It’s going to be really really good.
Well… Thanks for clicking!
But seriously, there’s a video game with an unusual amount of hype and we need to talk about it. It’s the first ever game from Kojima Productions and it’s called “Death Stranding.” It’s got massive Hollywood talent behind it and is made by one of the boldest gaming geniuses of our time.
Hideo Kojima is possibly one of the only true video game auteurs in existence. He’s spent the meat of his career at Konami working on the Metal Gear Solid gaming franchise which is where he gained most of his fame and notoriety. His games are action packed but also cerebral. Most of the games he’s directed include some sort of fascinating/weird/confusing hook, and its led many to label him the “Willie Wonka of Gaming.” We know his creations will be weird, but we absolutely can’t wait to see them.
A few years ago Kojima and his employer Konami parted ways in what some report as an unfortunate and awkward break up. It was especially sad because that’s not the way Wonka should go. As we all know, Wonka retires on his own terms. Then at the 2016 Video Game Awards Kojima appeared on stage and uttered two words. “I’m back.”
Those two words caused thousands of adult men and women in a theater to burst out in cheers, and by some reports, tears.
Kojima had started his own company, “Kojima Productions.” Sitting in the heart of Tokyo and backed by Sony, Kojima now had something he’d never had before in his career, full reign to unleash his wild ideas on the gaming community. His first shot is a game called “Death Stranding” and it’s entirely and fully swinging for the fences.
As of the writing of this article we have 4 trailers, a massive cast of Hollywood A listers attached, and virtually no clue what the plot of this game is.
Adding fuel to this fire, several developers, musicians, and directors have been invited to Kojima Productions to play Death Stranding, and every single one of them has twitter gushed to an almost embarrassing degree.
What follows is the Splash Damage Bros. thoughts, expectations, and predictions about the upcoming Playstation exclusive, Death Stranding.
I wish I was strong enough to talk about how the hype was ridiculous and over played and how I roll my eyes at all the famous people that tweet about it.
But I’m not.
I’m a perfect target for crap like this. The indie band Chvrches is getting me excited about a video game. That’s a sentence I just typed. What an absolutely wild time to be alive.
I know in general celeb stuff is mostly pageantry but in this particular case I think it’s a good thing. Especially if there’s this much secrecy around the game.
What I mean is, we don’t know anything about the plot of the game, but we know that Norman Reedus and Lea Seydoux know the plot and love it. That gives some value to the parade of celebs surrounding Death Stranding. Kojima isn’t telling us “what” it is, but he’s letting us know that people who value story telling are vouching for this game and this experience. So the weight to the celeb stuff is more than just celebrity. It’s opinions of people in a familiar industry, opinions I believe we can (for the most part) trust. If Mads Mikkelsen says it’s good then I’ll probably end up agreeing. Honestly, if you haven’t watched Hannibal go watch it.
The other draw to me is the online/multiplayer aspect. It seems to be the most revolutionary piece of this game. We will have interactions with other players in a way that’s never been done before in gaming. As long as we can’t affect each others worlds too much I think this is something to be excited for. If we can make permanent changes to the worlds of other players just image the trolling that would be possible. Gaming has a lot of trolls because anything with humans has lots of trolls.
For release date I’ve still got 2019 and I’m holding onto that dream like Rose holding her big floating door.
Sony exclusives follow their own unique set of rules for release dates. They won’t release too close together and they won’t release too far apart. Going with that logic we’d have to expect the next title to be either The Last of Us 2 or Death Stranding followed by at least 90 days until the next title. Right now my gut is thinking it’s a question of Sony deciding which of those titles is the most ready. Also, the push back of Days Gone to April is going to affect the other exclusive release dates. With a gun to my head I’d probably say Death Stranding is the next exclusive after Days Gone. Please don’t shoot.
For the actual game. I think there’s going to be extremely fun combat options that are almost totally avoidable if you the player don’t want them. I think the experience will lean into customization. Want your character to shoot stuff and blow stuff up a lot? Great. Want him to stealth? Sure. I think you’ll be able to play this as a walking simulator or an action shooter, and both are great. I’m super excited to see Andrew play this the most shooter way possible because that is 100% what will happen.
