Death Stranding is the enigmatic first game of Kojima Productions. It’s due to be released on PlayStation 4 on November 8 with a later PC date rumored. It’s so enigmatic, in fact, that not many may know what on Earth the game is about two weeks before its release date. After many hours of pouring over trailers, tweets by Kojima himself and interviews, we will be listing everything we know about the mysterious title so far, or at least what we think we know. It’s entirely likely that come November 8, it will turn out we got the whole thing wrong and it really is just a Norman Reedus walking simulator.
The title has been much-anticipated after it was first announced through the reveal trailer above in 2016 at E3 by Hideo Kojima after his split from Konami in 2015. The divorce between Kojima and Konami came as a shock to many gamers, especially fans of the Metal Gear franchise. But to those who had been bitterly disappointed by the cancellation of Kojima’s Silent Hills project (despite overwhelmingly positive reactions to its demo), this split gave hope that the visionary would now be able to have full creative freedom over future projects. Rumors had previously circulated that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain had been rushed through deadlines by Konami and subsequently cut shorter than intended.
But now Kojima has formed his own independent company under a partnership with Sony Interactive Entertainment who will be publishing Death Stranding. Kojima, as well as having his name displayed on marketing, is responsible for the scenario, game design, production, and direction. Long-time collaborator, Yoji Shinkawan (Metal Gear and Zone of Enders) is managing character and mechanical design. Walking Dead star Norman Reedus, who was previously on-board for the canceled Silent Hills project, has re-grouped with Kojima to play the lead character, Sam Porter Bridges.
Death Stranding has been developed using a modified version of Guerrilla Games’ Decima engine, previously used for games such as Horizon: Zero Dawn and Until Dawn. It’s capable of artificial intelligence, dynamic physics and creating game worlds. As a result, the trailers created using the engine (such as the one above) were so visually stunning Kojima felt the need to prove it was actually in-game footage and not an animation;
This ones are the background shots from the teaser trailer running by DECIMA engine introduced at PSX. Only the lighting and the texture. pic.twitter.com/bpxgkyiEny
— HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) December 12, 2016
Death Stranding is set in a futuristic America where the government and civilization have collapsed as a result of supernatural explosions known as the ‘Death Stranding’. What’s left of humanity consists of isolated groups and cities cut off from each other, existing as what Kojima described as a ‘fragmented society’. What’s left of American is a barren wasteland which the player will be navigating through during the game.
In the ‘Briefing’ trailer above, it is revealed that Sam, an ex-member of the Bridges organization, has been tasked by the future president of the United Cities of America, Amelie (modeled off Lindsay Wagner and voiced by Emily O’Brien), to reconnect everyone in order to prevent humanity from going extinct. To do this he must travel to these isolated cities and link them to the Chiral Network which is similar to the internet.
In this trailer, Amelie appears to Sam and Die-Hardman (Tommie Earl Jenkins) as a hologram; she was kidnapped by the terrorist organization known as the Homo Demens whilst attempting this mission herself and has been held hostage ever since. Amelie had made it all the way to the West Coast to Edge Knot City before the attack, and states that she is allowed free roam within the city (but is not allowed to leave) as well as access to equipment and technology. Her captors have made it clear that their intentions are to keep Edge Knot City independent from the United Cities of America and Sam must rescue her whilst on his mission.
The Death Stranding caused creatures known as Beached things (BTs) to cross over from another dimension known as the ‘other side’. They come in various forms and bring Timefall with them, a form of rain that can manipulate time – causing plants and even human beings to age from the touch of a raindrop. This has been shown in the Game Awards 2017 trailer above as Sam and his group are attacked by BTs.
BTs cannot be seen by the human eye but they themselves are also blind, detecting people using sound. This is why the Bridge operatives in the trailer cover their mouths to hide their breathing when they realize BTs are near. Bridge operatives can use Bridge babies (BBs) to see deadly beings. These are babies taken from a brain dead Still Mother, as their wombs will have a connection to the other side. BBs can be carried in an artificial womb by operatives, including Sam, and can sense BTs. BBs are seen as equipment and are prone to failure if, under too much stress, there are no reports of them lasting longer than a year in service and cannot live outside their artificial womb.
Sam Porter Bridges
Kojima has described lead character Sam as a ‘working man’ with the skill set of a ‘blue-collar worker’. He’s not an action hero or a fighter, simply a delivery man. Though it has been hinted that there is something special about Sam’s DNA as his blood is routinely collected in safe houses. It seems as though his blood along with his other bodily fluids (gross) can be used as a weapon against the BTs. This was first hinted at in the 2017 trailer when a hissing sound happened as a BT stepped into Sam’s blood, as though it was being burned. In the nearly hour-long gameplay demo shown at the Tokyo Game Show this year, Sam can be seen using various collections of human waste as ammo.
Amelie is an official for the United Cities of America and the daughter of the current president, Bridget who is modeled after and voiced by American actress, Lindsay Wagner. If she is rescued from Edge Knot City, she intends to become the next president after her mother. Despite being held hostage, Amelie can still communicate with Sam and Die-Hardman via hologram.
Modeled after Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn and voiced by Darren Jacobs, Heartman is a Bridges operative who will help Sam on his mission. He suffers from a condition that means he dies every 21 minutes, and in the 3 minutes he remains dead he searches for his family on the other side before a defibrillator attached to his chest resuscitates him. In the trailer above, he informs Sam that he has become used to his condition, even keeping a collection of films and music which he can consume within 21 minutes.
Modeled after Mexican film director Guillermo Del Toro and voiced by Jesse Corti, from his spotlight trailer he seems to be a BB expert who gives Sam information on BBs. Deadman also appeared in the 2016 Game Awards trailer where he was running from something in a WW1 setting whilst carrying a BB.
Mama is portrayed by Margaret Qualley and is a member of Bridges and another acquaintance of Sam’s. Her tragic story is that her daughter was born on the other side, meaning she manifests as a BT with an umbilical connection to Mama. It is not explained why but because of this, Mama cannot leave the Bridges building.
Portrayed by Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen, Cliff is the main antagonist of the game. Little is known about his character other than the fact he is able to summon soldiers using the tar-like substance that comes with BTs. In the release date reveal trailer he was shown talking to a BB.
Otherwise known as The Man in the Golden Mask, this antagonist is portrayed by Troy Baker. He is a member of the Homo Demens. He is able to summon a large cat-like creature that resembles a Catcher BT seen in the 49-minute gameplay video. It is hinted that he is the one who kidnapped Amelie. He also carries a unique looking BB which is floating in red liquid.
Portrayed by Tommie Earl Jenkins, the mask-wearing Die-Hardman appears was introduced in the Briefing trailer with Amelie. He is the commander of Bridges, but other than that not much is known about him.