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- Death Stranding
Legendary video game developer Hideo Kojima finally gave fans a good look at his upcoming new IP, Death Stranding, at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. Though we now know what the title is about, it’s easy to look at its weird gameplay and be a little underwhelmed. Death Stranding‘s emphasis on elements like cargo management are a far cry from the Metal Gear Solid franchise’s reliance on stealth and action-heavy set pieces, after all. Unfortunately, there is some merit behind the game’s perception as a walking simulator, as most of what fans saw of the game recently highlighted different ways to get around its landscapes. But only a small portion of the demo was dedicated to any sort of action.
The following are a few reasons why Death Stranding doesn’t look like a whole lot of fun to play. The title may completely defy these criticisms when it launches for PlayStation 4 on November 8, but for now fans everywhere should remain a bit cautious if not cautiously optimistic.
Why Death Stranding Doesn’t Look Fun | Happiness levels and weight management
It turns out the creepy Bridge Babies, or BBs, that have appeared in Death Stranding‘s promotional materials actually do play a pivotal role in the game, as they can sense the presence of the sinister Beached Things, or BTs. However, the benefits that these infants confer come at the cost of constantly maintaining their happiness. Seeing as how the pods these babies live in are meant to resemble their mother’s wombs, taking too much damage or moving too quickly could upset them. In order to calm them down, players must “soothe” them at a rest station, rock them back and forth, or bathe and sing with them. Anyone who’s dealt with babies knows how much of a chore they can be to take care of. For parents, being obligated to nurse an infant in a pouch breaks the immersion.
Similarly, stats like balance, stamina, boot sturdiness, and blood pressure don’t sound too appealing. The same can be said about managing cargo and weight distribution, as being a delivery man is an essential part of Death Stranding. Finding lost packages or postboxes that other players left behind may prove to be interesting, but the concept of real-time inventory management and a health meter for one’s backpack doesn’t exactly scream fun. From what’s been shown off so far, Death Stranding seems like one massive fetch quest with a little bit of action sprinkled in. Fans of RPGs or strategy games may find Kojima’s latest title up their alley, but people who would much rather pick up a controller and shoot things probably won’t find much enjoyment here.
Why Death Stranding Doesn’t Look Fun | Environmental obstacles
Death Stranding will challenge players to navigate across rugged terrain in order to reconnect the United Cities of America. While Sam will have access to battery-powered technology like power skeletons and vehicles like vans and motorcycles to make his trips a little less time-consuming, the fact that Kojima dedicated a large portion of the Tokyo Game Show demo to rudimentary tools like ropes and ladders indicates that players will probably be forced to rely on these mechanisms often. Though the developer did state that these instruments can be upgraded for longer length and faster ease-of-use, using a range of devices just to cross a chasm seems unnecessarily boring. The same goes for reading river currents, as fans must carefully analyze a body of water before diving in lest they’re swept away, upset BB, and lose cargo.
There’s a reason why most studios don’t place a lot of obstacles in their environments, as they can distract players from the action. It’s not hyperbole to state that Kojima’s emphasis on the hazards of Death Stranding‘s natural world could make or break the game. Its environments may feel more alive than most titles, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Why Death Stranding Doesn’t Look Fun | Derivative boss fights
Though it’s too early to tell whether or not all of Death Stranding‘s boss fights will be formulaic, the one shown off at Tokyo Game Show didn’t exactly boggle everyone’s minds. The encounter had Sam launch grenades and shoot from his Anti-BT gun in order to topple a giant, dog-like creature. This boss would occasionally disappear beneath the surface, only to reemerge a few seconds later in order to burst out a laser beam from its head or claw at Sam up close. The player merely damaged the foe with a few bullets and explosions, ran away, and repeated when it sprung up again. The one interesting part of the fight was when white ghosts on the field — presumably human-controlled allies — flung Sam useful items as he was mowing down the monster. Outside of that, the whole encounter wasn’t exactly pushing any boundaries in ways other Kojima games have.
Why Death Stranding Doesn’t Look Fun | Overly long cutscenes
Despite the useful information it provides about Death Stranding‘s plot, the “Briefing” trailer unveiled at Tokyo Game Show this past weekend sets a worrying precedent due to its long length. Its seven-minute run-time could be a sign that most cinematic sequences in the game run for a similar amount, just as Metal Gear Solid 4‘s 2005 Tokyo Game Show trailer indicated the game’s abundance of cutscenes. The quantity isn’t as big of an issue as the pacing, as these, when poorly paced, can drag everything down. And seeing how Kojima doesn’t seem to have an editor sometimes, that can be a problem. There’s a chance that the scene featured in the “Briefing” trailer is the longest the game has to offer, but there’s no way of knowing for certain just yet.
Of course, it’s impossible to know everything that Death Stranding has in store until it actually launches. The game may not look traditionally fun right now, but it’s still definitely worth keeping an eye on. Kojima is known for defying expectations, after all. If anything, watching Norman Reedus bathe and sing with a baby is bound to make a lot of people happy.