It began with a crab and a naked Norman Reedus. That was the weird teaser video (shown above) released of Death Stranding, the highly anticipated next venture from Metal Gear Solid‘s Hideo Kojima, at the E3 presentations in 2016. At the time, that was all we had of the mystery project. “Right now we have more, don’t worry,” Kojima, speaking through a translator, promised the crowd gathered to hear his Tribeca Film Festival Talk on Thursday night in New York with Reedus.
The revolutionary Japanese video game developer is still keeping the more revealing aspects of Death Stranding under lock and key — “I don’t want to get disconnected from Sony,” he joked — but he did tease new details of what we can expect.
“It’s an action game, an open-world action game, but it’s really new. It’s something new,” Kojima said. “There’s so many things happening in the real world… everything is actually connected by internet, but we’re not connected in the real world these days. I’m putting that in a metaphor in the game. So the player will have to reconnect the world in the game. You have a very alone and solitude feeling, but you’re trying to connect.”
With games like P.T., Metal Gear, and The Phantom Pain, Kojima developed a reputation as a storyteller who’s constantly looking to the future, to where video games could go. For Reedus, Death Stranding represents “a different way of thinking.”
“I have a teenage son,” he says. “I’ve played some games where you just kill everybody. It’s not like that. There are violent elements to it, but it’s also just a different thing. It’s just completely different.”
What we know about the game is that Reedus, performing through motion-capture, portrays Sam Bridges, whose world has been utterly, harshly transformed by the Death Stranding. What is the Death Stranding? That’s part of the intrigue, but Sam will have to carry the stranded remnants of the future in his hands as he sets out on a journey to reunite the splintered world.
Doctor Strange‘s Mads Mikkelsen, James Bond actress Léa Seydoux, The Bionic Woman‘s Lindsay Wagner, and The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro also appear in Death Stranding. Reedus calls Mikkelsen’s character, specifically, “so intense.”
“The key word is connection,” Kojima said. “There’s so many thing in between, of course, but the theme of connection. I also threw in a really new idea in the game: you’re connecting the game and everyone’s playing it together and everyone will be connected, as well, and I cant say anything because Sony will be very unhappy.”
While Death Stranding will be an open world, players will have to make certain decisions in order to progress through “the big storyline” Kojima is cooking up. “It’s not like you decide and it goes into a good ending or a bad ending,” he clarified. “It’s not that kind of storytelling.”
Reedus thinks players are “gonna cry” when they play this game because they’ll be “emotionally involved in so many ways.”
Kojima says it’ll be more than crying. “I want people to use that experience of how they felt playing my game and make use of it in their lives, be touched,” he said. “I think people will cry, yeah. Of course, you might cry from the story, from the drama of the story, but that’s not fun. You play the game and you go into the game emotionally attached, so much you might cry, but you make a decision… It’s a story about connecting things and the player will be connected to the world as well so youll have a lot of emotion.”
No new footage came from Death Stranding during the Tribeca Talk, but the pair did share a series of behind-the-scenes photos of Reedus in his motion-capture suit, while maintaining the mystery box feel.
“Yes, it [takes place] a little bit into the future, but it’s a metaphor for the current [time] or something that would tend to happen in a couple of years. To connect it really means the same as to disconnect, in a way,” Kojima explains. “So, when you started to connect things, people will think, ‘Am I really doing the right thing in playing the game?'”
Kojima further called Death Stranding a “playground of possibilities,” while Reedus teased, “There are some scenes in this game that are ones for the record book… I just never imagined I would be in this situation.”
Kojima and Reedus met through Del Toro, who worked with Reedus and Kojima on the Silent Hills video game. The actor said everything from Kojima “comes from such an honest source.”
“It’s not just about him appearing in the game,” Kojima noted of Reedus. “It’s like drama, a cinematic action game. The player will become Norman. Therefore, we need some really good acting skills, but the most important part, it’s a game so something expressive… we need this special life from this actor. That’s why I thought Norman was great.”
He further promises Death Stranding will be part Sam, part Reedus. Players will see all parts of Reedus — what he described as the “sexy cute Norman” from The Boondock Saints to The Walking Dead Reedus to Reedus with his new tattoos. “I can’t say where,” Kojima further teased, “but if you go somewhere in the game, you will be not controlling Norma or Sam, you’ll just be controlling a camera and you’ll see Sam/Norman and you can move the camera in sync with them. And when you look at him, he might do something like wink at you. So you’re actually playing as Norman Reedus as drama.”
“It took me a few times to figure out what he was talking about, to be honest,” Reedus joked. “It’s like Salvatore Dali says, ‘I don’t do drugs, I am drugs.'”