Hideo Kojima's new project, Death Stranding, has raised our eyebrows so much they're basically flying off of our collective skulls.
Kojima has set a high bar for weirdness with the twists and turns fans loved in the Metal Gear Solid series. Since departing the franchise, he's set his sights on a new project: the PlayStation 4-exclusive Death Stranding. Outside Kojima Productions and the halls of Sony, concrete details about Death Stranding have been relatively sparse.
However, after a briefon May 29, Kojima revealed yet another trailer to go with Death Stranding's previous four -- but this time, we got a release date. We're not too much wiser about how the story will play out, but we do have a better understanding of how it will play and, importantly, when we can get our hands on it: .
After working our way through trailers, teasers, fan speculation and rumors galore, this is everything we know about Death Stranding. We've collated all the teasers so far, and dived into its world, the famous faces involved and a few of the gameplay elements.
What is Death Stranding?
Death Stranding is the first game from Kojima Productions, a studio founded by legendary game developer Hideo Kojima. After a rocky departure from Konami, where he built up the Metal Gear franchise, among other projects, Kojima started his independent studio and revealed the first title would be exclusive to Sony's PlayStation 4. The reveal trailer premiered during Sony's 2016 E3 conference, and sets the stage for the weirdness we're delving into.
Still confused? Don't worry. Ever since its initial announcement, Death Stranding has been shrouded in mystery. Kojima is famous for his unconventional promotional methods (at one point pretending to be part of a non-Metal Gear studio making a non-Metal Gear game) and for building strangeness into his games (see any Metal Gear ever), and Death Stranding is no exception. It's important to note that much of what we've seen so far is ripped directly from the game's cutscenes, as confirmed by Kojima.
He's responsible for the scenario, game design, production and direction of the highly cinematic offering, while long-time collaborator Yoji Shinkawan, who worked on Metal Gear and Zone of Enders, is the lead on character and mechanical design.
Kojima is marketing Death Stranding as a "completely new type of action game".
Death Stranding release date
Mark it down in your calendar: Nov. 8, 2019.
That date was revealed in a lengthy trailer that featured all sorts of new info,. That trailer can be seen below and features a ton of new footage directly tied to gameplay: gunplay, stealth and... ladders?
The latest Death Stranding trailer
Every Death Stranding trailer so far
Kojima has not been stingy with Death Stranding trailers, dropping a number of teasers and extended cinematic looks at the game since its first announcement three years ago at E3. That first trailer (and a crowd going wild for Kojima) is below and features the first time we came to see the star of Death Stranding, Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame, as a naked and hunched over Sam.
The second trailer introduced us to famed director Guillermo del Toro wielding a baby in a portable tube and a terrifying Mads Mikkelsen, complete with goth eye makeup (OK, its not goth but don't tell me he wouldn't fit the bill perfectly).
A highly cinematic third trailer dropped at The Game Awards in 2017.
Then bang! Gameplay trailer at E3 2018. This was our first real look at what players might be doing in-game -- so what did it reveal?
Gameplay! Death Stranding will have exploration elements and gorgeous vistas that bring to mind the best elements of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Decima Engine, used to build the game world, provides stunning hyper-realistic landscapes.
A teaser came at the Tokyo Game Show in 2018, revealing Troy Baker's character wearing a Gold half-mask and. You can watch that here:
The Death Stranding cast
Death Stranding's most recent trailer gave us a ton of new information about the cast and the characters they are playing in game. Some of the names are classic Kojima. Here's the entire cast we have so far:
- Norman Reedus is Sam
- Mads Mikkelsen is Cliff
- Lea Seydoux is Fragile
- Margaret Qualley is Mama
- Guillermo Del Toro is Deadman
- Nicolas Winding Refn is Heartman
- Tommie Earl Jenkins is Die-hardman (yes, seriously)
- Troy Baker is Higgs
- Lindsay Wagner is Amelie
- Voice-over work provided by Emily O'Brien, Jesse Corti and Darren Jacobs
Sam is unlike any other hero you may have seen in games before. A typical hero is usually some sort of elite or someone with a military background. Sam is not. He is a working man of sorts -- a hands-on professional. Someone with a skillset akin to a blue-collar worker.
