After multiple rumors and a slip-up from Death Stranding star Norman Reedus, Death Stranding 2 (Working Title) formally debuted at The Game Awards 2022. Immediately after the breathtaking trailer, Kojima-san took the stage for a brief interview with Geoff Keighley.
When asked about the sequel, and how it’d differ from the first Death Stranding, Kojima was translated as saying, “I can’t really be specific right now, but you’ve just seen the trailer and I put a lot of things inside. So I want you guys to talk about it and find details in it.” Kojima later went on to tweet about the Death Stranding 2 reveal, “If possible, watch the details in the screen on a large screen. There are all kinds of hints and information built in.”
As per the legendary director’s instructions, I rewatched the Death Stranding 2 trailer sitting way too close to a 50″ 4K screen. I’m here to report my findings.
Death Stranding 2 Reveal Trailer – Analysis
When showcased at The Game Awards, the trailer began with no indication of what it was for. Many early shots are of items hinting at imagery associated with the game as a tease. This screenshot shows a children’s toy featuring dolphins. When the plaything is pushed forward, you can see the tail end of the “BRIDGES” logo burned into its frame. The sticker here looks like when it was in better shape it read “I <3 BB”.
Next, we’re shown a children’s shape puzzle, curiously featuring a crab-shaped hole. This continues the sea-creature theme players have come to associate with Death Stranding. Though star slots are common on these toys, it’s worth noting that stars are what Sam attaches to his suit to indicate reaching maximum connection level with a location. The yellow block shaped like a truck is also modeled after Death Stranding‘s unique take on the vehicles.
Black handprints are usually a bad sign in the world of Death Stranding. In a subversion, these have been stamped on a height chart. Very cute! The camera focus makes the “1” appear soft and focuses on the “2”. Black handprints and the number 2? If the aquatic animals and BB’s Theme playing in the background haven’t clued viewers in yet, this is it. Undeniably, Death Stranding 2. The end of a cryptobiote plush on the ground doesn’t hurt as a hint either.
Next up we get a close look at some sort of red effigy. It looks like an object of worship. Immediately after, red-clad figures are seen carrying a futuristic coffin. The same ornate symbol rests on the lid of the casket over where its occupant’s head would be.
We’re then treated to a peek at where these mysterious figures are headed. A giant archway comprised of rectangular columns of stone looms in the distance. Some of the stones hang floating in the air. The composition of the structure appears almost mineral/crystal-like, resembling the way tourmaline or selenite forms. The travelers in red march toward whatever lies beyond it. Seen in the air along with the columns are the umbilical chords of BTs (Beached Things), the ghostly enemies in Death Stranding.
Carrying a coffin to this location raises many questions. Corpses in the world of Death Stranding are essentially time bombs; if a BT gets ahold of one, a devastating explosion (voidout) occurs. BTs gather near incinerators where bodies are disposed of, so they could be carrying a body for cremation. But as we see later, the figures in red appear to be antagonists. Could they be transporting a body specifically for the purpose of causing one of these voidouts?
The Death Stranding 2 reveal trailer cuts back to the room we began in. We see a happy baby in the arms of someone off-screen. If there’s any question as to who the tot is, the name “Louise” appears on the bottom of her bib. Our BB has grown quite a bit since the end of Death Stranding.
It turns out it’s Fragile who’s holding little Lou. No longer wearing her FRAGILE bodysuit, we can see that her arms, neck, and chest no longer appear aged. When viewed in 4K, tiny hairs are visible on her skin. This feature was showcased in promotion of Horizon: Forbidden West, which shares the Decima Engine with Death Stranding 1 & 2. The first game established that her body had suffered advanced aging due to timefall exposure. Death Stranding 2 will surely explain how she’s been cured of her condition. Louise’s outfit features two plush wings. It’s understood that she was resurrected at the end of Death Stranding; her angelic get-up could be a nod to that.
On a surface in the room rests Lou’s unused bridge baby pod. With her no longer inhabiting it, it’s been recycled as a cryptobiote terrarium. To its right is a magazine open to a page that says “we all love pizza”. This recalls the pizza delivery missions in Death Stranding that saw Sam deliver pies to a peculiar pizza aficionado who we later learn is Higgs. Also in frame are a rubber duck with the Kojima Productions Ludens helmet and a book whose back cover is a thumbs-up. Certainly, this is an allusion to the series “like” system.
