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Death Stranding Solves a Problem Open-World Games Don't Admit They Have

Death Stranding is the anti-open-world game, and it contains some valuable lessons about what to simulate that open-world games can learn from.

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Sm00thNinja10d ago

Real talk I'm in chapter 6 DeadMan.... just reached the mountaineer.... and it's time to admit this game is boring as all hell. The story is the only thing pushing me through. Time to move back to Days Gone and give that game a shot again. I'll beat them both eventually

Nyxus10d ago

80+ hours and I'm still not bored. Already finished the story though and brought everyone into the UCA network. Kept on playing and delivering stuff long after beating the story. This is my GOTY for sure, no contest.

lifeisgamesok10d ago

Same I'm at 91 hours and today I decided to go and steal packages from the mules, some of them pulled up in a truck and were looking for me lol

Sm00thNinja10d ago

Mules are too easy to beat even later on and running them over is even quicker than just charging head on. Seems like an easy platinum minus the level all categories to 60 so I'll continue to grind. But to each his own... the formula at least up till chapter 6 has been a chore/bore fest even after losing BB for a bit.... there's just not enough reward for completing some pretty lengthy challenges. There are just better PS4 exclusives. To be honest I really WANT to like Death Stranding it shouldn't be this hard to

djplonker9d ago (Edited 9d ago )

@smooth

Actually you will get way more than 60 in each stat by then time you 5 star each of the 32 facilities.

Its not an easy plat and if you are already not enjoying it then dont make yourself play more.

I almost have the plat but I love the game and it's my goty.

Sm00thNinja9d ago

DJPlonker... that delivery time star though is still sitting at a 9 for me though... I'm level 203

SyntheticForm9d ago

Same, got the platinum a few days ago.

Never stopped enjoying the game, though there were parts that were slightly frustrating.

dumahim9d ago

I'm probably at 60 something. Not bored either. I spent a bunch of time collecting materials to build all the roads I could. Boredom isn't an issue. Annoyance certainly is with the areas where it's always raining and the snow and mountains are a pain unless you spend time building ziplines.

Batzi9d ago

I am 80+ hours in too, finished the story and going for Platinum and I feel like I am just getting started! This game is addictive plain and simple. It's tedious but addictive!

+ Show (4) more repliesLast reply 9d ago
mkis0079d ago

The problem for me is the story was a 10 and the gameplay a 6 -8 depending on how I was feeling during my playthrough. But the story and acting by Mads is enough that I dont regret any of the gameplay. I have no idea what to rate this game. The story is too good to engrossing to rate below a 9.

TK-669d ago (Edited 9d ago )

I actually have an interesting hypothesis about the story. I noticed after roughly 30 hours that whenever a cutscene started I'd sit up in my seat and think, "oh shit somethings happening", and then nothing actually happened in most cases.

If we cut down the amount of tedious gameplay in between cutscenes would it be as interesting? What I'm suggesting is that the game gives you withdrawal from the narrative, so when it does occur it's more interesting even when its not actually doing anything.

mkis0079d ago

oh shit somethings happening", and then nothing actually happened in most cases.

i dont see this.

TK-669d ago (Edited 9d ago )

@mkis007

The vast majority of this games cutscenes serve no purpose. All those outposts? Filler. Even when you're introduced to a new character most of the dialogue is just exposition, and very little in the way of substance for the narrative. After 30 hours the Mads Mikkelson scenes are basically on a loop and just repeating themselves.

If you don't see it then I must have been paying more attention.

Eamon9d ago (Edited 9d ago )

Death Stranding's story has really creative and intriguing concepts but poor execution especially towards the end. The cutscenes are relatively few throughout most of the game until the last 3-4 hours of the game where it just overloads you with a mountain of exposition.

And having us sit and run on the beach during the credits for like an hour to learn answers to a couple of mysteries that should have been answered earlier was the height of frustration. I get that the point was you were supposed to be there for what felt like an eternity but it's not a good reaction if the player just wants to finally finish and get over itself.

As for gameplay, I'm amazed by this Iceland hiking simulator and how intricate it is in terms of weight/balance management, navigating across uneven surfaces, climbing snowy mountains. But why the hell did Kojima make this a delivery game?!?! If it had MGS5 stealth & combat mechanics, the gameplay would have been truly perfect. The fights in this game are extremely easy. I think the only time I died was when entering the terrorist MULE zone where they are armed with actual guns. At that point, I had assumed MULES were only after your cargo and not after your life. So I was taken by surprise there. But after that, all you need is a couple of Non-lethal assault rifles, and it's too easy. Also, let's not get started on the bosses which were awful. No strategy at all. Just jump on a building, throw hematic grenades or shoot hematic rockets and repeat until the boss's HP runs out. Perhaps the only boss battle that relied on the player thinking of himself was the one that wasn't a boss battle - to cross the tar to the West. I admit, it wasn't exactly difficult to figure out, but I liked that the game wanted YOU the player to figure it out.

