If you want help with Death Stranding’s weird take on post-apocalyptic adventuring here’s everything you need to ensure a safe delivery.
Death Stranding is the biggest PlayStation 4 exclusive this Christmas and it’s out now. The latest game from Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima is just about as odd as you’d expect, and you can read our detailed review of it here.
But if you want some tips on how to play the game the guide below should be all you need. We’ve done our best to make sure it’s as spoiler free as possible, while still being useful, but if you want to go in completely cold you might want to skip points 13 and 14.
1. Don’t forget auto arrange and don’t get greedy
Trying to balance your load of deliveries before you leave a building is vital, but it’s also vital not to waste 10 minutes doing it manually. Instead, just press the triangle button to auto arrange them and the game will do it for you. Occasionally it can get a bit confused, by not putting smaller items in pouches, but 95% of the time it’ll give you the optimum loadout.
One manual trick to bear in mind though, is to put a number of other boxes above and in front of something you want to keep safe from timefall rain – allowing them to get damaged instead of your more precious cargo.
What you shouldn’t do though is get carried away and leave a building with such a huge stack of cargo you have to keep rebalancing yourself just to get out the door. If you’re doing that it’s too much and you’ll never make it to your destination without either dying or going mad. Unless you’ve got a vehicle, in which case it’s fine.
2. Always leave prepared
Never assume you won’t need a ladder or a climbing anchor, even if you’re going somewhere you’ve been before. They often come in handy when you don’t expect, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you have to turn around and go back to get them. You can sometimes get spare anchors from downed enemies but the only time you’ll get a free ladder is if another player has left one in your game. Try to take at least two ladders and three anchors at all times, unless you know you’re heading into a fight.
It may seem obvious, but another thing the game never spells out is the importance of boots. You’ll notice you’ve got a boot hook on your suit and a spare pair is the only thing you can put on it – so take advantage of the opportunity. There’s a whole separate meter for the wear and tear on your boots (in the far bottom left of the screen) and if it runs out you’ll be left to go barefoot or have to use a Sandleweed plant to wrap your feet.
3. Always remember your repair spray
Repair spray is cheap and can sometimes be found on enemies but it’s super useful and shouldn’t be ignored. It’s used to repair any damage caused by timefall, so when you’re under cover or in a building drop all your damaged boxes on the floor and give them a quick spray.
This does work if you get caught in the rain (or snow) but it’s less effective, so ideally only use it when you’re dry. It doesn’t work at all on vehicles, for some reason, so don’t even bother with that. Although they can be repaired at safe houses or distro centers.
4. Don’t forget to drink your product placement
Despite the whole of American civilisation having been wiped out the one thing that has survived is Monster energy drinks, a rather nasty bit of immersion-ruining product placement. However, the drink is very useful and something that’s easy to forget about as the game doesn’t mention it much and it’s not really needed at the start.
But as missions get longer and harder you’ll need to keep topping up your stamina, and drinking is the best way to do so. If you run out, then be careful when the stamina bar starts to blink and stay still until it fills back up or you’ll be in real trouble. If you notice the stamina bar starting to go grey and not refill completely there’s nothing you can do to reset it to normal except visit a safe room and go to bed for a rest.
5. Never turn up without a gift
Whenever you’re going somewhere always make sure you’ve got at least one piece of relevant cargo with you or it’ll be an almost wasted journey. You can find lost cargo anywhere but the closer you are to a particular person the more likely it is you’ll find something of theirs nearby. Taking just five minutes out of your journey to have a scout around almost always turns up something and really speeds up the process of increasing your connections with people.
Trying to take on two missions at a time does run into the sort of problems we mentioned in point number one but doing one mission and picking up a few lost cargoes along the way makes perfect sense.
6. How the Odradek works and why you should keep scanning
The Odradek is the strange flapping sensor on your shoulder, which automatically activates whenever BTs are near. But it’s also a very useful terrain scanner that you should make use of as much as possible. It works at quite a distance and will highlight everything in front of you in terms of uneven terrain and, more importantly, unclaimed packages and items. What might look like an entirely empty bit of ground can contain multiple undelivered packages that you would never have noticed without scanning.
Although you’re never actually told how they work the Odradek (we have no idea what the name means) will flap faster and faster when BTs are close by and will always look in the direction of the closest one. If a BT starts coming towards you the Odradek will form a hand shape and point or spin and turn orange if you’re about to run into a BT. If you’ve got a lot of luggage then press ‘R3’ and the camera will switch to the other shoulder, allowing you to see the Odradek more clearly.
7. Always build ziplines and always help other people
Death Stranding has some of the most interesting online options in a single-player game since Dark Souls. You never see anyone directly but you will occasionally run into stand-in avatars that will shower you with gifts, especially during some of the later boss battles.
The more reliable help comes from building new structures, including safe houses, rainfall shelters, generators, and ziplines. All are extremely handy and you’ll often find a cluster of them around important areas or natural waypoints. Safehouses are useful because they allow you to recover yourself and repair your vehicle, but ziplines are often not set up properly as people fail to connect them up or overestimate their range.
