Death Stranding is a big and strange game full of ghost battling and bridge building. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re alone in the wasteland, but fret not! I have some fantastic tips to help you survive the haunted hellscapes and protect your tube baby.
I give this tip for every game. Death Stranding has a few difficulty options ranging from a super easy mode for non-gamers and a very hard mode for folks craving an intense survivalist challenge. I think playing the default is ideal. Death Stranding’s pace is integral to the experience, and speeding it up or slowing it down with difficulty tweaks affects the momentum. For your first playthrough, stick to Normal.
At the start of the game, you’re prompted to give your birthday. It seems like a pretty important decision that might affect your playthrough, but it’s mostly a gimmick that doesn’t affect anything. Don’t get hung up on this prompt. Enter your birthday or whatever day you want.
I played nearly 100 hours of Death Stranding in about a week and a half. I don’t recommend it. The game world is large, with plenty of opportunities to build cool structures and do side-quests. I encourage you to wander and take it all in. Don’t rush too much, and really let the moodiness wash over you.
I know I said don’t rush and that’s a good rule of thumb, but for the early game, it’s best you get to Chapter 3 quickly. You get access to a ton of new tools and equipment that radically alter how you engage with the game world. If you want to experience Death Stranding at its finest, this is when the gameplay starts to pick up. Progress to this point, then feel free to really play around with the systems.
Most hazards in Death Stranding can be avoided with some smart sneaking. Forests full of ghostly “BTs” or outposts with wandering terrorists aren’t that big a deal if you take a moment to find the right path. There’s not a lot of need to load up on weapons or other gear unless you know you’re heading into tricky territory. Take the bare essentials—a ladder, a grenade, maybe some climbing ropes. That way you can save room for all the cargo you need to carry.
If you’ve got a long trek ahead of you, take some repair spray. Exposure to timefall ruins your cargo and affects your end-of-mission ranking. Bring some spray and use it right before delivering cargo for a better rank.
Selecting a destination on your map paints a straight line to it which you can follow. This line doesn’t account for hazards. It’s better to place your own marker on the map screen with the square button and connect them. On longer journeys, try to plot two possible routes in case the first becomes too dangerous to continue on, and remember that you can alter your markers as needed along the way.
Eventually, you will gain access to devices called PCCs. These can be used to build a variety of structures in the game world from bridges to safehouse to ziplines. You should build structures often to make it easier to travel. Better, these structures will appear in other players’ worlds, helping their own travels in the wastes. Their structures will also appear in your world. It doesn’t require PlayStation Plus, either!
Buildings are tied to a social media-like progression system. The more people use your structure and “like” it, the higher your rank as a porter will rise. Build your structures wisely. If there’s a settlement in the middle of nowhere with no safehouse, toss one up. A river near a city? Build a bridge. Lots of rain in the area means a timefall shelter will reap great rewards. Don’t just think about what helps you; think about what helps other players in the long run.
If a ladder helped you scale a cliff or a watchtower made it easier to spot enemies, smash that like button. It helps other players level up and makes it more likely that they’ll return the favor down the road.
Settlements and safehouse have private rooms to rest in. Here, you can recover stamina and even take showers (and use the restroom) to create special grenades from Sam’s bodily fluids. You should rest after every long trip.
Bases also have a locker that’s shared between players where you can recover lost cargo (which you can deliver to its destination for a bonus) or take items that other players have deposited. Need some gear? Check it out. Want to help other players? Maybe drop a PCC or a fresh pair of shoes in there.
Sam’s shoes wear down with use, leading to fatigue and difficult traversal. Keep track of their durability and restock when you can. For a very long trip, consider bringing a second pair for the road. Your feet will thank you.
I did! There’s a number of grenades made from Sam’s blood, sweat, urine, and excrement that have a variety of effects. Here’s how that works:
- Hematic Grenades are crafted at bases and use Sam’s blood. These powerful weapons can obliterate BTs, and it’s a good idea to carry some with you if you know you’re heading into tricky territory.
- Grenade No. 0 uses Sam’s sweat and renders a BT visible for a very brief amount of time.
- Grenade No. 1 uses Sam’s urine to make BTs visible but have a much larger area of effect.
- Grenade No. 2 uses Sam’s excrement to mark a single BT for a significant period of time.
You can restock these grenades by showering or using the restroom in a safehouse.
If you don’t have weapons to deal with BTs, a solution is to stop for a moment whenever they’re nearby. So long as your adorable baby-pal BB is healthy, you’ll be able to see BTs around you. This makes it easy to avoid them if you can’t fight your way past.
If you stumble too much or get lost in BT territory, your BB can enter a state called autotoxemia. This prevents it from helping you sense BTs and can only be fixed by resting at a safehouse. If you fall in the field, your BB might start to cry. Soothe them by pressing L1 and then down on the D-pad. You can rock your baby back and forth to prevent stress and avoid autotoxemia.
You’ll also run into terrorists in your travels as well as MULEs who want to steal you packages and deliver them to collect a reward. Their camps are scattered throughout the game world and are packed with quality loot. It’s risky to steal from them, but the rewards are great. If you need more crafting supplies or some gear, consider sneaking into their camps to pilfer what you can.
Lethal weapons like shotguns and assault rifles are noisy and messy. If you’re sneaking into an enemy camp, take something like a silenced (and non-lethal) rifle or a bola gun that can instantly take down enemies. If things so south, you can rely on your fists, but using these special tools will make your sneaking all the more successful.
If you’re stealing a large haul from MULEs or need to travel a long distance, consider stealing a truck or fabricating one at a base. If you’re lucky, another player might have left one in the garage. If you know a delivery or scavenge job will involve a lot of cargo, it’s a smart choice to have a vehicle.
If the plot’s unclear, you can check out the database terminal in your private room for information on terminology and lore. There’s also a terminal with mail from everyone you’ve delivered packages to. Take a moment to look at these messages and lore entries to gain a more complete picture of the story as you progress.
Death Stranding is ridiculous. It’s pretentious and bloated and silly. It’s also moving, smart, and worth playing. Enjoy the ride and all the twist and turns that come with it. Get messy, make mistakes! You’re gonna do great!