Death Stranding Director’s Cut is the kind of game that doesn’t have a middle ground. Either you love him or you hate him. It’s very difficult to find a person who says they “liked it more or less” or gives any other “neutral” rating to the game.
Talking about Death Stranding in 2021, after we already know what the game is about and the fundamentals that Hideo Kojima thought for his work, may make it sound irrelevant at this point. But, as a first-time traveller through this devastated America and given the opportunity to test the new version of the game for the Playstation 5 in advance, I decided to share a little of my experience with the game and show why this game has been special to me.
As a fan since the first Metal Gear Solid, back on Playstation, I’ve always had a great appreciation for Kojima’s works. I recognize your narrative problems and here it is no different. Death Stranding has things that seem to have come out of a scriptwriter’s head at the beginning of his career in certain places, but nothing that takes away the shine of the original idea behind it. Despite some ups and downs, it fulfils its role to intrigue and instigates the player to know what happened in that reality and what is the meaning of it all.
To start this analysis, I would like to say that it is very difficult not to find a problem with the name of the new version of the game: Director’s Cut. It even seems to be a joke, a game that in its initial 10 minutes you see Hideo Kojima’s name pop up on the screen over and over again. And I assume that this must be another one of Kojima’s countless jokes, as we all know he loves playing this kind of mind game with those who follow his career and his Twitter.
And that’s just where the game started for me. Why, after all, what actually is a director’s version? Many movie enthusiasts will say it’s “an improved version of the same movie” or “a fuller story that makes more sense than the original released work.” And in fact, it might make sense here, as everyone knows Kojima’s megalomania for making games with a totally cinematic feel. No wonder the game is full of Hollywood actors and actresses.
Death Stranding: Director’s Cut it’s not just an enhancement pack of the same game released for Playstation 4, with new features and new features that take advantage of all the technology of Playstation 5, but it’s a much more complete immersive experience than the original game. Starting with the experience with DualSense.
New features and some changes
Talking about Death Stranding addressing your story will not be the focus here. In fact, the most that can be said about the game is that “there was a great event called Death Stranding and its mission, in this completely destroyed and hostile America, is to reconnect the people who had to remain isolated in bunkers. The only human link between these people are the ‘carriers’, freight forwarders who cross the entire territory and face all kinds of danger to establish these human connections between the isolated”. Of course, within this context, there are several other situations, but taking on the role of Sam “Porter” Bridges, our mission is, in addition to delivering the most varied types of cargo, to rebuild the United States.
During our journey, the most varied types of enemies will be our obstacle, but the biggest challenge in Death Stranding is route planning and terrain. Good route planning and management of your supplies such as ropes, ladders and non-lethal weaponry is the key to success in overcoming the terrain and its surprises. You can find out more about the game in its release version by clicking here.
The Director’s Cut version manages to bring some interesting new features that create an immersion that the Playstation 4 version was not able to provide. That’s because the novelties that the game implements using DualSense create a feeling of weight, of feeling the effort Sam makes when climbing a mountain, of grabbing the straps of his transport bag to keep his balance, if he’s too heavy, from the fatigue of fighting the EPs (Entidades da Praia) and the weight of a blow delivered against MULAs – people who became addicted to carrying out cargo theft.
The new version also has a sound rework, bringing 3D audio features compatible with Pulse3D and televisions that use this feature, creating a whole new atmosphere for the environment, making it easier to identify an EP in areas dominated by such enemies, or even knowing where a blow from a MULE will come from.
The game now also has 60 frames per second support and super optimized loading – although it has few loading points – thanks to the hardware and the power of the Playstation 5’s M.2 SSD.
As for the graphics, Death Stranding was already a very beautiful game by Playstation 4 standards, using the Decima Engine as much as possible – the same dand Horizon: Zero Dawn. The PS5 version brings, in addition to even more beautiful and detailed graphics, several features such as Ray Tracing (It’s worth noting that the water in this game is one of the most beautiful and real I’ve ever seen in a game), the terrain textures like rocks, moss, grass and snow are even more beautiful, and the skybox (Game Heaven) is among the most beautiful ever seen in a game.
