Tokyo Game Show 2019 is in full swing, and tons of top devs and publishers from across the globe have arrived in droves to showcase the demos for their latest games. Of course, all eyes would be on Death Stranding by Kojima Productions, as 80 minutes of gameplay of this enigma of a game has been finally unveiled at this event.
The first day gave us 50 minutes, with none other than Hideo Kojima coming on stage to present to audiences how exactly Death Stranding plays. And, unsurprisingly, we were both astonished and weirded out. In a good way, of course.
Note that the live gameplay demo was purely in Japanese, so whatever interpretations there are in this article may or may not accurately represent what was conveyed.
Beginning a typical mission with Sam Bridges (Norman Reedus) requires you to equip your starting loadout. You’ll equip a Skeleton, which enhances your physical capabilities (more on that later), and then you’ll also equip Sam with various pieces of cargo that you’ll be transporting to a delivery pod. You can stack cases upon cases on Sam’s back and even on his arms, and the weight level will reflect on how quickly he moves in game as well, which is a nice touch.
You’ll also be able to carry items for Sam’s personal sustenance, such as Monster energy drinks (yes, Kojima Productions struck a deal with the popular energy drink company), spare boots to replace worn ones (yes, your footwear gets worn out over time), first-aid kits and even weapons for self-protection.
With all that weight on your back, you’ll need to constantly shift your weight around so as not to lose balance. This is most likely important as you’ll probably lose credits or XP if you misplace any of the cargo. Crossing rivers with a full loadout is also a treacherous affair, as you can easily get swept up by the currents and lose your cargo in the process.
Remember the Skeletons we were talking about earlier? There are two types that were shown at the demo; the first is the Power Skeleton, which looks to be the one that can carry a heavier loadout. The second is the Speed Skeleton, which allows you to run faster than an Olympic sprinter. Perfect for catching — and hijacking — enemy trucks.
Navigating around the area is pretty straightforward, with the minimalised UI allowing you to appreciate and take note of the surroundings more. This is reminiscent of games like Dead Space, which also present your health and ammo in a really nice, compact manner so you can focus on the environment.
Of course, you can still bring up Sam’s holographic map to take a gander of the surroundings, as well as catch up on the missions you’re currently taking on.
Once you’ve managed to get a package delivered at the delivery pods, you’ll receive a thanks message from the recipient — an NPC somewhere else in the dystopian United States — after which you’ll receive a message indicating that you’ve established a “Strand” with that person. This is a major gameplay feature in Death Stranding, and the main story and side missions will revolve around this mechanic.
Sometimes during your mission, you’ll be accosted by enemies, usually human. You can approach them via stealth (taking reference from Kojima-san’s Metal Gear roots), or simply shoot them in the face with your Bola Gun.
And if the enemies are 8-feet-tall hulking quadrupedal black, sludgy creatures that shoot laser beams out of their faces, just chuck thermo grenades at them.
Kojima-san mentioned way before TGS 2019 that there’d be an “asynchronous” multiplayer component to the game. This manifests in several instances during the gameplay demo. The most common instance of this is when you can see the tracks of other players in your world. This is highly reminiscent of games like Dark Souls, where you can see flashes of other players currently playing the game, and see where they died and all.
But that’s not all; you can actually get aid from other players, and this can take on the form of being able to use tools that they’ve left around in the world, listen to whatever music they’re listening to in rest areas, or even see them in ghostly forms as they chuck lost pieces of luggage to you.
And when all is said and done, Sam Bridges can kick it with his BB (Bridge baby) and get some much-needed rest. Yes, you’ll have to actually watch Sam sleep, as there’ll be an energy bar that will refill over time (don’t worry, it’ll only be for one or two minutes, depending on how fatigued he is).
Alternatively, if you can find a hot spring, Sam and BB can lounge there, and Sam will coddle BB with Japanese songs (yes, Norman Reedus actually sings in Japanese. Someone get Kojima-san a medal already!).
In any case, the first 50 of the 80 minutes of Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding looks really promising. However, there are 30 more minutes left to be seen, and we’re no doubt hoping there’ll be more new features yet to be seen.
Knowing Kojima-san, we can expect several pleasant surprises awaiting us.
Death Stranding releases on November 8 for PS4.
Marion has a serious RPG addiction. Sometimes it bleeds into real life; he forgets to sleep because he thinks he has a Witcher’s body clock. Forgive him in advance if he suddenly blurts out terms such as “Mind Flayer” and “Magic Missile”, because never once does he stop thinking about his next Dungeons & Dragons game.