Things quickly go sideways. Fragile detects a disturbance and when looking up her staircase, she can see the flashlight beam of an intruder. The main conflict you face in the first game is rugged terrain and the otherworldly BTs. Such a direct attack from human enemies is an alarming change of pace. With Sam having disobeyed the order to incinerate his BB at the end of the last game, could these invaders be sent by the government? Or are the figures in red responsible? In a Kojima game, both could possibly be true; perhaps the men in red are mercenaries sent to do the governing body’s dirty work.
Fragile and Louise enter a cargo chute to bypass the enemies and get to ground level. It’s novel to see inside the cargo transporter. This is a machine Death Stranding players will have used hundreds of times before they finish the game, and now it’s carrying something much more precious than “high-performance underwear” or “rare miniature cars”. The camera stays with Fragile and Louise as they ascend and exit the bunker.
Fragile jumps aboard a vehicle that’s new to the series: some sort of electric unicycle. It has visible cargo slots on its back, meaning we’ll likely have the option of riding this contraption during gameplay. Her attempt to flee is futile. A bullet grazes her left arm. She’s thrown off balance and tumbles to the ground, doing her best to protect the baby. One of the attackers approaches and aims his pistol at her.
We hear a gunshot and see a familiar sight. A BB in a throat. It’s the same view players have after guiding Sam’s soul back into his body after any death in the first game. This seems to indicate Fragile might also be a repatriate. Repatriates are able to revive themselves after death in a process not totally understood in the world of Death Stranding.
Fragile’s very injured but alive. She’s crying tar, just like the previously seen BB. The landscape has changed dramatically. It was overcast and now it seems to be night. She’s surrounded by fire. Crawling toward a crying Louise, she collapses and loses consciousness.
We return to the previous room, now trashed. The BB pod terrarium lies broken on the ground. Slowly, a vision of a red baby begins to form in the pod. Its figure is distorted, like a hologram, or the series’ “chiral projections”. This baby apparition sports wings, resembling Lou’s look in her outfit.
A quote opens the first Death Stranding immediately upon starting a new game.
“The ‘Rope’ along with the ‘Stick’, are two of mankind’s oldest tools. The stick to keep the bad away. The rope is used to bring the good toward us. They were our first friends, of our own invention. Wherever there were people, there were the rope and the stick.”
This passage is from Kobo Abe’s Nawa, a work that was instrumental in the creation of Death Stranding and its themes. The logo above is shown after the DS2 title drop, introducing us to a new in-game company. From what I gather, the stick and the rope are both considered important tools in Death Stranding, and using them in a balanced, harmonious way seems to be the ideal path forward. Despite “Drawbridge” appearing to be a step back in connecting the world compared to “BRIDGES” (a bridge you can remove at will vs one that’s permanent), I think Drawbridge will be a force for good in Death Stranding 2. Their mission statement claiming the stick is for “protecting” lends to that idea.
Now for the first appearance of Sam in the Death Stranding 2 reveal trailer. We hear someone off-screen say “no one should have to suffer such loss”, as an aged Sam Porter Bridges walks up a flight of stairs and shields his eyes. His hair is greyed and his face is wrinkled, but he appears to have remained in good shape.
The dialogue raises a concerning question. In the previous scene with Fragile and Louise, did Louise not survive? And with Sam appearing older now, has there been a time skip from that point? These are questions we likely won’t have answered until the game is in our hands.
Sam looks on as a huge machine rises from a tar pit. BTs rest in the goop at the bottom and fall from the ascending vessel. It appears the ship is being “summoned” from the Beach rather than being generated by the Chiral network. This might be the work of Fragile, whose DOOMS allows her several abilities associated with the Beach.
As the machine shakes off thick tar and takes to the air, we can see Kojima Productions artist Yoji Shinkawa flex his mech designing muscles. The ship is huge and full of details. Many of its parts bear text labeling its individual sections. The Drawbridge logo we saw earlier is on its left side. A cockpit is visible in the top middle and it’s clear that someone is serving as the pilot. The object in the top right of the photo looks like a mini-gun – a curious weapon to have in a world where one dead body can be an existential crisis. Even if it’s for taking on other vehicles, collateral damage would be a worry in Death Stranding.
