You may have seen that Hideo Kojima recently tweeted a picture of some in-game moss from Death Stranding, teasing its upcoming appearance as one of the most-anticipated E3 2018 games. But did you know that it was likely a very specific kind of moss that Koijma was teasing? I'd lichen it to a revelation if this wasn't the culmination of a whole bunch of compelling data points that indicate Iceland will be a major location in Death Stranding. First, here's the mossy tweet in question.
+1 on the T-minus 3 weeks. #E32018Decima×Kojima=DS. pic.twitter.com/OxNrqaxQJSMay 22, 2018
This missive prompted the usual degree of speculation about hidden messages and the overall significance of the moss, including some considered analysis from GR+ boss Dan Dawkins of Death Stranding's erstwhile absent plant life. But what really grabbed my attention was an astute observation from a fan that Kojima himself retweeted a day later.
Mosses on top of lava fields in Iceland and the new Decima/Death Stranding image are very similar. 🤔 @HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN @Kojima_Hideo #DeathStranding #Decima #E32018 pic.twitter.com/aXLnvE9Oh4May 22, 2018
That's a good eye for low-lying plantlife right there. I doubt Kojima would have retweeted it if it was totally off-base, though by itself it obviously could mean any number of things; maybe Kojima and company are just using this kind of mossy landscape as inspiration, divorced from the overall geographic its found in. But it isn't by itself! Remember that first trailer for the game with naked Norman Reedus on a craggy, black sand beach? That looks very much like Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, which - if you couldn't tell by the Y and the F and the J appearing in such quick succession - is also in Iceland. Speaking of which, Reyni… that beach is also pictured in some of the promotional material for Decima, the game engine that both Horizon: Zero Dawn and Death Stranding are built on.
Furthermore, Hideo Kojima was scouting for locations in Iceland waaaaay back in 2014, when he was still with Konami. At that point he probably had a different project in mind for the locations, granted. But as you can see from Norman Reedus making the jump from protagonist of Silent Hills to protagonist of Death Stranding, Kojima isn't one to throw a good idea out just because of an acrimonious split from a longtime employer. And it was in an Icelandic record store that Kojima first heard Low Roar, the also Icelandic band whose songs "I'll Keep Coming" and "Easy Way Out" score two Death Stranding trailers.
All this isn't to say that Death Stranding will take place exclusively in Iceland (though that would be cool too). The second trailer, the one with "Easy Way Out", evokes the Western front of World War 2 with its anachronistic vehicles and desolated city. It also shows Guillermo del Toro's character wearing a pin that says "United Cities of America." But at this point, I think we can confidently say that Death Stranding will spend some time on the island nation - or whatever Iceland has become in this weird, time-distorted, dead whale apocalypse. Hopefully Norman Reedus can steal a few minutes in the steam bath between all that invisible monster fighting and baby swallowing.
Worried about losing your mind to all this speculation? We've tried to piece together the bigger picture in our full Death Stranding analysis.