From its E3 reveal to our studio visit to that trippy new Game Awards trailer.
We don’t know much about Death Stranding yet, but there are plenty of details floating around about Hideo Kojima’s first post-Konami game to keep us captivated.
From the lingering rumors that preceded its thrilling announcement at E3 2016, our visit to Kojima Productions in Tokyo, and beyond, here’s everything we know about Death Stranding… so far.
The Rumor Mill — Kojima Leaves Konami
There were a number of transformative events that lead up to Kojima’s announcement of Death Stranding. It dates back to Konami cancelling the much-anticipated Silent Hill sequel, Silent Hills, which was to be co-directed by Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, and star actor Norman Reedus.
Kojima’s departure from Konami came in December 2015, which was also around the time reports of Kojima opening a new studio began circulating. Shortly after, Kojima and Sony announced their partnership, with news that Kojima had reformed Kojima Productions into an independent studio with Sony’s help following. According to Kojima, his first project with Sony would be “slightly more edgy.”
In an interview with IGN, Kojima stated: “I want to create something that’s what people expect, but at the same time will have something new that people haven’t seen before.”
In an interview with IGN, Reedus stated he was “super bummed” about Silent Hills’ cancellation, but “has faith” in a future project. “I have faith that we, the three of us, can do something else.”
He was right.
Death Stranding Announced
Kojima had small details to drop about Death Stranding in the months leading up to its release, namely that it would be an action game enjoyable by fans of The Division and Uncharted.
The official Death Stranding announcement came during Sony’s E3 2016 press conference on June 13, 2016. Devoid of gameplay, its reveal trailer featured only a cinematic of a nude Norman Reedus on a beach surrounded by dead sea creatures, and attached to a crying baby via mechanical umbilical cord. It was set to the song “I’ll Keep Coming” from Icelandic band Low Roar. The surreal trailer won our Best of E3 2016 award for Best Trailer.
A New Kind of Action Game
Kojima offered IGN some cryptic details about Death Stranding in an interview later that week, stating his intent to create “something new, something different” in the action genre.
In terms of mechanics, Kojima named a short story by Japanese author Kobo Abe as a major inspiration.
“In this short story, Abe states that the first tool mankind created is a stick,” Kojima told IGN. “He states that the stick is the first tool that mankind created to put distance between himself and bad things — to protect himself. He states that the second tool mankind created is a rope. A rope is a tool used to secure things that are important to you.”
Kojima continued, “Most of your tools in action games are sticks. You punch or you shoot or you kick. 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… But of course you will be able to use the sticks too.”
Death Stranding was still very early in development at this point, however, with Kojima and team still deciding on a game engine before entering into full production. We would get more information on the engine, and this “rope and stick” concept, in greater detail with the debut of Death Stranding’s second trailer later in the year — which also included the reveal of a certain actor whose involvement the internet had speculated about months prior.
More Death Stranding Cast Revealed
Additional details about Death Stranding continued to surface as Kojima traveled to San Diego Comic-Con and Tokyo Game Show to speak. Kojima told fans that Death Stranding would be out before 2019, include a female protagonist, feature co-op, and run on a “well-known” engine. He also confirmed that the scene in the Death Stranding reveal trailer would be included in the final game, even though it wasn’t running on the soon-to-be-announced engine.
A brand new trailer for Death Stranding debuted during The Game Awards, revealing the involvement of Guillermo del Toro and Mads Mikkelsen as characters in the game. Del Toro would later comment on his role in Death Stranding, stating, “This is entirely Kojima-san’s game. I think it’s gonna be a fantastic game, 100%. But this is him and his ideas. I’m just a puppet in his hands. My contribution is limited to being a cheerleader for his ideas and being scanned for long hours at a time. That’s about it.”
While the trailer that played during The Game Awards was instrumental, Kojima revealed a version including the song “Easy Way Out” by Low Roar during his PSX 2016 panel, claiming, “If you pay attention to the lyrics while watching, the trailer will look completely different.”
While still obscure, this new trailer offered lots of hints at potential story details. For a deeper look at what it could all mean, don’t miss our analysis of all the secrets from the new Death Stranding trailer, or watch the video above.
Death Stranding Gets an Engine
At his PSX 2016 panel, Kojima also announced that Death Stranding will be powered by the Decima engine developed by Horizon Zero Dawn studio Guerrilla Games. Kojima praised the engine as “very appropriate for work on open worlds,” which lines up with his previous discussion of Death Stranding as an open-world game.
Meanwhile, PlayStation 4 systems architect Mark Cerny and Guerrilla Games director Hermen Hulst took the stage to talk technicalities. Hulst also announced that a “small satellite” of Kojima Productions would launch inside Guerrilla Games in Amsterdam. You can hear more about the Decima engine in our video interview with Kojima, Hulst, and Cerny about Death Stranding and the future of PlayStation.
Death Stranding Won’t Be as Dark as You Think
In an interview with Glixel, Kojima elaborated a bit on the tone of the still very mysterious Death Stranding. According to Kojima, Death Stranding is not a horror game, and will be no stranger to comedy — not a surprise given the simultaneously serious and silly tone of the Metal Gear series.
Kojima spoke a bit more about why he’s steering clear of horror in Death Stranding in an interview with IGN at RTX Sydney.
“I get scared very easily,” Kojima told IGN. “Actually, this is true of Alfred Hitchcock as well as Steven Spielberg. Because they scare easily, because I scare easily, it’s actually easy for us to make something that is scary, because we understand what is scary.”
He continued, “But while in that process, we’re constantly imagining, like, terrifying situations so it ends up giving me bad dreams. That’s the reason why I don’t want to make a horror game.”
But It Will Probably Be Very Complicated
Speaking at Saudi Comic-Con, Mads Mikkelsen described the plot of Death Stranding as “so elaborate” that he “got lost” as Kojima was explaining it to him.
“But I really wanted to learn more,” Mikkelsen said. “It’s a big honor to be there.”
The Game Awards Trailer and (Finally) Some New Details
After several months of silence, punctuated by teases like Mikkelsen’s Saudi Comic-Con comments and Guillermo del Toro saying he expects to see gameplay soon, we finally got a new Death Stranding trailer at The Game Awards 2017 on December 7.
Check out our Death Stranding trailer analysis below:
But that wasn’t all. IGN sat down with Hideo Kojima after The Game Awards and got a surprising amount of information about the gameplay and lore of Death Stranding.
Paired with comments and teases from the casts, like Mikkelsen’s during Tokyo Comic-Con — “There are more nuances of gray in [Kojima’s] world. You’ll have to encounter these characters in different ways throughout the game” — these new reveals give us plenty to think about until the next big trailer drop.
More Casting Rumors
In March 2018, a YouTuber rounded up a list of evidence supporting the theory that Diane Kruger is Death Stranding’s female lead. It’s all still speculation for now, but some of the clues include Kruger being spotted in photos with Kojima and an Instagram photo of her hand in a mocap glove.
The next big thing we want to see from Death Stranding is gameplay, but until then, this has been everything we know about Kojima’s upcoming project so far.