After three years of mild secrecy and teases, Kojima Productions has finally unleashed upon the world a massive (eight plus minutes) trailer for Death Stranding, the studio’s highly anticipated release that was first announced at E3 in 2016. And not only did we see long snippets of story and gameplay in it, but we also got an actual release date of November 8, 2019.
The following video contains strong language and content that may not be suitable for all audiences.
Wasn’t it just earlier this year that Kojima cheekily said that the game might “take a while?”
Apparently “a while” is relative.
In any event, the long trailer certainly expounded upon what we’d already seen of the game. We knew some of the big name players – Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Guillermo del Toro, Lindsey Wagner – and we met a few more, like Tommie Lee Jenkins, Margaret Qualley, and Troy Baker. We knew that it would feature some top-notch motion capture and animation – the cinematics in the trailer are nothing short of breathtaking. We knew that the game featured a world that was ravaged by something awful – the trailer made clear that several different types of enemies, from human to other, would make things interesting.
What remained foggy was the game’s concept…and…maybe the trailer helped with that? I have to admit that even after watching it several times, I’m not sure that I know. The story seems a bit convoluted in a way that’s reminiscent of Metal Gear stories. Hideo Kojima offed his own description on PlayStation.Blog, which I’m not sure makes things better or worse:
“Death Stranding” is a completely new type of action game, where the goal of the player is to reconnect isolated cities and a fragmented society. It is created so that all elements, including the story and gameplay, are bound together by the theme of the “Strand” or connection. As Sam Porter Bridges, you will attempt to bridge the divides in society, and in doing create new bonds or “Strands” with other players around the globe. Through your experience playing the game, I hope you’ll come to understand the true importance of forging connections with others.
Okay, that makes sense. But I can’t deny how skeptical I feel about Death Stranding being a “new type of action game.” That phrase has long been spouted by the industry, and so often it ends up falling flat. I thought the combat in the trailer looked just okay. Nothing about it seemed very groundbreaking…and honestly, for much of it, Sam, the main character, was running away from danger, not into it. (Yes, maybe there’s a strategy to it.)
I also don’t feel there anything’s new in reinforcing the notion that this game will connect people around the world. Heck, that’s what the likes of Fortnite and Rocket League and Journey do now so…yay? I mean, yes, it’s good. It’s great. It’s fun to play games with people everywhere. The question remains as to how exactly Death Stranding will add anything new to that equation.
Walking away from this trailer, I mostly feel waves of Beyond: Two Souls. That game was a masterpiece in design and storytelling, but it was dreadfully unrewarding in terms of play. It felt much more like an interactive movie, and the interactive parts just weren’t that interesting. I hope that my sense of negativity proves to be completely unfounded, because I’m certain that Death Stranding represents exactly the game the Kojima always wanted to make but never could under Konami. I want it to blow us out of the water, give us glimpses into gaming’s future, and provide a totally new gaming experience. Because wouldn’t that just be something?
For now, I remain equal parts cautiously optimistic and warily pessimistic about Death Stranding. Seems it’ll only be a few months from now before deciding upon which side of that fence to fall.