The untold truth of Death Stranding

Hearts were broken far and wide when Hideo Kojima fell out with Konami. Not only did it mean that he'd never again helm a Metal Gear game, it also meant that Silent Hills — a horror game announced through the stellar demo P.T. — would never see the light of day. Some wondered if Kojima would give up video games and instead go into making movies (and that's still a goal of his, apparently), but thankfully, Kojima inked a deal with Sony and started work on a PlayStation-exclusive title called Death Stranding instead.

So what is Death Stranding, exactly? No one outside of Kojima and his team really knows for sure. There have been numerous trailers for the title, and we've even seen some in-game footage recently. But details have otherwise been scarce. What little we do know, we've gathered below, including information on who's helping Kojima build the world of Death Stranding, and interesting bits fans have been able to uncover about this super-mysterious game.

This is the untold truth of Death Stranding.

Hideo Kojima recruited a lot of his P.T. team to work on Death Stranding

Silent Hills looked to be a game-changing horror experience when it was unveiled in P.T., itself a gem. But there was more to draw players in than tense moments and scary environments. Silent Hills also had a lot of star power behind it, from Walking Dead star Norman Reedus to the involvement of award-winning director Guillermo del Toro. But as we know, unfortunately, Silent Hills ceased to be once Hideo Kojima left Konami.

But Kojima wasn't content to leave all of Silent Hills behind at his old company. He rebuilt Kojima Productions outside of Konami, recruiting many of those he'd worked with on prior projects. And he even managed to lure Norman Reedus and Guillermo del Toro back to work on his brand new game. While Death Stranding may not be the same type of game we were going to get in Silent Hills, which was part of a long-running horror franchise, there's a good chance we'll see some ideas from that abandoned title used in this new project.

Two of the game's early trailers appear to take place at the same time

Hideo Kojima has a reputation for being a showman, and nowhere is that more evident than in the two movie-quality Death Stranding trailers we got in the months following the game's announcement. Each trailer puts the game's stars on full display, with one trailer focusing on Norman Reedus, and the other on Guillermo del Toro and Mads Mikkelsen. And each tells a story in its own way. But fans noticed something particularly interesting when both trailers were watched simultaneously.

In one instance, you can see that a baby being held by Norman Reedus disappears in the first trailer just as it appears in the arms of Guillermo del Toro in the second. And the trailers seem to complement each other, with Guillermo del Toro entering a dark cave at one point while something important happens in the Norman Reedus trailer, drawing your attention back to what Reedus is doing. If the trailers are intentionally built this way, which many believe they are, it's masterful work by Kojima and his team, who know a thing or two about generating hype.

Fans are finding similarities in the landscapes of Death Stranding and paintings within P.T.

The trailers aren't the only pieces of art that fans are dissecting. We've already spoken about Kojima's desire to bring his P.T. and Silent Hills gang back for Death Stranding. Now some fans believe they've uncovered evidence that P.T. and Death Stranding are even more closely related than we first believed.

Some curious gamers took a good, long look at the paintings contained within P.T. and compared them side by side with Death Stranding footage from E3 2018. And they found some similarities that are impossible to ignore, from seemingly shared shorelines to remarkably similar mountain vistas. On top of that, fans noticed that a film negative located inside P.T. is a photo of a tunnel — one that bears a striking resemblance to the one Guillermo del Toro enters in an early Death Stranding trailer.

So what does it all mean? The paintings inside P.T. could be concept art that Kojima had sitting around for a future game. Or it could be the locales he'd planned to use for Silent Hills itself. Whatever the case, it appears that Silent Hills isn't entirely dead after all, and parts of it live on in Death Stranding.

Death Stranding uses Horizon: Zero Dawn's Decima Engine...

In late 2015, Hideo Kojima was officially a free man, no longer contracted to work with Konami. And it was around that time that Kojima officially partnered with Sony to develop a brand new game. We wouldn't learn what that game was for several more months, but we did learn in January 2016 that Kojima and Sony's Mark Cerny were searching for the engine that would eventually power Kojima's vision.

That engine wound up being the Decima Engine, used by Guerilla Games for the Killzone series and, later, for Horizon: Zero Dawn.

"Unfortunately, Kojima-san had to leave his technology with his former employer," Cerny told a crowd at the Game Awards in 2016. He was, of course, referring to the Fox Engine that had powered Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. But while the Fox Engine was pretty darn impressive, the Decima Engine proved to be a marvel in its own right. Horizon: Zero Dawn released in early 2017 to glowing reviews.

Death Stranding's engine choice looks to have been a good one.

