Death Stranding is a layer cake of conundrums, riddles, and enigmas. And that’s before you even begin playing legendary creator Hideo Kojima’s latest game. If you’ve been following the ambitious project at all, you’ve likely seen the creepy pod baby, or spied a parcel-strapped Norman Reedus struggling to ascend a mountain.
While the game quickly brings you up to speed on these bizarre elements, it isn’t long before it’s introducing a whole new menagerie of mysteries. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to go in with at least an elementary understanding of the basics, like knowing the difference between a BB and a BT.
If you want to hit the ground running – literally, in the case of your package-carrying protagonist – the following spoiler-free intel should give you a nice head-start.
Story and Setting
Death Stranding unfolds in a future United States – now called the United Cities of America – that’s been forever changed by the titular, catastrophic event. A breach between the lands of the living and the dead has had an apocalyptic effect, wiping out much of humanity, while leaving any survivors scattered and isolated.
Sam Porter Bridges
As Norman Reedus’ Sam Porter Bridges, you’re tasked with trekking across the UCA to reconnect the few remaining cities via an internet-like communications grid called the Chiral Network. On top of attempting to make the country whole again by tethering the cities, dubbed “Knots”, Sam delivers valuable cargo to these locations. Ferrying valuable resources is a big part of the game, and everything – from their weight and where they’re placed on Sam to the condition of the character’s boots – must be considered to make a successful delivery.
The infant inhabiting the pod Sam has strapped to his torso is a Bridge Baby – or BB – that can sense the presence of the game’s beyond-the-grave baddies. Characters in the world largely view the mysterious little helpers as necessary tools, but Sam has a more human connection with them. One of Death Stranding‘s more unusual – and adorable – mechanics lets you calm a stressed BB by shaking your controller, which translates in-game to Sam gently rocking the pod.
The game’s ethereal entities are called Beached Things, referred to as BTs, enemies that can also take on a black, inky form when encountered. They attempt to pull Sam to the other side, but, as a repatriate, the protagonist can always come back to life. If a BT consumes a corpse, it causes a voidout, a catastrophic occurrence on par with a nuclear blast. Connected to the living world by a creepy, umbilical cord-like tether, these unnerving specters are often accompanied by Timefall, a precipitation that literally ages anything it touches.
When not playing postman or evading belligerent ghosts, Sam may encounter the game’s primary human antagonists. Called Mules, this enemy faction earned its moniker because of its own obsessive need to deliver goods. These baddies will attack Sam on sight in an attempt to steal his precious packages. Thankfully, the heroic hauler can leverage stealth tactics to avoid the cargo cultists or incorporate a number of traditional – and not so traditional – weapons to take them down.
Now that you’re up to date, it’s time to get playing. Death Stranding is at the Box now!