After years of E3 teasers, each more WTF than the last, we finally get a substantial trailer that begins to answer the question: What the hell is Death Stranding?!
At eight and a half minutes (even longer than last year), this is a pretty substantial trailer with a lot going on. So let’s break it down.
The trailer begins very similarly to the 2018 E3 teaser, with a laparoscope image of a baby (although this time it doesn’t moon us like at E3). The laparoscope goes down the baby’s throat and now we seem to be looking with its eyes at what has to be the creepiest OB in history. Cut to the same photograph that has made an appearance in all the previous trailers, of protagonist Sam Bridges and his pregnant wife with a water stain over her face.
We get some story information next. Sam is talking to the president in the Oval Office, but she looks to be dying of cancer. She pleads with him to reconnect the country, but Sam is a cynical bastard and tells her that they don’t need a country anymore and that she’s the president of jack shit. Harsh. Despite his statement in the 2018 trailer that he just delivers packages, he must be someone pretty important to be able to mouth off to the president like that.
The music starts and where the previous trailers had a soft, haunting score in this trailer my fellow 90s era nerds might recognize the bad ass strings of Apocalyptica. We get some more gameplay and a look at some of the gadgets like that cool extendable ladder and the equipment HUD. We’re also introduced to some of the baddies, “homodemons” who are a militant separatist group who sound pretty scary and have gold faceplates. Gold faceplates wouldn’t withstand as much damage as armor because gold is a relatively soft metal, but they look cool. Also, these guys can teleport, so I guess it doesn’t matter so much that their armor is more style than substance. And they like to lick women’s faces which is gross. Why is this such a trope to show that a character is a creep? Yuck.
There’s some kind of hologram beacon that Sam uses as, I assume, a diversion and a tall grass stealth mechanic that reminds me of Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017). The aging rain that has been shown in previous trailers is back and we also hear about “BTs.” Another baddie, it would seem, since even the guys who were trying to beat up Sam are afraid of them. Sam says that he can’t see BTs, only sense them, so he sets up to use a “bridge baby.”
The babies have been teased in both previous trailers, but now we start to get a sense of their purpose. The voice talking to Sam says that using them makes him “feel like shit every time,” so there may be a moral quandary involved here, like the Eves in Bioshock (2007). Although Sam’s concern seems to be more about how plugging into the other side “freaks him out,” rather than the fact that he’s basically plugging into a baby like a Matrix battery. But now the baby lets us see the BTs, which it turns out are those wispy tethered shapes that have been freaking us all out since the first trailer in 2016. There’s also a pulse that you can use to make the shapes more defined, but it only lasts a moment before it fades and you’re left blind to their position. If you get too close, then you can get pulled into an underground world, like the Upside Down from Stranger Things but less creepy vines and more WWII. This parallel world looks like Modern Warfare, but with oil-covered skeletons and creepy baby dolls (Ugh, I hate creepy baby dolls!)
The rest of the trailer is jump cuts of gameplay, cut scenes, and characters. We also get actor credits, which shows the caliber of the voice talent going into Death Stranding: Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) is the creepy OB from the start of the trailer, Léa Seydoux (Zoe), Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys), and what?! Guillermo del Toro?! For the first time in an acting role, but I bet he and Hideo Kojima are best friends and they hang out drinking beer together and trying to creep each other out with their insanely creative minds (this is my headcannon, don’t ruin it for me).
Of course, there’s the all-important release date which, at November 8 of this year, is sooner than probably any of us imagined! Death Stranding looks crazy in the best way, and I can’t wait to plug into babies to see invisible monsters and do endless fetch quests as a post-apocalyptic courier.