Death Stranding is a game that won’t appeal to everyone, despite it’s AAA, groundbreaking approach to game design and narrative, Kojima’s latest title is an atypical affair, but one that is without a doubt, worth checking out, especially now that the game is available on the PC.
For the uninitiated, Death Stranding follows the exploits of Sam Porter Bridges, as portrayed by Norman Reedus, a man with a mission. A mission that requires the player to guide Sam through the surreal and hauntingly beautiful wastes of the United States, in the hopes of restoring communications with isolated pockets of people who have otherwise, retreated to underground bunkers to stave off the titular Death Stranding plague-like threat.
Without delving into spoiler territory, Death Stranding’s narrative is one that should be experienced for both fans’ of Hideo Kojima’s work in addition to those who just want something that isn’t afraid to break away from the conventions of most AAA games, especially now, due to the global circumstances that have put much of the world on pause. In other words, Death Stranding is a pertinent, experimental and in some instances, just plain bizarre experience, even within the standards of Hideo Kojima produced titles.
Norman Reedus isn’t the only big name present in Death Stranding either. The title is brimming with celebrity talent, including the likes of Mads Mikkelsen, Gulimero Del Toro, and videogame celebrity, Troy Baker, amongst others that help bring the world of Death Stranding to life.
The main gameplay loop in Death Stranding consists of building up Sam’s endurance and building capabilities that make it easier for him to traverse the treachours and harrowing game world, making deliveries and connecting lost nodes together within the Chiral Network.
For me, the appeal of Death Stranding, outside of its cryptic narrative is in its nuance to gameplay mechanics. In most games, particularly, open-world titles, having to slog from various points while making sure not to get over-encumbered is a frustrating and cumbersome annoyance. In Death Stranding, however, having to plan, and carefully micro-manage every facet of what Sam has on his persons is fun. Fun, in the same way, a person may get lost in a simulation game or large sandbox. Death Stranding delivers (no pun intended) an incredibly well-realized depiction of if its world, to the point where having to optimize Sam’s loadout and find the perfect balance between efficiency and manoeuvrability feels both challenging and rewarding.
In many ways, Death Stranding’s open-world feels like Metal Gear Solid V’s, in that it gives the player freedom in how they want to approach each mission/side quest, ultimately making Death Stranding feel more like a flexible sandbox, rather than a linearly paced action game.
As a game that was so heavily touted as a PlayStation 4 exclusive due to Sony’s partnership with Hideo Kojima, the prospect of a PC port seemed impossible, let alone one that would actually be good. Thankfully, Death Stranding isn’t your typical console-to-PC port. Instead, I can safely say that Death Stranding on the PC is hands-down, the best way to experience the game.
Death Stranding on PC is a robust port that features all the elements of the PlayStation 4 title while bringing with it the flexibility of PC gaming, which in this case includes cutting-edge features such as DLSS and 4K resolution options. DLSS, or Deep Learning Super Sampling, is a feature exclusive to newer video cards that allow higher resolutions without the cost of FPS drops, this is achieved by only partially rendering the game in its native resolution per pixel, while an AI approximates the highest quality possible via its own, internal database.
If this sounds complicated, all that really matters is that Death Stranding can look phenomenal without breaking a sweat, of course, given your video card supports it. Having clocked in over a few dozen hours with the PlayStation 4 Pro version of Death Stranding, the jump to a higher than 60FPS was a treat, making the game feel fresh and snappy, to the point where I didn’t mind the slow burn of the opening hours of the game, as just being to take-in the expanse at a higher fidelity made it worthwhile.
In terms of new content, Death Stranding, by and large, is the same game that released late last year, however, long-time PC fans or Valve-heads will surely enjoy the Half-Life and Portal themed missions that act as a nice little bonus and give Sam access to some cool gear that feel rather appropriate while still being fun but ultimately, non-intrusive.
Finally, one aspect that excites me about Death Stranding’s arrival on the PC is the prospect of mods. Due to the unfortunate circumstances that lead to Kojima Productions departure from Konami, Death Stranding lacked any references or nods to Hideo Kojima’s legendary work on the Metal Gear Series. Mods, on the other hand, will hopefully re-open this door and allow for some fun crossovers that should give returning players and long-time Metal Gear Solid fans‘ a reason to jump back into the worn-boots of Sam Porter Bridges.
Death Stranding is a special game, one that continues to move the industry forward in its design and narrative, while not being afraid to shy away from traditional game mechanics. With its arrival on PC, Death Stranding sets a new standard that hopefully will continue the trend, ushering in a new era of console ports that make it easier than ever for the player to choose what platform they want to experience their favorite games on.