So, what is Death Stranding all about?

Babies, aliens, stranded souls. Dive inside the labyrinthine world of Death Stranding.

27 Feb 2019

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Sam Bridges wades through water in a screenshot from Death Stranding

Any new Hideo Kojima game deserves the world’s full attention and Death Stranding is shaping up to be Kojima’s most tantalising work yet. The question is, what is it?

What is Death Stranding about?

A close up of Sam Bridges in Death Stranding

All images courtesy of playstation.com/death-stranding unless otherwise noted 

Kojima is well known for his strange stories. But, thanks to a spot of digging, we do have a few nuggets of information to hand. Let’s start with a quote uttered by the game’s protagonist in a teaser video for the game.

“Once there was an explosion, a bang which gave birth to time and space. Once there was an explosion, a bang which set a planet spinning in that space. Once there was an explosion, a bang which gave rise to life as we know it. And then, came the next explosion... an explosion that will be our last.”

So says Sam Bridges, as played by Norman Reedus (above). Is Sam referring to the Big Bang which gave rise to Earth, to life as we know it? If so, what is the next explosion?

Death Stranding theories

One possible answer is contained in Sam’s name - “Bridges”. On first glance, it appears to be his surname. But several characters are seen wearing clothing brandishing the same word. This suggests it’s not Sam’s surname at all, but an organisation that he works/worked for.

A man writhes in agony on the ground- "Bridges" can be seen on his shoulder

A still from the 2017 Game Awards trailer. Credit to Gamerant.com 

The trailers strongly suggest that the fabric of space and time has a tear in it. In other words, another dimension could be bleeding through to ours. Assuming Bridges is a company, the name suggests the firm has been trying to bridge our world with another dimension.  Whatever the case, experimentation has given rise to Mysterious Entities – floating aliens that look as if they’re made out of particles of sand. These aliens are key fixtures of the gameplay videos we’ve seen.

Mysteries Entities in Death Stranding

Mysterious Entities in Death Stranding

Keeping up?

So, let’s talk about the Mysterious Entities. We suspect that whenever these creatures consume someone, the human soul is transported to purgatory, but the body remains on Earth. We know for sure that Sam is a deliveryman. “I make deliveries. That’s all,” he says in one gameplay video. Are the packages he’s carrying the bodies of people whose souls have left this world, and are stranded between dimensions? We also know that Sam is special in some way; when he is consumed, he is able to return from purgatory back to the world, though his “death” has an impact on the world around him. Clearly, Kojima is trying to play with the tired game over screen, where death has no consequences.

Finally, we need to comment on Sam’s equipment. Sam is pictured with a backpack strapped to his back (for departed souls?) and a carry-on suitcase, presumably for equipment (the usual stuff you might use in any game). He also has a four-pointed shoulder-mounted device and (here’s where things get really weird) a baby in a pod. We know the baby and the shoulder-mounted device help him to see the Mysterious Entities. This suggests that an unborn child, in Kojima’s eyes, is thought to be similarly “between” dimensions.

Shoulder mounted device in Death Stranding   Baby in a pod in Death Stranding

Whew. Moving on to some lighter questions, then.

Who is making Death Stranding?

Death Stranding is being made by Kojima Productions, fronted by Hideo Kojima, the famous auteur known for his complicated stories. Sony will be publishing the game and has platform exclusivity.

Will Death Stranding be on PC?

Rumours suggest a PC version of Death Stranding might follow sometime after the PS4. As a PlayStation exclusive, we can rule out an Xbox version, but you can expect Death Stranding be a prominent title on the PS5, when a graphically superior version of the game is ported across to Sony’s new console.

Why should you be excited?

Kojima is one of the most creative minds in all of gaming: he created the original Metal Gear Solid in 1987 and directed many of its sequels, including the critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid 4 and V.

Plus, Death Stranding is shaping up to be incredible.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director of Kong: Skull Island and the upcoming Metal Gear Solid movie, has played the game and calls it a “miracle”. Taking to Twitter, Vogt-Roberts wrote:

“The world is next-level immaculate [sic]. It’s like freebasing pure Kojima & Shinkawa [Yoji Shinkawa, artist on Death Stranding and Metal Gear Solid]…YOU. ARE. NOT. READY”

What kind of game is Death Stranding?

Sam Bridges exploring the open environments of Death Stranding

Expect a level of openness similar to that of Metal Gear Solid V

Trailers suggest the Death Stranding will be an open world game with a survival horror bent. Sam is pictured traversing large, wintry locales thought to be modelled after Iceland.

What does Death Stranding mean?

Sam Bridges (Norman Reedus) in Death Stranding

The story is shrouded in secrecy - for now

One theory: with bridges being built between our world and another dimension, people who die lose their souls to eternal purgatory while their bodies are stranded on Earth. Main character Sam is special: upon death he finds himself able to return to the world. We also know he works as a deliveryman. Is his job to move the bodies of the less fortunate?

When is Death Stranding released?

Kojima has been coy about a release date but did say that it will “be out before the [2020] Olympics”, which takes place in Japan from July-August 2020. However, don’t be surprised if Death Stranding appears towards the tail end of 2019. This is, after all, one of the last big games set for release on the PlayStation 4 (the others are The Last of Us 2, Ghost of Tsushima and Days Gone). By 2020, you’d expect Sony to be shifting its focus to the PlayStation 5.

What engine is Death Stranding using?

Robotic animals in Horizon Zero Dawn

Still from Horizon Zero Dawn. Image courtesy of playstation.com/horizon-zero-dawn

Death Stranding is being developed using the Decima engine, Guerrilla Games’ proprietary technology. If you recall, Guerrilla was the team behind Horizon Zero Dawn so you can expect a similar – or better – level of graphical fidelity

Both studios have exclusive publishing partnerships with Sony, which partly explains the synergy.

But speaking about the relationship, Guerrilla’s Technical Director, Michiel van der Leeuw, added: “[W]e didn’t expect to have this much chemistry with a studio from the other side of the globe. Collaboration has been intense.

“We have similar priorities. How long to iterate, how to keep your code clean, where to prioritize [sic] efficiency, in what order gameplay elements should go. But in some ways, they’re also very different. For instance, they think photorealism is far more important than we do.”

Is Death Stranding Silent Hills?

No. Death Stranding is completely removed from the cancelled Silent Hill project that Kojima was originally working on. The only common thread comes in the form of the cast: both Norman Reedus and Guillermo del Toro were attached to Silent Hills, and they’re both characters in Death Stranding as well.

Death Stranding got you excited for this year’s gaming calendar? Check out our upcoming games of 2019 page for all the latest releases. 

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