When Death Stranding finally released on PC, I still thought it looked too weird to try. After all the positive reviews and a steep Steam Sale, I decided to buy it. Turns out that Death Stranding is so weird it’s good. The gameplay and story is like nothing I’ve played before. It’s also a great break from my Forza Horizon 5 sessions
Death Stranding Tells a Weird Story
Based on trailers alone, Death Stranding is a weird game. The BTs (Beached Things) that are the spirit-like enemies are probably not as creepy as the baby in a water filled pod. Those BBs (Bridge Babies) are strange, but cute in a weird way. There’s a whole story line of where the BB I use came from with great scenes from Mads Mikkelson. He’s great.
The weird baby pods serve a game purpose to detect BTs and help navigate around them. It also provides another layer of difficulty since you need to keep the thing happy and not stressed by submerging it or banging it around. It also another strange thing to learn the background story of.
The Death Stranding was an apocalypse-like event where the land of the dead collided with the land of the living. All people basically live in bunkers and communicate via holograms. It’s rare to see people outside, but increases as connections increase. BTs are composed of anti-matter, so when they touch normal humans it’s like a nuclear bomb.
Even the rain is deadly as it advances aging of anything it touches, referred to as Timefall. Due to how disconnected everyone is in light of these threats (no cell towers or internet), Porters (delivery men) are very important. The game is about reconnecting everyone via the chiral network which is like some type of land of the dead 5G network.
This is where the main character, Sam Porter Bridges, comes in. He’s played by Norman Reedus of Walking Dead fame. His story is very weird and progressing in the game reveals more about why he is the way he is. I’m probably half way in and don’t understand a lot about the story. I don’t think I’ll understand everything by the time I finish the game, but it’s still fun.
Death Stranding Porter Delivery Gameplay
I did not think delivering packages all game could be fun, but it is. Death Stranding controls are simple, but cargo balancing gameplay is fun levels of complexity. Mouse buttons serve to grasp the backpack handles to balance left or right. Those sample buttons double as options to carry by hand. Carrying by hand requires actually holding that button too.
Going uphill, downhill, through water, over rough terrain, etc., is a fun bit of challenge. Tools that make the journey start off simple with ladders, climbing rope and a terrain mapping sensor (Odradek). As things progress, deliveries become easier including things like exoskeletons, hover cargo carriers, motorcycles, zip lines and trucks, so far.
The variation of ways to transport cargo and the varying terrain keeps deliveries fresh. Although vehicle make larger deliveries easier, they offer limited range and require recharging. Rough terrain also requires ditching the vehicle to rough it out with other tools.
Along those tough Death Stranding journeys, a PCC (Personal Chiral Constructor) is available to build structure like charging stations, shelters, mailboxes and more. It’s always a good idea to bring one along. Later on people from other people’s games show up, but more on that later.
At the point where I’m at, there’s even the possibility to construct backpack upgrades like grenade pouches and extra batteries. Customizing your routes, gear, vehicles and clothes is part of the fun.
When key parts of main story deliveries occur, the moody sound track kicks in and really enhances the journey. It’s also an amazing looking game with beautifully detailed vistas and points of interest.
Building Connections with Real People
Death Stranding truly is a game about connections and that very true in many ways. Yes the story involves delivering items and connecting everyone to the Chiral network, but also collaborating with real world people. Other people playing Death Stranding can leave tools and structures around the game world to help others. Even the paths other porters take become dirt roads, making travel easier.
The more I used other’s tools or gave them likes, the higher the connection status and more of their stuff showed up in my game. It started with ladders and climbing rope, but now I see bridges, roads, generators, timefall shelters and more. It’s nice to collaborate with real people in this asynchronous manner. The game treats this mechanic as other porters in the game world helping Sam out.
I especially appreciate collaborating on roads. Gathering material to fulfill requirements for construction is very satisfying working together to rebuild those roads and even bridges. Everyone that contributes benefits from the new infrastructure. Long treks through tough terrain become an easy truck ride overtime. It’s great.
In the beginning, I thought all the AR stickers with the sound effects involved with them were lame, but came to enjoy them as they warned me or pointed out certain things. Plus, I knew throwing those likes meant more tools to help me along my way. It definitely adds to connection with the game world over time.
If you play or plan on playing Death Stranding, make sure you hammer the like button for any tools that help you out in the world. The game will ensure you gain access to more of that. If you are reading this before February 3rd, then Death Stranding is a steal on Steam right now. The Lunar New Year sale has it marked down 70% to $17.99.