What can we expect from Death Stranding’s gameplay?

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Kojima Productions has released three major teaser-trailers so far for their first IP, Death Stranding. Hideo Kojima is completely free this time to do what he wants with his own studio and a free pass from Sony, so naturally Death Stranding is already bending our minds and promising to be a totally new gaming experience.

However, the trailers so far and Kojima’s tweets have been somewhat enigmatic, with even his own staff admitting to not understanding his vision and story outline for the game. Despite this, looking closely at the current trailers, we can see some themes and mechanics that might be a part of the actual gameplay. Without speculating too much about the story, here are some things that we might see in the game.

Stealth will probably be essential in Death Stranding

Being a Hideo Kojima game, the father of modern stealth action with his Metal Gear series, this is a given. While the first trailer didn’t really show much regarding potential gameplay, the 2016 Game Awards trailer featuring Mads Mikkelsen as well as the newest 2017 Game Awards trailer hint at stealth being a part of the game. The 2016 trailer shows the character played by Guillermo del Torro hiding and fleeing from enemies that are dressed in military clothes yet seem to be dead soldiers. Guillermo carries a baby in this Matrix-esque container and tries to escape and protect the baby with his life. The fact that he is defenseless, without any weapon, makes him appear more like an administrative or science worker.

We got to see a bit more in this year’s trailer, with Reedus’ character interacting with invisible monster(s) that seem to feed off of life. He hides by holding his breath and not moving, which seems to work. One of his colleagues shoots at the monster, but it doesn’t seem to work, implying that fighting against the beings is futile. We also see these weird radar-like devices on the backs of the characters that seem to sense the invisible monsters and alarm them when they’re close. This reminded me a lot of the Soliton-Radar in Metal Gear. We’ll likely see these machines play a big part in the game as they help players evade enemies.

We might be looking at an open-world design

Considering that Kojima’s last game (MGS V) was an open-world action game, there’s a good chance Death Stranding will be designed in a similar way, particularly when you take the stealth mechanics mentioned earlier into account. The invisible monsters seem perfect for surprise encounters in a vast and open map full of ruins and destroyed cities. The way they’re presented reminds me a lot of the Parasite Unit in MGS 5 when suddenly the atmosphere would change and you’d have to escape their grasp. Even then, fighting them was not really a smart choice. Looking at a game centered around death, the need to constantly escape it seems like a very intriguing game mechanic, one that would work best in an open environment.

Underwater/Parallel World Segments

Have you noticed that Death Stranding seems to heavily use water in relation to the central theme of death? Water is essential for life and humans are made up primarily of water. It’s interesting to turn that around and look at water as the bringer of death.

Since Reedus and his friends are seen wearing astronaut-like suits in the latest trailer, it seems that sections of the game may be wholly cut off from land or air. Something that is consistent in most video games is that water makes you almost entirely defenseless. In Death Stranding, it’d make sense to send the player into a place of heightened discomfort where he or she might not be able to breathe and is under pressure to find a way out. This would be particularly jarring if we were suddenly thrown into peculiar, confusing underwater conditions, much like what we see happening in the trailer. It’s almost as if Reedus is being sent between parallel worlds or dimensions.

The consequences of death

The title obviously points to death being a big part of the game, but Kojima himself has also hinted at death being something entirely different in this game. This raises several questions. Will you be able to die in the game? If so, will you simply reload, or will it do something to your character? The trailer shows one man desperately trying to kill himself as he’s been caught by the enemies, which despite being interesting is incredibly confusing. Will different types of death have different consequences?

It’s hard to predict future mechanics without ever seeing gameplay, so what are your thoughts on this point?

Other curiosities

Have you noticed that there are no women in the trailers, and that we see Reedus at one point with a large cross-shaped wound on his belly? Does this mean babies are not naturally produced anymore, but instead implanted into men? The last trailer showed us that the baby was somehow transferred from its container into Reedus. The first trailer showed him and the baby connected with a mechanical umbilical cord, simulating a birth. The baby then disappeared and seemed to become invisible, much like the monsters that we couldn’t see in the recent trailer.

In addition, the wide shots at the end of trailers 1 and 3 show five men in the air, reminiscent of Psycho Mantis. Perhaps some great leap in evolution has ascended a few beings, but obviously not everyone? Is the landscape we’re seeing a post-apocalyptic world, or are we on another planet? The questions are endless, and that seems to be exactly what Kojima wants!

There are so many more details I could discuss, but that’s enough for now. I’m curious what you picked up from the trailers and what your theories are on Kojima’s upcoming title. Be sure to share your thoughts!

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Sebastian
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Guitarist, singer, console gamer, general nerd, marketer, contributor @obiliskgames.

Currently obsessed with Persona 5 and waiting for new Switch titles.

I love to talk in movie, game and TV series quotes. Hit me up on Twitter if you'd like to speak about any of those.

Anything else can be found on my website: www.sebarsch.com or between the lines of my articles ;-)

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