I think Death Stranding deserves massive credit for actually trying to break video gaming trends and do something unique. But maybe Kojima needed someone to tap his shoulder and tell him that his raw diamond ideas might need to be shined and carved up in order to be truly special.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 9d ago
SinisterKieran9d ago

I’m not bored but I can see how it’s not for everyone and the vehicles are janky as hell. But I think it’s because I try to ride over rocks.

Sm00thNinja9d ago

OML HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO BE TEARING OFF in a vehicle boost full blast and hit a tiny ass rock that brings you to a sudden abrupt halt only to try and hop over it and fly way higher than you wanted to only to come down and damage the vehicle and, or goods you're carrying....

SyntheticForm9d ago

My only problem was that in some instances, no matter your speed, the terrain will hurt and damage your cargo. This will happen in certain areas no matter how careful you are.

The terrain is smooth and my wheels are to the ground and Sam is going "ugh, ugh, uh, oh, ah, ah" as I'm slowly traveling down a hill and my cargo is being nonsensically damaged.

I don't mind rocks, but I did mind that.

TK-669d ago (Edited 9d ago )

I'm genuinely confused by the logic of this article. Death Stranding has vehicles which are analogous to Roach and cars in GTA, and the vehicle mechanics in DS are some of the worst I've seen in a modern AAA game. It doesn't solve the problem because if it did those vehicles wouldn't be necessary to speed up the process of travelling.

How about we talk about a major problem of open-world games obsession with having ubi-towers, and how this game actually takes them to the next level by making it a mandatory task through the main story missions?

lociefer9d ago (Edited 9d ago )

I was in the same position, pushed myself to finish it out of frustration. It actually dosen't get better after chapter 3, the moment you hit the mountain it gets worse.

Also the whole junker/artist mission scenes hands down win the cringe oscars

The problem is that the gameplay for me was so bad it detached me from the story, i wanted to love it, but i ended up hating both the gameplay and the story.

TK-669d ago

It's not just the acting either. A monologue about time accompanied by a broken hourglass for symbolism. It's so on the nose that it blows my mind that anyone thinks you need a strong attention span for this game.

CaptainHenry9169d ago

Put 50 hours in the game and never got bored

Sm00thNinja9d ago

Crazy to me... like the game makes hiking interesting and it holds steady for awhile. I'm probably 30 hrs in. I just made it to the mountaineer without BB and I have to play another game at this point I'm bored to death. I think a break could be good for me though. I spent a lot of time trying to level equipment like the speed and all terrain skeleton, as well as the canteen taking standard orders. Losing BB also sapped a pretty interesting gameplay mechanic as well

shammgod9d ago ShowReplies(1)
FernDiggidy9d ago ShowReplies(3)
rainslacker9d ago

So real, so edgy. Thanks for the real talk. I'm enjoying it myself. It's almost cathartic at times. I even stopped just to gather supplies to build the roads in the lake knot city area and spent most of the weekend with it.

chiefJohn1179d ago

You call it boring but you give it an 8.5? Wtf? How does a boring game earn a 8.5? IJS. Game looks boring and I'm sure it is boring I just don't understand your rating. I guess ppl want to respect kojima so they refuse to give it a low score when they know deep down it's a 6.5

jznrpg9d ago

If they are too easy play in Hard . It’s not easy on hard

BlackDoomAx9d ago

Let's downvote him for giving his opinion that is different from ours !

+ Show (11) more repliesLast reply 8d ago
LordoftheCritics10d ago (Edited 10d ago )

I don't think that's solving a problem when that is the entire basis for its gameplay. In those other open world games, traversal is mostly contextual, location establishing, world building, and if done well maybe great exploration through its well established world and lore. Those other games also have many other priority gameplay pillars. FOr eg. If Witcher 3 had zero travelling, it would still have a solid game to play. If you remove the traversal tension of Death Stranding, then its just walking on flat land from A to B till the next cutscene.

Now yes, Death Stranding's traversal could be implemented in other games, and I'm certain developers have thought about it, but that would take away and maybe affect pacing of those other games whose priority could be combat, loot, puzzles, micro management of loot/power etc etc

A game that mixes traversal with gameplay very well would be Red Dead Redemption 2 and even then people have complained about its slow pacing. The solution has always been there but no game needed it for its entirety except Death Stranding.

