Hideo Kojima’s newest project Death Stranding has built up a massive amount of mystery and excitement following its announcement at E3 2016. Ever since the E3 announcement news media, other developers, and gamers alike have been scrambling to find out new information about Kojima’s newest project. To help fellow gamers understand and learn more about the upcoming title, here are the top 10 things you didn’t know about Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding.
10. A Seriously Star-Studded Cast
While past Kojima titles have had some outstanding voice acting, Death Stranding takes the voice work in Kojima games to completely new heights. Past games have included rather famous individuals within the voice acting community, such as Steve Blum as Gene in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, or Jennifer Hale as Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. However, while Blum and Hale are famous and beloved within their own communities they aren’t exactly A-list celebrities.
Death Standing changes all that. Actors Norman Reedus, of The Walking Dead fame, and Mads Mikkelsen, best known for his work in the TV series Hannibal and Casino Royale, have been confirmed as voice actors for the protagonist and antagonist, respectively. Not only are these celebrities voice acting for Kojima, but also the game is using motion capture technology to capture they likenesses during their performances.
9. The First Game from an Independent Kojima Productions
Kojima Productions is Hideo Kojima’s own video game production studio that he founded over eleven years ago in early 2005. The studio was formed after Konami, Kojima’s partner at the time, decided to merge many of its subsidiary company’s including Kojima’s team at Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. This new production studio allowed Kojima to delegate many of his administrative duties and focus on creating his visionary games. However, when Kojima and Konami had their nasty split in 2015 the studio was shut down. Surprisingly, in December of 2015 Kojima reopened Kojima Productions as an independent game studio. In doing this, Kojima brought back some of the key employees from the old Kojima Productions, such as producer Kenchiro Imaizumi, and vowed to create a new franchise, which would later be revealted to be Death Stranding.
8. A New Game, A New Engine
Death Stranding will be the first Hideo Kojima game to use the new Decima Engine. Decima Engine is one of the most advanced and innovative game engines available today. The Decima engine has one of the most advanced AI systems in gaming today, which will allow Kojima to craft an even more carefully designed experience with his new game. This goes especially well with the more urban environment that has been showcased so far in the previews of Death Stranding, with many groups of AI controlled NPCs. With this new engine, Kojima will be able to create the most detailed and hand-crafted game he has produced yet.
7. The Meaning of its Name Might Surprise You
Death Stranding might seem like a bit of a nonsense title for Kojima’s new game. Knowing Kojima’s love of the absurd and the surreal, a enigmatic title was expected from fans, but there actually is a meaning to the name that makes sense. The name Death Stranding is in reference to an environmental phenomenon known as Cetacean Stranding. This phenomenon is when whales, dolphins, and other cetacean species end up stranding themselves on land, beaching them, and effectively killing them as well. Cetacean stranding usually occurs from adverse weather conditions, an individual leading a group of cetaceans astray, or human use of sonar near beaches. This explains all the washed up ocean life on the beachfront in both trailers released for the game. Whether this means the game will involve an environmental message or if the title is meant to be taken metaphorically has yet to be revealed.
6. A Genre-Defying Experience
Much like many other Kojima video games, Death Stranding will be a very unique experience. In a series of messages released on Twitter, Hideo Kojima explained that “DEATH STRANDING should be a new “Genre”” . This kind of genre bending is nothing new to Kojima, as the Metal Gear franchise helped effectively create a new genre, steath games, back when it was first released in the 90s as an Action game. It comes as no surprise that Kojima sees Death Stranding as a video game that exists outside of the modern conceptions of video game genres.
5. Multiplayer Plays an Important Role
Straying away from the old Hideo Kojima formula of being solely single player, or having single player and multiplayer be separate, in Death Stranding online multiplayer will be a key element of play throughout the game. What the game’s multiplayer will end up looking like is still completely up for debate. However, from one of the tweets on the Kojima Productions Twitter account asks “How will you…connect to people worldwide?“. This statement, along with previously mentioned information that claims the game is open world might suggest that the multiplayer could be fully integrated to the single player experience. Death Stranding might have seamless multiplayer integration, but we won’t know until Kojima decides to tell us more.
4. The Game is built around Sticks and Rope
One common metaphor that keeps springing up when discussing Death Stranding is sticks and rope. Kojima has referenced this metaphor a number of times on Twitter and in interviews with games media. In short, the metaphor is something like this: “The stick helped man keep distance from threats” while rope “helps us capture and bind important things to us.” Kojima has stated that this game will be heavily using the “rope”, as opposed to the “stick.” This metaphor, which originates from a Kóbó Abe novella which Kojima read in High School, might have already made itself known in the trailers of the game. Perhaps the black tendrils we see in the trailers connecting individuals are the “ropes” of Death Stranding.
3. Life and Death Take New Meaning
Hideo Kojima has gone on record saying that Death Stranding is about connecting life and death and plays on the relationship between the two in relation to one’s humanity. In addition to this, Kojima has stated that death will have new meaning in Death Stranding. In the tweet where he talks about redefining death in his new game, Kojima makes reference to the actual game mechanics involved with player death in video games. When the player fails and has to put in more quarters or press the respawn button is a moment when the character dies, in Kojima’s eyes. It seems that Kojima wants to create a new system from how character death is handled in video games. Add the strange, limbo-esque nature of the second trailer and things get a bit more clear. We can see in the trailer soldiers and technology from different eras coexisting, this might be what Kojima means by death and life being linked in Death Stranding.
2. David Bowie Might be an Influnece
A tweet made in November on Kojima’s official Twitter account showed the soundtrack to the 70s David Bowie science fiction film The Man Who Fell to Earth along with the caption “Working on the concept.” With how enigmatic Hideo Kojima is, this might be a red herring or completely unrelated to Death Stranding, but many of the themes of the David Bowie picture are related to some of the expressed themes in the game. The Man Who Fell to Earth is a movie about an alien (David Bowie) that comes to Earth trying to ship water to his dying planet to save his people. Eventually the alien fails in his mission, imprisoned for decades as those whom he loved, on his home planet and on Earth, age and die, eventually losing a battle to alcoholism and despair. These themes of environmentalism, determinism, and technology also play a role in Death Stranding. The environmental issue is clear from the dead sea creatures, and the other themes become apparent through Kojima’s cryptic tweets about life, death, and humanity.
1. Death Stranding’s Release is Specifically Planned
Not much has been said regarding Death Stranding’s release date. The only source available is in an interview Hideo Kojima gave shortly after the game’s premiere at E3. Kojima claimed that the game would be released before “The Olympics,” referencing the 2002 Tokyo Olympic games. Kojima went on to say that “there is a movie called Akira, and it will be out before the year in which Akira is set.” The classic anime film, Akira, is set during the year 2019. This means that, according to Kojima himself, Death Stranding will be released by 2019. Why Kojima decided to use Akria as a reference point remains a mystery. Perhaps Akira, a dystopian science fiction film, will serve as a source of inspiration for the game.
It’s quite clear that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of Death Stranding: hidden symbolism, complex themes, and elusive inspirations. Hopefully these 10 facts about Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding helped make sense of what this game is all about. Death Stranding is set to release sometime before 2019 for Playstation 4.