Death Stranding - Everything you need to know about Hideo Kojima's next game

Fast Facts

  • Death Stranding release date: Before 2019
  • Developer: Kojima Productions
  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Platforms: PS4 and PC

Death Stranding is a game that raises so many questions - primarily concerning a naked Norman Reedus - that it's amazing how few answers we actually have so far. No specific release date, no real sense of what the game will want players to do, no footage or images of the gameplay in action. But what we do know is 'explosion in your adrenal gland' exciting. Hollywood stars in major roles, creator Hideo Kojima's first chance to experiment since his massive Metal Gear Solid series. The use of Decima, the same game engine that super-powered open-world adventure Horizon: Zero Dawn. We've scoured the internet to bring you everything we can from official interviews, trailers, and even cryptic tweets and Instagram posts, so you can obsess over every clue until Kojima is ready to tell us more. Fingers crossed for PlayStation Experience in December.

Death Stranding gameplay is still under wraps

Death Stranding was missing from E3 2017, but we did get to see Hideo Kojima and Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the director of Kong: Skull Island and the upcoming Metal Gear Solid movie, chat about the fusion between movies and games. You can watch the whole thing below, but the most interesting snippet concerned the concept for Death Stranding.

"Every time I think of a plan, I explain what I'm thinking for the game system," Kojima said through a translator. "The first people I explained this to was my team. For Death Stranding, I started explaining a year ago to the team what I wanted to make. No one got it! Because I was trying to make something new and something different. So for me, I personally think that if people are opposed to you, then you're on the right track. That's game making for me." 

Death Stranding's first trailer, and naked Norman Reedus 

The first trailer for Death Stranding was revealed at E3 2016, astounding and baffling gamers with dead crabs, a baby, and an uncomfortable amount of Reedus nipple. The evocative music is Low Roar's 'I'll Keep Coming.' Fans went insane, and theories soon swirled around Reddit. Look close and you'll see equations on the dog tags Reedus is wearing, which Redditors identified as the incredibly complicated Schwarzschild radius and The Dirac Equation. The scars Reedus carries on his abdomen also caused debate, as did the dead sea life. Could 'Stranding' be a reference to the phenomena of whales beaching themselves? Finally there was the quote, one from William Blake, to unpack.

After the trailer was shown, Kojima revealed only a few tidbits at various press calls. In an interview with Wired, he pointed out the importance of the umbilical cords that are so prevalent in the trailer, and talked gameplay.

"What people are playing today in open-world action games, or linear action games, it will compare naturally to them," he said. "It will feel familiar. But after an hour or two of playing, you will start to feel something different, something new that you haven't played. The story is about connections, what you call 'strands' in psychology - how people are connected." 

He referred to the gameplay as a "new system," and cryptically referenced the work of author Kōbō Abe. "[Abe] mentions that the first tool that humanity invented was the stick, to keep away bad things. Right now, looking at today's online games, you see a lot of sticks - pistols, weapons, things that are the equivalent of the first tool. Abe, in his novel, mentions that after the stick, mankind invented something that keeps things that are important close to you - the rope."

Death Stranding's second trailer, and a big budget cast 

Hideo Kojima fans know that the Metal Gear Solid creator has a passion for movies that would make him a killer bar trivia team member, so it's no surprise that he's chosen famous faces for the Death Stranding trailers we've seen so far. The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus was the star of the teaser, and Hannibal actor Mads Mikkelsen and director Guillermo Del Toro appeared in the stunning second sneak peek at The Game Awards in December 2016.  

At a PSX panel on December 3, 2016, Kojima confirmed that Mikkelsen will be providing the likeness and voice for his character, who will be Death Stranding's antagonist. Guillermo del Toro only provided his likeness - Kojima didn't want to fill up his schedule too much, so while he will appear in the game, his character will be voiced by someone else. Kojima also confirmed that Norman Reedus will be Death Stranding's protagonist.

Not long after the second trailer, Kojima spoke to Glixel, and confirmed that despite its dark themes, Death Stranding wouldn't be the a Silent Hill-style spookfest fans were hoping for from the doomed P.T. "Death Stranding is not a horror game," Kojima said. "I just wanted to make something that looks very unique, something you haven’t seen before, something with a more artistic slant to it. I’m not pursuing a dark aspect to the game."

