Death Stranding Guide And Beginner's Tips You Should Know
Stranding 101: How To Be The Best Porter You Can Be
Death Stranding: Director's Cut has an undeniably harsh introduction to its world that plays out over the course of five hours. Delivering cargo and completing objectives in the updated PS5 version of the game from Hideo Kojima and his team at Kojima Productions is simple enough, but navigating in and around the game's bizarre, often treacherous world is its biggest challenge. As Sam Porter Bridges, your goal is to travel across a post-apocalyptic America and connect dozens of waystations to what's known as the Chiral network--a system that promises to reunite the country once more. As you can imagine, this is no easy task, as there are plenty of obstacles that stand in your way of accomplishing this.
It's worth noting that this guide is based on the original PS4 version of Death Stranding, but the overall experience on PS5 is still the same and is enhanced by several gameplay updates.
If Death Stranding's first few chapters have thrown you into hardship, then you've come to the right place. We've detailed below all our insight around the game's basic mechanics up until Chapter 3, as well as provided tips to best help you succeed in becoming the legendary porter destined to re-establish the United Cities of America. Use the table of contents below to jump to the right section, or scroll down to see everything.
- Slow And Steady Gets You Through Tough Terrain
- Inventory Management 101
- Know Your Limits
- Timefall: What's It All About?
- Get To Know The Preppers
- Strands In The Sky
- How To Deal With BTs
- Sam's Weird Grenades And Anti-BT Weapons Work Wonders
- Mash That Like Button
- Help Your Fellow Porter
- How To Reorder Lost Cargo
- How To Deal With MULEs
- Using The Strand
- Feeling Tired? Take A Breather
- Look Out For Cargo You Don't Recognize
- Go For The Gold
For more about Death Stranding, check out your full review, where reviews editor Kallie Plagge gave the game a 9/10. "Death Stranding is a hard game to absorb," said Plagge. "There are many intertwining threads to its plot, and silly names, corny moments, and heavy exposition belie an otherwise very simple message. That comes through much more clearly in the game's more mundane moments, when you find a desperately-needed ladder left behind by another player or receive a letter from an NPC thanking you for your efforts. It's positive without ignoring pain; in fact, it argues in both its story and its gameplay that adversity itself is what makes things worth doing and life worth living. It's a game that requires patience, compassion, and love, and it's also one we really need right now."
Got any essential tips you don't see below? Let us know in the comments below.
Slow And Steady Gets You Through Tough Terrain
When you take your first steps during the opening hours, you'll immediately notice that even basic movement feels particularly demanding. There is a purpose for this, and it's all about putting you in the shoes of a delivery man carrying a heavy load of valuable cargo across treacherous landscapes. Unlike other open-world games where covering large amounts of ground can be easy, Death Stranding has a considerably slower pace. You're intended to travel across long stretches carrying tons of cargo, but if you're not smart about how you navigate the environment, Sam can quickly lose his footing and eat dirt.
Slow and steady movement is the name of the game in Death Stranding, and you'll need to be constantly aware of the topography you're walking across. Take it slow and pay attention to the surfaces you're walking; be wary of rocks and steep inclines. By using the Odradek, Sam's shoulder-mounted robot assist, you can better evaluate the finer details on the ground ahead of you. Surfaces marked blue by the scanner are safe to walk across, while ground marked yellow should be approached with caution. If it's marked red, such as deep rivers or rough surfaces, then you're better off avoiding them entirely. There will be some cases where you'll have to traverse across tough terrain with tons of cargo, and when that happens, be sure to exercise caution. If you're ever afraid of how you might cross a terrain, start by holding the shoulder buttons to stabilize your center of gravity and walk through it first before picking up the pace.
Inventory Management 101
A crucial part of Death Stranding is managing and expanding your inventory. Depending on how you choose to organize your backpack and other inventory slots, Sam's poise, posture, and speed will be affected. You can eventually acquire exoskeletons to boost the overall carry limit, but it's essential to understand the basics in the beginning. First, you need to ensure that you're keeping track of what's on your body at all times. While exploring, it can be easy to pick up stray cargo, and before you know it, you'll find that Sam's stamina is reduced and his ability to balance negatively impacted. There's a consequence for every item added to your inventory if you’re not careful. Even if you're far under the carry limit, you can still notice an impact on your movement speed and balance with enough things stacked on you.
