About eight months have passed since the release of Death Stranding on Sony consoles, a fairly short period of time, all in all, except that the whole world has been hit by one of the most important crises in history. Playing the title with today's eyes, after all a prolonged period of "forced isolation", offers a new perspective and probably more engaging in the work of Kojima Productions.
If in October the concept of solitude was perceived with an exclusively conceptual and social declination, today that same discourse is expressed with more force, acquiring a more powerful value in practical terms, since we have been - and still are - physically distant from each other. the others. The arrival of Death Stranding on PC is yes important for the expansion of its audience, but also for those who have already completed the adventure of Sam Porter Bridges, being able to see it in a new perspective. Unfortunately, the review copy of the game allowed limited-time access to the title, not giving me a way to dissect it in all its aspects. Fortunately in the previous one title analysis, which I still recommend reading, there was a way to complete the main quest and numerous side missions, consequently I find myself writing this piece without doubts or uncertainties about the product itself, but without being able to talk about the exclusive missions present in this version, which I will tell you as soon as possible with a dedicated piece.
Having said that, Death Stranding showed up definitely in shape in the test of its Steam version, further demonstrating its value, but taking, as expected, its flaws as well.
In its release period, Death Stranding arrived with everyone's eyes on it, not only for the media importance of an exclusive console or for the fame and inspiration of its creator but, above all, for its game design so atypical and contrasting with the "classic" triple A productions. Furthermore, right on the console, a title with this bizarre cut was even more dissonant with what is the video-game panorama to which the average player is accustomed. Today, however, Death Stranding arrives on PC doubly reinvigorated: first of all, the public had an excellent amount of time to digest and metabolize the proposal of Kojima Productions and also the PC market has always been a harbinger of works with the most disparate conceptions, not to mention the natural predisposition towards simulation-based titles. Consequently, it is likely that only now can Death Stranding really be found at home, being able to reach that audience which by nature is less plaster and always a little more open to the new.
A small example in support of this thesis is the welcome of the new Snowrunner, an arcade-sim that puts us in the shoes of a truck driver with tons of tasks (and loads) to be transported from one part of the various game regions to another, having to plan routes, circumvent weather conditions and better equip themselves to face the difficult paths and challenges that nature constantly offers us. Although the Spintires series was already very successful in the panorama of master race, the reception of the console players was a little more lukewarm as regards the last chapter while SnowRunner, thanks to the various comparisons that were made with Death Stranding in terms of naked and raw gameplay, was much more fascinating and intriguing just to that audience that, on his own, would never have approached that type of experience. It is clear therefore that, for those who have never had this type of prejudice against similar titles, the acceptance of Death Stranding could potentially be much warmer than that received on November 8 on Ps4.
The man who delivers
We all know by now the gameplay of Death Stranding, the "courier simulator" on which he got so ironic before his release and then, for better or for worse, he displaced everyone showing how close he was to this definition and how well this design choice worked. Despite its shortcomings, in fact, which afflicted (and afflicted) the game, especially during the first three very long chapters, the title worked (and works) very well for most of the time. The average free approach to the path to follow, the ability to exploit objects and aids positioned by other players who have walked our own path, or who have created their own, and to create our own remains the strongest point of the title, allowing the growth and expansion of a world in constant modulation and renewal, thanks to the concept of Chiral Network and the other elements that characterize the story of Death Stranding, fitting perfectly into the game context.
At the same time, the stealth phases still show the side of some uncertainty, however mitigated by the gradual expansion of the available equipment, while the boss fights would have to be decidedly redesigned, given their farraginosity. Net of all this, Death Strading remains an exceptionally usable and fun title if you are willing to play according to its rules and face an experience of this type. This edition also comes with a series of missions dedicated to Portal and Hal-Life, the result of a collaboration with Valve in view of the release of the title on its platform and that will surely make the happiness of the fans of those two pearls of the media, but I will discuss it in a separate post-launch article. Moreover, it is good to specify that the diehard mouse and keyboard users will not be obliged to take up the pad, since the PC control mapping is practical and smart.
The decisive aspect of this Steam version of Death Stranding is an element that is apparently secondary but absolutely decisive, that is, the test bench of the Decima Engine on PC. The engine of Guerrilla Games that has won over the public and critics with the product in question and first with Horizon Zero Dawn, which is also about to arrive on PC among other things, convinces and conquers even in this case. Testing the game on a configuration that almost met the recommended requirements, i.e. an i-7-3770, a 1060 of 6GB and 16 of available ram (against the 8 proposed), setting everything on the highest quality available, the title has behaved more than adequately showing once again the strength and malleability of the game engine that moves it. In Full HD the game remains almost always anchored at 60 frames per second, but nothing prevents you from raising the frame rate limit (up to 244 per second) to have an even more enjoyable experience in terms of fluidity, albeit with occasional drops. Personally, also considering the current set up, I prefer to stay on the stability of 60 fps and avoid oscillations as much as possible. There are cases in which the drop is 3/4 frames, probably due to some bottlenecks, during the sessions played but nothing to worry about considering that 90% of the time the game is revealed granite.
The same cannot be said of the cut-scenes in which we can come across very dramatic drops for no apparent reason on the threshold of 20 fps. All the precautions taken by Kojima Productions and Guerrilla in technical terms manage to create a very solid and incredibly real game world: the excellent depth of field, combined with the amount of details present in the environments and always supported by an intelligent exploitation of technological devices on which still today as yesterday stands out the parallax occlusion mapping, lighting management and a series of "tricks" and precautions that well hide some technical limits making them almost invisible to the player. In contrast, this PC version it adds nothing as seen on the flagship Sony, consequently visually we will have an experience very similar to PS4 Pro but much more fluid and stable. This is not to be underestimated of course, but perhaps we would have expected some exclusive gems for PC players, more defined textures or more details on the screen. This is not the case, but at the time there is still a more than acceptable cure in this optimization, although not in the round.
Anyone who owns an RTX card will be happy with Nvidia's support for DLSS 2.0, as well as FidelityFx CAS for those who use AMD, yet those who love to spend a good part of the time tinkering and "tweaking" their games from the appropriate menus will probably feel a little disheartened for the lack of options in this sense. It must however be specified that, despite these shortcomings, the visual rendering is always excellent and the smudges never really weak for our game sessions. Anyone who does not have an SSD on which to load the game must deal with it some grueling uploads, reaching nearly the minute threshold in some cases, which can be quite frustrating. Overall, however, Death Stranding manages to keep its strength intact and indeed to underline it thanks to an excellent graphics engine that can finally really show its face to the public.
The new world
Death Stranding has not changed, and will hardly change, the rules of the video-game market, yet it has a vision of its own and the world around it and for this reason it is a work that cannot go unnoticed. It is easy that it remains an unsuitable product for many players, but at the same time it is necessary to try it and "face it" to understand it. It is a product plagued by some problems that make it far from perfection sought after by its creator, but at the same time possesses an almost invaluable value in the construction of its mechanics and the world that moves according to them. The narrative cues and above all the strong criticisms, not too veiled, of an increasingly childish, short-sighted and lonely society strike even more strongly considering the situation in which we are living are intertwined with a simple but addictive gameplay which proposes new concepts and ideas that everyone should try to approach. Probably, those who have already seen the epilogue of the story and have already reconnected America in the console version of Death Stranding will have few reasons to approach the title immediately, but those who have not yet had the opportunity to face the dystopian odyssey of Hideo Kojima, has more excuses.