Death Stranding was a critically acclaimed title when it released in November 2019. For a lot of players, it served as Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus, offering them a video game experience like nothing that had come before. And now, almost two years on from its initial release, Kojima Productions has released the Death Stranding Director’s Cut, an edition of the game that looks to elevate an already unforgettable experience.
Though Death Stranding was well-received, it’s not without its quirks. The gameplay, which consists of making deliveries and uncovering the mysteries of the Death Stranding, started slow, taking players quite a long time to begin receiving tools that would aid in the delivery of goods. The Director’s Cut addresses that by frontloading the campaign with more tools for players to utilize, a place to test out weaponry, as well as an entirely new location to explore.
For example, players will now receive an exo skeleton significantly earlier than in the original release. The exo skeleton improves Sam Porter Bridges’ ability to carry heavy weight effectively. This reorganization of tools will help players cross that initial hump and get into the meatier moments. It’s a small change, but one that players will likely welcome, especially those who may have struggled to pierce through the veil when the game originally released.
There’s also a new weapon for players to enjoy early on. The Maser is a short to medium range rifle that shoots electricity. With a quick pull of the trigger, players can send out an arc or by pulling and holding at the sweet spot, can have a continuous stream of crackling electricity spew forth. It makes dealing with early game MULEs much more convenient, and allows players to feel comfortable testing out their stealth capabilities with the knowledge that they’ve got an ace up their sleeve if things go south.
To that end, the Director’s Cut also includes a firing range for players to test out new weaponry. Previously, the only way players could test out weapons was in life or death moments. Some players may have found themselves using a Hematic grenade for the first time during a boss fight, which isn’t an ideal time to be learning the intricacies of combat. Thankfully, the firing range gives players various drills with which to test their mettle or compete for high placement on leaderboards. I found myself returning to the firing range whenever I discovered a new weapon, to practice with it and to try and set new time scores.
Tools and utilities aren’t the only things to be added to Death Stranding via the Director’s Cut. Players can now also get more involved in the aesthetics of Sam and the BB. The pod can receive a new lick of paint while some of Sam’s personal belongings (backpack, cap, glasses etc) can have their colors changed. It’s a neat new addition that gives players a bit more to do in Sam’s private quarters.
Death Stranding has also received a racing track, which is the perfect opportunity to test out your ride on a surface void of rocks and obstacles. After hauling the materials needed to construct it, I spent a bit of downtime between deliveries zooming around the track listening to the tunes I had unlocked. With multiple tracks, vehicles, and leaderboards, there’s plenty of reason to return to the track for some high octane relaxation.
And for those who like the thrill of boss fights, Death Stranding Director’s Cut also includes the ability to replay these encounters. This is a fantastic addition and one that many games with boss fights are sorely missing. As some of the most intense combat Death Stranding has to offer, getting to fight some of the eldritch beings again is worth the price of admission.
The Director’s Cut also includes a brand new location, the Ruined Factory, for players to visit, replete with delivery missions and plenty of information to glean. This Ruined Factory sits high atop a hill and will be a place you revisit over the course of the campaign as Die-Hardman directs you to venture deeper.
There are other new additions too, like the jump ramps that propel Sam further whether he’s riding a vehicle or on foot, an update to the Buddy Bot that helps Sam by following him while piled high with cargo or even carrying him along. Then there’s the cargo catapult that fires cargo long-distances, which is a fantastic idea given how remote some of these delivery locations can be.
As an aside, playing on the PlayStation 5 was a beautiful experience. Death Stranding already looked phenomenal on the PlayStation 4, but the higher fidelity possible on the PS5 really made the environments pop. Plus, the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers enhance the tone of both the combat and the serene treks across the landscape. The haptic feedback vibrated and rattled as I stumbled across shale while the triggers provided resistance as I squeezed out shots from the trench-clearing shotgun. It really highlights the tech inside these controllers.
The Death Stranding Director’s Cut adds enough new tools and toys for players to utilize to make the experience worth replaying for those diehard fans. And for those that were unsure about getting in, the shuffling and redistribution of tools ensures that the early game is more approachable, while still retaining the sense of scale and progression offered at launch. The other features, like the firing range, racing track, and new location elevate an already rich experience. So collect your order and tie up your laces, because you’ll want to walk another 500 miles or more to experience what’s on offer here.
These impressions are based on a review key provided by the publisher. Death Stranding Director’s Cut is available on PlayStation 5 on September 24, 2021.