Following the lengthy gameplay demos shown at Tokyo Game Show last week, Kojima held several interviews with different media outlets, in which he talked about his goals with Death Stranding and the mechanics and concepts that make up the game.
As we saw in the TGS demo, players can place signs and objects in the world, which in turn can be used by other people. People can also ‘like’ the things they find, and your total garnered likes are displayed. But this isn’t a currency or a point system, Kojima wanted them to be like ‘unconditional love’.
That’s not to say the action of liking something has no purpose in the game, as the fewer liked objects may eventually disappear while the highly liked objects remain. The same is true for footpaths created by multiple players, as Kojima explains in an interview with GameSpot.
“In the game, when you follow someone’s footprints, and then a person comes for a third time, the wilderness that was there will turn into a small path. People have a natural intention to follow the path, so it really depends on who you are playing with indirectly. The path might already be there if people are already follow it over and over again. […] One of the hooks is that it’s not just making the path, but because of Timefall, because of the time lapse, that path might go away if people don’t use it–then new ones would be made. But the most appropriate ones would probably persist.”
Kojima once again addressed what he sees as the biggest misconception about him: that he is slow when it comes to creating games. It’s because of the small team (around 80 people) and the fact that he makes decisions quickly, he can make games very efficiently, and is actually rather quick compared to other developers. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
“There’s an easier way to make money, like buying stocks… What I’m doing right now is really hard to do. I’m doing it the really hard way. Like with a new game there’s a lot of risk, but I want to do that.”
In an interview with GameReactor, Kojima was asked about Sam, and if he’s really just a human being. Kojima responded that he is human but he does have special abilities.
“He’s human but what’s so special about him is that he has specialties where he can go to the other world and back, re-patch it. He is a re-patcher. You have to play the game to understand him through his past. Basically, he is a special person that can’t die. He goes to a beach in between the real world and the world of the dead. […] his body fluid is also useful to battle against the monsters of the other side. He is a little more resistant than other human beings, but he is not a superman.”
Kojima also made a point of not wanting the game to be totally clear from the start. He want every player to start off not sure what it’s going to be about, and it may even take a while before it all comes together.
“You will feel lost, but don’t worry – you will naturally fit in. The system is explained. Some people say it’s almost like the movie Alien, where you are gradually finding out what the whole world is about, what you can do and not do.”
“So since it’s really new and you saw the footage at Tokyo Game Show, you still must play it to really understand and get the feeling. That’s what I say to everyone, you have to play it to feel this new feeling. My staff didn’t understand or was opposed to the initial concept. Now it’s different, they say things like “just walking in this world is so fun” because everything is up to you.”
In an interview with Game Informer, he was asked if the goal of reconnecting a fractured America is referencing the divisions in the country right now. But according to Kojima, he intentionally made the map to not represent America correctly.
“It’s about America, but I made that map deliberately not correctly America. Maybe it looks like Japan from that angle. I want people to not think “America,” but “where you are.” Because it depends on who is seeing it.”
In this game, Sam is also kind of a reluctant hero, as Kojima states. He will often complain during his journey, saying “Why am I doing this?”. According to Kojima, the player may have the same reaction, feeling lonely and struggling. Making the connections with the other characters might feel good, Kojima explains. Also, encountering objects and marks left behind by other players make you realize you are not undertaking this journey alone.
Despite initial pushback from the staff, the concept of the game has not changed during development, according to Kojima.
“The concept hasn’t changed at all from the start. On the vision side, yes, I imagined I could do more – like, PlayStation 6 for the visuals. But it’s not all about graphics. A lot of people were against my first concept, and I’m really happy that the staff made it together with me. All the staff really liked playing the game and I really feel happy. And I just feel it’s the user’s turn now.”