When game director Hideo Kojima first unveiled the debut trailer for Death Stranding at E3 earlier this year, there was a lot of speculation about what the game was going to be about. After all, the trailer was weird and wacky, and all we knew was that it would involve Norman Reedus, babies, and dead whales. I broke down that trailer previously and surmised that Kojima’s new action game would likely be about time travel, the bending of space and physics, and the consequences that came with messing around with nature and screwing it up. After watching the second trailer shown at The Game Awards this past weekend, I’m doubly sure of that theory now.
First off, the trailer kicks off with a grimy shot of a muddy ground and a baby doll. We’ll touch on the doll later, but what’s interesting here is the presence of water throughout the entire video. I’d previously theorized that the primordial soup theory would be touched upon in Death Stranding, and the overabundance of water here seems to support that. As a refresher, the primordial soup theory suggests that the ocean (or any large body of water, really) serves as the giver of life to the world. However, as we saw in the debut trailer, the ocean was dark and full of dead marine life – likely a visual consequence of Reedus’ space and time jumps. The water in the second trailer looks just as disgusting, and it might be safe to assume that the presence of water could come to play a big thematic role in the game too.
Soon after, we’re introduced to a new character played by acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro. He seems to be hiding from something, and he later reveals a capsule that houses a live baby. The baby struggles to open an eye, but before we can see anymore, the camera follows the floating baby doll and pans to what lies in the sewer that del Toro is standing next to. Before we move on, it’s also worth noting that del Toro’s character is wearing a badge with the word ‘Bridges’ on it.
Inside the sewer, we get a glimpse of some WW2-era soldiers, except they’re all skeletons. They make way for actor Mads Mikkelsen’s character, who is seen wearing night vision goggles. As he commands the skeleton soldiers (perhaps we could call them a Skull unit?) to move forward, we also notice that they’re connected to him with ropes that quickly spiral around Mikkelsen’s character. Considering that Kojima has previously discussed the theme of connections between human beings and how everyone is linked via ropes and strands, perhaps this is our first glimpse of how the aforementioned connections can be used for evil.
After that, we see the baby doll floating near Mikkelsen’s feet, and its single eye opens. Now, this is just a theory, but what if that baby doll was actually del Toro using his live baby to scout out what lay ahead in the sewer? We never come back to him and the baby after that initial activation, but with both babies opening one single eye, the two have to be linked in some way. Another interesting thing about the baby has been pointed out recently. Fans have discovered that if you watch both Death Stranding trailers together at the same time, you’ll see that the baby Reedus’ character is holding disappears just as del Toro activates the capsule with the live baby. Could these two events be happening at the same time, and the baby was actually transported from one location to the next? Or perhaps del Toro was in the past, and his activating the capsule caused the baby in the future to disappear. This is all just speculation for now.
One final thing to note is that at the beginning of the trailer, we saw many tanks and planes in the environment. The planes were covered in ropes, which again reiterates the point that these long stringy strands are going to play a big part in the game, and that everything has a connection in some way or another. More interestingly, the tanks were filled with what looked a lot like dead octopus and other forms of dead marine animals. Aside from the creepy babies, this seems to be the only other connection between this trailer and the first one. It seems obvious that marine animals are going to play a major role in the game too – likely to serve as a visual reminder of the consequences that come with bending the rules of nature and playing with time.
To conclude, this new trailer gave us a better sense of the world that Death Stranding will be set in. We’ve got that Bridges badge, which could be an indication of del Toro’s affiliation to some sort of organization, and we also got a look at Mikkelsen’s character, who seems primed to take on the role of the big bad guy in the game. After all, the compass seen on Mikkelsen’s character had a wildly spinning needle, which means that it was reacting to some sort of strong electromagnetic field. Evidence of time travel, perhaps? Maybe Mikkelsen and whatever organization that he works for is behind all the destruction in the world, and del Toro’s one of the good guys trying to put an end to it.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about Death Stranding, but from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like it’s going to be an insane ride. Feel free to sound off in the comments below, and let us know what your own theories about the game are.