Death Stranding: Director's Cut Review

Richard Walker

A dawning realisation hit me, upon starting Death Stranding Director's Cut on PS5. It's a game I haven't returned to since its initial release for PS4 (you can read our original review here), almost two years ago, but, upon returning to its rugged open world - an expanse that protagonist Sam Porter Bridges (Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame) must reconnect via the chiral network – it's almost like I'd never been away. Set in the wake of the eponymous disaster, Death Stranding sees humanity living on in small pockets across America, preppers residing in shelters dotted across the map, and scavengers, called MULES, roving around looking for cargo to steal. Meanwhile, oily spirits called BTs (Beached Things) threaten to drag you down into their inky, pitch black netherworld. Death Stranding is still uniquely weird, and still excellent. If anything, the intervening years have made me appreciate it all the more.


There's time attack shenanigans to be had in the Firing Range.

If you haven't played Death Stranding before, don't worry. Its story makes a strange sort of sense in context, and, coming up on a couple of years since its original launch, it's an experience that still holds up. This remaster, made especially for PlayStation 5, not only represents the perfect opportunity for newcomers to discover what all of the fuss is about, but is also the best possible excuse for anyone who's already played the game to delve back in. The first game from developer Kojima Productions since it broke away from Konami, Death Stranding remains a singular, unique vision. And while Kojima himself has stated that the 'Director's Cut' suffix doesn't do this new version justice (he’s got a point) – this is an enhanced version of the game with additional content. It's as simple as that. Nothing’s been changed or swapped around, though (however, you will henceforth come across the word ‘new’ a lot in this review).

So, what is new? Chief among the fresh delights on offer are new tools and weapons, like a Cargo Catapult, which you can add to your selection of buildable structures, enabling you to launch single consignments of cargo through the air, before deploying a parachute to guide it gently towards the ground. It certainly beats slowly walking heavy deliveries to their designated location - just shoot them towards their destination instead. If you're hellbent on carrying your cargo on foot (remembering that it's prone to decay under rust-inducing Timefall rain), then there's a new support skeleton to aid with especially weighty loads, or a buddy bot who'll run alongside you like a spritely mechanical imp, sworn to carry your burdens. Tired of using bridges to cross ravines? There's now a jump ramp you can use to leap across them, if you like.


As for hardware, Sam can add a Mounted Machine Gun and electrifying Maser Gun to his arsenal, both of which are rather handy, and you can experiment with weaponry in the new Firing Range, available at any depot where there's a Private Room. One of the best additions is the evolved stabiliser pack, enabling you to descend from high spots and feather its thrusters for a safe landing. Practically everything new here has been added with greater accessibility (and fun) in mind, and messing around with a fresh selection of inventive gadgets and weapons breathes new life into an already great game. And if, by chance, you enjoyed any of the game's intense boss battles, you can replay them by interacting with the figurines on the shelf in Sam's private room.

Being able to construct the Fragile Circuit (near the Timefall Farm) to partake in time trial races against ghost data is the icing on the cake, offering a speedy new roadster to thrash around the track. But, really, the cherry on top comes with the Director's Cut's new story missions, which transport you to a strange facility shrouded in mystery. If you thought you were finished with Death Stranding, then porting across your PS4 save data and diving into additional deliveries, connecting 'social strands', and having your brain battered by the sort of oddness that only Hideo Kojima can conjure, proves that you're not actually done just yet.


It's fun to throw the new roadster around the Fragile Circuit.

Heaping on visual enhancements – like 4K resolution, 60fps, and an increased level of textural detail – alongside neat DualSense features, engendering the feel of rocks beneath your feet, the resistance when pulling a trigger, or the pulse of a reverse trike's engine as you hit the booster, as well as BB still crying at you through the integrated speaker (possibly even louder than before), Death Stranding Director's Cut feels like a significant enough upgrade to warrant a second visit to the ‘United Cities of America’ (UCA). If nothing else, it takes a great game, and makes it even better - even the decaying rains of the Timefall can't dull Death Stranding's shine.

Death Stranding: Director's Cut

Coming back after two years, Death Stranding still stands out as a wonderfully unique and compelling open world yarn, in which your mission, to carry out deliveries and connect people in a bid to bring them together, seems even more relevant in these topsy-turvy times. Death Stranding Director's Cut proves that Kojima's opus has only got better with age.

Form widget
85%
Audio
90%

If you enjoyed the ambient music of 'Low Roar' in 2019, then you'll still love it now. Synth tunes are employed to atmospheric effect, and the voice cast is excellent, across the board.

Visuals
95%

The thing here is that Death Stranding look so good on PS4 two years ago, that any enhancements introduced in this Director's Cut (beyond the smooth 60fps frame rate) will likely go unnoticed. Still, it's an utterly gorgeous game.

Playability
85%

With so many rocks scattered haphazardly across Death Stranding's map, it's almost impossible not to snag a vehicle on them. It might have been nice, since we're adding thrusters to stuff, to have affixed some to your trike or truck so you can get out of rocky entanglements, might have been a nice idea. Regardless, traversal challenges and balancing teetering stacks of cargo containers is still a lot more fun than you'd perhaps expect it to be.

Delivery
85%

There was already plenty to do in the PS4 version of Death Stranding, but the Director's Cut adds even more content, new doohickeys, delivery missions, and other activities to keep you hooked, even after the credits have rolled and you're spat back out into the wastelands of the UCA. The Fragile Circuit and new story elements are highlights.

Trophies
80%

In retrospect, Death Stranding's trophy list is a tricky one, peppered with rather a lot of grinding. Overall, it's a strong list with a good spread that will keep you playing, but it's one you'll also need to sink hours into, if you're planning on popping the Platinum. Good news for anyone who's finished it on PS4: you can transfer your save data, then sit back and watch them 'ding' all over again.

Game navigation