In Breath of the Wild, the traversal is for exploration with always the hope for a surprise around the corner. I played BOTW around 45hrs without even doing 30% of the campaign maybe. You could easily call that a solution to open worlds over Death Stranding. In Death Stranding you are not going out there to explore as there isn't much to explore, and you already have to accept going in that there isn't going to be any interesting surprises in the world in terms of a special new loot, special encounters etc. You are just going to find the optimum A to B, so you are already forced to role play along and accept it for what it is. As soon as you stop role playing/look away and deny it, the game starts falling flat. The intrigue of the craziness of Death Stranding keeps most going through the grind.

Personally, Journey takes the cake. Most balanced in that department.

rainslacker9d ago

The traversal is a major part of the gameplay for DS. It's not just running back and forth, but planning routes, or finding creative ways to get around different terrains in different situations.

P_Bomb9d ago (Edited 9d ago )

“ If Witcher 3 had zero travelling, it would still have a solid game to play. If you remove the traversal tension of Death Stranding, then its just walking on flat land from A to B till the next cutscene. ”

Not the best analogy. Games aren’t designed to be compared by negative sums. If you take the travelling out of Forza Horizon, you’re just a lemon. If you take the traversal out of FIFA, it’s foosball. If you take stuff out of Witcher 3 then it becomes Witcher 2 and that didn’t hold my interest long enough to finish. So...

LordoftheCritics9d ago

I believe I make sense if you want to understand what I'm trying to say, as brief as I can be in a comment section.

But you're really stretching it.

P_Bomb9d ago (Edited 9d ago )

No I get what you’re trying to say but it’s a no-win situation. It’s not my responsibility to translate someone’s Witcher experience to Death Stranding. That’s your benchmark not mine. I didn’t think about Witcher while building a zip line network through the mountains anymore than I ever think about what if Geralt had a AR and Pcc2.

lifeisgamesok10d ago

Death Stranding is brilliant. Implementing gameplay systems into crossing water, climbing and walking feels fresh.

I haven't played many games like it and I've played many games

FunAndGun9d ago ShowReplies(2)
Hardiman9d ago (Edited 9d ago )

I love the little details like how Sam's foot actually moves depending on what he's stepping on. I love the little animations he has as well.

I get some don't like hitting rocks but what happens when we run over rocks in a vehicle or try running through them? We tear our vehicles up and/or fall down lol.

I_am_Batman9d ago

I completely agree. Traversal often just acts as a buffer between the actual gameplay. In the worst cases you're just mindlessly beelining between the action sequences until you unlock fast-travel, at which point you're basically skipping the open world for the most part. While games that make traversal a bigger focus of the gameplay itself (e.g. Batman Arkham, Infamous, Spider-Man) require a bit more interaction by the player, there rarely are any consequences for messing up. Traversal ends up being fun and stylish, but ultimately it's an effortless excercise.

Death Stranding turns this concept on it's head by making traversal the essential part of the gameplay. Here you need to plan your routes carefully ahead of time, understand what equipment you'll need and constantly look for obstacles in your way. Especially in the beginning part of the game this it's a constant struggle because you are trying to figure out the gameplay mechanics. In one of my early journeys My trike slipped from a ladder into the river and I got washed away. Trying to recollect my cargo I kept slipping up (cause I've used up my endurance) until I washed up at the estuary. My Trike despawned, I wasted my boots, and completely depleeted my stamina just because I forgot to take a PCC with me to build a bridge. This early incident taught me so many lessons when it comes to Death Stranding. After that I was more careful but I had to finish the rest of chapter 2 without having a trike.

The great thing about Death Strandings game design is that the struggle is only the first part of the gameplay loop though. After you've successfully arrived at your destination and connect it to the chiral network you'll be rewarded with other people's structures that make this part of the map much easier to traverse. You'll also be able to build your own structures after connecting. Standard orders unlock a variety of tools that make it easier to traverse certain obstacles, but as you'll get more proficient and better equipped to deal with certain obstacles, the game challenges you with new and harder obstacles in the untraveled part of the world. It's extremely rewarding to come back to a place where you've previously struggled to get through and build an infrastructure that allows you to traverse it with ease.

Hardiman9d ago

Really great summary and I'm sure we all had those learning pains in the first few missions. I actually got so used to walking it took me a while to get used to driving and the good thing is the driving feels great!

sprinterboy9d ago

I put over 90 plus hours in and thoroughly enjoyed the game and I've since watched a few playthrough of other people's play style and at the end of the day even though DS is open world everyone I have watched so far takes the same routes as me and each other so how open world is it really?

I_am_Batman9d ago (Edited 9d ago )

Open world doesn't mean 360° of freedom all the time. Death Strandings world has "level design" and some routes are more obvious than others. Not to mention that routes that are travelled more often produce footpaths, so naturally it creates a feedback loop where more people are taking the same paths.

Spoilers (chapter 5): I found that building an efficient zipline network lead me way off the trodden paths which made for an interesting challenge.