REVIEW: ‘Death Stranding Director’s Cut’ Is a Worthwhile Upgrade (PS5)

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Death Stranding Director's Cut - But Why Tho

Many popular PS4 games have recently released upgraded versions for owners of the PS5, so it was not surprising when it was announced that Death Stranding would be getting the same treatment with the Death Stranding Director’s Cut. What was surprising, at least for me, was that it promised to be more than just a simple graphics and performance upgrade. Playing Death Stranding Director’s Cut was a no-brainer for me, as someone who did not play the original release. But is it worth the $9.99 upgrade for people who already own the original? Let’s take a look and find out.

For those unfamiliar with the game, Death Stranding is an open-world action RPG created by video game legend Hideo Kojima. The story follows Sam Porter Bridges, played by Norman Reedus, as he makes essential deliveries across the fractured remnants of the United States. Alongside Reedus, Death Stranding Director’s Cut also features some very well-known names such as Léa Seydoux, Guillermo del Toro, and Mads Mikkelsen. I’ll get into their performances more in a bit, but that cast alone should be enough to make players want to check out the fascinating story of Death Stranding Director’s Cut.

The story of Death Stranding is by far the highlight of the game. Kojima is a well-known and respected name in the world of gaming, and for a good reason. He has a reputation for creating excellent (and sometimes strange) worlds, and the United States he portrays here is no different. The story felt a little too on the nose for me at first, perhaps a little obnoxiously optimistic considering everything that’s happened in the United States over the last few years. Still, it started to grow on me as the game went on. The benefit of the Director’s Cut is that Kojima could add even more of his storytelling and world-building to the game. If you were a fan of the base game or enjoy Kojima’s work in general, you will not be disappointed.

I mentioned the cast of Death Stranding Director’s Cut earlier, and I can’t accurately express just how well they nailed their performances throughout. Sure, there is plenty of unavoidably cheesy dialogue. The main character is named Sam Porter Bridges. He delivers packages to build figurative bridges, so the cheese is evident from the start. But it all pays off in the end. It almost feels like some of the cheesier moments of the game had to be cheesy for the story to work. After all, optimism in a conceptual, divided United States does seem a little far-fetched. Nevertheless, I found myself really engrossed in the characters and their experiences. Those performances alone are enough for me to recommend this game to virtually anyone looking for a great story with interesting characters.

I was not surprised at all that a Kojima game had an enjoyable story, but the gameplay was something I was skeptical about going into my playthrough. I had no desire to walk around delivering packages; it just didn’t sound appealing to me. Boy, was I wrong. Beyond just the creativity of the mechanics used when delivering packages, the upgrades you can earn and how you achieve them had me thoroughly engaged throughout my experience. The first few hours can seem a little tedious when it comes to movement, but from what Sony has said about the changes from the original version, it’s clear that Kojima and his team worked hard to make the earlier portions of the game more streamlined for new players. I felt a slight tinge of frustration at times, but never to the point that I did not enjoy my time.

The story is also involved enough that it should more than make up for any issues with the actual mechanics of the gameplay. In addition, there are revised tips and guides for new players as well as new equipment and weapons to help make the experience even more welcoming. While I can’t judge how it stacks up to the original release, I can say that the game did not feel overwhelming at all and did an excellent job at bringing me along for the ride.

Besides adding some additional story content, the most significant appeal for a new Director’s Cut version is the inclusion of visual upgrades for the PS5. If I were to tell you that Death Stranding Director’s Cut looked good, I would be a liar. It looks incredible. There were several moments where I was left with my jaw on the floor at how grand and detailed the world around me was. Sure, there will always be a handful of things that don’t quite look perfect, but I felt like I was looking at a real world and not a fictitious creation. Part of what made me feel like such a part of the world was how music was used to enhance the visual experience. I am a sucker for a good soundtrack, and Death Stranding Director’s Cut absolutely delivers on that front.

Death Stranding Director’s Cut is a game with a ton going on. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a creative and enjoyable experience. The only question for those who played the original version is whether or not they enjoyed their first trip through Kojima’s brilliant creation. If you did, or if this is your first time playing Death Stranding, you are absolutely going to love every second of the Death Stranding Director’s Cut.

Death Stranding Director’s Cut releases September 24th for the PS5.

Death Stranding Director's Cut
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    Rating - 10/10
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TL;DR

Death Stranding Director’s Cut is a game with a ton going on. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a creative and enjoyable experience. The only question for those who played the original version is whether or not they enjoyed their first trip through Kojima’s brilliant creation. If you did, or if this is your first time playing Death Stranding, you are absolutely going to love every second of the Death Stranding Director’s Cut.