America is broken and it's up to you to put it back together. It's a big job. Many people believe in it, but you are not sure if you do it. It will take many lonely, dangerous walks and exceptionally heavy lifting, and it is not really clear what America means. For some reason, you'll set out on foot, walking through wetlands and rocky hills, without knowing or understanding exactly where you're going. Apart from the monsters you can not really see, most of the time there is hardly anyone – just you and your thoughts, one foot in front of the other.
On one level is Death Stranding of America. But their ultimate goal is to help people across the country bring them together and make connections, not because of the vague concept of America, but to help the people of America. Death Stranding is relentless in its seriousness and optimism ̵
Hands Across America
Rebuilding the country is as simple as the integration of all distant cities, outposts, and individuals into a network whose cornerstones have been laid by a pseudo-governmental organization called Bridges. As Sam Porter Bridges (played by Norman Reedus) you only have to bring packages to win people over. Most people never go outside because of mysterious monsters called BTs, but unlike most people, Sam can feel them enough to sneak past them and bring important cargo to their destination.
Deliveries can be difficult. They are judged by their deliveries in several categories, but the state of the cargo can trigger or cancel a run, and there are many factors that speak against you. The landscape can be extremely stressful, from wide rocky hills to rivers that are too deep and too wide to be crossed without outside help. In addition to BTs, you have to deal with Timefall, a kind of rain that quickly accelerates aging and decay for most things it touches. Prolonged contact with Timefall can damage or completely ruin your cargo, as well as slipping and falling, being hit by an enemy, or in some cases just a little too rough with it. Even the smallest rocks can stumble upon you. To keep your footing, you need to pay close attention to where you step, keep your balance with the triggers, when you are on uneven terrain or carry a lot of stuff around with you.
However, when you reach your destination, you need to pay close attention to it. The recipient will probably thank you (albeit as a hologram) and then give you a bunch of social media likes. You will be flooded with a multi-page result screen listing all the ratings and categories received for the shipment, as well as an overall rating for the shipment itself, regardless of how small it is – the positive gain is 11 funnels in each of the delivery categories such as experience points, and when you ascend you can, among other things, carry more weight or better keep your balance. Deliveries also flow into a connection rating with every city, outpost, or person, and as that rating increases, you acquire better gear and sometimes gifts to further reward your efforts.
In short, you give a lot and get a lot for it. There are a relatively small number of compulsory deliveries to drive the story, but there seem to be an unlimited number of optional deliveries, and I often found myself picking up assignments for any location that was on my way. It is a cycle that you are easily swept into. Regardless of how difficult the delivery is or how far away you are, you will at least be grateful that you feel fulfilled, if you have completed a difficult delivery, and often receive a tool that will make future deliveries a little easier can. Most importantly, increasing your attachment to individuals will help them reach the network. The network enhances this core loop beyond mere satisfaction in completing tasks and getting rewards.
The Chiralist network is a kind of tidy Internet that lets you print objects in 3D. This is incredibly useful and a powerful incentive to yourself. At a terminal connected to the chiral network, you can print ladders and ropes to cross, new boots to wear, spray repairs for damaged containers, and basically anything else you need for the safe delivery of cargo, as long as you have a blueprint for have it. You can also print a portable printer that will build structures for you in network-covered open areas – such as bridges, watchtowers, and generators. The latter are crucial when you start to use battery-powered exoskeletons and vehicles.  The chiral network also gives you access to the online component of the game, which is essential. You never see other players in the flesh, but their effect is all around you. Once an area is in the network, you can see structures and objects left by other players on their own travels, as well as helpful signs attached only to those who are after them. You can pick up and deliver the lost cargo of another, knowing that someday someone else will find yours and treat you with the same kindness.
The Best Moments of Death Stranding's Relief And gratitude that you can feel toward someone you do not even know is an unrivaled multiplayer experience. At one point in my playthrough I was persecuted by MULES, human enemies who love to steal cargo. I was on a bike, charged with a time-critical delivery, almost empty and completely unfit to cope with external threats. In my panic, I rode my bike into a ravine. As I walked slowly up and down, I watched the battery of my bike fall into the red and I was afraid to hold on to my load and no vehicle, still a good distance from my destination. I turned a corner and found myself in the loading area of a generator that another player had set up, as if he'd known I needed him in the right place at that exact moment. They probably just dropped it there because they needed a quick charge, but for me it was a lifeline.
These player-to-player structures can be tagged and received, and just like standard deliveries, it's a powerful incentive to do something for someone else. In the earlier parts of the game, I used other people's structures much more than leaving help for others. But I wanted to pre-finance it and know that my help was appreciated, so I made every effort to build structures that I did not really need myself. The map displays the online structures in your instance so you can more easily identify areas that you might fill out for others. At first glance, the Likes system seems to be a pretty obvious comment on social media and our dependence on external validation. But it's not so much a critique, but rather a positive impact on a very human need for acceptance, and the system is remarkably challenging you to do your best for your fellow human beings, NPCs, and real people alike. Feeling truly appreciated can be a rare event in life, and it is powerful in its simplicity here.
