What Does the New Death Stranding TGA Trailer Tell Us?

Well, not much.

Regardless, there are a few things of note here. First, let’s deal with the most obvious things.

This post originally appeared in [gamification] on Dec 2, 2016.

  • The person carrying the baby in the tube is Guillermo del Toro, the man who was supposed to make Silent Hills with Hideo Kojima before it got cancelled. With this, all the men involved in that have appeared in Death Stranding (Norman Reedus was starring in the first E3 reveal trailer).
  • Hideo Kojima has been hinting at the involvement of Mads Mikkelsen for quite some time and now it is finally confirmed.

With those out of the way, let’s look at the deeper implications and hints that can be gathered from the trailer. Kojima has previously explained how one of the main themes of Death Stranding is based on an idea from a short story by Kobo Abe, namely the idea of sticks and ropes – the stick being the tool that human created to put distance between himself and others, to protect himself, while the rope being the tool used to secure important things to us. With Death Stranding Kojima wanted to focus on the use of the rope and the human connection, instead of the stick which has always been the main form of communication in games (you punch, you shoot, you kick, etc).

The new trailer seems to heavily focus on connections. Here’s some observations.

  • The new trailer begins in an identical way as the E3 trailer, with dead crabs littering the ground. The ground itself, however, is different.
  • The broken doll of a baby is a common element in all the important moments of the new trailer; we see it in the beginning, then it floats to del Toro’s feet when he makes up his mind about something, and ends up at Mikkelsen’s feet after his reveal.
  • The sound of the tank turret turning sounds a lot like a whale, echoing the sight of all the dead whales we saw in the E3 trailer. It is good to note that this is the origin of the name of Death Stranding as well, since “stranding” means the phenomenon of whales beaching themselves and often dying of dehydration as a result.
  • Is the baby in the tube the same one connected to Reedus with an umbilical cord? It seems to sport a cable on the tube similar to an umbilical cord. And in this trailer the baby “appears” while in Reedus’ it disappears halfway through.
  • The black liquid oozing down between the rocks behind del Toro and submerging his feet seems very similar (if not the same) as the black liquid seen in the E3 trailer leaving hand prints on Reedus’ body.
  • del Toro is wearing on one wrist the same futuristic handcuffs as Reedus.
  • When the camera pulls back after the appearance of the black goo, the environment around del Toro has changed and instead of piles of bricks is now full of dead dolphins (I am pretty certain the black stuff is oil, but I could be wrong. It would fit with the recurring theme of dead sea life though).
  • A red light is illuminating the floating doll and Mikkelsen and his men. Not sure what this means.
  • Mikkelsen’s men are connected to him with cables. This seems like a significant hint into how the theme of “ropes” will manifest in the game. When the cables snap off from the men, they glow the same reddish light as mentioned in the point above.
  • The men seem to have skulls for faces – are they dead or is it the kind of mask Ludens, the Kojima Productions logo character, wears? Are these cables  a way to bring life to inanimate things like dead men and dolls? So many questions! Kojima, you tease!
  • In the red light glowing from the cables, we can see that beneath the liquid at Mikkelsen’s feet there are a lot more cord-like things.
  • The closer look at the doll in the end shows us that it has the same mark cut into its belly as the scar on Reedus’ belly in the E3 trailer.
  • When Mikkelsen is revealed his face is stained with the black oily stuff, but when we return to him after looking at the doll his face is completely clean. Also, the whole color grading of the scene changes when the camera is on the doll giving the sense of a shift to a different time. It’a like he is reminiscing of a golden time when he hated Reedus’ guts (heh, get it? Guts… that belly scar… behold my amazing pun).
  • Kojima has said that Ludens is not in Death Stranding, but if you watch the logo movie you can see a lot of the same elements there – a whale (this time alive), the skull mask, red light briefly emanating inside Ludens’ helmet, round indicators on his suit whirling around (Mikkelsen has one too when he releases his men). Also, it starts with a shot of the ground just like the two Death Stranding trailers, though, in it the sea seems to be alive and well and Ludens seems to actually be walking on the bottom of it.

Anyway, that’s it for my Death Stranding trailer pondering. One more thing I noticed was that del Toro was sporting a badge that seemed to be shaped like the USA, perhaps hinting at the location or, well, hinting something at least!

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