Another year, another E3 come and gone, and still we have no idea what Death Stranding's plot is about.
When Death Stranding was first revealed in 2016, it was met with a collective "wow", followed quickly by a collective "what was that?"
The visuals in that three-and-a-half-minute trailer were baffling. A disappearing baby. Piles of dead fish. Five humanoid figures floating in the sky. Naked Norman Reedus. There was simultaneously a lot and very little to process.
Death Stranding E3 2016 Reveal Trailer
Since then, further information has come out in drips via three more trailers and various interviews. Fans have been diligently analysing and theorising about every detail revealed, and have discovered further hints via methods such as playing the trailers side by side.
Yet despite this, we still don't know much more about the plot than we did when we first encountered Norman Reedus and the funky foetus.
Here is some of what we know:
- Norman Reedus’ character’s name is Sam, and he is closer to a blue-collar worker than a military man. He appears to be working with a group called "Corpse Disposal Team 6".
- Mads Mikkelsen, Guillermo del Toro, Léa Seydoux and Lindsay Wagner will also be in the game. Wagner has been de-aged.
- Death Stranding is going to be an open world action game, though there will apparently be "other ways to play" if you aren’t a fighter.
- There will be online elements and, according to Mads Mikkelsen, playing the game will require "collaboration from different people from different parts of the world".
- The a theme of the game is connection - "strands" that connect people across countries and generations. Norman Reedus has said that it is about reconnecting after losing physical contact with others.
Death Stranding TGA 2016 Teaser Trailer
- Another theme of the game is life and death. According to IGN, when you die you don't really die - you end up in a purgatory of sorts which you can wander around and explore, neither dead nor alive. You can then return to your body and to life, but the changes in the world that occurred up to your death will persist.
- The baby featured prominently in the trailers has something to do with game mechanics as well as the plot.
- There appear to be invisible creatures whose "footprints" take the shape of human hands.
- There's an otherworldly rain called "timefall" which ages whatever it touches, fast-forwarding time.
- There are small tardigrade-like creatures called "cryptobytes", and eating them could potentially "[keep] the timefall away".
- And, as indiscernible as it may be to us right now, Death Stranding does have a plot.
Death Stranding TGA 2017 Teaser Trailer
From all of that, we can gather that there will definitely be things. Maybe even stuff. Here are our best guesses for what on earth is doing on in Death Stranding.
Rae Johnston - Editor, Gizmodo Australia
Death Stranding is a spin-off video game series following the oft-forgotten Scud from the 2002 cinematic masterpiece Blade II. In this futuristic world it's not sunlight that destroys vampires - it's acid rain.
But that's the least of Scud's worries - in this modern-age gig economy, he needs to support both himself and his fetus clone - which he wears on his chest in an homage to Marvel's beloved Cable - by making deliveries for Amazon.
In the ultimate escort mission you, the player, need to deliver as many packages as possible without the acid rain killing you or your progeny, and maybe even find love along the way.
Chris Jager - Editor, Lifehacker Australia
I'm convinced that Death Stranding is an elaborate practical joke. Kojima, Reedus and del Toro are all laughing their arses off as they make each trailer more inexplicable than the last. This will all culminate with Hideo Kojima announcing a new Metal Gear Solid game for Konami. Probably.
Tegan Jones - Deputy Editor, Gizmodo Australia
Death Stranding is Mail Delivery Sim set in a dystopian future where even totalitarian regimes can’t get packages delivered on time.
The twist is that Norman Reedus isn’t delivering mail at all, but is journeying to the farthest and least convenient post office after leaving a slew of "failed delivery" slips at houses where everyone was home.
The baby represents the innocence and naivety of those who stayed home all day waiting for something that would never arrive.
Death Stranding E3 2018 Teaser Trailer
Amanda Yeo - Early Morning Sub-Editor
Death Stranding is a heartwarming tale about grief, family, and the healing power of love.
Norman Reedus had a family, life was good. Then there was a big explosion, as parallel worlds and timelines collided. A lot of destruction and casualties. He lost his family. Very sad.
Things from other timelines/worlds start impacting Norman Reedus' world, but are invisible because they aren't fully present in his world. Norman Reedus and his team collect corpses so the monsters from the other world can't "eat" them, which would make them more powerful and present. (Twist: The monsters are people who have evolved differently in the other timeline, so they have hands for feet.)
The messed-up time means people aren't ageing properly, so there aren't many babies. Babies are valuable because the energy of their ageing potential provides power.
Norman Reedus incubates a baby inside himself. Time, space and science are all messed up, so he can do that. He is kidnapped because people want the baby, but he escapes with it.
Guillermo del Toro is in another world/timeline. There's war here. The baby can move between worlds, and he needs the baby because he has a Plan. A Plan to fix time and end the war. So he takes Norman Reedus' baby from across dimensions.
Norman Reedus goes on a journey to get his baby back. But he is too late. Lindsay Wagner is the baby grown up, having aged quickly due to the messed up time stuff going on.
Norman Reedus has to decide if he wants to help Guillermo del Toro fix time and hopefully see his pre-explosion family again, or to accept and get to know his full-grown Lindsay Wagner daughter.