Reedus and Kojima previously worked together on the canceled Silent Hills project. If you're lucky enough to know someone with that project's demo, P.T., still installed on their PS4, drop everything and play it.
Reedus elaborated on his experiences with Kojima and teased the weirdness to come in an interview last year with CNET:
"It's mind blowing. He's a genius. He came out to San Diego for Comic-Con, and he had some stuff on an iPad that he wanted to show me. I sat in a little restaurant at a booth watching this iPad and the things he'd created, and I was just blown away. I was like, 'Whatever you want to do, let's do it. I don't even know what you're talking about.' It's unreal. People will do whatever he wants because he's a visionary."
Mads Mikkelson's Cliff appears to be an antagonist to Reedus' Sam. It appears the characters played by del Toro, Wagner, Seydoux, Winding Refn and Qualley will all aid Sam in his journey in some way. On the flip side, you have Troy Baker's gold-faced Higgs who may have some connection with Cliff and Tommie Earl Jenkins' Die-hardman is surely just involved because of his excellent name. Little else is known about their roles in the story so far.
It's an intriguing cast, and Kojima said as much in a blog post.
"Although it wasn't my initial intention, we now have a cross-generational, international cast... Across countries, time and generations, we have come together to realize this vision. Coincidentally, this theme is strongly connected with that of the game, and is a theme I strive to realize as a game creator."
What do we know about its gameplay?
Kojima helped create the stealth-action genre with Metal Gear, so his area of expertise is well defined. But he's strayed into horror with P.T. and tried bizarre concepts with Boktai (a game that required you to take your Gameboy into the actual sun), so there's no guarantee Death Stranding will be MGS in a new universe -- though it certainly has that feel at the moment.
Kojima has persistently hinted at are "ropes" and "sticks." Citing a Japanese play titled "The Man Who Turned Into a Stick," Kojima has said that he has focused on the idea that humans first invented ropes and sticks. Sticks are for protection, to create space between a person and harm, while ropes tie people to things they treasure.
"Most of your tools in action games are sticks. You punch or you shoot or you kick," Kojima told IGN upon the game's reveal. "The communication is always through these 'sticks.' In [Death Stranding], I want people to be connected not through sticks, but through what would be the equivalent of ropes."
In a later interview, Kojima hinted at Death Stranding's death mechanics. Players will be placed in an interactive purgatory, where they can gather items before being brought back into the game world.
"Death will never pull you out of the game," Kojima said, meaning that in Death Stranding, death... will never leave you stranded. *points finger guns*
Given the popularity of the Dark Souls series and its imitators, it's easy to see a similar blend of uncontrolled cooperative-competitive mode taking hold in Death Stranding and, at least from what we know now, there's some weight to that prediction. In some early marketing materials, there's the suggestion players can help one another on their journey without actually ever running into each other. You'll be able to "send supplies, share safe houses and walk in the footsteps of fellow couriers to reunite civilization." That sounds very Soulsy to us.
The world of Death Stranding
We know less about the world of Death Stranding than we know about the gameplay of Death Stranding and we know very little about the gameplay so far. Let's run through just some some of the disparate elements that have been a part of its trailers so far…
- Tube babies
- Invisible monsters
- WWII weaponry
- Spooky skeletons
- Scientific research teams
- Dead whales
- Upside-down whales
- Giant humanoid creatures
- Dystopian imagery
- Male childbirth?
- Pollution, especially oil
- Chattering backpack robots
You only have to go as far as the Death Stranding subreddit to see the rampant speculation about what any of those elements actually mean for the game's story and world. We know those aforementioned babies have a particularly important role in the story and gameplay -- Kojima has already said as much.
So... where is all of this going? What does it all mean? Are we just going to get an endless series of trailers or will Death Stranding actually get a release date? We'll update this page as more information emerges, which could be as soon as E3 2019, which takes place between June 11 and 13 in Los Angeles, California., but when has that sort of roadblock ever stopped Kojima?
Note: This article was originally published May 30, 2018 and is updated as trailers and news rolls in.