Keep Running Up That Hill: An Analysis of DEATH STRANDING (Spoilers)

Keep Running Up That Hill: An Analysis of DEATH STRANDING (Spoilers)


There’s a scene in Death Stranding that
Hideo Kojima said, during the game’s recent demo at Tokyo Game Show, would make you cry. It was when Sam was coming over the hill to
Port Knot City. After working his way up on the character’s
bike, Kojima implored players to dismount as they crest the mountaintop so they could
take the rest of the journey on foot—absorbing the full splendour of the vista before them. He didn’t want you rushing through it—he
wanted you experiencing it as intended; soundtracked by that particular kind of soft vocal melancholy
pop carefully curated to make you feel like you were in some indie movie trailer; matching
the feeling of being a lone delivery man dwarfed by the sheer vastness of nature in the post-apocalypse,
all of it culminating in players having no choice but to shed a tear. For me, this moment was preceded by ten minutes
of driving my crappy trike across land it wasn’t designed to traverse, losing all
my cargo as I got caught by BTs, beating a super simplistic boss through the rather tiring
process of bombarding it with my excrement and blood, enduring the rigmarole of putting
all my cargo back on my suit while tripping and breaking a bunch of it, then finally getting
to the top of that hill to see the vista Kojima so wanted me to luxuriate in… only for my
trike to fly off a cliff and explode, leaving my tar-covered Norman Reedus to soothe a wailing
baby as I trudged my comically difficult to control tower of stuff down to the destination
for five minutes, all soundtracked by that same song that appeared so carefully placed
in the TGS showing. And in that moment… all I could do was laugh. The irony that this was meant to be some big
emotional setpiece reliant on so many elements working in tandem only to have every single
part of it awkwardly stumble into complete failure was hilarious, even if I was laughing
with my head placed firmly in my hands. It felt like a cruel cosmic joke—one of
many, that would only grow in intensity as the game went on—to the point that Death
Stranding, to me, is as much a comedy game as it is an absurdist exploration of isolation
and loneliness. It’s Untitled Goose Game, except the players
are the villagers and the world is the goose – at every turn finding all new ways to
toy with you within the minute details of its ridiculous wealth of systems. And like the villagers in Goose Game, no matter
how close the game comes to breaking you, you can’t quite bring yourself to wring
its neck—or in Death Stranding’s case, stop playing. Hell, you maybe take some solace in the fact
that at least this monolithic entity is affecting most people in much the same way, that you
are not the sole punchline of the joke and that, whatever hardship you’re going through
right now, it might just lighten the load of someone else, however momentarily. But for me, that hardship still proved a lot
to deal with, as the meditative experience I anticipated in the trailers morphed into
one of the most complicated, punishing games about walking ever made. It’s not hard, as much as it’s deliberately
tedious. I didn’t really have time to take in the
scenery across the tens of hours it took me to complete the game—the peak of a mountain
didn’t represent that Skyrim or Breath of the Wild-esque challenge to overcome as much
as it became an obstacle to avoid. I was too busy monitoring quickly draining
meters and taking care of BB, constantly choosing between travelling light and worrying that
I’d left myself ill-prepared for what lay ahead, or fully suiting up and taking the
hit to balance, speed and stamina. Whatever I chose I was treating every step
taken as if walking were a constant Tony Hawk grind—all while the game gradually introduced
new hazards to make that load I was transporting feel all the heavier. All of this is to say, my feelings on this
game are… complicated. I will say that Kojima has finally found a
way of avoiding that problem of the dominant strategy that so often emerged in his prior
games (in the form of the tranq pistol, for example), but only in the sense that every
option you pick here features as many drawbacks as positives. The sight of the floating carrier in your
resource menu might fill you with glee as you hurriedly dump everything you have on
them, only to realise that any obstacle requiring a ladder or rope now comes with the added
chance of sending your goods tumbling into the void below you. No problem, you might think, as you make use
of the vehicles that become available, only for the game to immediately send you across
landscapes that seem nigh impossible to cross with these trikes and trucks that somehow
handle worse than the vehicles in The Phantom Pain. And whatever option you choose, especially
as the game starts introducing more hazardous environments (with harsher terrain, steeper
climbs, blizzards, etc.), you may find yourself internalising a mantra about anything designed
to help you in this world—the more cargo you can carry, the more you stand to lose. Multiple occasions saw me in utter dismay,
walking away from an entire distribution centre’s worth of materials almost empty-handed because
my vehicle got stuck in between two rocks and the jump functionality did nothing. Or, at the very least, it sent me on another
fetch quest within a fetch quest to find another vehicle, drive it to my old one and transfer
all the cargo between the two. And in the upwards of half an hour that process
would sometimes take, I would frequently wonder why I was even bothering as I pictured what
repetitive hologram chatter awaited me at my destination, that eventually I came to
dread as much as the trek itself. See, for as wacky as its world may seem; as
well-realised as its visual aesthetic is, Death Stranding by Kojima standards is a fairly
dour, somewhat understated experience compared to the outward camp and theatricality of his
prior work. In the Metal Gear series, you often began
with a standard “extract this target” objective within a similarly standard military
framework, before exploding into a glorious anime mess of mechs and shady conspiracies
and vampires and bug men and whatever else to elevate this world to something more grandiose. Death Stranding, on the other hand, starts
at that point of weirdness before giving way to, dare I say it, a fairly simple plot of
walking from coast to coast. The apocalypse has happened, the world as
we know it has fallen apart; and while the world that Kojima envisioned to rise from
its ashes is almost comically dense, these characters now treat its details as mundane,
routine. And outside of maybe the last couple of hours,
what spawns from that is a lot of people rigidly spouting jargon-heavy exposition at you and
telling you how good you are at delivering things. It might be the most complicated, sometimes
visually stunning game about walking ever made, but it’s still, largely, a game about
walking (which to be clear isn’t a problem in itself). It’s like Kojima took the first hour or
so of No Man’s Sky, in which your equipment is all terrible and broken and you’re frantically
traversing an incredibly hostile environment looking for resources before you keel over,
but instead of the payoff of being able to freely explore the cosmos for your troubles,
that initial scenario is just the entire game—for every mountain you navigate, you are presented
with another, more treacherous mountain. For every light narrative hook you want to
pursue, you’re first tasked with heading all the way back across the map to do some
fetch quests for a guy who really wants to tell you about the shape of his heart in detail
while you sit in silence. All of which begs the question: why subject
yourself to this? What are you actually getting out of this
experience? Well, while what I’ve said so far might
sound pretty negative, I think there is method to this madness. And as much as the plot itself might seem
rather simple for a Kojima game, I think to write it off like some have done as the dude
simply taking forty hours to say “social media bad” is more than a little reductive. Yes, this is a game about social media and
the metaphors can be pretty heavy-handed in that regard. But I also think it’s a game about the vast
web of complexities that make up modern life—political, professional, social, artistic, technological—and
how isolating and powerless you can feel in the face of such complexity. It’s about the weight of the world being
placed on every individual’s shoulders and everyone coming to different conclusions about
what to do with it, all while the world in question continues to move far beyond their
understanding. In a way that seems almost uncomfortably autobiographical
given Kojima’s recent history, it’s also about defining legacy when everything you’ve
worked for is taken away from you. Proof of the afterlife, your own extinction;
these are all things characters confront in the wake of one apocalypse and the face of
another. And in the game world, like ours, you understandably
have a lot of people looking at this stuff, seeing how insignificant they and their actions
are, and questioning the point of going on—how can this possibly get better? Fortunately, Kojima has found a surprisingly
effective way to represent this existential crisis through gameplay, no matter how toilsome
said gameplay may appear—and to explain, we have to get a little philosophical (and
indeed spoilery) for a minute. In the Myth of Sisyphus, French philosopher
Albert Camus posited that the question of suicide is the only actually important philosophical
question—when the absurdity of the world feels so overwhelming and unknowable and your
place in it unimportant, shouldn’t you just kill yourself? As per the nihilist mindset, is that not the
only action you could take that would hold any weight? Camus argued, rightly I believe, absolutely
not. He famously said of Sisyphus, fated by the
gods to roll the same rock up the same hill time and time again for eternity, that he
could only imagine Sisyphus happy. Sisyphus is aware of the lack of some higher
purpose in his struggle, and in this awareness, he ascends above any plan—he creates his
own sense of meaning in that rock, in that labour. That is his world and getting to the top of
the hill is his purpose; there is a moment of satisfaction, however brief, as he reaches
the peak, even if this largely pointless act only gives way to more struggle. Life may be meaningless in a cosmic sense,
there may be no grand plan, but mankind is still able to live a rich life defined as
they see fit. With that in mind, Sam Bridges may be the
archetypical absurd hero—called upon to carry that cargo up that hill, and when he
gets to the top, his reward is being told to go right back down so he can climb another. He rejects the wider notion of “making America
whole” barked at him constantly from above, and yet he just keeps going again and again,
as long as the player does, because there is meaning inherent to that struggle—the
reward is conquering that mountain. Along the way he butts heads against more
outwardly nihilistic forces that believe, as the world is destined to end, better to
bring it about sooner rather than going on, pretending as if there is some grand purpose
beyond inevitable extinction. Sam is given the, albeit, false choice to
end it all with Amelie on the beach and instead he puts the gun away and embraces her, deciding
that existence is better than no existence, however difficult or temporary it may be. And like Camus could only imagine Sisyphus
happy, this game basically culminates by straight up telling you that the way to feel content
in this chaotic world is to take things one day at a time—appreciate the little victories,
be there for those who need it. When the world is falling apart, focus on
