When you look back at video games throughout history, the very act of walking is often as simple as tilting the control stick forward, letting your character and their traversal animations do most of the work. But in Hideo Kojima’s new open-world game, Death Stranding, walking and keeping your balance can be one of the most difficult challenges you face when playing as Sam Porter Bridges in his mission to rebuild America. With all that said, you may be asking yourself what exactly is so tricky about walking in Death Stranding, and why does there need to be an entire article explaining it?
Throughout Death Stranding, you’ll be delivering parcels and goods to people across North America. This sounds like a simple task, but as it turns out, your choices and decisions along the way present some of the game’s more engaging and tense moments. While other open-world games allow you to stuff countless objects into an invisible bag without a significant, every item you stack into Sam’s inventory can have an impact on how you’ll be able to control him. When you take your first steps out into the ruined wilderness of Death Stranding’s eerie and isolating post-apocalypse, it’s immediately apparent that merely moving the control stick forward and hoping for the best isn’t enough.
Considering that, we wanted to adequately explain how to manage with Death Stranding’s punishing traversal systems. After spending well over 80 hours in Death Stranding, I’ve broken down these tips into three categories focusing on pacing, weight management, and balance, and they each have an influence on Sam’s harrowing jaunt across the nation. After reading this guide, you’ll know just what it means to explore the wild as a so-called porter. This is a spoiler-free guide, so reading this before you begin can help start off your journey off on the right foot.
One Foot In Front Of The Other
To be real with you, getting into the flow of Death Stranding’s traversal gameplay means having to unlearn certain habits picked up from other open-world games. Covering large amounts of ground can be reasonably relaxed in other games, thereby lessening the actual struggle that can likely come from running several miles straight with a backpack full of heavy weapons and other knick-knacks. Death Stranding, on the other hand, emphasizes observing the path that lies ahead and exploring its vast landscape at your own pace–using whatever tools you have at your disposal to overcome environmental hazards, even basic ones like rocks and shallow streams. Surprisingly, walking and general traversal takes most of its cues from the basic rules of hiking. It’s essential to observe and connect with the world around you, and though Sam is a capable outdoorsman, he’s still vulnerable and can be prone to falling over if you take your surroundings for granted. More often than not, this will happen when overexerting yourself, or simply being careless. Even without cargo, which frees up Sam’s movement and flexibility, it can still be easy to slip and eat dirt, which you’ll see happen in hilarious detail.
With this in mind, you’ll need to properly pace yourself and plan when heading out for a job. That entails setting foot into the wilderness and getting a bead of its uneven and rigid terrain. Maneuvering past the rocky and rough ground can, at times, feel like a platforming game on a flat surface, where you’ll need to build up a rhythm to overcome the obstacles. One of Sam’s more useful tools is his Odradek, a shoulder-mounted robot that can scan objects and the ground at your feet. By examining what’s ahead, you can see different aspects of your environment, which will be marked in blue, yellow, and red. Blue markings represent the safest surfaces that won’t cause too much trouble, while yellow areas–mostly large hills and craggy surfaces–should be approached with caution. The places marked in red are best left avoided, as they represent deep water, steep hills, and uneven surfaces that can be tripped over easily.
There’s so much ground to cover during missions, and you might feel the temptation to sprint as much as you can. While you can certainly do that, it will drain Sam’s stamina quickly–faster than expected if you manage to do so on rough terrain. Also, you’ll run the risk of Sam losing his footing. For instance, running down a steep hill is almost always a bad idea in Death Stranding. While you can grip the backpack tight with both the shoulder buttons, hills with slopes at 45 degrees and higher present a significant strain on Sam. Walking up a steep hill will drain his stamina faster while walking down will result in him losing his footing. Though you can brace yourself and hope for the best, it’s simply better to take your time and not rush it.
