When will Death Stranding come out

"Death Stranding": I would have liked to have liked it more

Actually, my review should have been closed at this point a week ago Death Stranding, the new, hotly anticipated game from developer star Hideo Kojima. Like many other major media outlets, DER STANDARD already had access to a review version of the game in mid-October - an unusually generous window of time before the game was released on November 8th. The review embargo should even drop a week before the release. Also unusual - and very - was the following passage in the contractual agreement for this provision of a review copy: Final test judgments or reviews may only be published when the tester has seen the entire game "through to the credits".

In the case of this title, DER STANDARD waived a review after long deliberation because of this clause. Instead, a few absolutely subjective and personal comments on the cult of genius, respect, waste of time and - Death Stranding.

To the bitter end

It is of course not a surprising wish of a creative that his work should be recognized in its entirety by the press; That goes without saying for films, music albums or books. This is only the same with games at first glance, because many titles do not have a corresponding ending; Multiplayer games, sandbox titles, strategy games or rogue likes, to name just a few examples, are actually not really playable "finished". Other titles, such as "epic" role-playing games - or a brief anticipation, Death Stranding - are again so long that, for pragmatic reasons, they are sometimes not played "until the credits" before a critical classification is made. (In addition, no reviews are written about the end of a narrative game anyway, in order to avoid spoilers.)

It is usually not a problem that there are reviews even if the whole game is not through. If you have 20, 30 hours around The Witcher 3 or Fallout 76 has played, an assessment of the quality of the title is legitimately possible with the corresponding journalistic experience - especially in mass media such as STANDARD, whose reviews do not have the same requirements in terms of scope and detail as those of subject-specific special-interest media. In other words and an example from technology journalism: After a long day of test drive with the new car model, you definitely have something worth reporting to say - it is not absolutely necessary to cycle down another 20,000 kilometers to come to a valid judgment.

A secondary aspect is that in the vast majority of publications in video game reviews it is not the time played, but the text that is paid for, in a lump sum and not lavishly. Specifically: game reviewers play unpaid in their free time. The exception are permanently employed authors at the few remaining large special-interest outlets in print and online. In the German-speaking area, no more than a dozen video game journalists are allowed to count their playing time as working hours; With the STANDARD it goes without saying that it does not count as paid working time for both freelance and employed colleagues.

The reason why there was no review at this point a week ago Death Stranding was to be seen is so simple. I have Death Stranding despite serious efforts not played "to the credits". And mainly because of a fundamental point of criticism: Hideo Kojima has not the slightest respect for the time of his audience.

Kojima is Kojima

There are people who are convinced that Hideo Kojima is a genius. Most of all, however, Hideo Kojima himself believes that. Death Stranding is first and foremost a game for all those who share a high opinion of Kojimas in this regard and are willing to give him a lot of time in which - at least for a long time, and deliberately - they are not very entertained. Instead, patience and the will to suffer are required. This not only affects the length of the game, which at 50 to 80 hours is not necessarily short, but also not a particularly endless game-time monster, but permeates everything Death Stranding, from the smallest to the largest.

Long cutscenes are expected from Kojima, but in the game they get to the point in their length. In the first four hours of the game, you hardly spend more than 60 minutes actively playing it yourself. What promoted the hype as a sequence of enigmatic teaser trailers including a star lineup and also impressed me, unfortunately shows up here mainly as a confused sequence of sultry, swarming dialogues with a lot of rush philosophy, submerged in esoteric-pseudoscientific lore-babbling. It should be over seven hours of video in total, and of course you can't skip it. At the end of the game, I read, there is more or less a final, almost two-hour cut scene, in which, however, no open questions are answered consistently.

As a reward for the efforts of the gameplay level, these cutscenes are simply too few to make their monotony bearable. "Death Stranding - The Movie" is long, but in spite of a good acting performance it is at most mediocre and constantly claims its own greatness; exactly the same thing can be said about Death Stranding say as a game that is surprisingly uneventful beneath its absolutely grandiose surface: Bring this from A to B. Then again. Then again. Then again.

I myself appreciate the poorly reputed genre of walking simulators and absolutely do not need traditional "gameplay", but the only change from the monotonous marches of this game, which later last up to over an hour and are strung together as an endless series of fetch quests , is the cumbersome inventory management including weight, inventory and endurance management. And the dangers along the way in the form of people and ghosts are more of a nuisance than a challenge.

Loss of time down to the smallest detail

Ironically, during my time with the game, I personally had the least fault with this major part of the gameplay; A lack of events, awkwardness and slowness can have their charms. On the other hand, the administrative work is less attractive. Countless small but fundamental design decisions show that Kojima is not only concerned with deliberate frustration of his audience during long, meditative hikes. Almost every interaction at the terminals or in the "private room" is accompanied by a multitude of the same cutscenes, which add up to a double-digit number of hours over the entire course of the game. For example, if you send Sam into the shower, you will not be delighted by one but a total of four cutscenes every single time, in which even the individual skipping - thank God possible - takes obscenely long each time. And there are plenty of them.