what good you can do for those close to you. If we all take this approach, we can maybe
achieve more collective good than we might think—that is arguably the meaning of this
endeavour. And while the first ending sequence is pretty
visually explosive, taken as part of the game’s larger whole it might feel a little anticlimactic
to get here and be told “yeah, none of this really matters and you may just be prolonging
the inevitable—but keep going anyway.” That said, there was something nice about
this simple conclusion, given how it contextualises a lot of the work it took you to get there. It made me look back on that slog in a slightly
different light, realising that, as frustrating as it can be to get halfway to your destination
only to trip up and break a valuable package or have your truck fly into a ravine sending
your entire inventory with it, it’s only by raising the stakes of otherwise mundane
activities that you can make achieving those simple goals feel meaningful in some way. For example, this is a game that makes running
down a hill unscathed feel like a real, intense challenge. Most games treat any kind of traversal as
if you were moving across a flat, horizontal surface, but have you ever actually tried
running down a steep hill—like, sprinting down one as a kid maybe? You build a terrifying amount of momentum
and the slightest misstep; an errant bit of moss will send you tumbling as if you’d
just stepped on a banana peel. It’s legitimately quite dangerous; it’s
a thrill. It seems like the tiniest thing, but I don’t
think any game has really captured that latent but omnipresent sense of danger lurking in
the natural world quite like Death Stranding. As a result, getting to the bottom of that
hill feels pretty damn good in a way that it wouldn’t if you didn’t have to work
for it. Similarly, it’s stuff like this that made
me grow to appreciate how clever the design of these levels actually is. It’s a testament to the game’s visuals
that the landscape can look as if it was simply lifted straight from a photograph or real-world
geographic data. Look closer, however, and you begin to notice
that a mountain that may seem insurmountable will almost always have little nooks and crannies
that are just the right fit for a ladder, turning these rockfaces into incredibly tense,
intricate puzzles, rewarding those that managed to anticipate the balance required between
preparedness and packing light. And if you didn’t, there is always another
way around—it just might take a little searching to find it and a little longer to navigate. And even if you look upon the obstacles before
you with absolute dread, all it means is that when you come across the inevitable rope or
vehicle left by someone else thanks to the game’s community features, the sense of
relief feels all the more palpable. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t pretty
heartening to see the game world evolve in this regard since launch, with the barren
landscape gradually filling up with fluorescent lights as players construct bridges over previously
vast chasms and the oh-so-glorious safehouses begin to pop up more frequently. Many players might have been thinking purely
selfishly when placing such objects in the environment, thinking how much time it could
save them, but the cumulative effect is one where new players coming in—after going
through an area once and connecting it to their instance of the chiral network—might
legitimately have a less hostile experience going back the way they came, to those that
got into the game early. The community stuff in particular speaks to
Kojima’s funny kind of optimism you saw back in the Phantom Pain, where his career-long
obsession with expounding the dangers of nuclear weapons was taken to the next level. He put players to the test as he hid a secret
cutscene to be unlocked when all players on any given platform decided that, instead of
developing nukes for their individual Mother Bases, they would come together and disarm
all of them. And lo and behold, this cutscene actually
ended up playing on the PC version… but, as some people theorised, this only happened
thanks to a glitch where the almost incalculable number of nukes being created (likely through
cheats) somehow managed to roll the counter over to 0. It was an interesting idea on the part of
Kojima, but one that proved untenable. It required players to individually hold themselves
back from or even undo a feature of their game world that they would have worked hard
to achieve, and what’s more, they had no control over how the rest of the world would
act. Death Stranding is a similar test—it just
works the other way; instead encourages players to actively engage with its systems, simply
applying the individual benefits across, potentially, an entire community. With The Phantom Pain’s nukes, Kojima hoped
for near-instantaneous, worldwide, borderline systemic change in the way games and the wider
internet worked. Upon realising that there’s not really any
chance for everyone to get on the same page and that if a few people can mess it up for
the rest they will mess it up, it seems as if he came to the conclusion that it’s down
to individuals to essentially be the good they want to see in the world, even if the
change you might enact as a player appears insignificant or you might never see the benefit
of your actions. The things that help you might help others,
and that’s reason enough to keep trying in the face of such bleakness. And when you break it down like that, it’s
kind of powerful to consider that Kojima has finally managed to realise his existential
musings in the form of gameplay, even if it came at the price of making a game that was
actually fun to play. Because while there’s been a lot of talk
about when it is exactly that Death Stranding becomes quote-unquote “fun”, I can’t
say I actually enjoyed myself to any real degree until after I’d beaten the story
and I could go about building roads purely on my own terms. See, for me, the problems start to arise with
the game when I question just how deliberate some of its more tedious design choices might
be; that point where a feature crosses from an artistic choice to a half-baked system—perhaps
the biggest example being the game’s action and stealth sequences. Given the desire Kojima expressed in the run
up to release to move away from traditional action game mechanics and violent tools like
guns (as well as his insistence that there were no game over screens), I was quite excited
for an experience that would shift away from combat. But make no mistake, that claim about game
over screens is nonsense—even if you are particularly rigid with your definitions,
you can find yourself stuck with a straight up failure state requiring you to load a checkpoint. The combat is in there too—it’s as wildly
systems-rich as the walking, in fact, given the amount of options you have for taking
cargo off your back and swinging it or throwing it or dodging or whatever else. It’s also the one area in the game where
you could argue there was a true dominant strategy—just hammer on square, or better
yet, shoot them. Combat, then, ends up decidedly basic; where
groups of enemies seem reticent to attack you as you take them down one by one. The stealth sections against the BTs don’t
fare any better as they start off irritating then quickly transition to absolutely trivial
as you initially fumble against enemies you can’t see, then eventually find yourself
bombarding them with grenades or slicing your way through countless umbilical cords. When you get caught, you flounder with the
game’s awkward animations that really don’t suit themselves well to this kind of action
where you’re constantly having to move between buildings to gain the high ground. The enemies are slow, but you’re clumsy. It all amounts to a situation where the core
of both the stealth and action segments isn’t really that much different from other open-world
stealth action games where you sneak up on people and take them down or you drain the
health bar of a stronger enemy—it’s just every element is far, far more protracted. Both the MULES and the BTs are more irritating
than challenging; every section involving them interrupting what is already a very tense,
high-stakes traversal system with mere busywork. Combined with the dangers of dead bodies as
established in the story, the daft scenario occurs where it is still possible to kill
people, but clearly Kojima and team didn’t want to be so hostile to players that every
encounter ended with a pile of bodies you then had to chuck into an incinerator; so
ploughing into a group of people with a truck at full speed, for example, is likely to just
leave them… unconscious. In all, the fundamentals of the game’s action
are still pretty violent, it’s just Kojima read a Kobo Abe story and changed “choke
them out with a rope” to “connect them with a strand”. The walking simulator at the game’s core
would have been enough (at least for me)—it’s just now the game has yet another means of
grinding players down through sheer tedium. After a certain point, the worst part about
the BTs becomes the lengthy, unskippable animation that plays when your Odradek unfolds—it’s
like, we get it Kojima. You’ve read Cares of a Family Man, we don’t
need evidence of that shoved in our faces every five minutes. Which brings me onto the larger problem I
have with the game which is that, for as nice as it is for Kojima to tie a relatively simple
bow on a theme largely conveyed through mechanics, the presentation of that story along the way—from
its writing to its acting—centres around some of the most on-the-nose, redundant, in-your-face
exposition I think I might have seen in a Kojima game, and that’s saying something,
as character after character monologues their entire backstory (in some cases multiple times)
all in service of battering you into the ground with reminders of how important it is to connect
America; almost all conveyed through the same over-the-shoulder shot that, after forcing
myself to listen to all of this dialogue, you should probably take as an indicator that
you can safely skip over whatever Mama or Heartman have to say to you. It makes me think that Norman Reedus, with
his gruff demeanour, is the perfect fit for this character who starts off not giving a
toss about any of this nonsense, barely says a word to the holograms patting him on the
head and going “there’s a good boy,” and yet struggles to figure out why he feels
the need to keep going. Sam not saying a whole lot reads more as a
legit character trait, speaking only to those he genuinely wants to speak to, rather than
a “we didn’t have Norman Reedus in the studio long enough” situation. This is one of the benefits of creating a
whole new universe rather than following up on a previously established one; we don’t
have any expectations of these people as lively individuals, and so there isn’t that disappointment
when a beloved character loses their, well, character thanks to a change in voice actor
or a shift in series tone. These people have lived in this odd new world
for some time—they might not fully understand it, but it’s routine to them now—it’s
hardly like they’re going to suddenly be so amazed about the fact they’re in the
post-apocalypse that they need to point out every little detail about how it works, right? Well, this is precisely why it feels so puzzling
that they end up explaining it at you constantly anyway. Certain elements will be introduced rather
subtly—like the idea that dead bodies are kept a close eye on here, that they go “necro”
after a certain point and need to be incinerated away from the city—ideas that evoke curiosity
and that you’re expected to fill in the blanks on. They’ll then immediately counter this careful
worldbuilding with talk of “well this land was once like this but now it’s like this