Sworn To Carry Your Burdens
Sam’s duty as a porter entails carrying cargo to different people across the country. Exploring the outside is dangerous due to the influence of Timefall, the ghostly BTs, and bandits known as MULEs running amok, which means only a few brave individuals dare venture out into the wilderness. After a successful delivery, you’ll earn kudos in the form of ‘Likes,’ which add up and increase your reputation among other preppers and porters in the world. While exploring, you may get the urge to grab any and all stray cargo from other players and various preppers in the world. While some are worthwhile to pick up while on delivery, it’s always better to exercise restraint. The more cargo you load up on Sam, the more it’ll impact his movement speed and flexibility, which can lead to significant problems further down the road.
In the opening episodes of the game, Sam can only carry up to 125 kg of cargo. While you can still accrue a fair amount of gear and move reasonably comfortably, eventually, it will all add up. Unlike other games that treat encumbrance as an inconvenience–only becoming a problem at a certain point–Death Stranding treats it as a consequence of overexerting Sam’s abilities. Think of cargo as a debt placed onto Sam. While some debt is manageable, significant debt can lead to substantial problems, especially in an environment where people tempt you to add more to your current load. As you pick up more cargo, you’ll slowly begin to feel the effects it’ll have on Sam. Before you know it, jumping is no longer is an option, sprinting becomes slow and lumbering, and your stamina will drain at a faster rate.
The worst thing you can do in Death Stranding is to take on a significant amount of cargo for a long trip. Though you can eventually get vehicles to help with the delivery, you’ll still need to carry much of it on your own back. So when it comes to taking on deliveries, always keep your limits in mind and show self-control. Even if you think you’re able to carry bulk loads of gear, maxing your storage and holding items both hands, it’s usually not worth it.
Finding Your Center
The one final pillar of movement to keep in mind is finding a proper balance. As it turns out, this is one of the critical aspects of effectively walking and delivering cargo in Death Stranding. Being imbalanced isn’t necessarily related to over-encumbrance, but rather, it’s a severe strain to Sam’s posture, which can seriously sap his movement potential. For instance, extra-large cargo comes in big drum-shaped containers, and while you can carry a few and still be well under your carry limit, how it’s packed will impact your movement speed and poise. It can be easy to forget about balance when exploring, picking up random cargo along the way, or making a choice to take on another side gig, and this is usually where the trouble begins.
If Sam struggling to stand up straight with a massive tower of gear on his back, it’s a clear sign that you’ve over-packed. Not only will improperly organized goods lead to exhaustion–draining his stamina faster–it can make walking far more difficult. When you move with an unorganized load and attempt to shift in a direction even slightly, Sam will lose balance and struggle to stay upright. At this point, you’ll be prompted to grab the shoulder buttons to grip his backpack. Standing idly isn’t even safe, as when Sam tries to relax, he can fall over due to an awkward packing job. This can be devastating for exploration, especially when you run afoul of enemies or you’re under a strict time limit.
To avoid messing with Sam’s poise too much, and to ease the pressure on his back, it’s always good to do an inventory check. In the cargo menu, you can observe and reorganize items that Sam has on his person. While the majority of things end up in Sam’s backpack, you can also place cargo onto slots on his porter suit. With four additional slots on his waist and shoulders, putting medium-sized items onto Sam directly can help with redistributing weight. Another great tip is to use the auto-arrange option, which will automatically optimize your cargo for movement and weight. With that said, it’s best used sparingly as it might not organize it in the best way for your character. In Episode 3, you’ll eventually acquire a floating carrier, which is a drone that can hold a shipment for you. After dropping some items onto it, you can hitch it to your backpack and have it follow you around. This will free up the weight on Sam’s body, allowing you to move easier and poise.
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With these tips, you’ll be on your way to exploring the ruins of North America at a decent pace, without looking like a lumbering fool while clumsily avoiding rampaging BTs nipping at your heels. For more on Death Stranding, including our in-depth beginner’s guide, a breakdown of vehicles, and chapter walkthroughs, be sure to check our Death Stranding Walkthroughs, Guides, and Tips hub page for more details.
How To Walk In Death Stranding