After an eight-month wait, Death Stranding has released on PC in spectacular fashion, putting Kojima’s latest work in many new hands.
Over the last few years, it’s been nearly impossible to avoid hearing about Death Stranding, and for good reason. Everyone in the gaming world seemed interested in what Hideo Kojima would create following his departure from Konami. The game’s teases were brief, mysterious, and widely discussed, leaving people to wonder what its gameplay would look like, or making blind guesses about the game’s plot. When Death Stranding eventually released last November, it felt like everyone either loved or hated it, and ultimately it’s up to you to decide what camp you’re in; love, hate, or somewhere in-between. However, regardless of how anyone individually feels about Death Stranding, it’s impossible to deny that the game was expertly brought over to PC, causing PC players who patiently waited out the last eight months to scream out “WORTH!”
If you’re like me, you mostly avoided the Death Stranding conversation in 2019, hearing nothing besides a bunch of people calling it a “walking simulator,” while another group claimed it was Game of the Year. The easy way to settle the debate is to play it yourself, but I’ll do my best to explain it.
You control Sam Porter Bridges, a delivery man living in a post-apocalyptic North America. Sam gets caught up in an affair with an organization called the United Cities of America (UCA) that seeks to recreate the nation by digitally connecting America’s remaining cities. That’s where Sam comes in. In Death Stranding, you walk across the country completing delivery orders and bringing its surviving human establishments online.
That’s right, you’re America’s delivery boy. But Death Stranding is much more intense than walking back and forth delivering packages. Casually carrying some metals over to the next city can sound boring, but Death Stranding has led to some of the most intense gameplay I’ve experienced all year. This is in large part due to trying to get across BT areas. BTs are deadly invisible enemies that crowd rainy areas. Thankfully, you have a gadget called the odradek that points to the nearest BT, making it easier to keep your distance. While out making deliveries, you’ll need to carefully sneak through BT areas, holding your breath while passing the creatures, staying atop safe surfaces, and fighting the creatures off when they attack. BTs aren’t your only threat though, as cargo thieves survey chunks of land, attacking and robbing those who pass through.
Between sprinting away from thieves and sneaking past BTs, I’ve had my fair share of stressful moments in Death Stranding. Hell, I just beat Resident Evil 2 for the first time, and being chased by Mr. X through a hallway full of lickers wasn’t nearly as stressful as sneaking through BT territory with a crying baby strapped to my chest during a timed delivery. Some deliveries are made so difficult by BTs, thieves, and the slippery environment, that you might stop and wish that Death Stranding would become nothing more than a walking simulator.
Kojima claimed that Death Stranding was a new genre, that it was the first strand type game. Now, I don’t know if it’s a new genre, but I see what he meant. A huge focus in Death Stranding is how players interact with the environment and with each other. A ladder you place to get yourself up a slippery rock face might assist others who will in turn leave you Likes and help you out. There are also signs you can place; these notes and structures are very similar to the notes you can leave for other players in the Souls games, which could be a huge help or a massive troll. Regardless, you’ll see a small strand of what other players left behind in their games. This was harder to experience on the pre-launch servers, but I still climbed a few friendly leftover ladders, shouted back and forth with some fellow porters, and was saved by generators other players built.
The whole experience is held together well by the story, which is extremely interesting. The cutscenes are incredible, and every time I reached a new one, I was even more excited to continue playing. Side mission content is far less intriguing, but still semi-rewarding. The one exception are the new Half-Life and Portal side-missions, which are clear standouts. I don’t want to spoil too much, but you’ll encounter some objects you recognize from the Valve franchises and might get rewarded with others. It’s really nice that this extra content was added to the PC version, and along with everything running perfectly, it’s a nice touch to show that Kojima Productions really did the best work they could.
When I say everything ran perfectly for me, that is not an understatement. I built my PC back in the summer of 2016, and although it’s equipped with a GTX 1070, I did some budgeting with other components. Regardless, Death Stranding ran absolutely flawlessly; 60+ FPS, no slowdown, no crashing, no visual errors, no bugs, no problems. Truthfully it isn’t that shocking that Death Stranding runs so well on PC considering that the average gaming PC is likely far more powerful than a PS4, but it’s still impressive how well it works, and how amazing it looks. Death Stranding might be the nicest looking game I’ve ever played on my PC; the cutscenes and many environments are extremely realistic, without utilizing too many shaders. Furthermore, the mouse and keyboard controls are simple and intuitive, while controller support is also excellent.
This is the definitive version of Death Stranding. If you were interested in Death Stranding when it released on PS4 and have been waiting to see how the PC version turns out, then go ahead and pull the trigger. However, Death Stranding isn’t for everyone. If you’ve seen nothing of the game before, make sure you check out some gameplay before purchasing it; I’ve had a blast experiencing the story and struggling through tense moments, but I know some of my friends would absolutely hate it. The new Half-Life and Portal content is great, but I wouldn’t say it warrants a replay. Death Stranding is so large that I doubt many PS4 players will be looking to replay it on PC, but for those who are, you’ll be happy to hear that the new content unlocks very early in the game.
This was my first experience with Death Stranding and I had a fantastic time. I hope other new players will pick up the game on PC and feel similarly. Now that Kojima Productions has released Death Stranding on both PS4 and PC, I’m extremely interested to see what they’re working on next, and whatever it is, we will be covering it here at DualShockers.