and that’s why people like you became incredibly important and this is your job that you’ve
been doing for years.” Obviously with a world so dense you have to
get players up to speed on at least its fundamental rules and qualities, but surely that doesn’t
include multiple, prolonged explanations of what a safe room is. For the vast majority of its runtime, I tended
to find that of all the things that need clarifying in Death Stranding, half the stuff the characters
repeatedly discuss at length doesn’t warrant a fraction of the time spent on it. At so many points I found myself thinking
“why are people talking to Sam like this? Why are they constantly reminding him that
this is his mother? Doesn’t he know this stuff?” And that’s only in the opening two hours,
when the cutscenes are at least visually interesting, before most everything else is conveyed to
you through holograms. As the game goes on and these exposition dumps
get longer and longer, even within the cutscenes, they become as much work to deal with as the
hikes themselves. Being told you need to go all the way back
across the map with next to no equipment, dealing with increased timefall and BTs is
made all the more sorrowful with multiple interruptions from Deadman having a one-sided
conversation about the origins of the BBs—something I was originally most curious about, but thanks
to the awkwardness of its presentation (jammed into perhaps the lowest point of the game)
it almost completely killed any desire to know more. Some of the subplots you come across, such
as the chiral artist love story (in which you prove you aren’t a terrorist by wrapping
up a junk merchant’s girlfriend in a bodybag and taking her to his outpost), are such bizarre
non-sequiturs acted so terribly, that all they serve to do is force you to question
the fundamental rules of this world. Why do I need to carry her when I’ve seen
her walk? Could she not just wear a hood like yours
to protect from timefall so she could still use her legs? Is this all just to make a point about how
preppers are illogical? And after asking myself all this for what
feels like the billionth time, I resigned myself to the fact that all these questions
likely have one answer—stunt casting. For all of Kojima’s intentional worldbuilding
and storytelling through gameplay, it all seems to be outweighed by the idea of showing
off how many pals he has—and it’s in moments like this that the wider story really suffers
for it. There are elements of the storytelling I enjoy,
however. Despite the amount of needless mini-cutscenes
I found myself automatically skipping in the process, resting in a personal room is like
stepping into a big box of Kojima weirdness that might get a little lost in the decidedly
mundane activities you partake in outside. You’ve got his alcove full of action figures,
his favourite energy drink, his toys all hung up neatly on a well-lit wall and adverts for
shows he likes plastering the shower. Some might call this product placement somewhat
gauche (myself included), but what Kojima game would work without being a little gauche
at times? You get the feeling that Kojima chose these
things to include. He wouldn’t have taken this placement unless
he really, truly cared about all this dumb stuff; that he sincerely wants people to drink
these painstakingly rendered cans of Monster Energy; he genuinely wants people to check
out this show with one of his favourite actors in it even if the actor in question is currently
in another role in this game. Speaking of which, a strange side effect of
Kojima so photorealistically rendering all his friends for his big technical showcase
is that, after controlling Norman Reedus for so long, experiencing him at his most vulnerable,
in various stages of physical and emotional distress, I found myself towards the end thinking
of the character as Norman Reedus more than Sam Bridges—I felt like I knew Reedus the
person better. The safe room is one of the stupidest examples
of fourth-wall breaking I can imagine as Reedus pleads with you to do what he wants, silently
pointing, flexing, winking at the camera and the like. Constructed from natural movements that Reedus
would make during motion capture, then confusedly repeat when Kojima would enthusiastically
freak out (“Hideo, you know… like I’d take a drink of water and wipe it on my sleeve…
he’d go “do it again and roll camera.” And I’m like, “what is he doing?””)
what we now have is a pristine archive of that dude wot was in Boondock Saints and it’s
the most peculiar thing I never thought I would want, but here we are. Reedus’ confusion as to what he was getting
himself into isn’t limited to just him; across seemingly the entirety of Kojima’s
film industry friends recruited to lend their likenesses or in some cases acting talents,
there seemed to be a general haziness in the run up to release in terms of what they thought
Death Stranding even was. Mads Mikkelsen in particular, however, gives
himself over to Kojima’s whims so readily that the unnerving menace of his character
is an absolute joy to behold; as he delivers lines like “give me back my BB” with such
gravitas that you forget how wild a concept BBs actually are. It’s a similar case with Troy Baker who,
possessing a more in-depth knowledge of Kojima’s process having worked with him previously,
lends his role a much-needed flare, a flamboyance that shows just how much fun you can have
with a character even if the script is so dense with made up sci-fi jargon. Baker’s turn as Higgs is honestly a career
highlight of his as far as I’m concerned. It’s also these scenes with Sam facing off
against Higgs or Cliff where you see Norman Reedus at his most animated as the actors
bounce off each other in a way that just doesn’t happen with any other characters in the game,
thanks to incredibly wooden performances from both the VAs brought on to voice the likenesses
of the Hollywood directors and the actual Hollywood actors themselves—almost all of
which (outside of one pretty explosive scene from Tommie Earl Jenkins at the game’s conclusion)
read as the aforementioned stunt casting rather than having any thought put into what they
could bring to each of their roles. It makes it all the more baffling, then, that
those genuinely fantastic performances from Baker and Mikkelsen are given such comparatively
miniscule screen time in favour of Lea Seydoux monotonously telling you her origins and trying
her absolute damndest to make “I’m Fragile, but not that fragile” a catchphrase and
failing miserably. And similarly to how I feel a deeper connection
to Norman Reedus after controlling him for so long, listening to Heartman drone on and
on about chirality and extinction and his name and his heart and why his heart is weirdly
shaped made me come away with genuine feelings of dislike towards Nicolas Winding Refn—and
it’s not even him voicing the character! But even despite all my complicated, often
negative feelings about the mechanics and story, it’s the fact I can type those kinds
of sentences about the director of Drive lending his likeness to this unusual post-apocalyptic
walking simulator sponsored by Monster that is the reason that I couldn’t get Death
Stranding out of my head for a while—I still played it for a further ten hours after I
beat the story. Unlike The Phantom Pain though which, despite
my feelings on it now, I put almost double the amount of time my first go-around, I also
think that now I might be done with Death Stranding for good. I’ve seen a lot of talk about how this game
will change the face of the medium and people will be talking about it for decades to come. Watching the trailers and seeing this curious
experiment come to fruition, I wondered myself about that very possibility, and the writing
I’ve seen come out about this game has made for some utterly fascinating reading. But now, just a couple of weeks after release
and 6000 words later, I can already feel my enthusiasm for even discussing the game diminishing,
and that’s something I’ve never been able to say about a recently-released Kojima title. It’s odd, because on some level this game
feels made for me—I genuinely adore a lot of art that is directly confrontational with
its audience; that doesn’t set out to give them a gratifying experience necessarily. That said, I also wouldn’t ever want to
listen to forty hours of Hijokaiden, for example. I don’t always feel like melting my brain—I’ve
got stuff to do. And in some ways I do think Death Stranding
is kind of the video game equivalent of harsh noise—taking one of the most rudimentary
aspects of its medium (in music’s case unorganised sound; in games, basic movement) and amplifying
it to the point that it becomes a clunky, incomprehensible mess designed to make you
uncomfortable, that can also never just sit in the background. It’s endurance and it can be, for those
who choose to subject themselves to it, a worthwhile experience. There’s a part of me, though, that thinks
that the onslaught of outright antagonistic design and often unbearable dialogue and presentation
mean that the only way to actually enjoy this game is to do one, maybe two deliveries a
day, then stop. Forget about it, go do something else; as
the game would seemingly want, go connect with the outside world—talk to someone,
cook a meal, climb a real hill. Your progress in the game will be glacial,
but at least you’ll be able to savour the reward of your Sisyphean task for a little
longer before being told that you need to do it over and over again under increasingly
punishing circumstances. There’s also a part of me that thinks to
truly get out of Death Stranding what it wants you to take away from it, you have to give
yourself over to this prolonged act of self-flagellation. To me the game is about precisely that question
you will end up asking yourself of why you keep going when everything seems so fucked
and I think, for maybe the first time, Kojima has found a way to effectively gameify that
struggle, through incredible community features that encourage direct engagement. It’s just, that question of why you keep
going has been answered for me now. A couple of weeks after first playing it,
all I can think is, hooray, I did it—I made it to the end of Death Stranding. Cool, I guess. No elation, no wish to go back—all I can
think is “I endured” rather than “I enjoyed.” And sure, in a philosophical sense that has
its meaning. I also feel that, for how much work it takes
to get to that fairly simple end point about carrying on, the meaning of Death Stranding
is pretty hard for me to get truly excited about. So I hope you enjoyed my piece on Death Stranding. I’d like to stress this is just my opinion
and if you had a more positive experience with the game that’s cool, I’m genuinely
glad. I don’t think this is the kind of game you
can feel 100% any one way about so hopefully you understand that I’m not wholly negative
on my time with it either—I just had some issues with it that I felt it would be dishonest
to ignore. I’d also like to take a minute to thank
my patrons—without your help I would never be able to put in the time necessary to make
videos like this. You make this channel possible. If you enjoy my work, maybe consider heading
to patreon.com/writingongames and pledging even a dollar or two for patron exclusive
rewards—every pledge helps more than you know and I will always be thankful for your
generous support. Special thanks go to Mark B Writing, Artjom
Vitsjuk, Hibiya Mori, Rob, Bryce Snyder, Tommy Carver-Chaplin, David Bjork, Lucas, Dallas
Kean, William Fielder, my dad, Timothy Jones, Spike Jones, TheNamlessGuy, Ham Migas, Samuel
Pickens, Shardfire, Ana Pimentel, Jessie Rine, Justins Holderness, Nicolas Ross and Charlie
Yang. And with that this has been another episode
of Writing on Games. Thank you very much for watching and I will
see you next time.