Hideo Kojima has been bringing us experiences through the videogame medium with an understanding and provocativeness that is rare. He has an understanding of storytelling and direction that is both comfortable and challenging. He has a sense of style that is just cool. He has an understanding of gameplay systems that is on a different level. I recall playing MGS5 for the first time, and thinking just how good everything felt. The ability for Kojima to tackle stealth and combat is such a fluid way impressed me to no end. His stories have always resounded with me. MGS5 didn’t have the same focus as games in the past; from my understanding a lot of seems to be a direct cause of the rocky relationship between Konami and Kojima at the time.
His ability for both storytelling and game systems is what really gets me excited for Death Stranding. I spent a good portion of this morning going over the four Death Stranding trailers we’ve received so far. I of course watched them as they premiered, but watching them back to back gives me a lot of food for thought. What are my predictions for Death Stranding? That’s a question, isn’t it? The following are my thoughts and they might read just as crazy as these trailers have been.
As Sam “Porter” Bridges recounts, an explosion started everything. It started life as we know it, but in the world of Death Stranding it also begins death. An important thing to see is that these explosions are the end and beginning of all things. They reset the clock, start it anew, rearrange the universe as we now it. And these explosions are caused by the giant, invisible entities that we’re introduced to. These creatures have created a kind of rift in space and time. Death is no longer the end of our existence, but merely a new beginning. In one of the trailers there’s an image of dead, stranded whales on a beach. These whales have died from ocean reduction it seems, but this image is set next to a rebirth of Sam. He comes to after a comrade is captured and eaten by a giant creature. This act of eating sets off an explosion that then resets the fabric of existence. I think what it really does is rearranges it. All of it. Space and Time, not only where but when.
Death has been stranded; there is no end to our existence but only endless beginnings. People fight to survive. They want to return to the natural order of things before everything went to shit. Sam Bridges has a particular stake in this because he is the first cause of what is presented to us as evil. Sam Bridges, founded the organization that unified the Cities of America after a great calamity in the past. In the trailer with Guillermo del Toro we see a lapel pin on Guillermo’s jacket that says “BRIDGES.” In another trailer, after an explosion cause the giant creature, there is a car door that floats past the camera. Emblazoned on it is the outline of the USA, connected with lines like a network, under which reads “United Cities of America.” Above it reads “BRIDGES.”
People, male or female, form fetuses naturally. Whether a by product of one of the creatures explosions or a result of Bridges’s scientific advancing I do not know. These fetuses are the life of the people we see. If they die, the person dies. Death in this case is not a nonexistence, but being joined to the neural network of the giant creature mentioned above. You become a pawn for the endless, pointless, resetting of space and time. These fetuses must be protected at all costs. Sam Bridges is a Porter. He’s the man who delivers. He delivers fetuses to a safe place so that humanity may continue. A man haunted by what he’s done in the past, but also devoted to changing the future.
I said above that death has been stranded, but its actually in a constant state of stranding. Why? How? This is anyone’s guess. But it is ongoing and persistent.
Where does this leave the gameplay? I think we are gonna see changing perspectives in Death Stranding, not only from a character perspective, but from a point in time as well. The shifting nature of the timeline will give us opportunity for experimentation that we haven’t seen. I know there will be guns of some sort, but I would be intrigued if Kojima leaned heavily into the pacifist route. He’s always toyed with this through tranquilizers in the MGS series. Stealth looks like a given also. What is really am intrigued by is how he will implement these systems with the themes of death/rebirth/protection. I would love to see changing perspectives in time for all characters we control and the gameplay matching their personality in whichever time we find them. Its hard for me to conceptualize what a “new type” of gameplay would even be, but what I am drawn to as I ponder this is Breath of the Wild. The climbing mechanic in that is one of the most genius mechanics I’ve experienced. It takes something known, climbing, and puts a spin on it, stamina, and creates this endless intoxicating gameplay loop. I want to see something new from Kojima, and seeing as how none of these characters except for Mads Mikkelsen seem to have military bent, I think he will do things with exploration and with space/time management we haven’t seen. There was a mission in Titanfall 2, “Effect and Cause,” that introduced a time travel mechanic that comes to mind.
This just came to mind, but what if we get a gameplay element involving how neural networks operate? I think the creatures have a shared neural network, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the humans having this too. If there was a representation of this through gameplay it would incredible, enlightening perhaps.
Thanks for reading! You can find The Splash Damage Bros. podcast on iTunes and Spotify. Twitter @splashdamagebro