They can be a lifesaver though, especially in the snowier and more mountainous areas, so always set them up if you can or link into other people’s networks if they’re already there. There can be a lot of backtracking sometimes and ziplines save a lot of time and frustration. All you need is a Level 2 PCC to build one, although they can also be upgraded with materials to extend their range.
8. How to make the best use of floating carriers
A lot of the best gear in Death Stranding unlocks later in the story and arguably the most useful is the floating carrier. It doesn’t sound or look very exciting but it’s the best way to avoid toppling over with a heavy load, as it’s a little antigravity sled that you pull behind you.
You get it after you visit the Weather Station and it has the benefit that not only do you not have to worry about falling over but your stamina isn’t drained so much and you can more quickly get into a fight if needed. You do move a bit slower than normal but it’s absolutely worth using if you can, especially on long treks where you really don’t want to fall over and break all your deliveries a couple of metres away from your destination.
You can also ride the carrier yourself, which works a bit like a skateboard. It’s not very useful though, as you can’t really go uphill with it and if you hit even a relatively small rock you’ll go flying.
9. Don’t fight, just hide
There isn’t much combat in Death Stranding, which is a bit of a shame as it is a lot of fun and the guns work well. The truth is though that it’s almost always best to run when you see Mules or terrorists as a) they give up really easily and b) you’ve almost always more to lose than you have to gain from fighting them. Sometimes there’s something good in their camp postbox but it’s rarely worth the time and effort, and wear and tear, to get there, especially if you’re on the way to somewhere else.
Mules are very easily distracted by a decoy cargo, so try and keep one of those handy if you know you’re heading through enemy territory (you’ll see it marked on the map by a squiggly brown line). You’ll also notice the markers when you get close, which is when they’ll start trying to scan you. But scan them back at the exact same time and the two will cancel themselves out, increasing the chances you can just sneak on by without them even knowing.
10. Upgrade your friends and your power skeleton
The underlying theme of Death Stranding is building connections with people, which you do literally by delivering packages to people. If you’re only following the story thread then you’ll probably only deliver one or two different packages to each person but if you keep going and build up your connection with them further then they’ll reward you with unique items. Not all are necessarily that useful, but the various exoskeletons are.
Arguably the best is the power skeleton, which allows you to carry a heavier load, so try and max out your relationship with the engineer south of Lake Knot City and it’ll be upgraded twice from its original form.
Also very useful is the speed skeleton that you get from the Junk Dealer and the extremely handy all-terrain skeleton you get from the Roboticist towards the end of the game. Gold versions of the skeletons are available with some deluxe editions of the game but the colours don’t seem to make any difference.
11. How to get more likes and influence people
Death Stranding is pretty good at explaining most of its systems but one thing that gets glossed over is the concept of Likes. These work just like normal social media but their purpose is not all that obvious at first.
Likes are obtained from delivering cargo and from random online people using equipment and buildings you’ve built, which in turn levels up your porter grade and your stats. The stats don’t have that much effect on things, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have more stamina or to be able to carry more weight.
You’ll also see likes expand the shape and colour of the evaluation star at the end of a mission, but the top point – about forging links with other players – isn’t something that will increase much just by playing the story. The best way to increase it is to build a useful structure, like a road or a safehouse, that other people use a lot. It’ll take a bit of resources to create these larger items but even just one or two can make a big difference to your popularity levels.
12. How to deal with BT bosses
This is not an explanation of what you should do when complaining about your telephone bill, but instead the best advice for when you get caught by a BT stalker and whisked away to face a boss creature. Which one it is will depend on where you are and how far you’ve got into the game, but the best advice is always the same: run away.
Although there are forced boss encounters during the game, that teach you how to beat them, it’s always quicker and easier to run. Try to get out of the tar as soon as possible and then make a beeline for the real world by running in as straight a line as possible towards the horizon. In most cases you can be out of trouble in just a couple of minutes.
13. Fast travel is cheating but you can do it
This is kind of, sort of, a spoiler but fast travel is in the game, as provided by your pal Fragile. It’ll be a while till she lets you use it but eventually you’ll get to a part of the story where she explains that she can instantly travel vast distances and will leave her incredibly impractical looking umbrella in your private room for you to use whenever you want.
With it you can instantly travel to any city or safehouse (including those built by other players) but that’s actually far less useful than it sounds as you can’t take anything with you. Your items will be left behind and can be retrieved later, but that basically means you can’t fast travel during a mission.
14. Where to find Conan O’ Brien and the otter hood
Death Stranding is littered with cameos from Hideo Kojima’s showbiz pals, from Geoff Keighley to Edgar Wright, but one of the most useful, in terms of the equipment he gives you, is talk show host Conan O’Brien.
O’Brien is one of the most difficult celebs to find as he’s not part of the main story quest. In order to meet him wait until Chapter 3 and make sure you do the side mission involving a cosplayer, then head to the prepper station halfway between South Knot City and the Weather Station.
When you eventually meet the Wandering MC you’ll find he’s played by Conan O’Brien and for some reason he wants to regale you with facts about otters (we assume that’s some kind of inside joke if you watch his chat show, but don’t ask us).
Once he’s finished the Wandering MC will eventually give you an Otter Hood, which is the only way you can obtain the item. It looks completely stupid if you wear it but it makes it much easier to swim and recover yourself when you fall in deep water. Which is nice.
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