Hideo Kojima chats Death Stranding with Norman Reedus: “Everyone is playing it together… everyone will be connected”

Tonight in New York, on stage with his Death Stranding (opens in new tab) star Norman Reedus, Hideo Kojima threw the audience a few tantalizing scraps of information about his new game, including how all players will be connected, how Reedus shapes the hero Sam, and about a secret area of the game where the player can take control of a camera. 

“It’s an open-world action game, but it’s really something new,” said Kojima. “There are so many things happening in the real world – in America, in Europe – everything is actually connected by the internet, but in a way we’re not connected in the real world these days.”

“I’m putting that as a metaphor in the game. The player will have to reconnect the world in the game. You’re very alone, there’s solitude, but you’re trying to connect. The story and the gameplay, the key word is ‘connection.’  There are so many things in-between, of course, but the key is connection,” he continues. 

“I also threw in a really new idea. You’re connecting the game, and everyone is playing it together, and you’ll be connected, everyone will be connected together as well. I can’t say anything because Sony will be very unhappy. I don’t want to be disconnected from Sony.”

It’s easy to read this explanation as referring to some sort of online world, similar to an MMO, but knowing Kojima it will be something far more mind-blowing than that, and could use PlayStation’s online capabilities in a brand new way. After all, this is the man that had characters in the Metal Gear Solid series ordering the player to turn off their console to abort a mission, or reading the contents of the player’s memory card. 

Reedus, who most will recognize as Daryl from The Walking Dead, also spoke very carefully about how the game was different from others he’d seen.  

“It’s a different way of thinking,” said Reedus. “I have a teenage son, I’ve played some games where you just kill everybody. It’s not like that. There’s violent elements to it, but it’s just a different thing.”

Reedus and Kojima clearly have a lot of mutual respect and affection, and Kojima spoke of the actor almost like a muse. 

“In Death Stranding I’m going to put every aspect of Norman in there,” he said. “There’s a lot of cutscenes, and there’s a lot of long cutscenes. You’ll see Norman as Sam in the game, and see his acting in the cutscenes, and you’ll enjoy that.”

Norman’s secret area

“One more thing, I can’t say where, but if you go somewhere in the game, you won’t be controlling Norman or Sam, you’ll be just controlling a camera. You’ll see Sam/Norman, and you can kind of move the camera to see around, and when you look at him he might do something like wink at you. So you’re actually playing as Norman Reedus as Sam, and in the drama part Sam will act to hit your emotions,  but when you go into this special area you’ll definitely love Norman. You’ll be a Norman fan.”

Basically, prepare for Death Stranding to be very meta. The two also described the long process of creating a complete 3D scan of Reedus, as well as the extensive motion capture of movements and facial expressions. Even Reedus’ tattoos, with Kojima joking that any new tattoos he gets will have to be included as DLC. 

“It’s super collaborative,” said Reedus of the process. “He would be a great film director as well. You’re following his vision and everything is for real. Even I’m sitting here listening to you talk and the making of the connections and the putting together of the game, it comes from such an honest source. He’s an honest artist.”

“During the recording sessions, Norman gives a lot of ideas to me,” added Kojima. “Everyone thinks I’m a perfectionist, but no. I like a lot of things live. I want to really do a collaboration.”

“Doing this with Hollywood actors, this was the first time for me, and it was so stimulating for me. I had a lot of ideas flooding out.”

The game also features Hannibal actor Mads Mikkelsen and Léa Seydoux, who you’ll also see in the next Bond film. In terms of Reedus and Mikkelsen, Kojima convinced them to take part without the concept even committed to paper. 

So we know a little bit more about Death Stranding: it’s going to be big, it’s going to be weird, and it’s a metaphor for our slightly broken world of today. Kojima even managed to slip in a reference to the UK’s Brexit situation during the chat. 

“I want people to think of their lives, or to take a step back and look at the world and say ‘oh yeah, this is the connection or disconnection in the world.’ Like some people create walls around, like what’s happening in Europe, you might see some similarities playing the game.”

“The dude knows things,” says Reedus.

We didn’t get any new trailers, but Kojima promised there would be more to see in a month or so. Maybe PlayStation will have something to show around E3 in June after all. 

“I have no idea how he’s going to make it work”:  How Hideo Kojima showed off Death Stranding to the band CHVRCHES (opens in new tab)

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