Video game auteur Hideo Kojima’s first game since leaving Konami, Death Stranding, finally has a release date: November 8 for PlayStation 4 consoles. The news came at the end of the game’s most revealing “gameplay” trailer yet, though as you might expect from the enigmatic Kojima, Wednesday’s trailer raised more questions than it answered.
Yes, we’ve seen long and utterly confusing trailers for this game before, but this one comes with a semblance of a plot anchor. From what we can tell, the game revolves around a United States that has been torn asunder by some kind of plague or extinction event. The hero, Sam, played by actor Norman Reedus, is asked by the president “to help us reconnect, to make America whole.” To which the character Sam replies, “You’re the President of jack shit.”
Yet clearly Sam is compelled to do something. This trailer shows him generating ladders and ropes to scale rocky cliffsides, getting into melee fisticuffs, hopping on a stylish, three-wheeled military vehicle, stealth-crawling through tall grass and alongside giant tanks, shooting guns, and scanning environments to discover, and stealth-sneak around, spooky creatures made of dust.
We also see Sam remark about a force known as “BTs,” which seems to be triggered by rain—and while some faceless soldiers hate the stuff, other creepy characters (like a guy who warps around with magical powers and then licks a woman’s face because, uh, Kojima) seem to invite those rains. In Sam’s case, that glowing tube-baby we’ve seen in other trailers seems to be the key to surviving BTs and recognizing spectral forces that float through the stuff, and when the rain comes, Sam plugs the “bridge baby” chassis to his suit to “plug into the other side.”
In terms of gameplay, Death Stranding doesn’t look too different from Metal Gear Solid V, in terms of combining stealth, gadgets, and open-world traversal. I do wonder how much more its dystopian sci-fi conceit will fuel any other unrevealed gameplay mechanics. And as the first entry of a whole new narrative universe, Death Stranding already looks confusing as hell, but while much of today’s trailer is more enigmatic than explanatory, one concept keeps coming up: teamwork and cooperation. And a statement from Kojima, published alongside the trailer, seems to hint at some higher-level concept of cooperation in the game, either as a plot motif, a statement about modern society, or an outright online-connected gameplay concept:
People have built ‘Walls’ and become accustomed to living in isolation. Death Stranding is a completely new type of action game, where the player’s goal is to reconnect isolated cities and a fragmented society. All elements, including the story and the gameplay, are bound together by the theme of ‘Strand,’ or connection.
As Sam Porter Bridges, you will attempt to ‘Bridge’ these divisions, and in doing so, create new bonds or ‘Strands’ with other players around the globe. Through your experience playing the game, I hope you’ll come to understand the true importance of forging connections with others.
However, the trailer doesn’t go so far as to show any hints of online connectivity (certainly nothing compared to what we got in MGSV), instead focusing on tight zooms of main Death Stranding characters crying or staring harshly. So, you know, Kojima territory. Without any Sony presence at next month’s E3, we have no idea when we might see (or play) more, but the captivating trailer definitely has us interested in more of Death Stranding‘s apparent insanity.
Listing image by Kojima Productions
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