Death Stranding is one of the most polarizing games released during the current console generation. You either love it or hate it: there is no middle ground. No matter one's opinion, it is undeniable that Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions tried to break the mold of open-world games, and this definitely deserves all the praise we can give. And if you have been waiting for the PC version to enjoy this unique take on the open-world formula, your patience will indeed be rewarded.
Death Stranding is all about making the world whole again, rebuilding human society after a mysterious cataclysm that has changed the very fabric of reality. Controlling courier Sam Porter Bridges, played by actor Norman Reedus, you will travel from the East to the West coast, deliver essential goods to the last remaining settlements and help humanity get back on its feet. Things, in true Kojima fashion, as not as straightforward as they seem, but we will discuss the story and the message it tries to convey in our full review.
As already mentioned, Death Stranding is an open-world game unlike any other. You will not find content behind every corner. You will not find an army of enemies to defeat. You will not find side-quests at every turn. Death Stranding is a very intimate experience where Sam is alone while he traverses the world, confronts the mysterious BTs, and tries to avoid the M.U.L.E.S., porters that have turned rogue after letting their delivery addiction get the best of them. The first few hours are a little slow, as the game uses the first couple of episodes to introduce the player to many of the game's mechanics, but things start opening up considerably in the third episode, where you are given way more tools to complete your deliveries, and the locations become more varied, forcing you to use items like Ladders and Climbing Anchors in the most efficient way. Combat is also in, but my currently limited weapon selection makes stealth the best way to deliver the orders without damaging the goods too much.
Death Stranding's unique social multiplayer features are one of the highlights of the experience. As the PC version has yet to be released, the world isn't particularly well-populated with structures built by other players, but still, the feeling you get receiving a like for having helped someone is something completely new in gaming. It resonates not only with the game's main themes but also with the difficult times we are all currently living.
Death Stranding on PC doesn't differ a whole lot from the PlayStation 4 version in gameplay, not counting from a few additional Half-Life themed missions and cosmetics, but it is on a whole different level regarding graphics and presentation. The port, developed in-house by Kojima Productions, is an excellent one, coming with multiple graphics options, support for up to 240 FPS, 4K resolution, and even DLSS 2.0 for NVIDIA RTX cards. The port is nicely optimized, as the system used for the test, featuring an i7 3770 CPU, NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti, and 16 GB RAM, has no trouble running the game at 60 FPS, 1440p resolution. There are some slowdowns during cutscenes, mostly when the camera zooms on the incredibly detailed character models, but I have no doubt that this will be fixed in time for release. Mouse and keyboard controls also work nicely, although a gamepad is still recommended to enjoy the game to the fullest.
In the first 12 or so hours, Death Stranding managed to catch my attention with its intriguing story and world-building and its unique take on the open-world formula, even more than I was honestly expecting. If it will manage to hold it until the end remains to be seen, but as of now, I have been having a very hard time putting the game down. Just one more delivery. For one more like. And the satisfaction of having been able to make a difference, no matter how small.
Death Stranding launches on PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store on July 14th.