“Come meet my crew, Sam”. Fragile encourages Sam to come with her and “start a new journey”. Tears fall from both characters’ eyes – an allergic reaction to the chiral material in the tar. Fragile’s words seem to indicate they haven’t been in contact in some time. This doesn’t make sense if Fragile is taking care of Louise; Sam would surely have remained in the child’s life. This further supports the idea that there is a time skip, during which Sam has been reclusive and Fragile has been building a company.
It’s worth noting that Fragile has some sort of carrier strapped around her neck. Its large blue straps are visible in the screenshot above. When shown from behind, her arms bend forward at the elbows as if cradling something close to her chest. Something yellow-brown is visible on her torso while the camera is focused on Sam. Is her new holster holding a BB pod? Or could that even be the top of Louise’s head? We’ll have to wait to find out.
In traditional Kojima trailer fashion, we’re given a credits screen prior to the finale. Death Stranding 2’s cast consists of Norman Reedus as Sam Porter Bridges, Léa Seydoux as Fragile, and Troy Baker as Higgs Monaghan. Elle Fanning and Shioli Kutsuna will also be in the game, but their roles haven’t been announced.
Hideo Kojima will once again serve as director, producer, scenario planner, and game designer for the Death Stranding sequel. Kyle Cooper returns as title designer and longtime Kojima collaborator Yoji Shinkawa is responsible for character and mechanical design.
The last scene before the reveal trailer’s stinger is in a warehouse. A strange humanoid stands surrounded by seven soldiers. The central character turns to the camera. He’s covered in red armor and his torso is translucent yellow. Inside are mechanical ribs and intestines. His odradek appears more organic than mechanical. It moves like a tentacle or a snake. Around his neck is a quipu very similar to Amelie’s. On his guitar strap is the same symbol shown on the coffins carried by the men in red earlier in the trailer.
He sings BB’s Theme, and with a strum of his unusual guitar, his henchmen’s visors turn from Metal Gear Solid “evasion yellow” to bright red MGS-style alert exclamation points. They then split into odradek-ish patterns.
Someone who wears a mask, controls others, and is tied to Amelie? That’s right, it’s Higgs. It’s definitely Troy Baker’s voice doing the singing, too. We don’t yet know the reason for his Raiden-esque cyborg makeover, but it’s possible he was left so injured in Death Stranding he needed to be rebuilt to survive. In this unique universe, he may have even elected to have it done. Further straddling the line between life and death might strengthen his connection to the Beach.
The mask, hair, and quipu combination combined with the symbol that seems to represent Amelie, Bridget Strand, or both, leads me to believe the red-clad cult worships the former President and Higgs is their leader. Whether they worship her for her political status or as the sixth extinction entity remains to be seen.
Death Stranding 2‘s tagline flashes onto the screen. “Should we have connected?” Death Stranding was all about establishing and reestablishing connections, even with those who were hesitant to come aboard. Connections both literal and figurative. Posing this question reframes the entire last game and has exciting implications for the new entry. Kojima might explore concepts like borders, isolationism, and social media. Death Stranding felt like it was about hope; it’s super interesting to have Death Stranding 2 possibly focus on regret.
The Death Stranding 2 reveal trailer ends with Sam holding BB’s pod. A single tentacle is visible inside. Sam inquires, “Lou?” Immediately, tentacles fill the pod and Lou’s familiar laugh from Death Stranding echoes out from inside the pod.
Between Fragile and Louise’s perilous escape, the chiral projected BB with wings, the potential time-skip, and this octopus in a pod, something is definitely going on with Lou. As a player who spent 80+ hours trekking across the United Cities of America intermittently rocking her to sleep, I’ve grown pretty attached to that bridge baby. I hope she’s safe and sound!
Once again, Hideo Kojima has edited an incredible preview. Far too often modern previews give us too much and leave little to the imagination. This trailer only gives a single scene considerable screen time. The rest of the clips are evocative snippets full of symbols and organizations yet unexplained. Familiar characters who reappear have all changed in ways I’m eager to discover how and why. There’s a perfect blend of story and gameplay intrigue. I couldn’t ask for a more satisfying teaser trailer.
There you have it: the Death Stranding 2 reveal trailer explained. DS2 will launch exclusively for PlayStation 5. Be sure to stay tuned to Final Weapon for updates and in-depth analysis of Death Stranding 2.