To call Death Stranding a divisive game would be a bit of an understatement. There are just as many people out there who absolutely love it as there are those who were put off by its mundanity; just as many proponents of its gorgeous and desolate world, its unique online mechanics, its mechanical depth as there are harsh critics of its clumsy narrative and overbearing storytelling, its deliberate pacing and structure, its emptiness and repetition.
Both camps have valid points, of course, but regardless of which camp you fall in, Death Stranding Director’s Cut won’t do much to sway your opinion one way or another. Calling it a “director’s cut” isn’t entirely accurate – a fact that the game’s director, Hideo Kojima, agrees with himself – with the additions and improvements on offer here being much more limited than actual director’s cuts like those for, say, Ghost of Tsushima or Persona 5. So those who already like Death Stranding or haven’t yet played it but are enamoured by its ideas will find plenty to love in its expanded re-release.
As a PS5 remaster, the game has, of course, received visual and performance improvements, and the consistent 60 FPS frame rate in particular is worthy of praise. On a technical level, the Director’s Cut isn’t a massive leap, but Death Stranding was already a pretty damn good looking game, so a crisper, sharper, better-looking version of it isn’t something anyone would say no to. Other PS5 features are leveraged as well, from instant loading times to the implementation of the DualSense’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.
The former is especially effective- trekking over all manner of terrain is a crucial part of the experience in Death Stranding, so having that go hand-in-hand with nuanced, tactile feedback in your palms as you take each step is a great bonus. Meanwhile, thanks to better tutorializing, the opening hours of the game should also be a less overwhelming experience than they were in the original release.
“On a technical level, the Director’s Cut isn’t a massive leap, but Death Stranding was already a pretty damn good looking game, so a crisper, sharper, better-looking version of it isn’t something anyone would say no to.”
Where new additions are concerned, the biggest one is the Ruined Factory, a new location added in the game’s first area close to Capital Knot City, which serves as the setting for a number of new stealth-focused missions. The idea of new content to play through is of course an enticing one, especially since it’s stealth-focused content made by Hideo Kojima and his team- but the idea fails in execution, honestly. Death Stranding’s mechanical strengths lie in its traversal, planning out deliveries, and leveraging the game’s social mechanics, and even the game’s biggest fans would concede that when it comes to stealth and combat, Death Stranding has major failings. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the new stealth-focused missions aren’t anything to write home about.
The interiors of the dilapidated factory are well-designed, and they’re definitely a refreshing change of scenery in a game that is vastly dominated by massive stretches of empty, beautiful wastelands. But the actual mechanics have shaky legs, and the fact that these missions by their very nature shine a spotlight on those mechanics only exacerbates the issue. The structure of these missions can also be a bit annoying. The Factory has several sections, each locked behind a closed door that is opened upon the completion of a mission. Having to leave the factory to complete the mission, accept a mission for a newly opened up area, and trek all the way back to the factory repeatedly can get tiresome very quickly.
Another addition is the race track, which offers a very different kind of side activity from what you’d normally associate with Death Stranding. It can be found to the south of the Timefall Farm in the central region, and once you’ve donated enough resources to construct it, you can participate in racing events whenever you want. The offerings here are disappointingly meager though. The number of tracks and vehicles available is painfully limited, and it doesn’t help that those vehicles aren’t a lot of fun to drive on a race track. Even with boost activated, the only vehicle that even comes close to having any real sense of speed is the new Roadster, but even that has stiff and cumbersome handling. Coming to a dead stop even if you just slightly brush the invisible boundaries on the sides happens all too often thanks to the poor handling, which is never fun.
“The offerings in the new race track are disappointingly meager. The number of tracks and vehicles available is painfully limited, and it doesn’t help that those vehicles aren’t a lot of fun to drive on a race track.”
Death Stranding Director’s Cut also adds several new tools and equipment to the game that can be used for traversal or during deliveries, and though the results here are still mixed, they’re far more positive than the racing track, or even the Ruined Factory. Tools like a new support skeleton, a buddy bot to help carry your cargo, and a new catapult to shoot your cargo across vast distances can now be fabricated and used during deliveries. The catapult is definitely a fun new addition, allowing you to shoot precious items across stretches of tricky terrain and then pick them back up after you get to them. That said, I will say that these new tools are definitely best used once you’re done with the game. They can make things a bit too easy, which undercuts Death Stranding’s inherent mechanical strengths, and if you use these tools in, say, the early stages of the game and end up removing all the planning and grueling trekking involved, all you’ll be left with will be boring tedium, and the simple task of getting from point A to point B with very few challenges involved.
The original Death Stranding had a lot to like, though you had to be of a certain persuasion to actually appreciate it on its terms. Director’s Cut should be the definitive way to play it, but it’s hard to really say that’s the case. A lot of its additions and improvements are for the better, with the performance improvements and haptic feedback being the highlights. However, a lot of what it adds undercuts and undermines the strengths of the original game, such as they are, or doesn’t go far enough, or, to put it bluntly, just isn’t very good. That doesn’t dilute from the merits of the game, in the end, nor does it really address the several substantial issues people have with it – but ultimately, all that means is that this is a release that won’t change anyone’s mind on Death Stranding either way.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Looks amazing; Great DualSense implementation; Solid performance upgrade; Some of the new tools are quite useful; Core mechanics are still strong;
Ruined Factory focuses on stealth, and the core stealth mechanics aren’t great; The race track has limited offerings, and driving vehicles on it is a cumbersome experience; Some of the new tools undercut the game’s mechanical strength.
Some of Death Stranding Director’s Cut’s new additions are a little disappointing, but the experience’s core mechanics remain intact. Though it is an inessential purchase, those who enjoyed the original game and want to dive in again will find plenty to like here.A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.Original Article