100 thoughts on “Keep Running Up That Hill: An Analysis of DEATH STRANDING (Spoilers)

  • November 25, 2019 at 5:08 am
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    How are people this bad at a walking game

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 5:08 am
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    Camus changed my life. As soon as I played this game it reminded me of the Rebel and the Myth of Sisyphus

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 5:14 am
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    this keep sounding like the walking version of dark souls with nier:automata story

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  • November 25, 2019 at 5:20 am
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    The first few minutes of this video is like watching someone play Halo without reloading, jumping or using the right stick, and then complaining that the game's challenges are frustrating. EVERY game is frustrating if you blame the game for your own mistakes. Like MOST games, DS gives you new challenges and expects you to form new strategies to overcome them. This is core of gameplay! If you ignore the systems and the ramifications and just say "Nah fuck it I'll just use the same strategy" (like for example by trying to drive a bike through rocky terrain), OF COURSE you're going to fail.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 6:16 am
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    Postman pat apocalypse simulator 2019.

    For seriousness though, it looks interesting and more toward what Kojima wanted to do with videogames, film and gaming narrative combined as one. Will be honest though, I think I'll watch everyone else play… It's not quite for me (would probably be more enjoyable as a film)

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 6:29 am
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    I feel the exact opposite to almost everything said in this video. I didn’t have nearly as much trouble playing this game🤷🏻‍♂️

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  • November 25, 2019 at 6:55 am
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    This guy has the nerve to complain about the game being hard & tedious in the beginning.. but just LOOK at how he's playing it! Taking vehicles to places he shouldn't be , and then getting frustrated why they are getting stuck. And he was carrying way too much unnecessary cargo all the time too. You can't blame the game for this dumbass shit.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 8:39 am
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    "Could I have just played the game badly? …no, it's the game that is wrong."

    Like, it's fine if a game wasn't for you. I'd sooner saw off my foot than play a Dynasty Warriors game, but on the other hand I'm not going to boot one up, apparently ignore every tutorial and button prompt then blame the developers when I fail the first level.

    Your videos are typically such high quality so watching you willfully miss the mark here and not just conclude "Don't think this game and I are going to get along" was…frankly weird. Still though (genuinely) keep up the awesome work on pumping these series of vids out.

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 8:43 am
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    Divisive and repetitive as this may be, I can't remember the last time a game would make me stay up all night playing.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 9:03 am
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    I've only watched about the first 8 mins (haven't completed the game don't want it spoiled) so im not sure if its covered but I have a few gripes with some complaints you make.

    I mean you have a delivery from point a to point b. You open your map and scout out the terrain. Can I take a truck through here. Nope. So maybe I take a truck as far as I go, offload the cargo and walk the rest of the way.

    If you choose to frustrate yourself by driving through clearly inaccessible terrain then you get rightly punished for it

    Yes there's some frustration and tedium but every time I see people playing it in a way that's going to be punished and then complaining about it I just roll my eyes. You're not meant to be driving through mountainous regions. It's a slog but it gets better with later equipment.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 9:33 am
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    At least this game shows the future of this medium, Huge named cast and forgettable characters. I cant wait for Uncharted 5 on the ps5 starring Mark Walberg.

    Bad Guy: You were going to kill me drake.
    Drake: What? no. No, Come on guys take an interest in science.
    Bad Guy: Science drake, With the artefact of Delomita I can destroy the environment with a click of my fingers.
    Drake: You're not interested in what happened to the bees?

    Long story short the future is going to be a shit show.

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 10:42 am
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    First impression is everything , I see in the comments that you develop points further in the video, but when the first 3 minutes are so bad can you blame your date to end the dinner ?