The Super BB Method
The first few hours of the game are the slowest, and much of it is because you do not have anything to do immediately to access the online component. It is an unbelievably lonely time span, in which you usually only go for a walk. The work you do at the beginning is particularly tedious, with no advanced equipment. It serves to give appreciation and better equipment to other players as they progress much story exposure with almost no explanation. At first everything can seem silly, and you can lose yourself in the metaphors. For example, every city you need to add to the chiral network has a "node" in its name. These are all referred to as "knots" on a strand connecting the land. There is a bizarre and unjustified product placement in the form of Monster Energy Drinks and the Show Ride with Norman Reedus. Guillermo del Toro's resemblance is used for a sort of dorky character called Deadman, and there's a woman named Fragile in a game about delivering parcels.
But the story is really deeper than that. According to the theme of the human connection, each of the main characters with whom you work together has their own story to tell. They all have a unique perspective on death that gives them an equally unique perspective on life. The deciphering of their characters to the true origins of their often literal names contributes to the fact that Death Stranding takes up the human experience as a whole. As Sam opens to them, Sam opens up to them again, evolving from the restrained, emotionless man he seems to be at the beginning to an independent character. I especially loved Sam, Fragile, and Heartman, and even the characters I did not like so much contribute to the general message of the game about hope and love, even if it's difficult.
By far my favorite character – and the most important – is BB. BBs are infants in containers that can detect the presence of BTs. They are issued to porters like Sam to help them navigate through dangerous areas. You're supposed to treat BBs as gear, not real babies, but it's impossible to see your BB like that. It's full of personality, giggles when happy, and cries when it's stressed. from time to time there are even likes. There are not many children left in Death Stranding's isolated, anxious world, but BB is your reminder that the future is yours, no matter how you feel about America itself. The love that grows between Sam and BB is downright heartwarming.
Connecting to this story can cost work, as well as connecting with NPCs and other players. It's not a story that immediately clicks on the surface, and at first sight dramatic mystery and covert science do not make much sense. But it's first and foremost an emotional story, and it's not so important to think about how it makes you, though it's quite possible, especially if you read the letters and interviews that describe small traditions.
You also have many options. In the quiet moments of the journey, usually as you approach your destination, music may be playing. The soundtrack, mostly consisting of a band – Low Roar – is phenomenal, the kind of contemplative folk music that makes for a trip across a meadow or mountain alone. Because walking is so important, it is not time to break away completely and leave the zone. It's a time to feel your feelings, or at least think about what's going to happen next on your journey.
Fight, but not to death
You can be ripped out of this headspace just as fast by shifting to the spooky music that signals BT territory. The otherworldly growl of BTs as they approach you can be frightening. In the morning, it's best to freeze the tracks and hold your breath as long as you can so you can sneak past them. But there are times when you have to fight a BT in its true form and have special weapons at your disposal to kill it. These BTs are not the ethereal humanoid forms hovering above the ground, but huge eltrike horrors shrieking under blood clouds. The fight is mechanically simple – you usually have to move a bit and hit them before they hit you – but the sequences are visually and acoustically impressive.
You do not receive a weapon that acts on living enemies until 25 or so hours later, but even then it is not deadly. They are actively prevented from killing Death Stranding because when people die, their bodies basically become nuclear and flat cities, leaving nothing but craters and BTs. In addition, the main enemies of the people are MULEs, former carriers like Sam, who were corrupted by an automated world. They are basically addicted to having a job and a purpose in their desperation to grab more and more cargo. People are replaced by machines. They are not evil and it seems exaggerated to kill them. It's easy enough to turn them off with the non-lethal methods that will continue to unlock you as the game progresses. I have not killed a single one in my playthrough, although the beating is satisfactory.
While BTs and MULEs are a problem in the delivery of cargo, there is also Mads Mikkelsen's character: a man introduced by memories that Sam sees as he does connects to BBs Pod. He gets his own segments that underpin hours of simple deliveries, and these highly closed, much shorter sections are striking in their artistic direction and juxtaposition to the rest of the game. It is not immediately clear what he is, whether it is an enemy, a potential friend or something very different, but he captivates with his ambiguity.
Troy Baker & # 39; s Higgs, a terrorist whose depravity apparently knows no bounds. Of all the characters, Higgs is the weakest with far fewer nuances than anyone else in the cast. He's really just big bad to motivate you in a more traditional video game sense than delivering packages and helping people, but he and his gang of faceless terrorists are more of a means to an end than full-fledged rogues. He is the trigger for some of the big BT battles and, in the end, perhaps an extreme reminder that it is possible to remain hopeful even in the darkest times.
Death Stranding argues in both his story and his gameplay that adversity itself is the right thing to do, worth doing and worth living to be lived.
Death Stranding is an elusive game. There are many interwoven threads in the plot, and silly names, hackneyed moments and a strong exposure believe in an otherwise very simple message. This becomes much clearer in the mundane moments of the game if you find a much needed leader left behind by another player, or get a letter from an NPC thanking you for your efforts. It is positive without ignoring the pain. In fact, both in its story and in its gameplay, adversity itself is worth doing things to make life worth living. It's a game that requires patience, compassion and love and that we really need right now.