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Picking Apart Death Stranding’s Game Awards Trailer

The latest trailer for Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding paint’s an eerie, oil-slick picture. Join us as we pick apart the pieces in our trailer tear-down.

Death Stranding

Last night at the Game Awards Hideo Kojima made a surprise appearance, offering us our second look at his first ‘independent’ title since leaving Konami, Death Stranding. This new five-minute trailer offers a tantalizing look at the game, which is being published by Sony Interactive Entertainment and released exclusively on the PlayStation 4.

Having a few hours to take in the details, we’ve put together a rundown of some of the more interesting tidbits from the trailer which offers a haunting look into a world seemingly ruined by war and a mysterious cataclysm.

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So long and thanks for all the fish, Kojima.

Similar to last E3’s reveal of the game, the Game Awards trailer for Death Stranding begins by slowly panning over more dead sea life as crabs carcasses are strewn about a muddy ravine. It’s a familiar site, as those who watched the game’s debut trailer earlier this year showcased hundreds of dead fish on a beach slathered in murky black crude. At this point it seems safe to say that some kind of disastrous oil spill will be playing heavily into Death Stranding’s main narrative.

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Death Stranding’s mysterious army seems like a force out of step with time itself.

Breaking the eerie silence, a portly man in a suit – portrayed by none other than famed director and Hideo Kojima’s partner in the now-defunct Silent Hills project, Guillermo Del Toro – begins hurriedly walking towards the underside of a bridge in an old looking city. Planes swarm menacingly overhead, and the panicked man begins to hurry towards the damp stone structure for cover. It’s then that dust begins to fall and he backs up to find a battle tank flanked by a phalanx of soldiers patrolling overhead.

Taking in the finer details, it’s easy to see that things aren’t quite right. Something is off about not only the soldiers we see, but the setting itself. The planes that soared overhead just moments ago were propeller-driven, looking like relics from the World War 2 era. However, the tank that rumbled across the crumbling stone was much more modern in design, seemingly a relic from the height of the Cold War era. And about those troops who patrolled alongside this mechanical monster, which was draped in swollen, putrid snakes? They were an odd bunch as well. They sported a strange amalgamation of gear, equipped with antiquated bolt-action rifles that stood in stark contrast to their night vision goggles mounted to their helmets. Also, the planes, tanks, and troops themselves are seemingly slathered in that oil we were talking about, which suddenly appeared to flood beneath the bridge with the arrival of this eerie spectral battalion who seem driven by some unseen force. It seems evident that Death Stranding exists in some creepy and surreal fusion of the world we know and one of supernatural mystery. Make no mistake, this is absolutely a project from the mind of Hideo Kojima.

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Is this the same baby showcased in Death Stranding’s debut trailer?

From this point on, the camera returns to our mystery protagonist, who from now on we’ll refer to as The Caretaker. After the oil appears, The Caretaker withdraws the item he’s been clutching, which turns out to be some sort of incubator that seems to be holding the baby that Naked Norman Reedus was clutching in Death Stranding’s E3 trailer. He activates the device and a warm glow begins to emit from the egg-shaped capsule. Suddenly, a decrepit baby doll bumps against The Caretakers leg with the current of the crude, then begins to slowly drift into the tunnels under the bridge where it begins to pulse with an eerie red light.

Kojima Productions

Actor Mads Mikkelson cries crude as he seemingly assumes the role of the game’s antagonist.

It’s here that we get a glimpse of what appears to be the game’s main antagonist, as a more elite looking squad of oil-slicked soldiers emerge from the inky black shadows with that same dim red glow that emanated from the doll. Two of the soldiers sport the same dated weaponry the grunts on the bridge were utilizing, though the one in the middle, seemingly their commander, is outfitted with a modern assault rifle.Touching his face to his NVGs, they disintegrate like flickering embers to reveal the face of actor Mads Mikkelson, of Hannibal and Doctor Strange fame, who appears to be controlling his squad of automaton-like troops via tendrils that emerge from his body like some sort of fusion of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty’s Solidus and MGS4’s psychic warrior Screaming Mantis. This mysterious figure looks towards the camera, pressing his finger to his lips before directing his men to fan out. The camera then pans down the the battered doll, which has finally drifted to the end of the tunnel, resting at his feet and begins winking rapidly.

So, what is the significance of this blinking doll? Is it some sort of beacon this figure uses or some other kind of macabre calling card? It seems logical to assume the doll is meant to represent the baby The Caretaker is protecting, and that this mysterious figure hopes to wrest if from his clutches, but why? Only time will tell. Another detail we noticed was that Mikkelson’s harness seems to spin out of control. This could further indicate his powers are supernatural, as ghostly energies are commonly associated with shifts in magnetic fields. Or maybe it’s just a side-effect of his strange, seemingly hypnotic powers. It’s hard to say, but we’re eager to learn more about this shadowy figure and the forces that motivate his army.

Death Stranding trailer

Babies always make everything creepier. Well, I guess I’m not sleeping tonight.

Death Stranding’s Game Awards trailer certainly raises more questions than it answers, and I’m sure that’s something creator Hideo Kojima and the team at Kojima Productions’ surely set out to do. Naked Norman Reedus and The Caretaker’s true roles are totally ambiguous, as is the actual setting and the significance of the murky oil that seems to tie the entire scenario together. Are these spectral apparitions and seemingly supernatural moments real, or some strange psychotic effect of the toxins found in the crude that’s spilled all over this mysterious world? We have no clue, but we’re certainly excited to find out when Death Stranding eventually releases on the PlayStation 4.

In case you missed it, you can check out last night’s Death Stranding trailer for yourself below:

So, did you notice something we missed? What do you think the deal is with the thick sludge that’s painting Death Stranding‘s world black?  As always, we’d love to hear what you think. Be sure to let us know your theories the comments section.

Frank has been the caffeine-fueled evil overlord of HeyPoorPlayer since 2008. He speaks loudly and carries a big stick to keep the staff of the HPP madhouse in check. A collector of all things that blip and beep, he has an extensive collection of retro consoles and arcade machines crammed into his house. Currently playing: Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou (Arcade), Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Switch), Neo Turf Masters (Neo Geo)

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