Once Sam's backpack fills up, he'll eventually begin to stack objects on top of his backpack. While this is fine for a few items, a full stack of cargo can make it difficult for Sam to maintain his balance. It's especially noticeable when walking, as making slight movements to the left or right can cause Sam to struggle under the weight, prompting you to grip onto his backpack to avoid tumbling to the ground. Failure to counteract a loss of balance will cause Sam to fall, and his cargo to tumble out of his pack. Center of gravity is a real thing in Death Stranding, so be mindful of whenever Sam starts to lean too much in any direction and pay attention to the button prompts the game gives you.
While you can organize your backpack manually, you also have the option to have the game arrange it for you. By pressing the triangle button in the inventory menu, you can quickly optimize your cargo's layout, placing heavy objects at the bottom and filling out other cargo slots on Sam's suit. It's a useful feature for optimizing Sam's loadout and ensuring you have the best posture possible. However, a downside to this is that the auto-arrange option won't acknowledge sensitive cargo. The option isn't always your friend, so be sure to check out our feature explaining why. Regardless, always be aware of what's in your inventory. Though you may be tempted to stuff everything in your backpack, you're sometimes better off rearranging an item, offloading it, or holding it in your hand.
Know Your Limits
While you might insist on carrying every piece of cargo you get, even going as far as using both of Sam's arms to carry stray items, it's often not worth the strain and risk in overextending yourself. A good rule of thumb when exploring the wilderness and taking on deliveries is to show restraint and only to take what you need. Before you know it, you can find yourself struggling with a full stack of cargo while trying desperately to carry out four different missions at the same time. While it's possible to finish a hefty burden of missions all at once despite the self-imposed difficulty, it's ultimately more efficient to play modestly. So when starting, only take on a couple of orders at a time, and be sure to keep your inventory as light as possible by offloading excess items in nearby distribution centers and post boxes.
Timefall: What's It All About?
Timefall is one of the more common threats you'll have to face when exploring the world. Though it appears like average rain, it is, in fact, highly corrosive. Though Sam is safe from its effects under his hood, his cargo and equipment are not. Anything exposed to Timefall will slowly wither. Over time, cargo containers will break, leaving the contents inside exposed and susceptible to damage. Turning in damaged cargo can negatively impact the grade you receive at the end of each delivery. Despite how common of an occurrence this harsh rain is, there are several ways to prepare for it.
Always be sure to pack Container Repair Spray, which you unlock early on--this handy tool can restore cargo containers after exposure to Timefall, which can be extremely helpful in preventing cargo from taking damage during long treks. We recommend using it right before your about to complete a delivery at a terminal.
In Episode 3, you'll eventually come to a Weather Station northwest of the Middle Knot Distribution Center. After getting the station connected to the Chiral network, you'll have access to the weather tracking system in the pause menu. By pressing R3 twice, you can observe weather patterns for up to 30 minutes ahead of time. This forecasting tool can be especially useful when planning out a delivery run through a treacherous area, which can mean the difference between a smooth trip or a long, arduous stretch running through Timefall.
Get To Know The Preppers
To build a stable future for the United Cities of America, you'll need to ensure that precious cargo makes its way back to those in need across the nation. Throughout the game, you'll come across shelters housing preppers, which will eventually request Sam's services. After you complete enough deliveries, you'll increase your connection with that prepper. In addition to getting access to new story details and info on preppers in the area, you can also unlock access to new gear for Sam.
One of the more useful upgrades is the backpack cover, which is obtained from The Collector in the Central Region; you'll need to pick up loose cargo for them to connect to the Chiral Network. The cover will protect the backpack's contents from exposure for a set amount of time, which can be invaluable when the going gets tough. Take time to increase your rankings with the Preppers as the tools and gadgets they give you can be lifesavers in your journey.
Strands In The Sky
One key piece of wisdom you can lean on is to observe the sky above when plotting your course. There are various, multicolored stands jutting downward, and they all signify different objects and areas of note. Blue strands point to lost cargo and prepper shelters, light green strands signal player-made signs and structures, and black strands clue you in on BT sites. The black strands are the most important to watch out for, as you can easily walk right into an area full of BTs if you aren't careful.
How To Deal With BTs
As you explore the world, you'll encounter Beached Things--otherwise known as BTs. These BTs are ghostly apparitions that will try to cling tightly to any living thing that approaches them. They typically accompany Timefall, but you'll specifically know they're around when the game shifts into slow-motion briefly to focus on your Odradek shrieking at their presence.
Early on, it's best to sneak past BTs and use your BB's senses to approximate their location. To keep an eye on nearby BTs, pay attention to which direction your Odradek is pointing when its starts to flap and flash. When you stand still and use the Odradek scanner, you'll be able to use echolocation to ping nearby BTs for a short time. Once you've tagged them, stand still at any time to see where they're floating. As you push further, make sure to keep sending a scan with your Odradek to ping BTs ahead of you. By crouching and holding your breath with R1, you should be able to avoid them stealthily, but get too close and they'll quickly pick up your trail. Take your time when navigating past BTs. Be too hasty, and you're asking for trouble.