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  • November 25, 2019 at 12:44 pm
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    You didn't even try to play the game like most to bad

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  • November 25, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    This game rewards patience! I spent 120 hours in the game and did very little after the 2nd set of credits rolled. I just took my time and I loved every minute of it. I disagree that the game isn't fun, I had an absolute blast but I did really take my time and play the game on its own terms reserving preconceived expectations for other more predictable games out there. It gets my GOTY vote without a doubt! PS: I'm not a Kojima fan, I don't like Metal Gear but I quite liked Slient Hill.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 3:37 pm
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    Ok, so this is the first time I actually disagree with you. Feels weird.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 4:07 pm
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    The reviewers complaining about traversal being absurdly tedious and hard while simultaneously showing footage of them just full sprinting up 90 degree rocky terrain with a tower of cargo and driving trucks off cliffs thinking its the games fault.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 4:20 pm
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    No dominant strategy? May I introduce you to Mr Zipline.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 4:39 pm
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    So this game is basically EVA

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  • November 25, 2019 at 5:26 pm
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    The first minute of the video is basically you describing your own poor decisions and actions and how it is kojima fault.

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 5:28 pm
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    Christ… am I the only one who didn’t have a crazy difficult time in the first few hours? Sure I was wobbly but… L2 R2 fixed that. MULEs? Rope & punch. BTs? I just kinda… ran out of the mini-boss zones until I got blood grenades. Also that first bike was a fucking godsend. I think it caused me to linger on chapter 2 way longer than I was meant to.

    I think the mixed reactions to Death Stranding have revealed a fault line in the current generation of gamers: those who take the time to really absorb new systems and inhabit them, and those who are more miserly with this investment, eager to consume their product as quickly as possible, forever under the impression that they can understand any new system through a cursory reading and that any failures in this reading are an indication of poor design rather than a simple lack of humility.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 5:46 pm
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    The game isn’t hard, but you have to be willing to take it at its own pace; to follow its rules. Most people that are frustrated want to rush through it, and that’s not what this game is about- at least not for me. I have 50+ hours in and am still on Chapter 3- loving and savoring every minute of it.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 6:19 pm
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    you literally walked through a cave when your cargo was stacked higher than the ceiling, wtf did you think would happen?

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  • November 25, 2019 at 8:04 pm
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    bruh. L2+R2 and you won't keep tripping like an idiot

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  • November 25, 2019 at 9:10 pm
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    So there are quite a lot of people commenting on the first few minutes about how the situation Kojima described didn't play out that way for me, that it felt like a "cruel cosmic joke," a "comedy game," etc. and taking that as me somehow saying I hate the game or that I'm blaming Kojima for not holding my hand or providing a streamlined experience. To that I would say, I was laughing the whole time. I thought that cosmic joke was funny. That intro was intended as just a bit of a goof to get to the main points I wanted to make.

    I might not have had much "fun" with it, but if you've watched my videos for any length of time you'll know that isn't as important to me as a meaningful experience and, for a good deal of its playtime, Death Stranding was that. I'm absolutely glad it exists in the way it does, even if I have quite a few legitimate issues with it. I probably could have communicated that better in the intro, apologies.

    I'd ask you to keep watching (although you obviously aren't obliged). I go on to talk at length about how the traversal mechanics absolutely need to be the way they are to convey the game's philosophical themes, and how reaching the end of the game made me look back on my slog through it in a completely different light. Hopefully that clears some things up.

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 9:24 pm
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    This is what happens when an intelligent person tries to justify the money and time they spent not enjoying something. This is the same crap people tried to do with raiden in msg2. No one liked that character. No one wanted to play as that character. But, hey, it's the right character for the point kojima was making in the game, so it's okay. Game devs, like film directors, should understand that if you want your work to say something it needs to do so in the language of the medium your using. The game Journey is two hours long, has no dialogue, and has exponentially more meaningful things to say than the exposition dump abyss that is death stranding. If your game or movie works better as a essay, you have failed.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 9:34 pm
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    I've been waiting so long for an artistic genius from one of the most homogenized and xenophobic countries in the world to make a game about how much my country has a problem with division.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 10:10 pm
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    People don't adapt to the game and then complain about its mechanics. It's Sekiro all over again

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  • November 25, 2019 at 10:12 pm
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    It was hard hearing your initial negative thoughts while looking at your loadouts and what you’re trying to do. Wear power armor, don’t carry that much cargo, VEHICLES DONT GO THERE, move slower across bad terrain, why aren’t you balancing with both hands?!

    It’s like you’re playing Dark Souls naked with a broken weapon but on the first play through. I’m glad you dig into the ethos of it all later. But I wonder if you’d have to have searched for such meaning if you’d made it a little easier on yourself.

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  • November 25, 2019 at 11:47 pm
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    One man's trash, is another man's treasure.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 12:04 am
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    WHY ARE YOU RUNNING THROUGH ROCKS

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  • November 26, 2019 at 12:13 am
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    Seems pretentious this game… I hate the philosophy behind it. Political philosophy is always a hairy thing to shoehorn into games. And in today's age, there's simply too much info out there about predictive programming for those waking up – this game seems to WANT the end of America – and it's just the emo kid in homeroom who bitches about capitalism. Blood and babies and death and black ooze – cliches. And its authoritarian – with big names involved – celebrities distract, especially knowing what these people are involved with. Just give me a character, not a famous "in group" director. It's pretentious in it's gameplay as well… and over the top in graphics. I hope a new paradigm in culture is coming… I think it is.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 1:34 am
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    So I started. I was engaged. I was incredibly engaged. I was really into playing for about 10 hours… until I wasn't. The more inane, surreal and non-contextual the game became the less I was engaged. The suspicion that none of this was going to make sense began to ruin my engagement because I suspected I was being jerked around, even if unintentionally. And when I was less engaged, the game play became pointless. I stopped trying to explore and do things and just focused on getting to the end. So I stopped doing anything extra and just focused on main storyline gameplay. And I got to the end. 2 credit scenes. At least 4 chapters more than I thought was the last chapter until I became even less engaged in the storyline because it just kept going on and on. Is it going to end? Who knows? Finally a series of ending scenes that kept pausing because my controller would power down from non use.
    Ok, great. done. That was crazy. Ok now the ultimate test: Now that I know the story, can I start over and play again getting deeper into it just enjoying the game play? First positive about a second play through is skipping all the cut scenes. Still took about 10 min to get to the main game play. Walked up to the terminal to get my first delivery and… shut down the game. Couldn't do it again. Done.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 1:51 am
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    RE: Camus
    We Must Imagine Sisyphus as having Met Camus

    http://existentialcomics.com/comic/301

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  • November 26, 2019 at 3:50 am
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    my guy tried to rappel down a cliff with two floating carriers

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  • November 26, 2019 at 4:05 am
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    I'm commenting for two reasons and neither of them are to add anything meaningful.

    The first is algorithm.

    The second is to say that I just love your videos because of how frequently you reject the correlation between entertainment and importance.

    I'm not particularly interested in Death Stranding, there are tons of games I want to get to first and I just never found it all that interesting on any level, but I'm fascinated by the conversation and I'm glad that a game which is so WEIRD, is being talked about in mainstream AAA gaming culture.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 4:34 am
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    My career is a battle and struggle day in day out. I'll stick to games that are actually games, as cool as the cutscenes look.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 5:39 am
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    Dude, I'm not gonna lie, you're not good at this game at all. Your poor inventory management skills and limited problem solving skills clearly led to a frustrating experience. Zip Line in the snowy mountains is your friend. And I never once used that floating carrier. Did you fix the roads? That is probably the most important thing to do.

    The games message was definitely on the nose though. Japanese writer are just overdramatic.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 6:03 am
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    I was waiting for this… Love your channel dude your dark souls video meant a lot to me

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  • November 26, 2019 at 7:40 am
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    maybe try not taking every order at once lol

    Reply
  • November 26, 2019 at 8:08 am
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    After watching some reviews of death stranding, from "boring" to "masterpiece", i started to think, what makes a good game? Does the game has to be fun? Does it has to be intense? I then look at movies and think: "Not all movies are fun, some of them are sad, some makes us angry, yet they are all good movies." A piece of entertainment doesnt always has to bring the audience positive emotions. The main point of entertainment is to allow the audience to experience things that normally wouldnt be able to in real life, to make them feel emotions they woudnt normally be able to feel. In a war movie, i can see myself standing on the battlefield without having to go to war, when a character dies, i can feel the lost of a loved one without any of my loved ones actually dying. Entertainment is a window into the various possible realities that we can experience for ourselves. Gaming is now the highest possible form of this experience. It allows us to immerse ourselves in so many different, to walk a mile in the shoe of a character, to act out his actions, to forge his bonds, to feel his emotions. Unlike movies and books, gaming allows for a personalized experience that can feel genuine and organic. It s a book where you can choose the ending, its a movie where you can act out the scenes.

