Last week, at The Game Awards 2017, Kojima released a brand new trailer for his upcoming game, Death Stranding. In an interview with IGN published today, he gave some interesting new details about what we saw in the trailer, and about the game and its mechanics in general. He confirmed that chronologically, this is the earliest point we’ve seen from the game, taking place shortly after the prologue.
We already know that Death Stranding will have a different approach to the concepts of life and death in video games. Normally, when you die in a game you can reload to the moment before you died and retry as often as you like, and this is a system that has existed since the first arcade games and hasn’t really changed since then. However, in Death Stranding, things are different.
“One of the themes of this game is life and death. So I want people to realize that when they die in the game, that isn’t the end.”
When you die in this game, you will be transported to some kind of purgatory – the upside down underwater world we saw in the latest trailer – and you’ll be able to freely explore it in first person. With the help of the mysterious abilities of the protagonist, Sam, you can wander outside of your body, and find items and other things.
“At that point, you’re not dead or alive. It’s the equivalent of that screen that says ‘Continue?’ and a counter ticking down towards zero.” Kojima told IGN.
You can then choose to return to your body and get back to the world of the living. However, the actions from before your death are not undone, and they will persist in the game world.
“So as you saw in the trailer, you saw the crater, and when you come back, it’s still there. Most games would’ve taken you back to before the crater was made. So depending on the player, you might have a lot of craters all over the place — depends on each player.” Kojima explained. “Death will never pull you out of the game.”
In the latest trailer, there are two instances where we can see living things age dramatically in a matter of seconds. The reason this happens is because of a phenomenon called Timefall, some kind of rain that is not of this world.
“Most people in the game are aware of the rain — and well, Norman is quite unique in this regard… I think I should stop there. I’m spilling the beans.”
Then there’s the baby, something that will play an integral role in the story. “The baby relates to game mechanics as well as the story as a whole.” Kojima also confirmed it is one and the same baby in all trailers.
The interview also tackled the subject of interaction with the fans and their theories, because as we know Kojima really likes to put hints (and misleading elements) in his trailers and see what people make of it, like a game in itself. At the same time, people impatiently watching his every move can also be though.
“I’ve been reading a lot on the internet of people saying I’ve spent the last year just traveling around and having fun. A lot of people saying I’m wasting time and money. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.” Kojima said. “We’re waiting for the right moment to show gameplay, but right now we’re on track with the project.”
On top of that, the time Kojima takes for his projects is actually quite reasonable, if not rather fast. “You could ask so many people, but I really think that I’m doing this pretty fast. If you have a company, if you already have an engine, you already have the tools and the team together, and even then, it’s pretty standard for a AAA game to take three to five years to develop their games. For some games, it can take up to 10 years.”
Then there was also the actor strike that went on for months, that caused some delays in their schedule in regards to performance capture and voice over recordings. Now that the strike is finally over, Kojima Productions has commenced full performance capture sessions recently. Development is going well.
“A lot of people have been telling me, ‘You’re crazy like Stanley Kubrick…like David Lynch,’ and I’m honored, but these are all elements that play into the game design, and they do come together and they’re in line.” Kojima stated. “Everything makes sense. Everything will come together.”
Lastly, this has been a tumultuous year for gaming, with the controversies surrounding microtransactions, service driven games and statements about the increasingly uncertain future for single player games – if publishers like EA are to be believed. Kojima said, smiling: “I think there are a lot of people out there who still enjoy single-player games, aside from some microtransactions.”