Everything in Death Stranding is an attempt on the player's life - and so it's best if players know a few tips and tricks before getting started. Whether its terrorists, porters who have gone mad, the supernatural entities known as BTs or just the brutal, unrepentant world that's been set back into the dark ages, Sam Bridges must struggle through every mission just to survive. It certainly doesn't help that Death Stranding is a new genre of game altogether, one that borrows from several others but doesn't have the same sort of precedents that consumers can lean on for help. For new Death Stranding players, tips and tricks learned before playing can be the difference between a successful delivery or a crater littering the early game's serene landscape.
Death Stranding throws players into the role of Sam Porter Bridges as he traverses a post-apocalyptic America attempting to unite people under something called a Chiral Network - think a mobile cellular network with massive technological upgrades and benefits. It's an honest, unapologetic take on a landscape that has not been traversed by many humans in recent years, making even the simplest missions difficult simply because there are no roads or shortcuts in the beginning of the game. As time progresses, players can add structures of their own and interact with online ones created by other players, lessening the burden - but in the early hours of Death Stranding, it's one lonely porter against the end of the world.
If that sounds intimidating, that's because it is. Death Stranding has split reviewers down the middle, with some praising it as one of the most important games of this decade and others describing it as nothing more than a chore that inflates its gameplay with empty traversal and plodding mechanics. If anything, the critical divide has made the game even more of a must-play for consumers, who must now make up their minds on which side of the fence they stand on. Those looking for a more positive early Death Stranding experience should look no further than this guide, which will provide some hints, tips, and tricks players need to know before playing Death Stranding.
Death Stranding Is Survival Over Fighting
One of the biggest mistakes new Death Stranding players will make is treating it like it's a successor to Metal Gear Solid, the series that made Hideo Kojima a household name in the video game community. While the game does borrow some of its stealth gameplay from that series, it is largely different, and approaching the earlier missions as though Sam Bridges is a trained soldier will result in disaster. While Sam does get access to weapons over time and will be forced to use them at multiple different points, he is first and foremost a deliveryman, then a survivor - and, at a distant third, a fighter.
What does that mean for gameplay during Death Stranding? It means players should approach stressful or dangerous situations with fighting as a last resort option. Survival should always be at the forefront of Death Stranding decision making, and plotting a route through enemies that avoids contact if possible is always a better choice than trying to blast through their defenses. This is doubly true of BTs, who are difficult to see without playing more cautiously anyways and can easily end a promising delivery with Sam waking up in the middle of a crater, wondering how it all went wrong.
Hold Your Breath In Death Stranding At Every Opportunity
At least when BTs are present. The Death Stranding breath holding mechanic is introduced early on, and there's a reason for that - it's by far the most efficient and natural way to navigate a field of BTs. New players will be worried about Sam's stamina bar, which depletes whenever he's holding his breath, and faster when he's moving. That's okay, though, as the stamina bar is meant to be used as liberally as possible, especially during tight situations like a BT area. Don't be afraid to let the stamina bar get close to empty before releasing Sam's breath, and navigate very slowly while it's refilling, immediately holding it again as soon as its full. Carefully managing Sam's breath while also using BB to figure out the position of BTs in a given area is the easiest way to get through Death Stranding's early sections, and then the game will provide some more useful tools at combating BTs in Chapter 5.
How to Balance Sam's Load in Death Stranding
A life-saving tip that is worth repeating as often as necessary - Sam can balance heavier loads that he's delivering if the player holds both the L2 and R2 shoulder buttons simultaneously. This is important because otherwise, Sam tends to stumble through rougher terrain like he's been on a three-day bender, leading to moments where he falls. Falling upsets BB and can potentially lose packages in rushing streams if players aren't careful, which is never fun.
Balancing is also important while traversing quicker rivers. While sometimes a player will have a ladder or, if they're lucky, an enterprising porter has already built a bridge over the water, often times they need to cross on their own two-feet, submerged in the muck. Balancing can help maintain a crossing that's questionable in length, and it sure beats having Sam swept off his feet, which results in packages getting lost downstream, Sam getting displaced somewhere along the river bank, and a very upset BB.
Use Death Stranding Private Rooms As Often As Possible
The world of Death Stranding is one that will exhaust Sam at every turn. His stamina will gradually have less of a bar to replenish, BB will get upset through stressful situations, and gear and packages wear down through repeated turmoil and the shifting weather of Timefall. Private rooms will reset almost all of those issues, giving Sam a new lease on life, BB some time to calm down, and even opportunities to generate weapons, as Death Stranding creates gear out of Sam's waste once he showers or uses the bathroom.
More than that, though, resting in private rooms will sometimes trigger cutscenes when Sam reconnects to his BB, which will in turn help tease some of the bigger plot points of Death Stranding. That context can help newer players feel more intrigued in the story, so private rooms are both pragmatic for gameplay and exciting for narrative developments.
Find Shelter From Timefall Quickly
Timefall is one of the more sinister but subdued elements of Death Stranding. The rain eats away at the package quality and gear of Sam as he travels in it openly, and can result in getting worse delivery grades for missions. Death Stranding isn't unfair, though, as there are plenty of opportunities to seek shelter should the rain come and threaten an enterprising porter. While Timefall Shelters can be built by players and can be found scattered across the map, sometimes nothing is as reliable as mother nature herself. Sam can also find caves or rocky outcroppings to protect himself from the rain and wait it out, although be warned that this can take quite a while. It's also possible to simply avoid the Timefall as much as possible without taking breaks from the journey by trying to maneuver under sheltered areas whenever possible, even if it extends the route slightly.
Always Take One More Ladder Than You Think You Need
Just trust this one. Death Stranding is a big, beautiful game with a lot of difficult terrain that needs crossing over. However many ladders a player thinks they need for a mission in Death Stranding, if they can fit another one, they absolutely should. It can make getting over a rocky outcropping a breeze and save minutes on a journey, not to mention getting to cross over cliffs without having to go the long way around. Just be aware that these implements can degrade over time thanks to Timefall and they may not be there when Sam comes back if too much time has passed.