Death Stranding has been a divisive game ever since it released in 2019. There were many who felt it was a phenomenal experience – while a lot were immediately put off by its core gaming loop that centered around delivering packages. To be very honest, we didn’t warm up to the game for the first hour – or two, but the more we played, the more we got thoroughly invested in this mysterious new apocalyptic world created by Hideo Kojima.
Here’s what we said when we reviewed Death Stranding in 2019, “Enjoying a game like Death Stranding can be hard. There are many factors that come into play – how much time are you willing to give it before you get that sense of gratification, how much of a Kojima fanboy/girl you are to hand him the complete reigns over the 50 hours or so that you will be spending on the game, and basically how open you are to trying out a game that’s unlike anything you’ve ever played. It’s not really an action game though there’s some action in it. It’s not a walking simulator though walking is what you do most of the game. It’s simply Hideo Kojima’s storytelling style unleashed without Konami’s reins holding him back.”
Much of what we wrote back then still holds up for the game – but a lot of the initial drudgery has been reduced or completely axed thanks to new gameplay mechanics in the Director’s Cut. But more on that in a bit; for those who’re trying this game out for the first time, you (still) play as Sam Bridges – a porter who must make deliveries all over what’s left of a post-apocalyptic America to unify it against a new powerful terrorist organisation. Sam’s biggest enemies in this game come in the form of stamina and geography – as treacherous terrain can send him – and his cargo tumbling down a mountain top, damaging it in the process. Apart from that, there’s also a very tangible threat in the form of invisible monsters called BT’s that have appeared from the land of the dead.
Now that you’re caught up with the basics, let’s move on to what the Director’s Cut does better. The first and the most important gameplay mechanic is the addition of Buddy Bot, a cute robot with legs that is very useful in carrying large quantities of cargo. It can in many instances even carry you – the player across harsh terrain. In addition to the Buddy Bot, you now also have a Catapult system through which you can literally fling cargo across the map Angry Birds style. Purists may scoff at these features since Death Stranding’s brutal balancing act is what made it a critical darling for many, but for those who were put off by this monotony, these new mechanics are invaluable. If you’re also thinking of buying this game based off Kojima’s previous work, please keep in mind that unlike the MSG series, Death Stranding was never a combat heavy game; it placed a firm emphasis on exploration – and in many cases, encouraged players to avoid combat. With the Director’s Cut, combat encounters are made less hectic with the addition of a brand new electric gun called the Maser that let you deal with enemies silently and swiftly.
For those who’ve already already played through the game and are coming in for that 4K 60 FPS goodness, there’s new content in the form of new missions where Sam can explore an underground factory full of mysteries to unravel. There’s even the ability to build racing tracks where you can test your riding skills – and challenge your friends through ranked races. Just to be clear; you won’t be racing against them in real time; you’ll only be able to gloat about your time via an in-game leaderboard system of sorts.
We have to be honest here; when we heard of the Director’s Cut announcement, it felt like a cash-in to us because the game felt the complete package as is – and unlike Ghost of Tsushima’s Director’s Cut, this one wasn’t bundled with a new expansion. But after spending a good amount of time with this game, we’re happy to report that not only is Kojima’s vision unaffected, but the Director’s Cut makes Death Stranding even more enticing to newcomers. On top of that, there’s still a healthy amount of content for veterans who want to dip their toes back into this world in 4K at 60 FPS on the PS5.