    This brings me to what i think games have yet to fully utilized-the gameplay. We can divide the gaming experience into 2 parts: the story and the gameplay. Throughout the history of the gaming, the two has been mostly separate components to the gaming experience. When we talk about how gaming allows for a personalized experience that exceeds movies or books, we are talking about the story portion of the game-how the story is written, the choices, the characters, the twists. This is where the game has the same flexibility as movies, the creators are free to invoke whatever emotions from the player, it can sadness, it can be anger, it can be joy, it can be fear….as long as it creates a enjoyable narrative. How about the gameplay? The gameplay on the other hand does not have this flexibility. No matter if the story is like, the gameplay must always be "fun" or "enjoyable". For example, imagine youre playing a shooter game, your comrade and favorite character just died-the game invoked a sense of sadness in you, but the gameplay? it stays the same, you still shoots people with a gun, nothing has changed, the feeling that you you felt from the story does not translate into the gameplay. This keeps the story and gameplay apart, the story can be anything but the gameplay must be fun. For too long, most developers have been afraid of making games that arent "fun" because it wouldnt sell and because they do not see gaming as an art. This is precisely what has been holding gaming back as an art medium. The "gameplay must be fun" dogma has been preventing the gameplay from becoming a part of the artistic value of the game. When the gameplay must be "fun", it limits what the developers can do with it and this limitation creates a drift between the gameplay and story. In short, before, gameplay has been incapable of telling a story or making the players feel anything except of a sense of enjoyment which means 60-70% of the game has wasted potential.

    There, however, exist some games that were able to bridge that gap between story and gameplay. Through still in its infancy, the Soul-Borne franchise was able to show us a hint of this. The gameplay of Darksouls and Bloodborne, to some people, was not "fun". It was a grueling test of endurance and determination for first time players. Here, the personalized experience does not come from story but rather gameplay. The way every new enemy is a mystery, how every new boss is a challenge and every death a punch to the guts. The gameplay successfully makes the player feel other feelings outside enjoyment, the player feels fear, anger, anxiety, frustration. This allows for every journey to be unique for the suffering of each players, the way they fight, the way they die unique. The story is barely there and that why you can write your own through how you play the game, its an experience of you, by you and for you. The gameplay has successfully integrated itself into a part of the story and invokes various emotions from the players allowing for a rich gaming experience.

    Death Stranding takes this a step further. In the game, every step you take is a task that require your undivided attention. This allows the player to immerse themselves in the character, to feel every step he takes, to understand his plights, his struggle. Many people say that the gameplay is boring, yes, i think it is boring, but let me ask you this: "Was it fun for Sam? Do you think struggling to climb mountains, cross rivers, fighting off enemies to deliver packages fun?" "No, it certainly is not." Yet Sam pushes forward anyway. You are "playing" as Sam and this is his story yet you only want the fun bits while leaving Sam to his own devices when it gets tough. How can you truly "play" as a character if you do not understand his plights? The gameplay of Death stranding allows you to walk a mile in Sam's shoe both literally and figuratively. Every step you take is a step he takes, every obstacle he faces is one you must overcome. Every action contains his story and your will. This allows you to "be" the character, to feel what he feels, to be angry and frustrated when you drop your packages, to feel accomplishment when having delivered a package. The gameplay itself tells the story so that the experience from story to gameplay does not break. In Dark souls and Bloodborne, you can write your own story, in Death stranding, you get to live the story of another. It can be said that Death Stranding right now is the closest to a fully immersed story telling experience. Yet it does not stop there, Death Stranding takes it step further with the strand system-the system that allows players to leaves behind your tools like a ladder or a rope to others to find and use or for players to build roads and bridges (things that they normally cant do by themselves) together. This is no longer the story of one person, it is the story of a community, the story of Death stranding. "To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together". The feeling of finding a bridge over a river that you couldnt cross, a zipline that helps you get over a snowy valley that would have taken you hours to traverse, they are genuine feelings of the player that the story cannot convey. This is the true potential of gameplay that Hideo Kojima was able to observed. To invoke true emotions from the player without having to set it up, unlike story where events are planned out, gameplay like this allows for emotions and memories to manifest organically at hands of the players themselves. Imagine if 10 years from now, you boot up the game and decide to take a trip down the old route and you suddenly notice a ladder that wasnt there before, you will know that out there, somewhere, a player like you left it there. Hideo Kojima has realized story telling and emotional potential of gameplay and pushes gaming further as a art medium. This is why i believe Death Stranding has reinvented gameplay design in gaming and gives us a game that is truly "of the players, by the players and for the players".

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  • November 26, 2019 at 8:50 am
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    Legitimate question how did you have couches and stuff on your backpack before you got to the second region

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  • November 26, 2019 at 10:10 am
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    This game is for the patience one, the one who respect the process, the one who enjoy the journey not just rushing it to the finish line

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  • November 26, 2019 at 10:29 am
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    I can't imagine how anyone can play this game so badly. It takes a little patience and logical thinking and traverse in a way you know would be safe. Yet somehow I see everyone who don't like the game sprinting through every rock, biking through jagged terrain and up a mountain. It makes no sense. This game is amazing and the most fun I've had in gaming for a long time, such a shame that a lot of youtubers REFUSE to adapt to it's systems and mechanics and enjoy it for what it is rather than criticising it for what it's not.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 10:45 am
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    Vehicles are bad and the Bt encounters get annoying! But there's so much more to this game that we're used to seeing. Even after completing it, I find myself enjoying the world being build by not only myself but others around the network! At times it makes you feel alone, like there's no hope but then the strands binds us together and its ok to keep moving forward! I truly feel bad for anyone with minds so closed that are unable to experience Death Stranding for what is truly is, an Artistic Accomplishment. Really highlights where the real world is at in our time..
    #GameoftheYear2019

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  • November 26, 2019 at 12:30 pm
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    I think I finally get why so many people hate DS. It's because it's too hard for the average player and they can't tell. "It's not hard, it's tedious". No, it isn't, I breezed through most of the game, excluding a few cases where I chose to wrong equipment to take. It basically boiled down to whether you need a vehicle or a floating carrier. Almost anything else could be dealt with by choosing the right route and never taking anything you wouldn't need. But the average player tries to move in a straight line, even if that includes a vertical cliff, picking every trash on his way, and they end up at that situation where you are barely able to keep your balance. It's true that the story isn't very good, but most people actually wouldn't care about the story if the gameplay felt better, and it doesn't, because they can't optimize their deliveries. I guess the DOS2 developers had it right when they dumbed down the highest difficulty, sucks for me but apparently you shouldn't make your game too hard or people would call it trash.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    warband is the only game I know without a game over stage

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  • November 26, 2019 at 4:21 pm
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    I sat through the 9 hour "movie" version of DS (All cutscenes & critical gameplay) and I'm 100% satisfied with that. I really enjoyed watching the world and characters Kojima built, but I don't think there's a force on earth that could get me to slog through 40 hours of deliveries to experience it. Just not for me.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 4:40 pm
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    Hamish, I love you man, but your introduction is borderline nonsensical. It criticizes the game for not delivering the intended emotional impact due to 'hilarious misteps'.
    Yet everything you did showed a misunderstanding of the game's mechanics. While you have many good points later on, especially narrative-wise (which is god awful, IMO), I cannot blame anyone for believing your analysis to be ill-founded based on the first two minutes.

    I don't understand how you had such a tough time traversing the landscape on the Reverse Trike when there's plenty of open terrain around your footage's area. The only time you should have improper control of the vehicle is when it's boosting. Anything other than that is your own fault. Not to mention the game clearly indicating that certain terrain is not meant to be traversed by vehicle.

