Death Stranding release date: Expect new details at Tokyo Game Show, says Kojima

Death Stranding will make an appearance at this year’s Tokyo Game Show on 23 September.

The news comes as developer Kojima Productions issued a tweet explaining that it would have a dedicated stage show with creator Hideo Kojima and the cast of the Japanese-language production.

Not much else is known about the showcase but it’s expected that we’ll get another glimpse at some gameplay and a new trailer. As Kojima is on stage alongside the cast, and he’ll be speaking in his native language rather than English, it’s likely we’ll also get a slew of new details about the game and his vision for it.

I suppose we’ll find out more when the show finally takes place on 23 September.

Death Stranding at E3 2018

The perpetually obtuse Death Stranding was among the games showcased during Sony’s E3 2018 conference, with a trailer giving us our first proper glimpse at how Hideo Kojima’s adventure will play on a moment-to-moment basis.

The eight-minute clip centres on Norman Reedus’ protagonist, who we learn is called Sam Porter Bridges. In a case of either nominative determinism or an unimaginative naming system, Sam works as a… porter, hauling crates, equipment and the occasional corpse on his back across Death Stranding’s world (which may or may not be a post-apocalyptic Iceland).

The trailer showcases a hefty amount of walking and climbing, with Sam regularly tending to cuts, bruises and bloodied toes on his travails. Or perhaps this damage is caused by something else, as the trailer pivots towards the mysterious, invisible creators that inhabit this landscape. Blue Is The Warmest Colour actress Léa Seydoux pops up, her voice heard earlier in the clip asking about Sam’s awareness of the monsters, and the pair keeps quiet as footprints appear in front of them.

Towards the end of the trailer, we see Sam in a ruined building, using a baby container seen in previous clips of the game to power some kind of imaging device. This seems to let him see the strange, umbilically connected shades, which eventually spot him and attack. It’s all very intriguing. The more I see of this game, the more I’m impressed by Kojima’s dedication to keeping the whole affair a strange spectacle. We’ll no doubt catch more glimpses in the coming weeks, but here’s what we know so far about Death Stranding

Death Stranding: Six things to know

When Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima strode on stage at E3 2016 to reveal Death Stranding – the first game slated from his newly independent studio – he showed a CGI video that featured Norman Reedus, naked on a beach surrounded by dead fish. Details about the game have not become all that much clearer since. Among the symbol-heavy trailers and Guillermo del Toro-starring cinematics, a lot of mystery surrounds Hideo Kojima’s project. What will it be about? What will it play like?

1. Death Stranding’s release date could be next year

During a Q&A session at the Tokyo Game Show 2016, Hideo Kojima gave a hint at when Death Stranding would be released.

“It will be out before the Olympics,” said the veteran developer, referring to the Tokyo 2020 Games, before adding: “To go a little further, there is a movie called Akira, and it will be out before the year in which Akira is set.”

Akira is set in 2019, so taking this vague window as a guide, it looks like Kojima was aiming to release Death Stranding in late 2018. It’s hardly a fixed date, however, and Kojima is renowned for delays of past games, so we’d take it with a pinch of salt. Given that we weren’t given a firm release date at E3 2018, we’d say that 2019 is looking more likely.  

2. Death Stranding has some big name actors involved

The first trailer for Death Stranding stars The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus, who previously worked with Kojima on an aborted Silent Hill sequel. We open with a quotation from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence, then follow handprints on a black beach that fill with oil. A handcuffed and naked Reedus pops up, attached by a wiry umbilical cord to a naked baby. He picks up the baby, cradles it, the baby disappears and Reedus stares into the distance at what looks like five floating figures.

This was followed by a similarly obtuse trailer, premiered during the Game Awards 2016. This time around we see Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro take a starring role, holding a jar with a baby in it while hiding from a slug-covered tank. It’s bizarre but strangely pretty, and a great example of the tech Kojima Productions is working towards for Death Stranding. It culminates with Hannibal‘s Mads Mikkelsen, covered in the now-ubiquitous black goo.

