One of the biggest trailers to premiere at the Game Awards 2017 was Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding. The trailer has brought up more questions, and it has also given us more insight into the world of Kojima’s project. It’s all very confusing and surreal, but there is some sense to be made in the trailer.
If you haven’t already seen the trailer, or want to follow along, you can watch the premiere down below:
To start with the simple stuff, the trailer opens up with the protagonist of Death Stranding stating, “Once, there was an explosion. A bang which gave birth to time and space. Once there was an explosion, a bang which set a planet spinning in that space. Once, there was an explosion, a bang which gave rise to life as we know it. And then came the next explosion.”
During this sequence, we get introduced to the scene, covered in rain and rapidly growing and deteriorating foliage. In the next moment, we get a closeup shot of the main character regaining consciousness. He sports a tech-equipped outfit. On his suit, his number reads out “0914-137”. He looks over to a nearby crash, which is presumably why he was knocked out in the first place. As he stands up to investigate the crash, a name on his suit comes into view, Porter. It appears that he has a dream catcher tied to his equipment.
As Porter walks towards the crash, he stumbles upon a body, wrapped up in some sort of bag, with the face having something on it. He observes the body and finds the face has a yellow skull painted on it, but it could be anything. At the actual crash, someone tries to help a man trapped under the crashed vehicle. The armband on on the men read “Corpse Disposal Team 6”, and the insignias on their suits read “BRIDGES”. The two men also sport handcuffs, with the one trapped having a yellow-glowing cuff, and the one helping having a blue-glowing cuff.
As the blue cuffed man helps the yellow cuffed man, the one trapped under the vehicle begins to rapidly age, turning him wrinkled and gray as he screams out in pain. His cuff also changes color, from yellow to red. At this moment, the device on the blue cuffed man goes off, and he yells to Porter, calling him by his first name, Sam. Sam Porter instructs both of the men to shut up and not breathe. The next few moments concentrate on the device from the blue cuffed man pointing towards a trail of alien-but-human hand prints being made. There is no physical being leaving behind this trail, and the device follows the trail until the unknown creature wanders off. At that point, the device stops acting up.
After the event, Sam Porter gets back up to join his team, but the corpse he was standing next to begins to vibrate and turn black, breaking off the bag’s constraints. Then, the corpse sinks into the ground, and the body leaves a skull imprint in the ground before it disperses. Afterwards, a giant being walks towards Sam Porter, but most of its features are obscured by fog. Another creature that the team avoided earlier comes back and approaches Sam, but is stopped in its tracks by something red on the ground. The man trapped under the vehicle begins screaming out in pain again, and the creature instead decides to focus on him. The device from earlier begins acting up again, focusing on the creature’s position. It drags the trapped man away from the vehicle, and it looks like hands from below the ground drag him off. The blue cuffed man mercy kills the other by shooting him, and as soon as he dies, the hands disappear, and the device stops acting up.
Once that ordeal is over, someone descends from the sky, and a device similar to the one already seen goes off and points at the blue cuffed man. The person also points at the man, almost like an order. The blue cuffed man’s device starts going off again, but in a different way. The device on his chest lights up, and reveals a baby. The area begins flooding with oil, and the mysterious man has disappeared. The man begins shooting in the direction of his device, but his aim is interrupted, and hands begin to grab onto him. He unlatches the device that contains the baby, and tosses it towards Sam Porter. The man then tries to shoot himself, but he fails as the world begins to float up. He then attempts to kill himself by stabbing himself.
In the distance, cords that have been present in the past two trailers, float in the sky. Sam picks up the device that holds the baby, and then a device on his back, much like the device on the other man, points to a giant being in front of him. The being has cords attached to its hands, tendril-like features, and a giant umbilical chord protruding from its stomach area. The cuffed man from earlier is still alive, and is sucked into the beings head, setting off a cataclysmic explosion.
In the next scene, Sam Porter is floating in water, and a small hand imprints itself onto his chest. As the angle changes, bodies float upwards among cords. One body floats above the water’s surface, and a giant creatures flies, or swims, by and eats the body. The camera focuses on a pair of cords, and pans down, revealing the destruction of the vehicle from earlier, and the BRIDGES logo is displayed again from the door of the vehicle. Sam Porter’s dream catcher also floats by. The pair of cords is shown to be connected to Sam, and the camera ventures inside of his mouth and into his body. As it descends, we get a glimpse of the baby inside of Sam, and then the camera quickly exits his body.
Sam now awakes, disoriented. He vomits out a black sludge with some bugs mixed in. As he looks around, the bugs float up towards the sky. Porter gets onto his feet, and examines the device that carries the baby. There is a keychain attached to the device, and it looks to be of a man in a heavy suit with a skull painted on him. Sam then looks off into the distance, and sheds a single tear. As the camera switches angles, it slowly pans out, and shows what Sam sees. He stands in front of a giant crater, and five bodies float in the distance. Many pairs of cords are also seen floating off in the distance and nearby.
Sam then finishes the quote from the beginning of the video to end the trailer: “Once, there was an explosion, a bang which gave rise to life as we know it. And then came the next explosion. An explosion that will be our last.”
First and foremost, we finally get to learn the name of Death Stranding’s protagonist, Sam Porter. Next, the BRIDGES logos worn by Corpse Disposal Unit 6, and the ones displayed on the destroyed vehicle, are also the same as the logo worn by Guillermo del Torro in the previous trailer. The cuffs worn by the two men at the crash site are strikingly similar to the ones worn in the previous two Death Stranding trailers. It appears that these cuffs will link to the player’s current health, since the color of the cuff changed color when the two men were injured. Also, the baby in the device is probably a smaller version of whatever was stalking Corpse Disposal Unit 6. It left a smaller, similar hand print in the original trailer, as well as an imprint on Sam in this trailer. It also seems to be utilized/activated whenever there are certain dangers present. Maybe it’s possible that whoever is in possession of the device can harness the powers of the child.
Notably, the devices worn on the backs of Corpse Disposal Unit 6 also reacted differently depending on the danger. When the device focused on the invisible creatures, it appeared to flap around. When it focused on the mysterious man who landed on the vehicle, or the giant beings, it seemed to have a more stiff reaction.
In addition, it is possible that when the baby device was handed off to Sam Porter, it created a link between him and itself. When the baby left a hand print on Sam, it might have been a symbolic link between the inverted world seen in the del Torro trailer and this trailer, and the normal, mostly ordinary world. This is supported by the imagery of the two cords coming from Sam while he was passed out under water, as they lead to above the surface. The baby might have also protected Sam from something while he was passed out. Sam sported a dream catcher, which Native Americans used to ward off evil spirits while they slept. It is shown drifting off in the underwater scene, almost like it’s useless from warding off whatever might have tried to hurt Sam.
For additional theory crafting material, as well as more in-depth analysis of the other trailers, I recommend checking this video out:
All in all, the Game Awards 2017 trailer was exhilarating, intriguing, and charmingly surreal. Hopefully more solid information will be available for Death Stranding come 2018!