Death Stranding is one of the hottest games in development right now, and it’s one that we still know virtually nothing about. While Hideo Kojima’s decision not to show it at E3 last month came as a disappointment to many, he assured us that time away from the spotlight would be spent actually making the game.
Since its reveal at E3 2016, we’ve gotten a handful of details about Death Stranding and even a new trailer from the 2016 Game Awards; but a lot of what we know about the upcoming title still feels as vague and confusing as the trailers we’ve seen thus far. So we’ve gathered all the information over the last year and have watched the trailers several times to bring you everything you need to know about this new IP so far.
Death Stranding is the first major project coming out of Kojima Productions, a studio created by iconic Metal Gear creator and writer, Hideo Kojima after his tumultuous departure from Konami in December 2015. Published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, the game will be a PlayStation 4 exclusive when it releases in the next couple of years, and it features two familiar faces: Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) and Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal). True to the Metal Gear series (and just given what we’ve seen from the trailers) Death Stranding looks to be aiming for great storytelling at best, and potentially convoluted storytelling at worst.
To see a world in a grain of sand.
And a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand.
And eternity in an hour.
This poem from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence was our very first introduction to Death Stranding from the trailer shown at Sony’s E3 conference last year. From there, we cross a beach littered with dead crabs and black hand prints materializing in the sand (remember what I said about convoluted?), until we reach a naked Norman Reedus wearing (electrified?) handcuffs. Oh, and there’s a newborn baby about a foot away from him. Once he stands up, the camera then pans focuses on his hands, which are covered in black oil, and then over his stomach where there’s an incision in the form of the cross. The panning continues over numerous dead fish, and it finally ends with a slow pan up to a gray sky where there are five floating figures. Just from that, the whole tone of Death Stranding feels impossibly dark and a little scary. Many will recall similar sentiments from Silent Hills P.T., the ultimately canceled project from Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, which also starred Norman Reedus.
The second trailer that was shown in December gave us an extended look at the game but doesn’t mean we understood it any better the first time we watched it (or maybe even the fifth time). We get a similar camera pan of dead sea life, an upside down rainbow, and a good shot of a destroyed city. Though the time period isn’t completely clear, the game looks to be leaning on elements of science fiction. A figure (played by Guillermo del Toro) steps into view and a baby doll floats to him. If you look closely, it’s clear the doll has the same scar in the shape of the cross that Norman Reedus had in the first trailer. Also, del Toro’s character wears the same electrified (glowing?) handcuffs.
This second trailer also gives us our first look at Mads Mikkelsen, who looks to be the main villain in the game. He wears military gear and stands in between a group of soldiers, all of whom he’s attached to via several ropes. Speaking to IGN last year, Kojima stated “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 will be an open-world action-adventure game, running on the Decima Engine, which was developed by Guerrilla Games to power Horizon Zero Dawn. Though it will have elements true to open world titles, after a while “you will start to feel something different,” Kojima says. “Something you haven’t played before.” With this game, Kojima is focused on exploring the ways in which people are connected, which definitely plays into the motif of ropes and wires throughout the trailers that we have seen so far. Kojima has also expressed his desire to take Death Stranding to the next level of gaming, going beyond typical gameplay and storytelling techniques. For this, it could be possible to expect fluidity between gameplay and cutscenes like we have never experienced before.
Kojima has stated that Death Stranding is in full blown production mode, but unfortunately, there isn’t a solid release date right now. Rumors have been circulating that it will release in 2019 for the PlayStation 4. However, given Sony President Shawn Layden’s recent comments about PlayStation 5, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see it release with the new console. What do you all think about this? Let us know in the comments your thoughts about Death Stranding!
Tori is a writer and gamer originally from Vault 111, but now she resides in Chicago. She has an MFA in creative writing-fiction, runs primarily on coffee, and is an expert on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Follow her on Twitter @torithatnerd.