The Death Stranding Trailer Analysis: Our Biggest Takeaways

The Death Stranding Trailer Analysis: Our Biggest Takeaways

A few answers, and a lot more questions.

In exchange for a new trailer and release date for Death Stranding, we've also got a whole lot more questions and not a ton of answers. Well, don't worry. We're here to try and make (some) sense of it all.

The first independent game from Kojima Productions, Death Stranding is both intriguing and baffling. We tore through the footage shown today to pull out the most important nuggets of knowledge we could, to try and ascertain the answer to that age-old question: what is Death Stranding?

  • First off, there's combat. Whereas we had only seen Norman Reedus' Sam Bridges exploring the world and dodging the invisible "BT" monsters before, here we see Sam running, dodging, and fighting against the militant "Homodemon" forces. (I'm guessing that's like, homosapiens but demons?) At one point, he's also shooting enemies with an assault rifle in a trench in what appears to be World War I. Which is a good enough segue into…
  • There is time travel? After getting caught by the oily pool of BT monsters in a forest, we see a first-person vantage that pans back out to third-person, with Sam in the middle of World War I. It's a little dreamlike, and Mads Mikkelsen's character appears to play a large role in these "flashbacks." It seems like a lot of Death Stranding will center around time or timelines, with frequent references to an "other side" and the use of babies as "back-ups." Also, it looks like we'll visit a few different eras, as the trailer stinger shows Mads in what appears to be Vietnam.
I'm pretty sure a desk is supposed to be here, somewhere. | Kojima Productions
  • This is America. No, really, the United States also seems to be a central theme of Death Stranding. At one point we see Sam and another character having a discussion in what appears to be the White House, and the voiceover makes frequent references to restoring America. The ruins and absence of civilization would suggest that America has, in some way, fallen. Also, Reedus delivers a great read on, "Bridget, you're the president of jack-shit."
  • The cast is star-studded. We got names and confirmation of the roles various real-life actors will play in the game. It includes: Sam (Norman Reedus), Higgs (Troy Baker), Fragile (Léa Seydoux), Deadman (Guillermo del Toro), Mama (Margaret Qualley), Die-Hardman (Tommie Earl Jenkins), Amelie (Lindsay Wagner), Cliff (Mads Mikkelsen), and Heartman (Nicolas Winding Refn). Also, two female characters are named "Fragile" and "Mama," so, definitely a Kojima production.
Like this wasn't going to happen. | Kojima Productions
  • Sam has a motorcycle, because of course Norman Reedus gets a motorcycle. There is both cutscene and gameplay footage of the motorcycle in action, but really, it just makes sense. It should be in every contract Reedus signs that he gets a motorcycle.
  • Ladders! Ropes! Traversing the open expanses, snowy mountains, and all other kinds of terrain will require more than just a pair of boots. In the trailer, we see Sam pull out a ladder for large gaps and use a rope for rappelling down cliffs and canyons. Radical.
Just three guys, having a chat over a seemingly dead body. | Kojima Productions
  • That body sure seems important. At several points Sam is shown carrying a body in a mummy-like wrap, placing it in what looks like a cremation machine, and talking over it with Deadman and Die-Hardman. (Still getting used to those names. It's like they were rejected Mega Man bosses.)
  • Connection seems important. The trailer's narration seems to imply that humanity has been isolated, and Sam is trying to reconnect people in some way that might give them hope of surviving through or defeating the BTs. This is the area where it goes real deep into Kojima-lore territory, so rampant speculation is the best I can offer.
Big mood. | Kojima Productions
  • Other minor points of interest: Both Sam and Mama are shown with handcuffs dangling from their wrist at separate times, and they both have the flashing-light shoulder mount that anyone venturing outside seems to take with them. Fragile seems to be a third party to the conflict between Bridges and the Homodemons. Also, there are a lot of ominous shots of dead whales and people walking into the ocean. Is it potentially a flashback, showing the emergence of BTs? And Mads Mikkelsen seems to play a paternal role when he's not hunting you in the shadow realm. My current theory is that he's Sam's father, and the Mads we're seeing in the time-flashback stuff is a specter conjured by Sam's memory of him. I look forward to reading this in November and laughing about how wrong I am.

Overall, Death Stranding looks to be sufficiently strange and baffling, so it's exactly what you would want from an unleashed Hideo Kojima. We'll be pilfering through this trailer (and old ones too, probably) for more hints leading up to its release on November 8 for the PS4.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Eric Van Allen

News Editor

Eric is a writer and Texan. He's a former contributor to sites including Compete, Polygon, Waypoint, and the Washington Post. He loves competitive games, live music, and travel.

Read this next

Surprise! CHVRCHES Have Recorded a Song for Death Stranding, Listen to it Here

Timefall, an original album for the game, releases later this year.

Death Stranding Is Officially Done

Time to gather up the social strands and party.

George Miller Once Called Death Stranding "Mathematically Correct," Hideo Kojima Says

The Fury Road director seems to like what Kojima's going for.

The New Death Stranding TGS Gameplay: Everything We Learned

Here are all the new Death Stranding gameplay details we learned at Tokyo Games Show 2019.

Watch the New Death Stranding Gameplay From TGS Here

49 minutes (to be precise) of new Death Stranding gameplay.

Death Stranding is a Game About Walking, Apparently

Someone has finally played Death Stranding and can tell us what its all about.

More News

Manifold Garden Launches This Friday After Seven Years of Development

The mind-warping puzzler is finally finished.

Blizzard Bans Collegiate Hearthstone Players for Six Months Over Protest Sign [Update]

American University's players have received some late judgment.

PUBG's Next Season Will Have Players Flinging Blades and Pans in a Refreshed Miramar

Season 5 will focus on improving PUBG's second map and adds a number of new features, including the ability to toss items and melee weapons.

More on PlayStation 4

Destiny: The Taken King Calcified Fragment Locations

Find every Calcified Fragment on the Dreadnaught.

PUBG's Next Season Will Have Players Flinging Blades and Pans in a Refreshed Miramar

Season 5 will focus on improving PUBG's second map and adds a number of new features, including the ability to toss items and melee weapons.

Bloodlines 2 Delayed to Avoid the Issues That Plagued the Original

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is still targeted for 2020, but it'll come out later than Hardsuit Labs had initially hoped.

Fortnite XP Guide - How to Earn XP and Increase Your Level

This is our guide to the new Fortnite XP system, and how you can earn XP to increase your overall level.

Fortnite Medals List - How to Earn New Medals and Refresh the Punchcard

This is our full guide to the new Fortnite Medals system, including how to earn them, and times for the Punchcard refresh.

Fortnite 2 Map - All Named Locations and Landmarks on the New Fortnite Map

This is your overview to the Fortnite 2 map, including all the new landmarks and named locations on the Chapter 2 map.

Why The Division 2 Is Still Hard to Jump Back Into

With the new Title Update and Episode, The Division 2 should be easier to get into, but it's not.

More Survival Horror Games

I Love to Hate Luigi Mansion 3's Toilet Rats

When Luigi's Mansion 3 invites you to sit down, you might want to refuse.

What's The Scariest Video Game Setting?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | To continue with Halloween tradition, let's talk about the creepiest environments in games.

What's Your Favorite Horror Game?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | 'Tis the season to be frightened.

The Last of Us 2 Release Date, Ellie Edition, Gameplay - Everything We Know

This is our guide on The Last of Us 2 release date, Ellie edition, Joel reveal, gameplay, and more.