Kojima (Past & Present) - My Hope's for Death Stranding
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
I have been a Hideo Kojima fan since Metal Gear Solid released on PS1. Nothing like it existed at that time and its existence was nothing short of genre-defining. The stealth action game was here…..tactical espionage action to be completely correct. It was one of those games that have stayed with me and undoubtedly countless others. The Metal Gear franchise is, of course, not without its detractors many stating that it has a very high opinion of itself in terms of the narrative involved. Some see Metal Gear as a series as a pretentious concoction of nonsense whereas others such as myself see it as a superb saga spanning many years bringing on board real historical events, albeit altered for the game.
Not all of the games hit the mark with me, at least initially. Metal Gear Solid 2 was a sore spot for me at the time. A new release, on a new console no less, however after the initial tanker mission it became obvious very quickly that Solid Snake was not the main protagonist of this game.
Instead Raiden, another super soldier styled character takes up the baton. A fine game to be sure and the tanker mission still holds up today in terms of tense scene-setting. Metal Gear Solid 3 is where the franchise soars in my opinion. Playing as Jack, you come to inhabit the role of Big Boss. The game was, and still is, a masterstroke in the stealth genre. I urge anyone not having played it to give it a shot. The battles with the many bosses being the highlight.
With Metal Gear Solid 4 it seemed like the franchise was coming to an end. Storylines concluded and loose ends tied up for the most part. Another worthy and thoroughly enjoyable entry in the series.
The Phantom Pain was the 5th entry in the series coupled with the intro/demo ground zeros. This was the first time the franchise took a sharp turn moving somewhat away from the linear progression of its predecessors and went full open world allowing you roam the vast arenas of Afghanistan and Africa. The story was a little thin on the ground and the antagonist a forgettable entry in the series. Many rumours surrounded the game regarding Kojima and his diminishing relationship with Konami.
To me, the game does feel unfinished with respect of the narrative and this could be down to that relationship becoming strained to the point where Kojima has now set up on his own, with the full backing of Sony. That set aside, MGS The Phantom Pain is still a superb stealth action game and can happily sit alongside the other games in the franchise. When Kojima decided to break away from Konami, I was of course disappointed due to my love for the Metal Gear franchise. Never again would he grace those series of games with his touch of magic. It was and is an end of an era for me with respect to Metal Gear. Those games have been some of my favourite experiences as a gamer over the years and I still hold them dear to this day. With that said, Kojima has now moved onto pastures new, he has set up Kojima productions directly backed by Playstation. This backing after around 3 years worth of dev time has spawned "Death Stranding".
Death Stranding is a "social strand" game that many, including myself, are very confused but definitely intrigued by. With the clips that have released so far, you can tell Kojima has his fingerprints all over it. The story I'm sure will be rich and from the outside looks as though we will have an array of unique characters much like the successful MGS games of the past.
Currently, we know that you play as Sam Walker Bridges, a solid snake type protagonist modelled on Daryl Dix…..I mean Norman Reedus. From the gameplay, I have watched Death Stranding, at least in part, will be an exploration game coupled with heavy narrative points.
I am a huge fan of the main instalments of the fallout franchise and the main selling point of those games is the exploration mechanic. I could spend hours scavenging and looting old apartment buildings of power plants. With Death Stranding, it looks very much like this will be an element to the game. In terms of action, I have not seen a huge amount. This could be construed as a negative for some people but I would say that much of this content is being held back to avoid story spoilers. The combat I have seen seems very similar to MGS5, where you employ a sneaking strategy but aren't afraid to break out the big guns when things go pear-shaped.
Famous people…..famous people everywhere. Death Stranding, if you have seen the footage, has many digitised stars within the game. Norman Reedus is the protagonist but with him, we also have, Guillermo Del Toro, Mads Mikkelsen, Conan O'Brian, Lea Seydoux, Nicholas Winding Refn and no doubt many others.
I mentioned traversal and exploration being a big part of this game and with that, from one of the clips, you see that Sam has, for want of a better term, a hoverboard. As many fans of Kojima know, this guy is obsessed with movies and pop culture and I can't help but feel that Back to the Future 2 was in his mind when he added this to the game as one of the vehicles or mechanics for crossing large distances quicker.
The game engine used for Death Stranding is not the same as used by Konami for MGS5, instead, negotiations took place for Kojima productions to use the Decima engine. You may have heard of the Decima engine before as it has already been put to good use on another Playstation exclusive called Horizon Zero Dawn. HZD is one of the most graphically astounding games on the PS4 and I can only hope that Kojima and his crew utilise it to its full potential. Of course, Death Stranding, according to the footage seen, is a completely different environment to the wilds of HZD.
DS seems to be a much more cold and bleak environment but I hope that throughout the game you do come across much more vibrant areas especially when touching on the colour palette.
I suppose I should really speak to the title of the article at some point and to me, everything that has gone before has been a build-up to this point. Everything Kojima has produced in the past is within Death Stranding whether we see it or not. My main hope is that the story hits the Mark and that the fear of this being a "Walking Simulator" is rightfully put to bed. I genuinely don't think the later is something Kojima would produce considering the work he has put forth in the past. MGS and the narratives involved lend themselves to stealth but also heavy action, it's this idea that gives me hope that Death Stranding is going to have a lot more to it than we have witnessed up to this point. Of course, I could be horribly wrong but such is life, mistakes are there to be made. Hope's are there to be dashed and fears are there to be realised. It is after all only a game, I won't be too disappointed if it doesn't hit the mark but boy will it solidify Kojima's almost deity-like status if it does.
I hope you enjoyed the article and look forward to hearing from those people who play the game at launch or beyond.