An interesting thing – but also irrelevant – was the change in energy drinks that Sam consumes while staying in the break rooms is no longer the famous Monster – seen in the original game – and giving space to Bridges Energy, since the license to use the brand (probably) has expired.
The game also adds a kind of mode Trial Team on a closed circuit, with the availability of some car models so that you can compete with other players, but not together as in a traditional racing game. It’s a nice feature, but it’s only there for those who want to do it between one delivery or another.
Now the terrain is just another obstacle
As I said before, the playing field is the biggest opponent to be overcome. That’s because your journey, even being carried out with the aid of transport, will be full of ups and downs – literally. So, scheduling your route and checking the route on the map will prevent you from getting into trouble during your delivery trip. But at Director’s Cut, we now have new tools to make deliveries “less sufferable”. Among the new features is a jetpack that allows us to glide over part of the terrain, making Sam cut much of the rough terrain and avoiding places that are difficult to pass – which, in my view, turns out to be a nice feature, but which takes a little from the essence of the game’s proposal, which is to overcome the obstacles on the ground.
Sam also has a new biped auxiliary robot (not at all reminiscent of a Metal Gear) called Buddy Bot, which will assist in carrying heavier loads, making walking paths less lonely and easier.
However, such changes end up taking away from the core of what Death Stranding is as a game: a solitary experience and whose great opponent is the path taken by the terrain. Additions are always welcome, even more creating new ways to play, but here they seem to take away some of the essences of the game’s initial proposal.
The best version of the same game
I bought Death Stranding still on Playstation 4 in its pre-sale, which for some is a very risky experience since they didn’t really know what the game was and what kind of proposal it would approach. I have not regretted having made such an investment in a producer I like and in a very unusual proposal. The experience of solitude, planning the routes to be taken, the game’s cooperative proposal to create structures and have other players use them, and its thought-provoking plot led me to this desolate world.
Despite the repetition of tasks, carrying a load from point A to point B didn’t make me give up on continuing my journey through that world. Whenever I finished a delivery I thought “I’ll do just one more”. And when I finished this one I said it again, and when I saw it, it was already four hours of gameplay.
It’s clear that Death Stranding Director’s Cut is not the kind of game that will please everyone. And I confess that it won’t be this Director’s Cut that will change the opinion of those who didn’t like the game on Playstation 4. But it was there that I managed, for the first time in a long time, to relax playing something. Sometimes I put a podcast in one ear, while the other was busy paying attention to the game, and so I made my journey through this world. Taking advantage of the stunning visual of beautiful landscapes, thinking about which path would be the most viable to carry a load without damaging it, paying attention to places dominated by MULAs or doing everything to escape from places taken by EPs.
Death Stranding is rather a game about loneliness. But it’s also about connecting, about cooperating with each other. And maybe this is one of the main challenges that the game imposes on us: how to cooperate with those who don’t see? How to help others without knowing who they are and what they think? How can we change someone else’s reality without even knowing who is on the other side?
The new version of the game brings new features, but it remains that same polarized game, keeping the same proposals as the original Playstation 4 title, imposing the same challenges and tasks on the player. It hasn’t changed, it’s just improved. It became an improved version.
And you as a player? Has it become an improved version? Have you become your own “director’s version”?
Is Death Stranding: Director’s Cut Worth It?
Death Stranding: Director’s Cut is a more complete and improved experience than its previous version, there’s no doubt about that. It’s hard to say “it’s not a game for everyone”, because which game is it? For me, it acted as an escape valve, a time in my day that I could take off to play something while listening to music, catching up on podcasts, or simply wanting a proposal where I could do a routine activity.
It may be a boring game for some, but a different experience for others. What I can only ask with this analysis is that you, as a player, allow yourself to experiment. Certainly, like Sam, you will be carrying something about this game.
Can it be a good impression? He can! Can it be a very bad impression? Also! But the important thing is to connect somehow.
Review prepared with a copy of the game for PlayStation 5 provided by PlayStation Brasil.