I was thinking this very thing. It’s even the whole “superpowered mom clone is demanding her antisocial son decide the fate of humanity” plotpoint. However, for my money the ending of that game wasn’t quite weird enough.
you’ll get over that real soon (you could plop down postboxes every once in a while and just leave a bunch there, for partial credit)
on that note, does anyone know how exactly postboxes work. I never really used them enough to get a feel for them
I believe they work as a) storage devices (basically giving you a Private Locker in the middle of nowhere to stash stuff, which was mainly how I used them), and b) places for you to entrust cargo for partial likes that other players can then claim and deliver when that postbox shows up in their world.
I finished about a week ago. oh man. What an overall bad ending. You spend 2 hours listening to characters you don’t know in any way meaningful way talk at Sam about their True Purpose in the plot and make 100% sure that you understood everything that’s happened in the game. I had to walk away and grab a drink when Deadman started talking about The Purpose of The Gun that Saved Sam From the Beach. I felt almost NOTHING when the big political/existential plot was wrapped up.
But… BB. Yeah.
Specific end game spoilers?
Every plot beat that I can now remember with Cliff/BB landed for me. One of my friends said that he could tell from pretty early on that Madds is Sam’s dad, but I didn’t really grasp it until the end and even for a while was confused about that whole thing because I forgot Sam comes back to life. Cliff’s speech as he lay dying, about how afraid he was of becoming a parent, gave me more emotional insight into a character than every other cutscene combined. Madds singlehandedly gave this game so much emotional power.
Forging an in-game connection with BB and the way you feel that connection as a player, finding things that made Lou(ise) laugh and give you likes, the protective nature I felt towards her… combined with the multiplayer mechanics of the gameplay, these told the intended story/represented the themes of the game with infinitely more clarity than the main plot. And that final ending, when you take the pod to the incinerator and Deadman gives you an opportunity to break free and live with this child you’ve taken on, UGH it hit me. Walking through the first area you went through, reliving the earliest moments of the game. When you press the button to shout, Sam just whispers “I’m so sorry, Lou… It’s all my fault.” Yeah it’s a manipulative sequence engineered to make you sad, but it got me welling up and that final moment of Sam walking out into the world to see the rain and rainbow with a smiling child nuzzling his shoulder had me crying.
I love the way the game represents fatherhood, which only makes me feel more frustrated by how it completely drops the ball on motherhood and women. It’s not as outwardly objectifying as previous Kojima games, but goddamn. I think about 5 times you make a delivery that’s a human body, and every single time it is a feminine body. It’s always masculine porters you see out in the world making deliveries on their own. The chapter about Mama is such a mess I don’t even know where to begin. This game can really shine in certain moments, but it also falls so incredibly flat more frequently. I don’t like the ending, but I was surprisingly more okay with it than I thought I would be. I have a friend that absolutely hated it and I agree with all his criticisms, but the emotions that hit me at the very end are probably making me overlook how much I really hated about the last chapters of the game.
I think that I think it’s a good game. After the final credits rolled, I immediately went back to delivering packages and building ziplines. I’ve been telling myself to take a long break before going back into it and building up all of my connections, but I find myself thinking about how satisfying the gameplay loop is. The satisfication of helping other players with structures hasn’t gotten old. Figuring out the most efficient way from point A to B to C and back to A scratches such a particular itch in my brain. I hate the narrative so much. The game as a whole is a mess. But it’s going to stick with me for a long time, and I think I’m glad Death Stranding was made.
How did y’all deal with driving vehicles through BT-infested areas? A lot of the time it ends up feeling like a losing proposition to me, but maybe I’m missing something.
I drove through BTs a handful of times and never had a problem except once when I got stuck on a rock and just had some cargo knocked off before I got away. As long as you have a clear shot through even terrain you should be able to outrun them.
Every time, and I mean every time, I tried to drive through BT land they were able to grab my bike or car going full speed, dead stop it to 0, and then Evil Dead drag me to the stupid boss fight sequence.
