In 2016, after breaking up with Konami, Hideo Kojima communicated to the world that he was a free creative. Upon hearing the news, a good portion of his audience went crazy with joy. This is because, detached from Konami and, above all, from the Metal Gear saga, Hideo could finally give life to something new, a title ready to involve millions of players all over the world.
We know the name of that project very well today, and between controversy and praise it has already entered the collective imagination of the public by right. Death Stranding, a few notes from Low Roar and a few frames of the game were enough, smelled of novelty: there was a completely new sci-fi imagery even for the cinematographic panorama, a cast of actors never so focused before that moment and a game system supported by very curious gameplay dynamics. And this was in a tired industry like today, crammed with similar titles.
Not surprisingly, the video game industry, at least the current one, teaches us that the sequel is, in the vast majority of cases, a good quality more of the same, a game that, starting from the foundations of the previous chapter, is concerned with improve as much as I can (at best) many aspects of the video game. It is rare, therefore, especially from a second chapter, to expect something completely different.
In this regard, in the course of this article I'm going to dissect the topic and, in the second part, I'll tell you my opinion on the trailer and on some of the most sensible speculations that it is possible to come up with after a couple of viewings.
Second game or more of the same?
A question that today is not even worth asking. Not always, at least. Exactly, because, in order to avoid making anyone angry, I want to specify that, fortunately, some breaking sequels or games belonging to very long sagas, back on the market with new playful flashes, are really there. They have simply become rarer over time; digging well, however, something jumps out. This is the case of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which embraces the open world trying to remain faithful to the name it bears (in addition, it innovates and distorts the market); this is the case of the Metal Gear saga, remaining in the Kojima house, with chapters that are always different from each other and full of intelligent ideas, capable of refreshing more and more the playful apparatus of the saga.
Then there are less striking cases, but which have nevertheless managed to detach themselves sufficiently from the previous chapter: there are those who have done so by reversing the themes of the plot and those who, simply, while surfing on a line called "more of the same", managed to distance himself from the previous game.
So yes, in a market like the one described, which is struggling to renew itself after just one game, the Death Stranding 2 trailer amazes on several occasions: it does so by differentiating the imagination, disseminating clues that lead the player to think that we will have to deal with more incisive stealth dynamics, or making us imagine that, in this round, we will take up firearms and kill without having to worry about the devastating ones aftermath of Death Stranding.
Regarding Death Stranding 2, it's true: I'm just throwing black and white hypotheses. If you're thinking that, you're right and I don't blame you. It is in fact possible that half of the ideas and assumptions described do not find space in Hideo Kojima's latest effort; yet, if only for the imaginary set up in just four minutes of trailer, DS2 would already be more than safe from the "more of the same" speech.
At this point, some might wonder: Is it essential to detach yourself from the previous game? After all, more of the same are more than appreciated by players, aren't they? These are more than legitimate questions, the answers to which, moreover, are to be found in the market itself. That titles like Horizon Forbidden West, God of War Ragnarok or the latest Assassin's Creed are appreciated by many people (even by critics), it is right and it is good that it is. Nonetheless, considering that we are living in a historical moment in which high-budget games are struggling to show something really different, disruptive, to hope that in the market, at the same time as less courageous titles, there are also games that try to break the rules and from the diagram, it is the minimum. And according to all the announcements of the TGA 2022, my hopes fall all and only on Death Stranding 2, despite the little information I have. As far as I'm concerned, it's already a success that it is talked about and has aroused interest, appearing – among other things – even unrecognizable in some situations. Doesn't that sound like a nice finish to you?
Death Stranding 2: what I think
And it is precisely from this point that I would like to start, because Death Stranding 2 is unrecognizable in some passages, but extremely familiar in others. It is no coincidence that little hands and a few seconds of the BB theme were enough to recognize it, demonstrating the fact that with the previous game Hideo Kojima left a clear mark; he has engraved his own imagination in the minds of many players. So what to expect from DS2?
First, a completely different gameplay. Not in the key concepts, mind you, but in the raw mechanics. So a title that takes up the idea of the journey (once again more significant than the destination itself) and builds something new around it, if not for the world of video games, something new to Death Stranding. In fact, as some might think, in the first game there were already stealth game or shooter mechanics, but they were underdeveloped and included in a video game essentially devoted to non-violence. Considering the ending of the last chapter and some situations seen in the DS2 trailer, however, things may have changed quite a bit, and death, therefore, may no longer have the consequences we all remember, namely creating areas populated by CAs and thus increase the risk of forming a crater, wiping out entire segments of the game world.
Therefore, I expect gameplay that is extremely more familiar in terms of mechanics, but developed with greater care in the fights and stealth phases, and with - once again - the idea of movement at the center, of a map made up of small or large regions full of environmental dangers, obstacles to overcome and climatic conditions to challenge.
What about the narrative component instead? Which is all – as usual – shrouded in mystery. Despite the four-minute trailer, it is already possible to talk about it for hours, formulate very long and very articulate theories. In this regard, I suggest you watch a video made by the talented Stefania Sperandio of Spaziogames, who has gutted the trailer. Here, I will limit myself to telling you that I expect something that goes in strong continuity with the previous chapter, a direct sequel, therefore. However, the possibility that the story makes continuous temporal leaps, or that it puts us directly in Fragile's shoes cannot be excluded; golden opportunity, this, to give life to really different gameplay situations.
Anything could happen and, as always, knowing Hideo Kojima, the most linear and simplest hypotheses to deduce will probably be wrong. The vision of the trailer, in fact, turning off the imagination, could induce the player to trivially think that, after the events of the first game, Fragile and Sam have become very close and are trying, together, to raise little Louise. However, the Death Stranding threat is far from buried, and Higgs, head of a terrorist cult that seems to worship Amelie, is ready to torment Sam again.
If there was an untwisted mind behind the project, I would really be convinced of this thought. As you well know, there is the hand of Hideo Kojima, which means that a lot of patience will be required. In the meantime, while you wait, let yourselves go wild. Let us know in the comments what you think.