Death Stranding teases across cryptic tweets, Instagram posts, and behind-the-scenes photos 

 Kojima's pre-E3 2017 tweet - see below - contains a mysterious cobweb image with the word 'Bridges', which alludes to a badge worn by Guillermo del Toro's character. The badge looks like a revised outline of the US map, with the tagline 'United Cities of America.' 

Kojima's office birthday cake, shared on Twitter this August, also featured a cobweb. :thinking emoji: 

Kojima Productions has also shared behind-the-scenes snaps, taken at the Sony Interactive Entertainment Visual Arts Service Group (VASG) studio in San Diego. 

Who else could star? Way back in September 2016, Kojima Productions' English Twitter announced that additional casting is still underway, teasing fans about the potential of a female lead to star alongside Norman and Mads. It asked fans to speculate over who it should be, but we've haven't heard anything about a female character yet.  

Death Stranding's engine traces back to Horizon: Zero Dawn

Kojima and Sony have confirmed the engine that Death Stranding will be using. It's called Decima, the official name for the engine powering Guerrilla Games' Horizon: Zero Dawn. Kojima stated that The Game Awards trailer was running in real-time in 4K on a PS4 Pro - and knowing how good Horizon: Zero Dawn looks on even a standard PS4 Pro, this seems more plausible now. 

But the partnership between Kojima Productions and Guerrilla Games doesn't end there. KojiPro will be opening up a satellite studio within Guerrilla Games called Kojima Productions Amsterdam, where they will work together directly to get the most out of the engine for Death Stranding.

"The best situation is to create your own engine - then you have full control over it - but that would take us another five years," said Kojima. "We’re using Guerilla’s engine, but we’re not creating the same type of game as them, so we need to add to and modify it. We’ll take those modifications that we’ve made and give them back to Guerrilla, and together we'll create an even more powerful engine."

 Death Stranding's story might be about black holes 

 So Death Stranding definitely has a weird vibe about it, the trailers filled as they are with dead whales, fetuses inside containment pods, and a sticky black ooze coating everything in the world. There's a good chance Death Stranding will feature a healthy dose of sci-fi in there along with all the freaky horror show elements, too - and we may have gotten a huge hint via Norman Reedus' Instagram account.  

Yep

A photo posted by @bigbaldhead on May 22, 2017 at 5:12am PDT

As you can see, back in May Norman reposted a video of a 3D model of a naked man being slurped up into a tiny hole in a wall, the video quoted with a simple, declarative "Yep." 

Now, it could be that this video has nothing to do with Death Stranding at all - Reedus could've just seen something cool and wanted to share it. But the trailers currently have more than a few hints that point toward the existence of black holes in Death Stranding's narrative. The equation for the Schwarzschild Radius we mentioned earlier? It's used by scientists to calculate the radius of a black hole. And in the TGA 2016 trailer, Mads Mikkelsen's gun has 'BLACKHOLE' engraved on the scope. Coincidence? Or have we stumbled onto something big here?

Death Stranding is exclusive to PlayStation 4 (for now) 

Almost immediately after Hideo Kojima's contract with Konami ended, Sony announced that it had brokered a partnership with the newly-separated Kojima Productions, and that it would be funding and publishing its next game exclusively for the PlayStation 4. It's not completely exclusive, though, as Kojima's next game will likely come to PC as well. This partnership just means that, unfortunately, Xbox One owners will be left in the lurch.  

Death Stranding is being made by a team of long-time Metal Gear collaborators  

Hideo Kojima may be at the helm of his studio, but he's not the only Metal Gear alum working on Death Stranding. Long-time art director and collaborator Yoji Shinkawa - the man responsible for designing Metal Gear's iconic characters and mechs - has jumped the Konami ship to join Kojima, as has Metal Gear producer Kenichiro Imaizumi. Novelist and 'Metal Gear expert' Kenji Yano - who was largely responsible for the planning of the MGS series' novelization and was interviewed in Famitsu about his interpretation of the events of The Phantom Pain - has also joined the staff.

Death Stranding has nothing to do with Kojima Productions' mascot

There's been a lot of speculation surrounding Ludens, that space-faring skeleton man Kojima Productions had been teasing for a while. Turns out there's nothing much to see here: despite getting a full rundown, including the origins of his design and the philosophy behind his inception, he's just a logo. A sick-looking logo, sure, but he won't actually appear in Death Stranding (other than the short little video you'll see each time you load up the game).

Oh, and it's Kojima in the suit. In case you were wondering. 

Death Stranding's release date

Kojima has spoken about the release date in the most Kojima way possible: via a tweet that referenced a movie.  

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