I reviewed Death Stranding late last year when it made its debut on the PlayStation 4. I gave it a perfect score, and it was one of Game Revolution’s highest-rated games of 2019. I was blown away by Kojima’s post-apocalyptic world and the way he chose to present it. With Death Stranding coming to PC, I was excited to get a chance to play it in higher fidelity and see how the game held up eight months later.
I highly suggest anyone who hasn’t played Death Stranding already take a look at my initial review. I got in-depth about the plot, gameplay, and asynchronous multiplayer there. For the evaluation of the PC version, I’ll mostly be covering graphical improvements, performance, and how I feel the game aged.
Death Stranding PC Review | Even more relevant
Death Stranding uses its post-apocalyptic background to examine the strands that bind the world together. We’re all tied together, person-to-person, individual-to-corporation, a people to its government. If anything, the events of 2020 have made the game’s message more powerful. We’ve seen how the disturbance of our web of personal connections can have incredibly disruptive effects. In a world where going outdoors is a death sentence for most, the nation must be built through a computer network. Sam is an essential worker, bringing food, medicine, and other goods where they’re needed most.
One of the hardest quandaries Sam faces in Death Stranding is forming new connections with people. His instinct is to isolate. It’s a reminder of how divided we are now, and how much distrust there is between everyone. However, as he journeys to build the United Cities of America, he begins to rely on others’ strengths.
I won’t say the game is prophetic or anything. After all, no whales are raining from our skies. However, the events since the game’s release make Sam’s plight that much more relatable. Some of the abstract ideas Death Stranding features don’t seem as far fetched now.
Death Stranding PC Review | Blessed framerate
The worse news about the PC port of Death Stranding concerns the controls. 505 Games did an admirable job attempting to make the game work within the confines of a mouse and keyboard, but it never felt right.
Much of the movement in Death Stranding is dependant on analog controls. Moving Sam and or down a steep slope requires precise use of the left and right balance buttons, which are the analog L2 and R2 on the PS4 controller. Additionally, Sam only has two speeds with a keyboard: jog and sprint. This makes movement more difficult than it should be, and the game is still best played with a controller.
Other than the control issues, the port is absolutely solid. Performance on my PC was fantastic, and with DLSS 2.0, I had no problems pushing the game to 4K 60fps on maximum graphics settings. The initial launch of DLSS gave games a soft, blurry look and sometimes introduced artifacting. However, DLSS 2.0 overcomes most of this and provides an excellent performance boost at 4K. However, if you plan to play at 1080p or 1440p, you may want to turn DLSS off since the technology’s side effects can be more evident at lower resolutions.
Death Stranding was locked at 30fps on both the PS4 and PS4 Pro, and it’s incredible to see the game at 60fps and beyond. This title has excellent movement. The extra frames really help you appreciate the work that went into making the act of controlling Sam a nuanced pleasure.
Death Stranding PC Review | Not for everyone
Aside from the increased graphical prowess, there’s only a small bit of new content that comes with this PC release of Death Stranding. There’s a chain of sidequests that crossover with Half-Life and Portal, which are charming and worth checking out. Other than those missions, though, there aren’t any new items or locations to see.
For me, the performance boost alone makes the PC version of Death Stranding worth a purchase. However, if you’ve already completed the game on PS4, it might be a hard sell. For those new to the game, the PC version is now the definitive edition as long as you have the hardware to run it. The game is well optimized and the minimum system requirements are quite lenient, so most mid-high end PCs built in the last 3-5 years should be able to push it at 1080p and 60fps.
Unfortunately, the embargo precludes me from sharing anything other than the approved images from PR. However, I can confirm that these images match the results you would get in-game on PC using photo mode. I’d love to share some video showing the game at 60fps, but again, my hands are tied there as well.
Death Stranding PC Review | Better than ever
Playing through Death Stranding on PC again was cathartic. I love the methodical, slower gameplay, and the emphasis on pathfinding and route optimization. Each delivery is a puzzle, and the game continues to throw new challenges your way until the very end.
The story is still amazing, and I’m envious of those playing through Death Stranding for the first time. The cast is fantastic, and that scene from Tommie Earl Jenkins (you’ll know the one I mean) is just as hard-hitting my third time through the game as it was the first time I saw it.
My score from the original review remains the same. Death Stranding doesn’t try to imitate other games, and it’s not for everyone. However, it’s one of my favorite journeys in video gaming history. I feel I’ll return to again and again as the years pass.