The entire menu operation of the cumbersome nested game systems is such a cumbersome UI design fiasco that it must be on purpose. Okay, I get it: The repetitive check-in and check-out of material, including its cutscene, and the operation of the terminals or even your own inventory menu are probably intended at the same time as a Zen exercise in a boring, cumbersome and recurring mindless routine . It goes without saying that all of this happens in the smallest possible font - if you want to sit on the sofa, you need good eyes or a telescope. In the end, I myself took a seat on an armchair a meter in front of the TV.

Glossy art

This is a game that is deliberately reluctant. Is okay. That Death Stranding Doesn't want to be fun for a long time is legitimate. Unfortunately, it ultimately lingers in this subversion for too long, at the expense of entertainment. Tedious marches, opponents who are hardly a challenge but a constant nuisance, the fact that you walk to a base even for fast travel that is only available late and have to complete a little odyssey through menus and rooms there every time is tedious , non-skippable cutscenes: All this and much more annoyed me so much that at some point I put the controller aside and no longer picked it up. Also an achievement for a game that I would have loved to have loved for its qualities.

I know: all of this is artistically valuable intention. Thank you, Kojima-san, for this pain! You have to go through it! Or, wait, if you're not a reviewer who isn't playing this game for fun, you don't really have to. Viewers also regularly flee from the highly acclaimed eight-hour theater performances. It will be like me for many, many people who would actually have liked this game. And like me, by the way, the critics of one of the most renowned publications in the entire industry, the British one Edge, happened; they were also unable to torment their way through the whole game until the release - not for lack of time, but for enthusiasm.

Give Kojima a boss again!

So that's what happens when you finally let a genius with a huge budget make a game exactly as he imagines it: a game that - also according to the developer himself and according to almost all reviews - only after half, So after an epic "dry spell" of 20 to 30 hours (I would like to add: moderately) it becomes entertaining, then reaches an even more arduous plateau where I gave up and, according to the reviews, dragged myself into a finale that was bombastic to the point of silliness which consists of two hours of film that I probably wouldn't watch on TV. A game that hides profound wisdom such as "Together you are less alone" and "Babies are not objects at all (honestly!)" In its non-skippable cutscenes; Ultimately a game that has nothing more in common with its announcement bombast in countless trailers and teasers than its famous actors, who hardly understand the result of their work - every bet - better than you do in front of the screen.

It's great that a time is dawning in which the vision of individual artists is more important than ticking off must-have game elements, even in the medium of games. It's great that games should not only be "fun", but also allow their audience to experience other emotions. It's wonderful that such a bulky vision can exist with a huge budget at the same time. I think all of this is great - only Death Stranding Unfortunately not. Hideo Kojima was finally able to make a game exactly as he imagines it. Unfortunately, despite all the praise, most of the time it's not a particularly good game. It's a shame that no head of the studio helped Kojima-san to cut hard here and there and to bundle his genius into a better game.

I have Death Stranding not finished and therefore I must not allow me to judge. Just this much: My trust in Hideo Kojima to deal with my time in a fundamentally different way as the game progresses is tiny - and this skepticism is confirmed by other reviews, including the euphoric ones. There is a lot of talk about exertion and frustration, and about joy and relief at having finally made it "to the credits" at some point. Can a normal audience without a professional and, above all, contractual obligation to bite through in the same way, motivate themselves for so long? Is the critical praise perhaps at least in part also the Stockholm Syndrome of journalists, who had more reason than the "normal" audience to engage in Kojima's patience to the bitter end?

Death Stranding is a game that many people like me are exasperated and left unfinished. Although this could actually be seen as a conclusion, the game is spared because of its clever review clause. What a classic case of survivorship bias: only those who have been able to overcome themselves for up to 80 hours are allowed to give their opinion in advance. The Metascore thanks you.

epilogue

Maybe I'm the wrong one. On the other hand: I like into complex and challenging games Dark Souls and Dwarf Fortress invested hundreds of hours of time with legendary entry hurdles and adore artistically ambitious games experiments, by Proteus above No Man’s Sky up to Everything. I have like in a game The Long Dark well over 100 hours also "only" spent on hiking and inventory management, with the Euro Truck Simulator turned a few monotonous laps and in Skyrim, Breath of the Wild & Co already hundreds, oh what: thousands of objects brought from A to B.

The games mentioned were demanding, difficult, elegiac, complex, laborious, rewarding, funny, extensive. But one thing is not: pretentious. No matter how much better the game gets after hour 30; It doesn't matter whether the hardship of the many, many first hours in retrospect in the light of the escalating commitment wasn't that bad anyway; no matter how amazing the rare moments that I are Death Stranding then I thought it was great - as mentioned at the beginning, the realization of a fundamental problem remains: Hideo Kojima deliberately wastes my time and claims that this is exactly the point.

Death Stranding distributes its undoubtedly existing qualities over a playing time that is at least twice too long and offers a mechanically presumptuous dramaturgy that mercilessly exaggerates the deliberate frustration at the beginning. Who knows how this game would have been received without Kojima's celebrity bonus and absurdly inflated expectations by PR and hype.

Because what wants us Death Stranding