If BTs manage to see you, things start to get crazy. Tar will cover the ground's surface, and a group of BTs will try to pull you under. To avoid getting caught in their clutches, quickly mash the square button to resist and hold the shoulder buttons to stabilize your balance when prompted. If the BTs successfully pull you under, you'll be dragged across the ground and left to face a much larger and more dangerous BT. At this point, a sea of tar will flood the vicinity while buildings and debris emerge from the ground. Early on, you don't have much in the way of defending yourself against BTs, so the best option upon being detected is to escape the tar-covered area as soon as possible. Should you fail either by getting pulled under or your health is depleted, you'll lose all your cargo and will have to respawn.
BTs are a common threat in Death Stranding, so you're going to need to get used to dealing with them. We recommend going into BT territory with no essential cargo and getting caught to get a feel for how these encounters play out. Early on, there's not much you can do to defend yourself against these otherworldly foes aside from using EX Grenades (more on that in the next slide). Though you'll often have to sneak past them early on, you'll eventually acquire more weapons that'll help you fight BTs.
Sam's Weird Grenades And Anti-BT Weapons Work Wonders
Sam's bodily fluid possesses some strange properties, which come in handy against BTs. For instance, his blood can be turned into Hematic Grenades, which are explosives that spurt out clouds of Sam's blood that are lethal to BTs. When several BTs are bunched up together, a well-aimed toss of this blood grenade can potentially take out an entire group.
In addition to Hematic Grenades, Sam can also turn other bodily fluids into different grenade types. By using the bathroom in Sam's private room--whether it's taking a shower to wash off chiral fragments, urinating, or defecating--the lavatory will churn out three different grenade types made from different substances from his body. These various EX Grenades work as irritants on the BTs, which can be used to force them away without them noticing you. It can come in handy when Sam encounters a cluster of BTs blockings his path. With the EX Grenade No. 2, for instance, a sizeable brownish cloud will send the apparitions running.
On the other hand, you can get an Anti-BT Handgun to shoot BTs. Keep in mind that it takes several shots with the handgun to defeat a single BT, so be sure you've got steady aim and an itchy trigger finger. Given its damage output, it's recommended for use alongside Hematic Grenades. You can get the Anti-BT Handgun by completing the delivery to the Chiral Artist's Mother in Chapter 3.
Aside from the Hematic Grenades, EX Grenades, and the Anti-BT Handgun, the most ideal weapon you can use early on against BTs is the Bola Gun (LV. 2), which unlocks for fabrication after ranking five stars with The Craftsman. It takes a while to max your rank, but as long as you keep making deliveries, he'll eventually hand it over. Regardless, the Bola Gun (LV. 2) can temporarily tie up BTs, which can be a lifesaver in a pinch.
Smash That Like Button
As the enigmatic Die-Hardman states in one of the game's many interviews, getting a quick 'Like' can give a person a feeling of acceptance and acknowledgment. While this may seem like a super on-the-nose commentary on the influence of social media, amassing and giving out likes in Death Stranding is a worthwhile pursuit.
By pressing the PS4 touchpad, Sam can give kudos to structures and signs made by other players that show up in your instance of the world. While the game doesn't allow you to interact with players explicitly, liking their structures is a way of connecting with them more indirectly.
Getting likes will add to your total pool of social cache, which will increase your reputation as a Porter. Moving up the ranks will earn Sam bonuses to his attributes, such as boosting his carry capacity and posture when under stress. Every once in a while, you can also come across roaming NPCs. Being friendly with them will earn you some praise, and even some free gear from them.
Help Your Fellow Porter
If you feel that sending a 'Like' isn't enough, and you want to be more proactive about making a difference in the game's world, then you can start by building structures or helping other players by returning their dropped cargo. These actions can go a long way in getting other players situated in the world. Even if you're alone traversing through the landscape of ruined America, your choices and actions can leave a lasting impact. While setting up ladders and ropes can be helpful to you, they prove to be far more valuable for those that will be following in your footsteps. Anyone that uses any of your structures will also send you a 'Like,' which will feed into your broader social cache.
Building your structures, such as bridges or watchtowers, can be a great help for other players. But it also goes both ways, as other players can construct objects to help you in your journey. You can even contribute resources and supplies to their structure, such as bridges or roads. It not only helps the player that started the creation, but it will also score you a considerable amount of likes by investing in their structure.
