Now that I’ve spent a weekend with Death Stranding, I feel I can give you an accurate description of the game, how it plays, and its many quirks. Let’s just say it’s one of the most stressful, yet satisfying games I’ve ever played.
SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains minor spoilers for Death Stranding. You have been warned.
My first moments in Death Stranding were a little overwhelming. After the opening cinematic (which was beautiful, by the way), a plethora of information was handed over to me like it was a soup kitchen. That being said, most of what the game teaches you is spread out over several hours of gameplay, making it pretty easy to gain a decent understanding of the game’s mechanics.
Let me just say this: Death Stranding is stressful. I don’t mean Dark Souls stressful or even Call of Duty stressful when all the no-lifers are on either. I mean there are moments in Death Stranding where I realize I have been involuntarily holding my breath for an extended period of time. And I love it.
If you’re not already aware, without getting too deep into Death Stranding‘s story, you are basically tasked with restoring what is called the Chiral Network and rebuilding America. You do this by making deliveries to various stations across the map, increasing your connection (essentially building reputation) with the companies and individuals in charge of those stations, and convincing them to join the network. In other words, about 90% of what you do in the game is centered around delivery. Yes, there is combat, more than most would lead you to believe, but that comprises a fairly small portion of gameplay.
A lot of Death Stranding‘s critics are most likely composed of those who have yet to make it to Episode 3. Up until then, it really is more of a “walking UPS simulator” than anything else. Still, I have had little problem with that. As you progress through the game, the ability to fabricate, or craft, certain structures like ladders, bridges, generators, and even vehicles, make the experience a very rewarding one.
What makes the delivery of goods tricky is the game’s application of physics. Every time you load a new container of supplies onto your person, not only does your weight increase, but it becomes harder to stay balanced. And, since it is preferable to deliver those supplies in good condition, falling down is likely to damage them, resulting in a less profitable reward upon delivery.
The journey to deliver goods can be interrupted by various landscape hazards, enemies like BTs (Beached Things) and MULEs (Death Stranding‘s bandits), and the stress-induced cries of your BB (Bridge Baby). I don’t think I’ve ever been as stressed as when I’m trying to sneak past a group of BTs. If you don’t know what they are, just think Dementor, but on a whole new level of horror and danger.
It’s true that this type of gameplay isn’t for everyone, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as finally making it to your destination in Death Stranding. You almost feel an actual weight lift off your shoulders as Sam, the main character, takes goods off his own shoulders and deposits them at a delivery station.
In a way, Death Stranding is also a multiplayer game. The structures that players create can be seen and used by other players. You don’t ever see other players (that would be weird since everyone plays as the same character), but you do see the things they create, including “signs” similar to the messages you can leave for other players in Dark Souls.
There is A LOT to Death Stranding, and even after many hours of gameplay, I feel I’m only beginning to scratch the surface. I will continue to update you on my thoughts and progress.
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