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Death Stranding PC review

Death Stranding PC review

Kojima's unexpected visit to PC, offers a mysterious but pleasant experience.

The world is trying to recover after a mysterious catastrophe snatched civilization from humanity’s hands. Rain is speeding uptime, making the remnants of that civilization crumble even faster. Within this process of natural disintegration, the world itself has regained its serenity but humanity is struggling to do something that very easy to do in today’s world: connect. You take the role of Sam Porter Bridges, a legendary delivery man to do just that.

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Unraveling the Mystery

Connect and unite America so humanity can have hopes for a future and maybe even do something against Timefall, together. This is the main theme behind Hideo Kojima’s newest title and as you’d expect it’s intricately woven into the game’s narrative and gameplay. Though you have to wait a bit to see “how” in the case of the latter as the game makes you watch before you play; it’s a Kojima game after all. There are a lot of cutscenes to get through first and those create questions rather than give answers about Death Stranding’s curious setting. What’s the deal with that “bridge” baby? What exactly is the phenomenon, “Death Stranding?” How come Sam can come back from the dead? Answers will come in time, sometimes through cutscenes and sometimes through email. And sometimes, you need to go to those answers in person.

To Carry or not to Carry

This is indeed a game where you don’t take the role of a warrior or a leader but instead a not-so-simple delivery man. Your main thing is indeed carrying packages. You have to optimize your cargo, stay below your weight limit, and take your packages to where they need to go. It’s not a simple mountain hike of course(though we can argue mountain hikes are never simple for the modern man), there are many dangers.

Humans anxious to relieve you of your cargo are fairly easy to deal with through simple and not at all emphasized combat. Our supernatural enemies (BT is what they are called) are quite annoying yet you get interesting toys to deal with them further on. The challenge is not in defeating or outrunning your enemies but in doing so without dropping, therefore ruining your cargo. After all, it doesn’t matter whether a package is delivered or not if what’s inside is smashed into pieces.

The Grind is Real

This may sound repetitive and it does get repetitive if you make one specific mistake and that is taking the online component of the game too seriously, too soon. We as gamers are more often than not used to hoarding and Death Stranding is not a game that lets you hoard every item within your eyesight. You will find many pieces of cargo left by other players, waiting to be delivered. If you give in to temptation and try to take everything with you, not only will you look like a miniature, walking skyscraper but the game will burn you out in a short amount of time. Death

Stranding does its best to make your delivery runs fun. The game gives you many options in making the terrains easier to traverse. For instance, you can put ladders, build bridges, generators, and mailboxes to use yourself and help others. Moreover, you can even create a zipline to travel quickly. Nonetheless, vehicles will also do the job without looking as cool. Consequently, the online component based on building and sharing is what reinforces the narrative of the game. Also, it makes the game fun. Yet, if you get distracted by every little delivery, you will unlock your toys more slowly. Consequently, this in turn will harm your gameplay experience. This is the main downside of the game as its design doesn’t do much to prevent you from harming your experience like this. Moreover, in the beginning, you simpely do not know better.

A Great Port?

You may already have all this information from when the game made its debut on PS4 months ago. But now that it’s on PC, what’s important is that we take a look at the performance. How does Death Stranding run on PC? My answer is that it runs really, really well. As the first big Sony Playstation exclusive to come to PC, it definitely does not disappoint in terms of how optimized it is. Indeed, you can run it fairly well on lower-grade hardware. For instance, a GTX 970 can hold a steady 60 FPS with almost all settings maxed, on 1080p.

On the other hand, higher-grade hardware like RTX cards,  display even better performance. Indeed, the source is its utilization of Nvidia’s DLSS 2.0 feature. For instance, on quality mode, upscaled 4K DLSS images are on par with native 4K images. The point of DLSS 2.0’s quality mode here is that it provides a huge performance gain. Specifically, it runs over native 4K resolutions without sacrificing crisp visuals and on performance mode. Also, you get even higher frame rates with less quality, making it perfect for cards like 2060. Also, AMD’s Fidelity FX Contrast Adaptive Sharpening setting is an option for those who want to increase performance further.

There are a couple of interesting things though: Death Stranding neither allows you to use Dynamic Super Resolution feature nor supports custom resolutions. Therefore, you get the standard stuff, no different aspect ratios, no “in-between” resolutions like 900p. On a standard aspect ratio, your options only include 720p, 1080p, and 1440p. Yet at 2160p the game has 21:9 wide-screen support and it does not pillar-box cutscenes. Graphical settings overall, include not much more than what we’ve come to accept. Usually, PC ports have Motion Blur, Ambient Occlusion, Depth of Field, Model Detail, Screen Space Reflections, and Shadow Resolution. So don’t expect Red Dead Redemption 2 levels of scalability here.

Conclusions

If this port is any indicator of what’s to come, then we should have high hopes for Horizon Zero Dawn. Because, Death Stranding, being another Decima Engine title, provides a fluid PC experience without demanding too much from your rig. Thanks to its PC launch, the online component of the game is in a revitalized state too. So I would say it deserves your money if you keep an open mind about the core gameplay.

Version tested: PC – a review copy was provided by 505 Games.


Death Stranding
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