Death Stranding explained in massive 48 minute Tokyo Game Show demo

Hideo Kojima has offered the most comprehensive look at Death Stranding so far and it’s all slowly starting to make sense, kind of.

The simplest question anyone ever has for Death Stranding is ‘what is it about?’ and that’s always going to be the hardest thing to answer.

At a basic level you play as the character Sam Porter Bridges (played by Norman Reedus out of The Walking Dead) who’s trying to help connect distant settlements in a post-apocalyptic world.

The seven-minute briefing trailer below explains the set-up pretty clearly, with Sam being sent out to reconnect cities and settlements across the U.S. Not everyone wants to be reconnected though and there’s groups of militants that are actively trying to stop him.

In that sense the concept of the game is fairly straightforward, although the explanation of what’s happened to the world, and what the mysterious ‘BT’ enemies are, is a lot more complicated and probably won’t be made clear until everyone can play the game.

What’s the story in Death Stranding?

The gameplay is only a little easier to explain than the story but it revolves around Sam delivering equipment which he hauls around on a massive backpack. This is a literal balancing act, with Sam even carrying stuff in extra pouches on his arms and legs.

You have to carefully plan trips to other settlements, as well as choose whether to take extra equipment like ladders and anchors – which in turn affect how much cargo Sam can take with him.

There’s other more high tech help you can get too, with power armour called an ‘Active Skeleton’ that lets you run faster and jump further. There’s also a ‘Floating Carrier’ that’s basically an anti-gravity palette that travels along behind you, but which you can also use like a sled to go downhill (a bit like shield surfing in Zelda: Breath Of The Wild).

Is there multiplayer in Death Stranding?

You can also simply steal vehicles like trucks and motorcycles if you come across them, but that’s not something you can guarantee when you start out. Although it is possible that you can use them if other players have left them behind for you.

The game doesn’t have any direct multiplayer options but you can see things other players have left behind, like ladders and vehicles. You can also use shelters they’ve set up already, which you can use and thank them for – a bit like the online features in Dark Souls.

The likes are actually more important than they sound as they’re used as a kind of currency in the game, as you connect more settlements together and everyone learns to appreciate your efforts.

Is there combat in Death Stranding?

Perhaps the biggest revelation from the Tokyo Game Show demo is that there is combat in the game, with Sam being accosted by some shadowy BTs part way through his mission. At this point he has to drop some of his cargo to be able to fight properly and ends up using grenades to defend himself.

He also shoots a BT with a bolas and gets into what is essentially a boss fight with a dog-like creature. Although how common encounters like this are during the game is unclear.

If Sam dies he’s sent to what seems to be an alternate dimension, a bit like the Upside Down from Stranger Things but submerged in water – which is thought to be the source of the ‘Timefall’ rain that rapidly ages anything it hits.

There’s a lot of mysteries still to be answered about Death Stranding but the Tokyo Game Show may have more answers yet to come, as there’s another 30 minute stage demo planned for Friday, 13 September.

Death Stranding itself is a PlayStation 4 exclusive and will be released on 8 November this year.

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