I’m still not used to launching Death Stranding from Steam and seeing the words “Sony Entertainment Corporation” on my PC.
I’ve been playing Hideo Kojima’s sci-fi postal simulator on a beefy rig over the last couple of nights. I’ve been waiting to play Death Stranding on PC ever since it came out, actually. After practically crunching for two straight weeks for the original review embargo, I always thought it would be the perfect contemplative second-screen game, something you could play while listening to a podcast or chatting to friends on Discord.
I’m sure that’s not the experience Kojima envisioned a lot of people having, but hey. If I’m going to fall down a fucking hill into a group of BTs, to be then chased by the giant squid monster, then I might as well have some company while I do it.
What’s a bit weird about the whole experience so far is that, sadly, I can’t actually show you anything of it. Kojima Productions — not the publisher or its local distributor — have asked that reviewers don’t publish any screenshots or footage until the game’s full release later this month. Which is pretty annoying, because it means the only official screenshots available come courtesy of Nvidia (the one above), and the following six, all of which have that awful letterboxing effect.
It’s a damn fine game. I’m running it on a 3900X and a RTX 2080 Ti, and the game absolutely flies. You can run it very competently at 1080p on a GTX 1060 as well, so it scales really, really nicely. Annoyingly, the screen I’m using at the moment maxes out at 1440p, and Death Stranding refuses to work with Nvidia’s dynamic super resolution, so I can’t force the game up to 4K. It’s running with the new version of DLSS, so if Control is any measure, Death Stranding would easily run at 4K/60fps.
So running this game at super high frame rates isn’t a problem at all. But it does have this weird effect where Sam Porter just looks like he’s running all the time … even though he’s not. It’s a natural byproduct of Death Stranding running closer to 240fps, at least on my machine, than 30fps on my PS4 Pro.
There’s even some settings which I don’t remember the original Death Stranding having. In the menu, you can customise Sam’s walking speed. By default, it’s set to 30, but you can make it slower, or faster if you want.
Being able to remap all of the controls just makes Death Stranding a little more comfortable to play, too. You’re still having to hold down a couple of buttons to stop Sam from falling over all the time, but you don’t have to be permanently squeezing the DualShock 4’s triggers. It’s left and right-click by default, but you can also be clever and just rebind it to the same key, which is a billion times easier.
Using the photo mode is nice and simple, and you can get some great screenshots during cut-scenes as well. I just wish I could show you any of them — they’re more interesting and dynamic than the official ones above.
Alas, I can’t do that.
Anyway, Death Stranding on PC is a little odd — but not in a bad way! It’s just that the game’s animations and motions feel like they were more deliberately designed for that lower, more plodding frame rate of the PlayStation 4. And seeing a Sony logo after launching a game on Steam is definitely going to take some getting used to.
But I could learn to love this. The arduous slog of Death Stranding‘s various chapters, particularly the first 20 hours and the segments towards the end, are a lot easier to cope with when you’ve got Discord, Twitch or a podcast in the background. And the quip in the first chapter about remembering life when people travelled overseas for holidays is a bit close to home right now.
But it’s still one of the most interesting games of the last few years. And PC fans will be especially happy with how Death Stranding runs — and it certainly spells good things for Horizon: Zero Dawn‘s PC release soon too.