This made me set the game to Ultra Easy so I could kill the boss in two seconds because I really had more than enough of that shit.
Yeah, this is the issue I’ve had. I’ve started coasting really slowly through BT areas now, getting out and using hematic grenades whenever my intended path is blocked. Seems to be working alright for now.
It seemed very hit or miss for me but it always worked much better with bikes than trucks, likely because the bikes were less likely to get caught on random bits of terrain and also, I’d assume, had a smaller hitbox for the little feelers the BTs send out to hit. But I didn’t try it all that often.
However, once you get a little ways into Episode 3, you can built roads (assuming you’re playing online), BTs will never bother you on them. Otherwise, I tried to stay to the edges of Timefall areas where the terrain was relatively flat.
I’m repatriating this thread because I’m 5 hours in on Death Stranding and I have never loved and hated a game so much simultaneously. At least with MGS2, I didn’t love the gameplay enough to get me past the incessant needy, grating chatter. I preferred the Thief/Deus Ex model of stealth, so there wasn’t much to hang on to.
With this? In those rare moments where the game shuts up and lets you play, it’s a wonder. The technical execution here is beyond admirable (except, maybe, with reverse trikes and rocks. That’s just rough). The visual and audio design is incredible (I’ve never seen a video game get this close to rendering human skin properly). Well, outside of the new UE4 Metahumans demo. And it’s just fun wayfinding through the terrain, while balancing packages. It’s fun being creeped out by BT’s and the idea of the Beach.
The rest of the time (which might be the majority), I’m just screaming inside at the game to stop being so dumb. If frames women so badly. It has 3 title cards in less than an hour. It tries for emotional peaks, that are thoroughly unearned. It repeats jokes that were funny the first time until the air is completely out of the room. It’s desperately afraid that you will go 5 minutes without having something inane to read or listen to. It’s so bad, I have to wonder if it it’s intentional? That Kojima actually just hates American cliche, or being a storyteller and wants the gameplay to shine in contrast? Does it fill the air with garbage just so that when you are out on your own, it is a relief? I don’t think that if this is true, that the conceit works for the game. It’s a mess.
Reading upthread, I think I’m not alone in this general frustration.
I’m about as far in as you, and yeah. I don’t know how much of Kojima’s over-explaining thing is just his personal aesthetic and how much of it is shaped by people responding to like “I’m your mom who is also the President, but I’m dying and I need you, my son who is named Sam Porter Bridges who works as a porter whose narrative role is building bridges, to reconnect people and make America whole again” with “Wow, Kojima is so weird, does any of this even mean anything?”
And yet, I dunno, I’m still kind of vibing with it anyway. Kojima’s next game definitely needs to find some role for women beyond “literal or metaphorical womb”, though.
Seriously, the whole concept of stillmothers is a special kind of fridging.
But yeah, I am vibing with the core idea of making logistics heroic, and making hiking and creating paths in the wilderness a meaty, interesting game. And I’m generally here for the world-building BS, because horror intersections with sci-fi is very much in my wheelhouse. It seems likely I’ll see it through to the end (though I hear the last few hours are worse than the first few, so we’ll see).
Death Stranding is like a sandwich where the bread is moldy, but all the meat and sauce and cut up vegetables are maybe the best thing you’ve tasted??? (In this analogy you’re eating the sandwich bread first, not taking cross sectional bites. It’s a bad analogy.) The beginning and end are just hours and hours of exposition, with the long middle part mostly just letting the gameplay breathe a bit. At 5 hours I’d say you’re almost to the part where it really opens up (Chapter 3) and from there it’s smooth sailing until basically the end!
I loved this game, all things considered! It honestly has grown on me over the past year or so. It’s mostly the mechanics and vibes that have stuck with me, but there’s a lot of other good stuff in there. The individual story choices can be a bit weird and bad, but the broad thematic through-lines are something I think about fondly. Mads Mikkelsen gives what is probably the best performance in a game too!
I’m kind of an apologist for Kojima’s stories up to and including MGS4, but everything since has been farcical, too sparse or too self important to stomach, except for the gameplay.
