When Death Stranding launched in 2017 it garnered a fascinating reaction. The result of the collaboration between Hideo Kojima, the Metal Gear mastermind and Sony Productions, was perhaps the most unexpected outcome that even the bonkers trailers couldn’t have prepared players for. Death Stranding was an apocalyptic postman simulator. Where the Metal Gear games were a celebration of stealth this was an ode to walking and traversal. It also tapped into the horror elements that Metal Gear had only flirted with, to brilliant effect.
BB got back
The controversial casting of Kiefer Sutherland in MGSV was but a taste of Kojima’s celebrity obsession. Here we see Kojima at his most ambitious with Death Stranding’s absurdly stacked cast. Ranging from huge stars such as Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen and Lea Seydoux to bizarre recreations of film directors Gullermo del Toro and Nicholas Winding Refn, the inhabitants of this dystopian America could rival most modern blockbusters. As to the quality of the story, your mileage will vary depending on your tolerance for Kojima’s narrative stylings. For better or worse, he was fully back on his bullshit.
Stranding out from the crowd
The basic gameplay isn’t worth retreading here, GamEir head honcho Graham Day detailed it brilliantly in his original review which can be read here.
However, as this proclaims to be a “director’s cut” – a term which seems instantly debatable in this context – what is different? In short, there’s simply more to see and do, from missions to brand new areas. As a Playstation 5 upgrade, it takes advantage of the various features of the system, including lush 3D audio and lovely controller gimmicks such as the haptic feedback and trigger resistance.
Some of the best additions are the firing range, for trying out the nutty weapons as well as a racetrack. Here you can set records on time trials ranked with other players. A new factory mission gives you access to a brilliantly malleable new weapon, a reward for a tricky stealth challenge. Some new cargo-carrying tools smooth out some tricky movement challenges, the catapult a specific favourite. The inclusion of Half-Life and Cyberpunk 2077 themed items are disappointingly immersion breaking but are no less obtrusive than the absurd product placement in the original release. MONSTER Energy anyone?
A (director’s) Cut Above
Death Stranding Director’s Cut retains the refreshing weirdness of the original release and won’t convert the players who couldn’t stand the original release. However, regardless of loving it or hating it, it must be appreciated that a game as esoteric and unusual as this was made in the first place, let alone expanded upon for a new system. A game that feels like an indie title with the production values of a Hollywood movie, the strangest of beasts in a market content with iterative sequels.
If you didn’t finish the game on PS4 then it’s worth jumping into an upgraded version with smoothed out edges and better performance here. For newcomers, this is the best the game has played to date. For naysayers? Keep walking.