Hideo Kojima's long-awaited Death Stranding is now out and PS4 players can finally jump into the game after years of cryptic trailers and announcements. But is the game truly a masterpiece that is all it was hyped to be? Well, that is purely a subjective question because according to user reviews and initial thoughts, the player base seems to be extremely divided. Some do agree that Death Stranding is interesting and thought-provoking, while others say it is nothing but a dumpster-fire filled with extremely boring gameplay. So now the question is, why?
As of the writing of this article, the user-review score for Death Stranding on MetaCritic sits at 6.3/10. Every negative review seems to talk about the same thing when it comes to the game's weaknesses: "it's not a game, it's a movie," "overhyped," and the typical "walking simulator." One user even summarized the entire gameplay aspect by stating, "This is how the gameplay works: you delivering stuff to a hologram -> cutscenes -> repeat." Others, on the other hand, went after Kojima himself by saying how "[Kojima] has again no clue how to properly develop a game."
The reviews that are positive seem to touch upon similar aspects (not the negative ones). Most say that Death Stranding is "not for everyone" and that the gameplay isn't boring but rather "relaxing" and "peaceful." Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it also matters what kind of mindset players went in with when booting up the game.
Hideo Kojima is very well-known for his work on the iconic Metal Gear Solid series, which also had lengthy cutscenes and story-telling aspects (particularly Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater). Although the games were stealth-based (for the most part), there was action in them that players could engage with. Boss fights often broke up the action to test player's skills further.
Death Stranding is different from that. There are occasional enemies and forces that players will come across, but this isn't a Metal Gear Solid game. It's fair to say that that is what some people were expecting to get. Hardcore fans might be able to cross-reference some similarities between the titles, but casual players who enjoyed any of the Metal Gear Solid entries and jumped into Death Stranding thinking it would be heavily influenced by the past will be left somewhat disappointed.
For example, there are stealth-like sections in Death Stranding, but they are not on the same level as those in Metal Gear Solid. Players cannot expect themselves to deal with those sections like they normally would with Solid Snake since the approach in Death Stranding is different.
It's not really fair to keep comparing Death Stranding to the Metal Gear Solid series, though. Perhaps Hideo Kojima's latest is indeed not for everyone. Players who enjoy running around, guns blazing and explosions going off everywhere like in a Michael Bay movie will not get any of that in Death Stranding. Those who love playing exploration titles like Abzu and Journey will find gameplay similarities in Death Stranding. It appears to be one of those games that people need to fully play in order to understand. If they are expecting a full-on action-packed adventure, they'll be met with disappointment.
Ultimately, Death Stranding is a very beautiful game visually and tells a powerful story that almost everyone can take something out from. It's gameplay, however, is entirely unorthodox and will create a division among its players (as it's doing so right now). PlayStation Access's YouTube video talks in more detail about the way the game plays and how many different approaches it has to problem-solving, among some other things.
Trying to have an open mind when starting Death Stranding can certainly help in regards to not feeling disappointed. That mentality is something that can create an immersive and engaging experience as a result. On the other hand, expecting a repeat of Kojima's past will only lead to frustration and negativity, which is the exact opposite of what Death Stranding is trying to preach.