Hideo Kojima addressed the Death Stranding walking simulator criticisms that have been making the rounds on social media ever since the lengthy Death Stranding TGS 2019 trailer, and the game's creator believes those comparisons are unfounded and born out of misunderstanding what the title is trying to do. Death Stranding has been misunderstood for virtually its entire existence thanks to its cryptic environment, storytelling, and gameplay designs - and Kojima has been happy to lean into those mysteries when it comes to defining the game, often characterizing it as its own "stranding" genre that will change the gaming industry.
What we do know about Death Stranding is that it centers around re-connecting the United States after it has fallen apart due to an unknown event that spawned the existence of BTs, the shadowy entities that haunt the landscape. Norman Reedus' character Sam is the protagonist tasked with bringing humanity back together, uniting the "strands" of the country together with technology. Death Stranding multiplayer will be a lot like Dark Souls in the sense that players can help each other from a distance through asynchronous interactions, and combat will be interspersed through the exploration and will range from human enemies to hulking monsters.
Naturally, the fact that so much in Death Stranding is completely new to gaming - from the story to the gameplay mechanics themselves - has led many to try to characterize it in terms they already understand. According to Kojima, though, those who have compared Death Stranding to a "walking simulator" - an often malicious description that's meant to indicate a game has very little to actually do in it - are off base. The creator revealed during an interview with Game Informer that the game will inevitably go over the heads of some people:
"And now everyone will say, 'Oh, it's a walking simulator!'
It's the same as when I first brought out a stealth game. If 100 people play it and 100 people say it's fun, it means the genre or the game already exists. But this is a new genre - same as stealth the first time, there will be people who don't get it. It will take time for the real evaluations to come in."
Obviously, having a game design that will ostracize a significant number of players due to misunderstandings isn't ideal, but Kojima evidently believes it is necessary in order to push gaming to housing a new genre. It's likely the truth is somewhere in between the two descriptions of the game - Death Stranding is very likely to be as innovative as it looks, but it does appear to have a lot of exploration elements, which does lend a tiny bit of credence to the walking simulator label, even if it should be interpreted broadly as a positive within the context of what the game is trying to do.
With Death Stranding set for release in a few months, fans won't need to wait long to make up their minds about Kojima's first game since his departure from Konami. Whether it's a smash hit or a huge flop, though, it feels like Death Stranding is the sort of game that's going to be viewed through extremes thanks to how much hype has gone into its build-up to launch.
Source: Game Informer