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How Death Stranding Turns Walking Into an Immersive Experience

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  • Posted on 08th Apr, 2022 18:00 PM
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To make hours of walking more interactive, Death Stranding tasks players with accounting for multiple factors when traversing its unique world.

p>Underneath its strange world and equally strange characters, Death Stranding is still a "walking simulator" at its core. Players still walk from point A to point B, carrying packages and getting likes from NPCs and other players as a means of motivation. While other video games treat walking and running as passive actions, Death Stranding focuses on making them as engaging as possible.

In a typical video game with controllable characters, players either press a button or tilt the analog stick in the direction they want their character to go. Depending on how hard the button is pressed, or the stick is held, the character either walks or sprints in the assigned direction. That's usually as deep as movement mechanics go at a base level, as players would often rather focus on the more interesting parts of the game. Players still tilt the left analog stick in the direction they want Sam to go in Death Stranding, only this time they have to pay attention to multiple factors.

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Where Do We Walk?

First off is the environment, which plays a large role in overall gameplay in Death Stranding. By scanning their surroundings with the Odradek (the fancy scanner that looks like a baby crib mobile), players can distinguish if a piece of terrain is easy, difficult, or downright impossible to walk on. Paved roads and trodden paths make for some of the easiest terrains to pass through, while slopes and deep water force players to find another way around.

Level design is important in Death Stranding, not just because it makes the game unique, but because players are routinely interacting with it. When it comes down to gameplay, the main adversaries of Death Stranding aren't the cargo-obsessed MULEs or the otherworldly BTs, it's the world itself.

Any Porter in a Storm

In being a part of the world, it only makes sense that Sam's condition plays a vital role, since he's the one doing all the walking. Players have to always check if Sam is in good shape before making a journey. They have to make sure he gets the occasional rest, as pushing him too far will cause him to visibly tire and eventually pass out. Drinking energy drinks and taking a nap while on the road restores some of that lost stamina, but he has to rest in a designated private room or safe house to get back to tip-top shape.

Equipping Sam with the right gear is equally important. The boots he wears protect his feet from injuries and strain, but they eventually wear out and have to be replaced. Thermal pads keep Sam warm in cold areas, preventing increased stamina loss. Players can even make walking easier by wearing exoskeletons that allow Sam to carry tons of cargo. As players delve further into Death Stranding, they are rewarded with various pieces of gear that make Sam's job easier. It's a bit like taking care of a Tamagotchi pet, only that pet looks very much like Norman Reedus.

Deliveries are Making Deliveries Difficult

The last and arguably most important thing when it comes to walking is the cargo on Sam's back. Packages quickly stack up to ludicrous heights, and players have to take their weight and placement into consideration if they want to complete their deliveries in the best way possible (the fastest possible time and the items intact). Carrying a light load makes Sam's job much easier, as it allows him to move more freely and even allows him to double jump.

More often than not though, players will be up to their eyes in cargo. Carrying too much weight makes it harder for Sam to keep his balance and forces players to hold the L2 and R2 buttons more often to prevent him from falling over and damaging the cargo. They also have to carefully shift their weight when turning, as making an abrupt 180-degree turn could tilt the cargo sharply in one direction. Thankfully, Death Stranding doesn't allow cargo to fall off Sam's back unless he falls or the cargo hits something.

It is hard to explain just how engrossing the simple act of walking is in Death Stranding to people who haven't played it before. While it looks like players are just walking in one direction for minutes and hours at a time, they are routinely taking in the environment, Sam's condition, and the cargo on their backs into consideration at all times. It may be too much to take in at first, but once players get the hang of it, Death Stranding's core gameplay mechanic can be as fun and interactive as shooting thousands of enemies in a Fallout game.

Death Stranding is available now on PC, PS4, and PS5.

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