Death Stranding PS4 Release Date Trailer Breakdown: Gameplay, Characters, and More
Welcome to the United Cities of America
With the release of the newest Death Stranding trailer, we not only have a clearer picture of what the game is about, we now know when we can play it too. As a PS4 exclusive, its release date has been confirmed for November 8. Hideo Kojima's high-concept open-world action game will put a strong emphasis on exploring the ruins of North America in a bleak and fragmented future where cities have replaced states. There are even some hints that other worlds and the moon itself could potentially be explorable spaces in Death Stranding.
Death Stranding has been one of the most enigmatic games in recent memory. Even by the standards of the incredibly devious Hideo Kojima, who is notorious for releasing some extravagant and enigmatic videos for his past games, it's been a challenge to piece together everything shown in previous trailers. However, the new footage--released as the culmination of a Twitch livestream ahead of E3 2019, which Sony will not be attending--includes way more dialogue and gameplay than ever before. With the trailer running nearly nine minutes, there was a lot to glean from the latest footage, and we now have more of an idea of what the world of Death Stranding is like and who its key players are. So with that, here's a quick breakdown of all the most interesting details from this trailer, and what it could mean for the final game.
Did anything stick out for you in this trailer? Be sure to comment below with what you thought was most interesting about the latest look at the game. For more on Death Stranding, including details on the recently announced collector's edition--which includes some in-game unlocks, along with a full-size BB pod--and for more on what's to come before E3 2019, check back with GameSpot.
An Ominous Opening
The trailer begins with a POV shot from the eyes of the infamous Death Stranding baby--who always likes giving the thumbs up. He's looking up to Mads Mikkelsen's character, Cliff. Speaking to the baby, Cliff states, "BB, don't worry. It's okay. I'll always be with you." He then sings a nursery rhyme to the child.
See the sunset
The day is ending
Let that yawn out
There's no pretending.
Cliff refers to the child as "BB," and later in the trailer, the characters state that the child in the capsule is a "Bridge Baby," which allows Norman Reedus' character, Sam, to see the BT storms that arise in the environment.
The Mysterious Photo
The next scene shows a brief glimpse of Sam with two other women, one of whom is pregnant. The pregnant woman's face is obscured by the weathered state of the photograph. The woman in the middle of the photo is Bridget, the President of the United Cities of America.
"No, America is finished."
We see Sam traveling on his motorcycle through the wilderness. This scene features VO with Sam and Bridget, detailing what's to come. The mission at hand is to make America whole. In the distance, Sam obverses a coming storm that appears supernatural and looks extremely dangerous. This is the first time we've seen footage of vehicles that Sam can use, which should be a great way to cut down on travel time and evade some of the larger threats.
In this same scene, Sam states, "Bridget, you're the president of jack shit." Not only does this show Sam's viewpoint on the state of things, it's also a neat nod to Snake Plisken from John Carpenter's Escape from New York. In a similar scene, that character is recruited by a military official to rescue the president, with Snake calmly stating "President of what?"
There's a brief shot of Sam entering the facility for Bridges, one of the key organizations in Death Stranding. Bridges is one of the critical arms of the new government, now referred to as The United Cities of America. Previous trailers often made references to creating bridges--or otherwise, making connections with others. This trailer leans into that further, stating that humanity's future rests on their collective ability to work together.
Also, Sam's full name is Sam Porter Bridges--so he's quite well suited for this job.
We get to see some brief shots of Sam getting geared up for his journey, which includes putting on his metal necklace and his courier suit. It also seems that there are many suits to choose from, with another option in the background being a bright red suit.
Music by Apocalyptica
Every trailer so far for Death Stranding features music from a well-known band, and this one is no different. While the other trailers feature music from indie-band Low-Roar, the song heard throughout this recent video is "Path" from Finnish metal band Apocalyptica.
"A New History Begins…"
In the E3 2018 trailer, we saw plenty of footage of Sam exploring the world on foot, and there's more of that in this trailer. However, with additional context, it's now apparent that Sam is exploring the ruins of North America. He'll uncover derelict buildings, dense forests, and even climb steep, snowy mountains.
To Reconnect A Fractured Society
This is Sam's larger goal. Following the release of the trailer, Hideo Kojima went on Twitter to clarify what Death Stranding was all about.
"People have built 'Walls' and become accustomed to living in isolation. Death Stranding is a completely new type of action game, where the player's goal is to reconnect isolated cities and a fragmented society. All elements including the story and gameplay, are bound together by the theme of 'Strand', or a connection.