How To Reorder Lost Cargo
You'll inevitably take a nasty spill when making a delivery. While you'll often get yourself back up with minimal damage, there are other cases where you and your cargo will tumble down a steep hill, or worse, into a body of water. If this happens, there's a solid chance that you'll lose your cargo, or it'll suffer irreparable damage. If this happens, don't fret. In the Orders tab of the pause menu, you can reorder lost cargo. Doing so will reset the cargo back to where you first picked up, allowing you to try again. However, if the cargo is considered destroyed, then that special delivery will be regarded as a failure.
How To Deal With MULEs
MULEs are a bandit-like crew of unofficially sanctioned deliverymen that live for the high of making deliveries, so much so that they're willing to attack innocent porters and steal their cargo to get it. You typically run into them at their camps spread across the world. They're often situated on the way towards significant delivery stations, so you'll usually have no choice but to cross their territory. MULEs attack on sight, so it's essential to stay hidden--at least if you want to pass without causing any trouble.
It's pretty easy to sneak past MULEs, as there aren't a lot of them in a camp. You'll find a few patrolling the outskirts either on foot or in a truck, but as long as you cut through the small pockets of open space between them, you can typically emerge unscathed. If you see tall grass, make it a point to take advantage of it as cover. Keep in mind that tall grass will be useless as cover if you're carrying too much cargo.
Despite your best efforts to be sneaky, you're likely to encounter trouble from the MULEs' scanning pylons, which periodically trigger as you travel through their territory. When a scan initiates, any marked cargo on Sam will get pinged, alerting MULEs to the location it was last picked up. If this happens, immediately try to find cover as far away from where you were pinged as possible. If MULEs corner you into a fight, the best strategy is to either punch them or run for dear life. If you choose the latter, try not to sprint in a straight line, as they're quick to throw their shock spears ahead of you, which upon contact can knock cargo from your backpack and temporarily halt your movement. For more details on how to defend yourself, be sure to read our in-depth MULE engagement guide.
Using The Strand
Sam's strand is a close-range tool that can be used to quickly knock out human enemies. If you find yourself at the opposite end of a MULE's spear, the Strand can still come in handy during a pinch. With the Strand equipped, you can counter melee-strikes from human opponents. When an enemy is about to strike, pressing R2 with the Strand at the right time can allow Sam to quickly knock them off balance and go in for a quick strike--or hightail it out of there. The Strand is also capable of stealthily dispatching MULEs for a brief time. Approach a MULE from behind, hold up your Strand, and use it to incapacitate and tie them up in one fell swoop.
Feeling Tired? Take A Breather
If you want to ensure Sam is in top form, but you're too far from a private room for a rest, then you can sit down to take a breather by holding the circle button. During this position, Sam can massage his shoulders and even take a nap--he'll also talk in his sleep if you wait long enough. By taking a nap, you can fully restore the stamina meter. But to take full advantage of the rest, make sure you're on a flat surface. If you rest on a slope or rocky surface, your stamina recovery time will be cut by half. Another way to speed up the process is to rest next to a holographic cairn, which looks like a small stack of rocks. These are the former rest spots of other players, and staying near one will make Sam feel more relaxed. Unlike private rooms, however, the recovery process happens in real-time, so time won't advance as quickly as staying in your room.
Look Out For Cargo You Don't Recognize
While your Odradek can help you analyze the terrain you walk on, it can also pinpoint nearby loose cargo and resources. When you've got a heavy load on your back, you might be quick to dismiss cargo you scan as deliverables you can return to local UCA members or preppers you've already contacted. But don't be so quick to ignore cargo you find, some containers belong to folks you may not have interacted with previously and are entirely optional. For example, the Ludens Fan in Episode 2 is entirely voluntary and can only be connected to the Chiral network by delivering goods randomly scattered across the map. To ensure you get everyone on the grid, be sure to send out scans often and check on cargo marked to people you've never met. That, and as we said, delivering goods to these optional folks may net you some handy gadgets after you've made enough successful deliveries for them.
Go For The Gold
In addition to the round of standard deliveries, you can also undertake premium versions for Preppers throughout the world. Essentially, premium deliveries are more challenging variants of standard missions. In addition to heavier cargo, you'll also have less time and less room for error when moving the goods to their destination. Upon completion of these premium deliveries, you'll score more likes than usual, along with a unique emblem for your Porter profile. While they have a significantly higher risk, the premium jobs are a great way to increase in rank at a faster rate, which can boost Sam's abilities and attributes.