Happy pill

Half Mag / Half Zine

Soapbox: In Defence of Death Stranding

I really do get it, y’know? No, not Death Stranding’s storyline – I’m as confuddled as the rest of you by its pseudo-philosophical mumbo-jumbo. I’m talking about the scepticism. You’re bored of Hideo Kojima being, well, Hideo Kojima, and you want the auteur to be put back on a leash. Maybe not a Konami-branded leash, but a leash all the same.

No, look, I do understand the concerns because deep-down I’m beginning to question whether the upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive is going to be for me as well. It appears to be some kind of courier simulation, where you’re delivering packages like a backpacked Postman Pat who just so happens to have a small child strapped to his chest.

But I’m not 100 per cent sure that’s what the game is going to be, and here’s an idea I want to propose to you: isn’t it refreshing not knowing? Allow me to present to you another hotly anticipated 2019 title: Borderlands 3. Gearbox has shown a lot of this game since its announcement, and do you know what it looks like: Borderlands bloody 3.

Now, there are a lot of Borderlands fans out there, and I’m not throwing shade in Randy Pitchford’s direction at all – he gets enough of that from Jim Sterling and ResetEra. The point is that I knew exactly what to expect from Borderlands 3 the second it was announced, and hours of gameplay footage since has done little to change my mind. It’s Borderlands 3.

And that’s great if you wanted more Borderlands, but aren’t most AAA titles like that these days? I’m one of the few fans of Days Gone, but it’s a design-by-numbers open world game that just so happens to have a handful of ideas it can claim to be its own. The forthcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare may be going in a darker direction, but I’ve still played it before.

Death Stranding, then, is a rare example of a tentpole title that I’m still second-guessing three months before its release. It may very well be rubbish, but don’t we criticise this industry enough for shoving the same ideas down our gullets every 12 months? Shouldn’t we be celebrating something that’s a little out of the ordinary – a game that appears to be bucking every trend in the book?

I understand that you want Sony and Kojima Productions to sell the game to you, but no one is forcing you to buy it at launch. You’ll find all of the information you need online the moment the title releases, and I promise you that the mystery will evaporate eventually; there’ll be game guides, livestreams, and YouTube videos – the title will be blown wide open within days.

But for now, shouldn’t we just embrace the unknown? It’s so, so rare for a release of this calibre to try something genuinely different, and to maintain a degree of secrecy right through until it debuts. Look, it might be awful – a pretentious and polished turd that will earn its 3/10. So be it: you can’t complain about a lack of creativity in this industry while simultaneously criticising something for daring to be different.