As Sam Porter Bridges, you will attempt to 'Bridge' these divisions, and in doing so, create new bonds or 'Strands' with other players around the globe. Through your experience of playing the game, I hope you'll come to understand the importance of forging connections with others."
Sam carries with him a huge backpack, which comes with all sorts of items for him to use in his travels. We saw a brief glimpse of the inventory menu come up, which had an assault rifle, a rope, and a ladder. The later just so happens to be retractable, allowing him to use and reuse them easily.
Anchor and Rope
In another glimpse of gameplay, we see Sam using a climbing anchor. This particular item can be used to create grapple point for your rope. Just before use it, the sharp point will heat up, letting you create a grapple for your rope on different surfaces. After using the rope on the anchor, he then climbs down a rock face into a ravine below. Exploration seems to be a big part of Death Stranding, and it looks as though you have a lot of tools to use to overcome various types of terrain.
In the next section of the trailer, we learned more about the primary antagonists of Death Stranding. Another character speaks to Sam and describes a terrorist force known as Homo Demens, who push back against the UCA's goals for the unification of fragmented North America. The other character that Sam is speaking with states that the group tends to plot in the shadows and use extreme methods, which includes leaving massive craters in the landscape--something we've seen in previous trailers.
Cutting back to gameplay, we see Sam being hunted while exploring the field. Using stealth to hide in heavy grass, men in yellow hazmat suits wielding large electric prods are on the lookout for Sam. These enemies can even throw their weapons at a distance, which can electrify the ground.
Sam can defend himself in close-quarters. Using several melee-strikes, including punches and kicks, he's able to knock out a few enemies. Though he can drop items from his backpack if he gets hit, he can pick them back up and even use it against the enemies as a makeshift weapon.
After Sam escape on his motorcycle, the enemies give chase in their rover. However, they back off once it starts raining. The BT isn't ordinary rain. It's hazardous and also serves as a warning that something more dangerous else is coming.
The Bridge Baby
Sam states that he's unable to tell when these BTs arrive; however, he can sense them. During this scene, we learn that the enigmatic baby he carries around from past trailers is known as a Bridge Baby--which allows him to gain a greater awareness of his environment.
"Well, you are plugging into the other side. Freaks me out too." -- Sam
With his BRIDGES gear and the Bridge Baby active, Sam can observe some of the more subtle and dangerous aspects of the environment. During a stealth sequence in the trailer, Sam is traveling through a forest that has several dark spirits floating about. Using his shoulder-mount drone, he can produce scans of the environment. However, things don't quite work out for Sam.
The floating specters notice Sam, and they immediately give chase--corrupting the very ground behind him. Eventually, dark hands reach out from the field and grab him, dragging him underneath.
World War I Revisited
Shortly after his capture, Sam is dragged through the ground and pulled along at incredibly fast speeds. Just then, the title cards "Those Bound To Hades" appears, and we cut to World War I era battlefield. However, it's far more nightmarish. Tanks and soldiers phase in and out of existence, and through this sequence, the familiar black tendrils and ink are scattered through the field.
The Soldiers And The Trenches
Mads Mikkelsen's character makes another appearance. But this time, he finds himself amongst the other soldiers, appearing out of black ink. Sam sneaks his way through the battlefield, but eventually, he uses his modern assault rifle to fight back against enemy soldiers in the trenches.
Cliff, In Command
We see a brief glimpse of Cliff--Mikkelsen's character--standing in the WWI trench, surrounded by burning wrecks, barbed-wire, and even broken dolls. This moment is a bit of a callback to trailer from The Game Awards 2016, which featured Cliff assuming command of his ghoulish army of soldiers.
Weather plays a big part in Death Stranding, with rain serving as a warning of something sinister. However, we saw a quick shot of Sam being carried by a heavy wind storm, making it seem like the weather can get more intense.
In the death realm, which you'll see when you get killed, Sam's metal necklace is replaced with a Native American Dreamcatcher. According to the tradition of Ojibwe culture, dreamcatchers were traditionally used as protective charms for infants, protecting them any harm while they slept.
We catch another scene with Sam, Deadman, and Die-Hardman looking over a wrapped body. It's also the same body that has appeared in previous trailers, which Sam is seen carrying while traversing through the wilderness.
Another character, named Mama, makes an appearance. Using the shoulder-mounted drone, she's able to see a spirit roaming about and tries to communicate with it.
Sam's necklace makes another appearance, and it seems to hint at it having much greater importance. The necklace is placed on a panel and shows various symbols relating to theoretical physics.