Voice-acting veterans Troy Baker and Emily O’Brian have also joined the upcoming game’s well-stocked ranks.

Baker is perhaps best known for playing Joel in The Last of Us, but has had major parts in everything from BioShock Infinite to Far Cry 4. He also provided voice for Batman in Telltale’s recent series on the superhero, performing alongside O’Brian’s Special Agent Iman Avesta. O’Brian has also starred in the long-running US soap, The Young and the Restless.

In a since-deleted instagram post, O’Brian posed with a picture alongside Baker and already confirmed lead Norman Reedus. “Honored to be working alongside these two fine lads on [Hideo Kojima’s] new project Death Stranding,” the caption read.

3. Death Stranding may feature a female protagonist

According to IGN, Kojima has said Norman Reedus’ character will be joined by an as-yet-unnamed female protagonist. Kojima apparently noted during the Tokyo Game Show 2016 Q&A session that Death Stranding will have two main characters, with the second – which IGN says will be female – still to be revealed.

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4. Death Standing’s game mechanics are influenced by an avant-garde Japanese writer

Hideo Kojima has name-dropped the Japanese author Kobo Abe as an influence on Death Stranding. Abe was a post-war writer with a tendency for surreal, existentially nightmarish stories. He’s best known for his novel The Woman in the Dunes, which was made into a film of the same name, but his oeuvre extends over absurdist tales such as The Box Man and a number of plays, essays and short stories.

“There’s a Japanese author I am a huge fan of called Kobo Abe,” Kojima told Digital Spy. “He has a short novel called Rope in which he makes a definition; a statement: the first tool mankind made was a stick. It was made to keep away bad things. It’s a weapon.

“The next tool created by mankind was rope. The rope is not to keep away bad things. On the contrary, it’s a tool used to keep good things close to you, to tie good things close to you. Sticks and ropes are some of the tools most used by mankind even these days.”

The story Kojima is referring to is called “Nawa” in Japanese, and there isn’t an easily accessible English translation. Reddit user hareleg has made a stab at providing a summary, describing the short story as a tale of an old man who views children through a hole in the wall, using a rope to hang a poor dog and then their own father. The story concludes with the following statement:

“The rope is, along with the stick, one of the oldest tools created by men. They were friends invented by human beings: the stick was created in order to dispel negative spaces and the rope was created to attract positive spaces. Both of them could be found wherever humans were present. Even today, both of them invade and inhabit our homes, just like any other member of the family.”

How this “stick and rope” mechanic will work in terms of the game remains to be seen, but it’s interesting to see a developer look to literary symbolism as a source of gameplay ideas.

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5. Death Stranding could have an online element

Kojima has said that Death Stranding will encompass some form of online play, but that he wants it to be quite unlike anything that’s previously been used in a game.

“In most games, you see that are online multiplayer or co-op – or even single player – the communication is through sticks,” said Kojima, referring back to the Kobo Abe reference. “In this game, you will be able to use what will be the equivalent of sticks. But I also want people to use what will be the equivalent of ropes.”

Exactly how these “ropes” will be manifested in the game isn’t clear, but it would seem Kojima wants players to create links between different players, rather than simply having them attack each other. Whether this is an innovative form of online multiplayer or just an overwrought rehash of the co-op system pioneered by Dark Souls developer Hidetaka Miyazaki, remains to be seen.

6. Death Stranding may be set in Iceland

A tweet, given clout with a retweet from Kojima himself, points to the parallels between the in-game plantlife and the mosses found on the lava fields of Iceland.

Previous Death Stranding trailers have featured beaches of black sand, much like Iceland’s Reynisfjara beach. Whether Death Stranding is set in Iceland, or merely takes inspiration from its landscape, remains to be seen. As Gamesradar notes, another trailer for the game is set in what looks to be a bombed out city, inhabited by fleshy tanks and Mads Mikkelsen. Is all of this a strange version of Iceland, or a fictional location with beautifully rendered moss?  

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