Combat in Death Stranding
It comes as no surprise that Death Stranding’s combat system is familiar to many, especially the fans of the Metal Gear series. The upcoming title will retain some of the tactical espionage games’ mechanics to take down foes. We summarize some key features of the game’s combat shown in videoes from the release date trailer up to the Tokyo Game Show 2019 presentations.
As featured in the TGS 2019 demo, neutralizing targets as quietly as possible seems to be the most efficient method of combat. While it is the most ideal approach, it is expected that players will find themselves in situations where direct confrontation is unavoidable. It was also not revealed if BTs can be dealt with using surprise attacks.
Human enemies like the Mules behave similarly to those found in Metal Gear games. Players can stay out of their field of vision by hiding in tall grass or maintaining a good distance from them.
Human foes can be stunned when attacked with non-lethal weapons like the strand or bola gun. They can also be knocked unconscious using melee attacks or by trampling on them.
When a human enemy is close enough, melee attacks are an option. The player can perform punches and kicks to take down enemies. In the release date trailer, the player was seen swinging a container dropped by a Mules member to attack. A single blow using the luggage was enough to stagger the enemy.
Weapons will naturally play a huge part in combat against various types of enemies. Based on the TGS 2019 demo, weapons can be classified into three categories: non-lethal, lethal, and anti BT.
A few of the starting weapons revealed are described as “non-lethal anti-personnel weapons.” This implied that players are given the choice to adopt a moral approach, at least against human enemies. Weapons that do kill, however, were featured in gameplay footage, particularly in the TGS 2019 demo.
The electrified pole weapons used by Mules are also thought to be non-lethal as the bandit group does not kill people.
The strand is a cord-like weapon for binding and subduing foes. It is assumed that players must approach targets stealthily to successfully neutralize them with the weapon. The strand is also able to parry close-range attacks, though this was not shown in released gameplay footage.
While not demonstrated in-game, lethal weapons can be used to dispatch enemies. The fragmentation grenade and assault rifle that appeared in the safe house demo are assumed to be weapons that kill. A rough translation of their in-game description also revealed that both weapons were used by the armed forces of the United Cities of America.
It is also suggested that members of Homo Demens, the anarchist faction based in Edge Knot City, use lethal firearms to dispose of their enemies.
Special weapons are used when fighting BTs. Those revealed in this category are the hematic grenade and charge type BT gun. These weapons require an external source of human blood to operate. Blood bags in the player’s inventory are expended upon use. The player’s own blood will serve as a substitute if they do not have any blood bags in their loadout.
Hematic grenades were used against the catcher BT during the TGS 2019 demo. The BT exploded into chiral crystals upon death. The use of the material, however, has not been elaborated on as of yet
Dealing with BTs is one of Death Stranding’s unique features. As shown in released trailers and demos, a BT attack occurs in three stages.
First Stage – Gazers
During timefall weather, floating BTs called gazers will appear and seek out prey in the area. While usually invisible, they can be spotted by remaining still. Moving causes them to disappear again. The bola gun can be used to immobilize gazers, making them visible even when the player moves.
Second Stage – Hunters
When gazers spot prey, they will alert hunters. These are BTs that move on the ground and appear as black handprints. With the topography sensor activated, the prints are colored orange. As hunters near the target, they will create dark pools and materialize under the victim as black hands or even complete humanoid upper bodies. They will try to drag the prey underground to an unknown location to be fed to a catcher. The player can try to shake them off if they are not hindered too much by their cargo.
Third Stage – Catcher
The transported prey will then be attacked by the catcher, a massive and powerful BT. The catcher can be dealt with using anti-BT weapons like the hematic grenade or charged BT gun. When the catcher has eaten its prey, a voidout will occur. This causes the surrounding area to be wiped from existence. Upon defeat, however, the catcher will shatter into several chiral crystals.
Despite the word itself being in the game’s title, the actual death of the player has not been explored in any gameplay footage yet.
Death may occur after a player has successfully been devoured by a catcher, resulting in what is described as a voidout. There is, however, no depiction of this in any of the demos.
Members of Homo Demens who wield lethal firearms are also assumed to be able to kill the player, resulting in actual death. Unfortunately, there has not been any gameplay footage showing encounters against Homo Demens outside of cutscenes.
Visit our News and Features Archive for more Death Stranding news and updates!