    Outside of your mission specific items, you were carrying so many grenades that I'm shocked you were caught by B.T's. Having one container gives you five grenades, with each one killing a single BT. Putting aside the fact that BT sections are beyond easy to accomplish, you shouldn't have been caught at all. Then you fly off a cliff, breaking your vehicle and items and then say the game's intended effect didn't work because you failed to do the mission properly.
    You know I'm not saying any of this out of malice but rather confusion. Again, many of your other critiques are spot on but your introduction paints a real bad light for the rest of the video.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 4:43 pm
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    90% of these comments were made in the first five minutes

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  • November 26, 2019 at 5:04 pm
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    The t is Albert is silent

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  • November 26, 2019 at 6:55 pm
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    @4:30
    I’m glad I’m not the only one who went through this. My heart sank when my truck got stuck during my run. 😩

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  • November 26, 2019 at 7:40 pm
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    Troy Baker killed it, his best work.

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  • November 26, 2019 at 8:38 pm
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    I thought this game was too easy on normal I barely had to do any thinking since all you had to do in order to not tip over is to hold the Trigger Button

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  • November 26, 2019 at 9:26 pm
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    Troy Baker's turn as Higgs is BRILLIANT. The character he most reminded me of in his vocal delivery was Rust Cohle from the True Detective series. The slight southern twang, and local turns of phrase while delivering apocalyptic content. He had an upbeat detachment that seemed more like "Rust talking with cops at table" than "Rust chatting with Marty". My favorite line in the game is the "Bloodied but unbowed", bracketed by a vocal pause and a giggle. Great attention to detail.

    I only have two criticisms of the Higgs character design. He should have kept his mask on longer, and maintained the air of cheerful dread from his first appearance. That he became an edgy guy in eyeliner who played dress-up was a big disappointment. Also, his dialogue, aside from one great speech and two good ones, became repetitive. When he summons both BTs, he makes a "whoooooo" sound and a comment about Sam being food. A little too similar.

    By the way, as an easter egg, did anyone else catch something familiar in the scene where he summons the "dog" BT? One of Troy Baker's full-body tracking animations is EXACTLY the same one he used with Pagan Min in Far Cry. That arms out, leaning back move. lol. EDIT: Found it here: https://youtu.be/cMVToOxjcuM?t=937

    Good video, WOG!

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  • November 26, 2019 at 9:47 pm
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    I guess this is one of the games that make all the reviewers and gamers debate if its a good or bad, a little bit of both, idk😂

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  • November 27, 2019 at 1:51 am
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    This is a job simulator for NEETs.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 3:26 am
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    All I got out of this is that you suck really bad at this game.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 4:21 am
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    I think the main difference between people who enjoy and have fun with this game and those who don't is the eagerness to adapt to the pace and game play style the game demands of you. This isn't a game where you can "play your way". This is a game that demands a very slow and methodical pace, where you have to balance the efficiency and speed of the routes you take through out the map, with the difficulty in taking those routes and the load you need to carry. The game punishes you for taking more than you need, and also punishes you for not being prepared. The game punishes you for trying to speed through it, with the direct route between story objects often crawling with hazards, but also rewards you less with taking extremely roundabout methods. Its a slow paced balancing act. And when trying to cut corners or fight against the game's systems (as is demonstrated in nearly every game play clip in this video), whether on purpose or not, the game happily punishes you. You can see patterns of youtubers who struggle with the game or even flat out dislike the game fighting against the games systems around every corner. Whether it comes to over encumbering yourself(especially for rough terrain), trying to take vehicles where they clearly cannot be taken, or otherwise trying to exploit the system in some kind of strange speed run attempt using methods that actively hurt not only your mission rating, but the enjoyment of the game as a whole.

    Enjoy the sights, live a little. Even when taking it slowly, the game is not as long as something like the phantom pain, so don't try to rush to the end.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 4:52 am
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    To be honest, I feel as if his obsession with Hollywood was the biggest detriment. Also I love the Kojima Defense Force always showing up. That makes me giggle.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 5:17 am
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    I had none of those issues with the game.. maybe you’re just bad at the game 🤔 haha

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  • November 27, 2019 at 5:47 am
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    The subtext is so subtle.
    Heart Man has a weird shaped heart.
    Dead Man works with the dead.
    Die Hard Man is John McClane.
    No, really. That's the reason. I'm not even kidding.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 6:31 am
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    The in game counter says I've put in about 215hrs and honestly, I'm still 50/50 about the game. I would recommend it though. Just enjoy your time with it. Plus it's been a while playing a game with no microtransactions, dcl or crazy glichs. It's like they made a fully functional game and sold it. Crazy to think I'd play one of those now a days.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 7:18 am
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    You were always carrying way too much cargo and driving vehicles into ridiculous places. I took time to rebuilds all the roads as i progressed and it made deliverings much easier and revisiting areas a breeze. All your footage looks like you self sabotaged for the sake of making the game look more difficult than it really is.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 9:24 am
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    Fascinating essay. I don't know if I can handle all that unbearable dialogue and cutscenes as reward for the tedium, when if I wanted a shorter act of self-flagellation I could progress further in Pathologic 2.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 9:37 am
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    I remember after i beat the game i made the decision to complete one of the roads from lake knot to south knot to help others. BTs can't get you on roads and sneaking though them is time consuming.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 12:00 pm
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    Looks like you spent most of the game falling over and without battery. That must have been a slog.
    I think I fell over 3 times and fell off a cliff once in my whole 85 hour play through. Didn't find the traversal to be much of an issue at all. You barely ever stumble if you hold down R2 + L2 on steep slopes, or with large loads.
    I can understand why you found it frustrating, but I also think you failed to master the controls.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 2:58 pm
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    I've never been one of those people but I genuinely belive this is one of those game a lot of people are just too stupid to understand, you see this dumbass youtubers like Dunkey who just are unable to grasp what the point of the tedium is, and either purposlely play shit or are just genuinely bad at not rushing everything.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 3:43 pm
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    As someone else said, it's strange how you view playing the game as being 'the punchline of some joke'. Even though you say that other people are going through it with you, and that you appreciate the game for it at the end, I just don't get why people think the game was designed to not be 'fun' or is intentionally miserable or frustrating.

    In Dark Souls, when you're walking through a tight corridor and you round a corner or go through a doorway, and an enemy you couldn't see comes from behind to stab you or some trap activates because you stepped on a plate, does anyone really think Miyazaki just wanted people to feel frustrated or angry? (Because, in that instance, I don't think anyone would say that was fun) Or – as he himself has stated that he does not create difficulty for difficulty's sake – did he craft a game that required the player to be observant and patient to learn the layout of the map or the patterns of the enemies, even through many, many deaths, so that they feel accomplishment?

    Why must Death Stranding be the game that just wants to frustrate the player and not be fun? Sure, Dark Souls is more immediately mechanically engaging, but a lot of the design is similar in how the mechanics are in service to a purpose; an experience it wants for the player. I can't tell you to enjoy Death Stranding. I've seen a not insignificant amount of people say that a player must get through the first 10 hours or so before the game 'gets good', but I don't see it that way. I enjoyed the game from the beginning. That's not to say that I have a better opinion or anything, but it's just so strange to me. It feels like a mindset people had going into the game; a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm not going to say you played it wrong, and I see your reply to the intro, but still, seeing people play the game like that.. well, I guess it is comical. But it's not necessarily the games fault, it's the dramatic irony you made for yourself. You have to understand that the dismissive tone the intro and other reviewers have, while at the same time showing footage of brute-forcing through areas without terrain consideration, is really disheartening. Death Stranding's gameplay mechanics are precisely what they needed to be for the game that it wanted to be. Any easier and the game would have had no challenge. Any more focus on combat and it would have been just like any other game out there. People say it's not for everyone, but to me, it's more that the game isn't like the 90% or more of the typical games out today, where traversal is so trivial that it basically requires no thought, and combat so frequent that for all intents and purposes it's the main expression the player has on the game world.

    Ultimately, you say you appreciate the game and I'm not directly bashing you. I just think this is a similar conversation as one we had with Red Dead last year, and it's only been amplified with the uniqueness of DS's design along with the moreso unique personality and legacy of it's creator, and allllll the expectations and preconceptions that enveloped it.

    Shit…. I'll probably make a video on this now.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 4:15 pm
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    I found fascinating how much the game reviews tells more about the character of the player than the game itself..

