In the face of all of Death Stranding Director’s violence, its dead things, its surreal horror, and the bleakest, salted-earth portrayal of the post-apocalypse, there has always been this strong mote of hope and love and bonding and connection that’s never been more necessary. This is an excellent excuse to go back to the Valley of the Shadow of Death and see what the grim beauty is all about. You can read Kallie Plagge’s original review, in which she gave it a 9/10, here “It’s challenging to get into Death Stranding because of the difficulty of the gameplay.
It’s a game that necessitates tolerance, kindness, and compassion, and it’s one that we could use right now”. Death Stranding Director’s Cut, on the other hand, is somewhat of a misnomer.
Despite the appeal of an auteur like Kojima taking a more proactive approach, tweaking dialogue and text files, or adding scenes, nothing pertinent to the plot, story, character development, or the way the world is presented has been messed with here. This is still essentially the same game it was in2019: a post-apocalyptic odyssey to reconnect the disparate cities of America at all costs, with our taciturn, faithless hero, Sam Porter-Bridges, facing the literal and metaphorical ghosts of America along the way.
That’s just the top of a storyline that also explores metaphysics, the importance of politics in our lives, fundamentalist thinking’s underlying nihilism, and the deterioration of the social compact, among other things. In the midst of all this, the main gameplay loop has you acting as a postman across the nation, primarily on foot and over diverse, depressing landscapes.
Much of it was already in the game we received two years ago, and Ghost of Tsushima: Death Stranding Director’s Cut is essentially the same thing. To make things easier, in the beginning, the Death Stranding Director’s Cut includes a new crippling Maser Gun early in the game, as well as a more elegant set of essential tasks and explanations of the game’s basic principles.
This was particularly useful for learning how to dodge with the Strand rope and getting the time down perfectly. To my eyes, the 60fps visual update is perfect, and even with two quality settings, both modes managed to hit that frame rate goal, with only Quality mode encountering problems when it was caught by BTs or in a game over situation. The DualSense’s haptics is once again the star of the show. Every step Sam makes is palpable, and the strain and difficulties of attempting to keep him balanced as he’s hauling such a significant burden are well shown here.
Most of it relates to Sam finding an abandoned factory/science facility early in the game, with additional sections opening up as you continue through the game. Nevertheless, this new narrative is a significant outgrowth of the game’s investigations of what America is and how we have lost it along the way, and how we might reclaim it. We must ask ourselves what we want to give our children and atone for the mistakes of past generations.
A big part of obtaining the narrative is using stealth, and although that has always been there in the game as a whole, getting the entire story now requires a lot of it in a technically and tonally different match. As well as a lot of the new additions, like the Maser Gun and cargo catapult. On the other hand, though, you have to point at circles on a map while giving commands to an AI, which takes care of the legwork. Instead of being Death Stranding Director’s, the game becomes an unbalanced RTS at these times.
While this may be true, the Death Stranding Director’s most significant assets may lie in its ambiguous nature, with action and mechanics constrained by the narrative rather than the other way around. What makes this game so compelling is how tough it is to traverse the American wastelands while carrying the weight of the nation’s aspirations and ambitions, with death appearing on every side. It makes the game and its many gameplay aspects less obtuse, but it seems fragmented by taking too much of Sam’s control away from them.
Thankfully, as previously said, none of the new additions alter Death Stranding Director’s core identity. Still, it’s clear that returning to Death Stranding after the year we have all had was impactful in ways I did not expect before entering. For some reason, it did not occur to me the first time how realistic the game’s portrayal of human interaction would be. In ways that make the game worth experiencing, even if you do not enjoy it enough to play for hundreds of hours, the hope, sorrow, and determination of it all strike differently today. In terms of immersion, the Director’s Cut still does an excellent job at goosing up the experience.