Why Death Stranding Could Fail

Everyone is waiting with bated breath for the first game from Kojima Productions, Death Stranding. This is Hideo Kojima’s first project since his departure from Konami and his beloved Metal Gear series, and people are anxious to discover what quirky, revolutionary, or prophetic mechanics and narratives Kojima has created this time around. 

What if, however, Kojima has bit off more than he could chew?

No disrespect to Kojima. The man had made great strides in how we play and view video games. But Death Stranding, at this point, has had over an hour of cinematic trailers published in the past two years. Despite this, people are still having trouble understanding what the game is actually about, and what you actually do in it. This is great for building hype for inciting the public’s curiosity, but it also could be a warning sign. 

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This article will cover a few reasons why you should be cautious about Death Stranding, to save your money until you know how the game really is. It could just be that Kojima flew too high and burnt his wings. 

The Trailers

If you are making sense of the story from these trailers, I congratulate you. You are clearly the superior being. Personally, and I know others feel this way too, I am just confused. We know that Norman Reedus travels the world as a mailman to re-connect human civilization and that he has a baby in a tube, a Bridge Baby, so that he is able to detect the presence of supernatural creatures.

There is so much, though, in the trailers that still don’t make sense. Certain characters, their abilities, and more are unexplained, which usually would be fine. The issue is that we have seen over an hour of cinematics that exist in the game and still are confused. That’s like watching half a movie and still not knowing what was happening. Yes, the narrative of a video game is much longer than that of a film. Regardless, at this point, we should have some idea, and that doesn’t bode well for the actual story itself. 

The Strangeness

Death Stranding Strange

[Source: The Star]

Part of the reason we are so confused is because of how bizarre the story appears to be. Weird and quirky is all well and good (I love a good, strange tale), but there is such a thing as too far.

Kojima’s most recent title, Metal Gear Solid 5, lost people such as myself and others due to its insane plot. I mean, the game opens with a man composed of fire pursuing you while summoning gigantic fire whales and unicorns. It is this level of strangeness that can make a story difficult to keep track of and difficult to relate to and engage with. 

The Story’s Length

The massive scope of the narrative is intimidating, as well. Kojima himself has said that the story starts extremely slow, with no explanation of what is happening. He elaborated, saying that the game itself will get “really fun when you have completed 50% of the game.” 

I have nothing against a slow-burning story, but considering how large this game is supposed to be, Kojima’s comments make me worry that the game won’t engage me for its lengthy first half. Furthermore, that I will also be continually confused for the first half of the game. A mysterious plot is great, but you have to still engage your audience. Otherwise, they will refuse to finish your story, frustrated with any lack of understanding on their part. 

The Mechanics

Death Stranding Gameplay


[Source: Trusted Reviews]

Although I was not a fan of Metal Gear Solid V’s story, I was impressed with its mechanics. The gunplay was tight, the stealth was satisfying, and the missions were well-constructed. This is because the game was doubling down on what the series did right: stealth and gun combat. 

The issue with Death Stranding is that it might be trying to do too much mechanically. There are RPG elements, vehicle controls, exploration mechanics, gunplay, stealth systems, and even a peeing mechanic. When doing so much at one time, sometimes it can be hard to excel at any one thing.

I’m not arguing that any of these things will be poorly executed, but I am arguing that they might not be particularly special. What we might be left with is a collage of decent mechanics, amounting to an overall decent, but not great, game to play. Considering how long the game will be, you want the game to feel great to play.

The Multiplayer

As well, there are multiplayer components in the game. Supposedly, this involves constructing buildings together, helping each other with clues, and more. This is a very vague description of Death Stranding’s multiplayer, but this is the best we got at the moment. 

It seems to me that this multiplayer is unnecessary. That for players who want a single-player experience, it was not needed at all. Also, for players who do want a multiplayer experience, it is not deep or engaging enough to be worth their time. Again, it seems that this game is so full of different mechanics that the quality of each individual one could suffer. 

The Open World

Death Stranding Open World

[Source: TechRadar]

Why does every single game have to have an open world? I am becoming fatigued by maps filled with icons, which can sometimes be just padding to make a game larger and longer. For my purposes here, though, I will stick to discussing Kojima’s only other experience with the open-world formula. 

Metal Gear Solid V’s World

Metal Gear Solid V Open World

[Source: USgamer]

To me, the open-world hurt the quality of the game as a whole. For one, there wasn’t much to do in the world itself. Much of your time exploring, it would simply be you riding your horse from one destination to the next.

At first, you may think this is just because the first area you explore is the Afghani Desert, and so there isn’t much to discover. Soon, however, you are exploring the more lush areas of Africa, and you realize that you are no more entertained. Other than towns and activities that can be found on your mini-map, the area is dead. 

As well, the side missions in the game would quickly begin to repeat. You would start returning to the same towns with similar enemy placement, but just under different circumstances. Despite the huge size of the maps, it seemed that you kept doing side missions in the same places over and over again. 

Death Stranding’s World

Therefore, when I hear that Death Stranding is open world, and about how big this world is, I worry. I worry about a dead world like the one I experienced with Metal Gear Solid V. It doesn’t help that we have seen multiple shots of Norman Reedus exploring this open world, and, yea, it looks gorgeous, but it also looks like there isn’t much to do there. True, you can create ladders to bridge gaps you need to cross and the such, but I’m talking real activities or events that make the world feel alive.

Cautiously Optimistic

Death Stranding Norman Reedus

[Source: Gamespot]

I may be nervous about Death Stranding, but, boy, am I also hopelessly curious about it. Sometimes, it takes a little ambition to revolutionize a field, and it seems that Kojima is seeking to change the scope and nature of video games themselves with Death Stranding. And, with the game now being released on PC in 2020, even more, people will be able to play experience it if the game turns out to be incredible. 

I try to make it a rule to be excited about all new projects, to hope that they all are excellent new additions to the canon. For Death Stranding, though, I am making sure to keep my wallet in my pocket until the game is released, and I hear what people really think. Kojima is a revolutionary, but it sounds to me like he is trying to shove too much into his new project, diluting the quality of the game as a whole. 

Are you excited for Death Stranding, or do you have reservations, as well? Let us know in the comments.

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Kabriel Hoover

I am an English (Writing Specialization) major at the University of Nevada, Reno, and I also LOVE video games. I've been playing everything I could get my hands on since I was a kid playing my Nintendo GameCube. When I'm not playing the latest titles or replaying Dark Souls for the umpteenth time, I am usually trying to write my novel or write and edit for clients as a freelancer.

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