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  • November 27, 2019 at 4:42 pm
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    this game is so fucking pretentious..if kojimas name wasn't on the box this game would not get high praise at all it would be a middle of the road in terms of reviews like a 7….but nope since kojima is involved its the best thing since sliced bread

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  • November 27, 2019 at 4:49 pm
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    At 18:36 so true, really annoying.

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  • November 27, 2019 at 5:22 pm
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    Well at the very least, you kinda tried.

    And just like in the opening of the game, "Don't be so serious".

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  • November 27, 2019 at 5:37 pm
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    I never really had any problems and I only fell 3 times during the game

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  • November 27, 2019 at 10:11 pm
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    Kojima is a god-level troll

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  • November 28, 2019 at 1:19 am
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    I always wanted a hard truck simulator,where I can walk as a driver and shoot drug dealers and kill hookers.True game where I can go fishing,hunting,play pool and many other things.Well…that’s not it.

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  • November 28, 2019 at 3:35 am
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    People give me a weird look when i say that i don't agree with Death Stranding's message. Instead believing that sometimes connecting everyone can cause more harm than good and that is better off being alone than have bad company

    I know quite cynical

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  • November 28, 2019 at 8:00 am
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    As with a lot of comments here, it seems people struggle with the mechanics of this game. I get it, DS is a polarizing game. I honestly love the game and enjoy and have fun every minute i play it.

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  • November 28, 2019 at 10:44 am
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    I respect your opinion fella and u explained it very well but I do strongly disagree! I have played 137:19:06 and to be completely honest I loved it from beginning to end. I played it for the cut scenes, whether that was hologram to long piece's of great acting. The more I found out about this world, the more I wanted to know. I had fun from the beginning to the end with the gameplay loop but once I finished the game, I played it for about another 2hrs and then, I did get bored. I wasn't progressing anything other than more likes. I hope it sells well so Kojima can get on a sequel, and, I also hope that other devs take note and use some of the mechanics in other ways.

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  • November 28, 2019 at 11:19 am
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    This game sounds like a huge metaphor for slaving away at some meaningless office job.

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  • November 28, 2019 at 11:35 am
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    I have not played this game. The more I see of Death Stranding, the more disappointing it appears. I can think of many involving and entertaining game mechanics that would serve to give players meaning through struggle, whilst prompting us to reflect on our flaws.

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  • November 28, 2019 at 4:13 pm
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    Why does everyone on the internet fucking suck at walking and not falling over massive cliff drops in this game? Am I the only one who isn't playing this like Skyrim?
    Is everyone else playing this game like a motorcross racing game when they're on the bike?

    I'm genuinely confused as to how playing this game was such a massive undertaking for you.

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  • November 28, 2019 at 4:27 pm
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    Your traversal through this world just seems horrible. You’ve captured yourself driving over impossible terrain. Sprinting over rough ground without holding straps which inevitably leads to falling. You just seem to be trying to get through this game as quick as you can. I’ll repeat another users comment. It’s mostly common sense. Don’t walk through deep rivers. Don’t sprint on rough terrain. Don’t drive up mountains. Prepare yourself for your journey. Wear your all terrain skeleton and heat pack for missions over mountains. Bring a carrier for loads that are too much and too heavy. To everyone playing Death Stranding. Enjoy this beautiful game, soak in the atmosphere, take your time, plot your routes and get your packages safely to your destination. I’ll see you out there with a helpful ladder!

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  • November 28, 2019 at 6:07 pm
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    It looks like you're just not good at playing the game. I had no problems handling it.

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  • November 28, 2019 at 8:19 pm
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    i finished death stranding in nearly 33 hours and i understood the story perfectly, after finishing it i felt fullfilled and had no desire to play this game anymore

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  • November 28, 2019 at 9:50 pm
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    Watching you fumble about on foot & bike left me thinking does this dude not understand the basic mechanics of the game?

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  • November 28, 2019 at 10:04 pm
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    LOOT!

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  • November 29, 2019 at 1:49 am
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    It seems like all the problems stem from massively overloading.

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  • November 29, 2019 at 8:33 am
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    Best game I have played in a long time, finished it after 80 hours and still gaming, there are many things a want to do. Never had problems playing it, it it’s fun, interesting, relaxing and addicting. Traversal is easy, seeing many reviews I fear that the mechanics would make the game painfully difficult to play, but when I first played it I was waiting for the so boring, difficult parts some people was talking about… never found it. The only answer that I can came with is that, many people are very, very stressed bad gamers lol. Only bad thing I find may be some menus, small text and must have more variety in the animations on the most commons actions. Nothing that ruined my experience, but things that could be improved. Love the game, there is nothing like it I’m grateful for all the people and circumstances that make this game being made. Game of the year in all of the categories, played many of the others nominees and nothing comes closed to DS 👍

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  • November 29, 2019 at 10:31 am
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    I think this game is a nice change of pace for most video games, like Kojima said. It’s weird cause as much as ur alone in this game, I never really felt alone because Ik people are out there feeling the same way about the game. Don’t go around carrying too much cargo if you know it’s gunna be a hastle. Don’t go off a cliff with floating cargo if you know how physics work in game and in real life. People look for shortcuts in life but this game has no shortcuts, it’s kinda the point. This isn’t a walking simulator, it’s a walking Privilege. “If you don’t care about urself, there is no happiness in life”.

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  • November 29, 2019 at 4:21 pm
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    I understand. It seems when a game comes out that I absolutelly love like this, Everyone hates it. Meanwhile I hated breath of the wild and everyone loved that. WTF. Im on my second playthrough already. I feel like this guy has failed to grasp the basic mechanics of this game. You arent meant to use vehicles everywhere, You dont need to overload yourself every mission. BTs can be easily snuck past. Writing on games wtf dude.

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  • November 29, 2019 at 5:12 pm
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    Death Stranding felt like my fight against depression, always climbing the hill known as depression. I'd fall down the hill many times but I keep going, and the other porters in the game who help each other out are supposed to be the people who are helping you beat depression. I would say that I'm somewhat of a Kojima fanboy, I've been playing since I was young, but I'll admit this game has some flaws but I still love it despite the controversy because I wasn't focusing on what's done right or wrong, I just enjoy the game at MY pace. Kojima knows how to send a message through his art, but this… is amazing. It's amazing to see him bounce back after Konami and to see him be successful is the perfect "fuck you." to Konami.

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  • November 29, 2019 at 7:22 pm
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    You’re playing Death Stranding like the players going full shooter on metal gear solid V, most of the games wants you to play a certain way to get the emotions it should convey, you got it wrong if you though you could play it as you felt, meaning rushing on a bike with cargos on top of cargos on a rocky terrain with BT’s nearby.

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  • November 29, 2019 at 10:54 pm
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    It didn't make me cry, but it was melancholic for me

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  • November 29, 2019 at 11:58 pm
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    you completely failed. you were the cosmic failure. you were playing it wrong

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  • November 30, 2019 at 3:12 am
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    Good job man!!!!!

    Great video
    Keep up the good work

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  • November 30, 2019 at 4:51 am
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    I mostly agree, except about the early BT encounters; I thought they were extremely tense moments. They did get tedious after a while, before becoming anticlimactic later… but they were incredibly exciting in the beginning.

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  • November 30, 2019 at 5:15 am
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    And you can't blame Seydoux for "I'm fragile, but I'm not that fragile."

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  • November 30, 2019 at 8:03 am
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    U mad cuz u bad

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  • November 30, 2019 at 8:40 am
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    I'm 1 minute in and… damn man, you really suck at this game.

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  • November 30, 2019 at 9:49 am
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    I finished the game with the more or less the same opinion.

    My biggest internal struggle is trying to figure out whether the experience would be elevated or watered down had the gamey-er aspects of Death Stranding been further emphasized. For instance, if Kojima allocated more time on non-sequitur set pieces like the the Unger fights, or crossing the tar lake; or even fleshing out the game play loop by expanding on BTs and MULEs.

    Moreover, did Kojima intend to do just this, but just ran out of time/budget? The story is conspicuously dissonant in how it meshes with game play, and it seems like the creation of most cut scenes, especially those featured in the early trailers, greatly preceded the game play by which they were surrounded. This would explain the expo dumps and the trickle of Mads cut scenes.

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