, worn by Sam (Norman Reedus) will communicate with the player via the DualShock 4 controller. What exactly the baby will say is still unclear.
Originally published on May 30, 2018, and updated as new information is revealed.