...and you can find some Death Stranding easter eggs in Horizon: Zero Dawn

Hideo Kojima announced Guerrilla Games — along with its Decima Engine — as his "technology partner" for Death Stranding in late 2016. But we have a feeling that both Kojima and Guerrilla had struck a deal ahead of that time. Why is that, you ask? Because some Death Stranding Easter eggs made it into Horizon: Zero Dawn, which released a mere two months later in February 2017.

The Easter eggs themselves are your run-of-the-mill nods to another game property, consisting of a necklace, figurine, and shackles — all of which appeared in Death Stranding trailers. There is, however, a weird twist involved with them. If you manage to play Horizon: Zero Dawn and find the in-game items related to Death Stranding, the one vendor you can trade them with gives you a "mysterious box" in return. And what's in that box, exactly? Warm socks. Yeah, we don't get it either.

It'll be interesting to see whether or not a few Horizon Easter eggs make their way into Death Stranding. It's only fair.

Mads Mikkelsen, an actor in Death Stranding, doesn't understand the plot

Mads Mikkelsen is well known for his roles in Casino Royale, the TV series Hannibal, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But he's also another one of the big names Hideo Kojima roped in for Death Stranding. And if you feel like you have no idea what the story behind Death Stranding is, fear not — because Mads Mikkelsen is actually in the game, and he has no idea either.

"He was trying to tell me the whole plot of the game, and it's so elaborate that … I mean, I got lost," Mikkelsen said of Hideo Kojima. "But I really wanted to learn more."

Mikkelsen's interview, which took place at the Saudi Comic Con in Saudi Arabia, unearthed a few other details about his interactions with Kojima, too. For instance, Mikkelsen reportedly expressed "concern" about the motion capture technology Kojima Productions was using for Death Stranding because it was unfamiliar to him. He was apparently put at ease, though, by the fact that Kojima was very hands-on with the project.

Co-op gameplay is likely to play a big part in the game

Shared-world games are all the rage these days. Destiny really kicked the phenomenon into high gear in late 2014, joining individual players in various ways without going full MMO. The Division followed suit a few years later. And now we're seeing games like Forza Horizon 4, Anthemand even Fallout 76 promote shared-world experiences.

It appears we'll be able to add Death Stranding to that list, as well. Mads Mikkelsen decided to share more of what he knew about the game with a different outlet. This time, it was Total Film (via ScreenRant), and this time, he talked a bit about the gameplay he took note of in Death Stranding.

"The whole concept of playing the game, as I understand, needs collaboration from different people from different parts of the world. Which is also on another level of fantasticness," Mikkelsen said.

That sounds an awful lot like a shared world that changes based on what other players are doing, and an approach that Destiny 2's Forsaken expansion actually plans to use in its "Dreaming City," where those who raid will change the world everyone sees over time.

Fans speculate that Death Stranding could take place in Iceland

Ever since fans got their first look at Death Stranding, they've been meticulously poring over every second of footage and every released image for clues. What's the game about? How could it possibly play? And where is it located? Solid answers don't exist for the first two questions, but some internet sleuths have managed to piece together answers about where the game could take place. And if this evidence adds up, it turns out that Hideo Kojima has been dropping clues himself for a long time.

It all starts with a screenshot Kojima Productions released of Death Stranding, which shows rocky terrain and a whole lot of moss. Using the power of climate and geography, fans have speculated that one location that fits the bill for this look is Iceland. But that's not the only clue pointing to Iceland as the setting for Death Stranding. Hideo Kojima took a trip to Iceland back in 2014 and snapped a photo that shares a lot of similarities with the location in Death Stranding. And Kojima apparently found a new favorite band on his Icelandic adventure: Low Roar, whose music he then used in a Death Stranding trailer.

It seems like there's a whole lot of smoke here.

Despite Kojima's Twitter posts about the game, work on it remains highly secretive

Sure, Hideo Kojima may be leaving us clues about Death Stranding in his trailers and screenshots. And he may even be tweeting and retweeting hints about the game. And some of the stars of the game, like Mads Mikkelsen, have felt free enough to speak about certain parts of the development process. But all that aside? Solid news about Death Stranding has been extremely hard to come by. Kojima Productions has always been a pretty secretive outlet, and that hasn't changed now that they're independent.

Take the news about the involvement of Troy Baker and Emily O'Brien, for example. News broke that the two were slated to become part of Death Stranding thanks to an Instagram post from O'Brien, who wrote that she was "Honored to be working alongside these two fine lads" under a photo of her, Troy Baker, and Norman Reedus. But once word got around about O'Brien's photo, it was quickly deleted. And there's been no official confirmation that she or Baker have signed on to voice characters in the game since.

If we know Kojima, he likely wants to make a bigger deal out of the announcement later.