Death Stranding is a strange game. One minute players are walking down the side of a mountain, the next they may be floating naked in the afterlife. Despite its strangeness, almost everyone knows that the core gameplay loop of Death Stranding involves delivering packages from place to place.
The beginning of the game makes this task simple for players. Equipped with some rope, ladders, and a spare pair of boots, players carry their cargo from point A to point B by walking across a wasteland, encountering unique landmarks and phenomena to look at. Players may run into a river or a mountainside, but can easily cross these obstacles using their aforementioned tools. It’s a slow, deliberate process that makes players take in their surroundings and the solitary situation they find themselves in. They’ll even be treated to one of Death Standing‘s rare music tracks upon making it to a new area for the first time. However, this feeling doesn’t last forever.
Ropes and ladders won’t be enough to retain the player’s attention for the entirety of the game, so Death Stranding starts adding more gadgetry. By the end of the Eastern Region, the game’s starting area, players have access to things like motorcycles, exoskeletons, and weaponry, all of which are craftable by taking materials to the fabricators found anywhere connected to the chiral network. One of the most important tools added to the player’s belt is the Portable Chiral Constructor (PCC), a device capable of creating structures in areas covered by the chiral network. With it, they can create bridges to cross gaps, postboxes to store cargo, and generators to power electrical devices such as the aforementioned motorcycles and exoskeletons.
This arsenal of gadgets is vastly expanded upon reaching the Central Region, where the bulk of Death Stranding takes place. As players make deliveries and engage in the game’s main story, they gain access to buildable structures like ziplines that help with vertical and horizontal traversal, trucks that allow tons of cargo to be transported, and most important of all: roads. These roads require a lot of materials to repair, and players looking to fix their world’s highways almost always turn to the donations of others using online functionality. Once fixed these paved pathways make Death Stranding‘s otherwise slow gameplay trivial. No one would want to waste 10 minutes walking with a limited amount of cargo when they could just load up a truck and take the same trip with more goods in about three minutes.
More Distractions Means Less Time To Smell The Roses
While the overabundance of gadgets makes the game easier, it de-emphasizes Death Standing‘s feelings of loneliness and isolation. This could tie into the story, as players are slowly bringing America back together again, but from a gameplay perspective it feels wholly different from the beginning of the game. Players who used to enjoy exploring Death Stranding‘s world are more likely to make a beeline for the next location so that they can connect it to the chiral network. More connections mean more bandwidth, which in-turn makes for more craftable structures and easier deliveries.
The players’ arsenal is further enhanced in Death Stranding: Director’s Cut, where structures like the cargo catapult, delivery bots, and further expanded highways in the mountains are present. The game becomes less about the solitary experience and more about transporting large amounts of cargo as quickly and reliably as possible. While this is Sam Bridges’ job, it cuts into the downtime at that he gets when making deliveries.
Death Stranding is a game whose themes are best experienced at a slow pace. The game funnels players into slower situations mostly at the start, and during treks to connect other strands to the chiral network. Isolation and loneliness take time to sink in, and players can’t experience this as acutely if they’re blasting around one of Death Stranding: Directors Cut‘s racetracks or driving 80 miles per hour down a highway in a motorcycle.
Death Stranding is available now on PC, PS4, and PS5. Director’s Cut is available on PS5 and will launch for PC on March 30.
Nintendo’s recent announcement about Dragalia Lost’s shutdown sparks discussion about the inability to preserve online-based mobile games.
About The Author