Nicolas Winding Refn's character Heartman comes across a crowd of people in the death realm. However, he's quickly pulled away by an unknown force. Though he mostly appears as a background character in the trailer, he's also one of the few characters--along with Sam and Amelie--who has appeared in the death realm.
Death Stranding features a strong cast, most of whom are played by some noteworthy actors and directors. The trailer even featured a rundown of the key players in Death Stranding, finally giving a name to some of the faces we've seen since 2016.
Norman Reedus as Sam Porter Bridges
The central protagonist of Death Stranding. A courier and would-be bridge for humanity.
Previously seen in The Walking Dead, Blade II, and The Boondock Saints.
Mads Mikkelsen as Cliff
A character who has a deep connection to Sam. Also happens to possess the ability to command the dead.
Previously seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Hannibal, and Valhalla Rising.
Léa Seydoux as Fragile
She is a returning character from the E3 2018 trailer and helps guide Sam in the wilderness.
Previously seen in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Spectre, and Blue is the Warmest Color.
Margaret Qualley as Mama
She is an engineer who works for BRIDGES.
Previously seen in The Leftovers, The Nice Guys, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Guillermo Del Toro as Deadman
He is one of the heads of BRIDGES; first appeared in the TGA 2016 trailer.
Previously directed films such as Pan's Labyrinth, The Shape of Water, and Pacific Rim.
Nicolas Winding Refn as Heartman
Another scientist from BRIDGES who has an understanding of the death realm.
Previously directed films and TV shows such as Valhalla Rising, Drive, and Too Old To Die Young.
Tommie Earl Jenkins as Die-Hardman
He is another masked man who is one of the authority figures in BRIDGES.
Previously seen in Law and Order: True Crime and Vice Squad: LA.
Troy Baker as Higgs
He is the golden-masked leader of Homo Demens.
Previously seen in games such as The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, and Persona 4.
Lindsay Wagner as Amelie
A mysterious woman who has a deep connection to Sam.
Previously seen in TV shows such as The Bionic Woman.
A Giant Monster
Teased in another video earlier this year, Higgs possesses supernatural abilities and can conjure up beasts that can target Sam. We saw him summon a smaller monster, but this new trailer showed glimpses of something more massive in size.
Conflict With Higgs
There was a quick shot of Sam engaging in a fight with Higgs, who wields a high-powered weapon of his own. However, Sam's shoulder-mounted drone can protect him from the bullets.
Sam finds himself in the death realm once again. This scene features VO from several characters tasking Sam to finish what Amelie started by traveling west. With the situation bleak, Sam points a gun to his head and prepares to fire, with Sam's VO stating that traveling west won't save humanity. However, one of the other characters says: "At least we'll have hope."
Forming a Connection
Towards the end of the trailer, we see Cliff emerging from a pool of water in a jungle, wearing a Gulf War-era US military uniform. This scene features VO from Higgs, lamenting on the current struggle in fragmented America, stating: "It's so hard to form connections when you can't shake hands." However, he hints that he may have some help from "the other side."
Cliff lights a cigarette by pointing it up--it lights instantly. He then summons a squad of undead soldiers, all wearing the same gear he is. Their glowing eyes shine in the darkness. Cliff tosses the cigarette into the water, igniting the surface around them. They remain unharmed and move out shortly after.
This scene is another call back to another trailer from 2016. Though Cliff's allegiances are still unclear, he's still able to command the dead for his ends, making him a potentially powerful adversary.
Tomorrow Is In Your Hands
Sam briefly encounters Amelie, who expresses that humanity needs to come together to survive. During this scene, Sam finds himself enveloped by the familiar black ink that often overtakes him.
The trailer closes just as it began, with Cliff looking upon the child. Before finishing his thoughts, he states to the baby: "The whole wide world will be yours to explore. You'll be able to go wherever you want--even the moon."
At the very end, the trailer closes to the same tune--albeit more subdued and ominous--that Cliff sang at the beginning.
"..even the moon"
This is an especially interesting line because it holds significance to Kojima Productions. Some time ago, Kojima shared a company video showing their mascot, a sci-fi astronaut, walking on the moon--with a lunar whale suddenly appearing at the end.
The name Death Stranding is a reference to the cetacean phenomena where aquatic animals--such as whales and sharks--wash along shore en masse, often dying where they don't belong. The recent trailer many of these references come together in ways that really spell out what's to come with Death Stranding. And who knows, maybe we will go to the moon after all?
Edited By Hideo Kojima
In an interesting side-note, game creator Hideo Kojima has edited every trailer for Death Stranding, and his signature style for eccentric presentation and nuance is always around.