I think MGSV is a superbly playing action stealth game (besides the skulls parts) and Death Stranding I think plays great too, it feels so tactile to trek around in mud and snow balancing giant boxes of goods on every limb, it compelled me to haul around cargo for hours, despite it’s plot.
It’s very well rendered and shot, but without much substance, just inane talking heads as you pick up your next serotonin delivery, stunt casting to roll your eyes at while building your ladders, bridges and shelters.
There’s good big chunks of the game in the middle where you are really left to your own devices and it’s by far the best part of the whole thing. I think I managed to fit two full seasons of The Boys into that section and it was an all round great time.
So there’s basically no chance that someone does a GDC talk about the Social Strand System, right? Damned shame, I think it would be fascinating to hear about.
At about 20h in, coasting around in chapter 3, and the game has large left me to my insane plan to complete the highway to South Knot. This is a very good game. Every now and then I marvel at how well good actors are going for it with some really flat (at best) material. I’m okay with that.
I think it’s a little too facinated with throwing long animations and screens fill of stats at you between actions. It’s supposed to keep you in world, but it does the opposite for me, it just makes me impatient (and the clunky dialog skip controls don’t help). I think the social strand system is both successful (I actually do enjoy finding what others have built out in the world), and obnoxious (So. Many. Signs, so many irritating handles). But I’ll be the first to admit, every time a screen fills up with “X used the road you helped rebuild” flies by, it feels good. On the other hand, the praise you get from NPC’s is, so over the top, it has to be satire.
But yeah, I think the design tradeoff of the online system here feels like it’s of a lineage with Dark Souls, and pulls some of the best instincts from From’s system, and builds on them. I would love to see a design team breakdown of how it came to be.
Instead of just messages, you get a crowdsourced map that is one of the most useful things you can unlock for an area. Instead of coop summoning, there’s a way to spread the cost and responsibility for building structures around, and the game spawns in players in your bridge link universe to send you equipment when things go badly with BT’s.
It’s fascinating to me how the game’s emails are just chock full of these Boomer-ass takes, but they’re all from Preppers who are resisting the Chiral Network. They get a lot of eye-rolling attention on the internet, rightly so, but if you keep delivering, they stop sending your Boomer-ass takes and instead start telling you how great the Chiral Network is.
Anyway, I’m almost at the end of Chapter 3, specifically I just finished the part where you get Fragile’s backstory. That sequence is just everything I both love and hate about Kojima at the same time.
The part where you actually pick up the bomb and incredibly obvious that the “Bridges” guy is actually Higgs and that he’s giving you something dangerous and then you check your Cargo menu and the package is actually labeled “Small Thermonuclear Device” and the description explicitly says “Yo, this is a bomb, it’s definitely going to explode if you take it to South Knot City”? Amazing. Flawless. Peak Kojima, I fucking love it.
But then right after you chuck it, you get that scene where the camera is leering at Fragile and everybody’s talking like her flawless skin is the only worthwhile thing she has (literally she says “he took everything from me” about Higgs making her run through the Timefall, I think?!) and it’s like… Buddy, I get what you think you’re trying to do with this scene, but maybe you’re the one who should be ashamed of your words and deeds here?
It just keeps doing this thing, where the building arc is good, and then it’s just let down by something incredibly dumb or shitty. Deadman’s Arc, Mama’s arc, to a lesser extent Heartman’s too. But I think Fragile’s was the worst of these because of how predictably disapointing it was. I mean, literally the whole game up to where I am
(nearing the end of Chapter 8) is about how people are desperately thankful to Sam, because he actually delivers packages, unlike that terrible Fragile express service, which apparently doesn’t even manage that?
I legitimately love this game, and I think I actually respect it for the big swings it is taking and missing in other ways. But the misses are just so bad.
The general reaction to this was really annoying lol. “It’s so obvious who it is!! It spoils the suspense” no it’s funny, stop it. Not everything needs to be shocking or unexpected. It’s much funnier and memorable that it’s played as narratively unexpected but mechanically obvious.