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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Death Stranding Release Date Announced; What The Game Actually Is Remains Unknown

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I almost put scare-quotes around game in the headline.

We have seen a lot of talk about Death Stranding for years now, but I can summarise it this way: Death Stranding has long since stranded our ability to understand what it is. I think that's intentional. That's cool to generate immediate interest in the game—being very vague, confusing, and open-ended will get you a lot of attention, as displayed just yesterday—but it's been three years now. 
  1. First with Sony's E3 2016 where I thought Norman Reedus existed because Hideo Kojima has a nude man on a beach fantasy.
  2. Second is The Game Awards 2017 where the staff was reviled by the content of that creepy trailer that had dissolving dudes, a baby, and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
  3. Third is Sony's E3 2018 where we finally got gameplay of Death Stranding and it featured a lot of walking in empty environments. With a fetus baby.

For all of those we were confused and weirded out. Kojima Productions is in business to produce games, however, and people generally need to know what the game is before they'll buy it. And it needs to actually release. So here's a nine-minute age-restricted trailer with the release date of Death Stranding, November 8, 2019:

Here's my reaction to that trailer, in picture form:

Death Stranding trailer gun pistol to the head suicide
(I didn't pull the trigger, fortunately.
...Neither should you, if you're considering doing that sort of thing.)

It's still a bunch of nonsense. I had to read the Wikipedia article to actually get some concrete information on Death Stranding. Basically, it's an open-world action game with some manner of multiplayer, though as far as I can tell, everyone plays as Sam Porter Bridges (aka nude Norman Reedus). The game is apparently all about building connections with other people, and something about life and death. Probably why there's a lot of THE BABY.

I'm cool if the game is some kind of commentary on the abortion issue. I'm sure it's a social commentary on something (or multiple things), since it's clearly not a game designed for gameplay. I'm still not sure what gameplay there is besides walking, running, riding a bike, sometimes crawling, and one moment of button-mashing close-quarters combat. Before two minutes into the trailer, the protagonist summoned a ladder out of nowhere like it's Fortnite. For the rest of the trailer, I was thinking of Fortnite. That's not a good thing.

There's a lot of movement in this game through a lot of empty-looking environments. Seems like you're moving from one incoherent story cutscene to another. That gameplay style doesn't have to be as bad as it sounds, but the incoherence is my worry. I anticipate the same toxic movie-first philosophies that plagued BioShock Infinite, complete with identical pretentious crypticness.

If you look at the official Kojima Productions Death Stranding website, you'll see the collection of nonsense trailers, some un-captioned screenshots, and a Making Of section that focuses entirely on motion-capturing Norman Reedus. I'm convinced the latter (and his bare body) is really the whole point of Hideo Kojima's project.

Death Stranding PlayStation 4 Pre-Order availaboe November 8 2019
There is literally no justifiable reason to pre-order a digital copy of a game not subject to supply-and-demand concerns.
Especially when no one knows for sure what the hell the game experience is even like.

The release date trailer ends by asking you to pre-order this $60 game. But you can also pre-order an $80 Death Stranding Digital Deluxe Edition, featuring golden in-game items, a digital music album, and PlayStation avatars! Somehow, it already has 88 five-star FAKE NEWS reviews on the PlayStation Store.

I suggest PlayStation fans save that money and just buy Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy. It's also story-based, if that's what you're after, but half the price of the Death Stranding standard edition, and much, much better and more coherent. And without freaky babies.

Ludwig doesn't have a PlayStation 4 and wouldn't be able to play Death Stranding even if he was interested, but he feels like nature's natural inclination towards envy allows him to make a fair judgment of the product. Do you feel differently? Let the staff know how you feel in the comments section.

Hideo Kojima believes that all entertainment mediums are converging into one, which may influence his game design.


  1. I kinda want it. (Unless it's open world, which it looks like it might be. Then I'll be less interested.)

    While I'm skeptical of your theory that Norman Reedus is the whole point of the project, I think a better case can be made for Mads Mikkelsen after reading Kojima's tweet about how much Mads there is in Death Stranding. XD

    1. I mean, it *is* open world, so...
      "Kojima's Death Stranding is an action game in an open world"

    2. Darn.

      (I mean, some people think Dark Souls is open world, but after looking up some things, it sounds like Death Stranding is going more for the "if you see it you can go there" style.)

    3. I'm very interested to know how Kojima will combine his movie narrative with open world gameplay, actually.

    4. My guess would be story-heavy main quests and story-driven side quests despite having the freedom to explore.

    5. I can see the side quests not being story-driven, actually—I envision it as you're building "connections" and "bridges" with random NPC villages or something, as you come across them.


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