It’s a strange thing to return to the world of Death Stranding after more than a year of absence. After doing that classic thing of rinsing nearly every last delivery before finally strapping myself in for his roller coaster ending in 2020, there hasn’t been much reason to return to my precious, silly BB Boys in the months that followed – not even his Cyberpunk 2077 crossover was enough to tempt me back. Finally, however, I have a reason to load the BB train again. Death Stranding Director’s Cut is coming to Steam and the Epic Games Store today, bringing with it new story missions, new delivery companions, new weapons, and… a Mario Kart style race track? Yes, it looks like a classic Kojima upgrade pack, if you ask me. Not quite as groundbreaking as Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, but it’s pretty much in the same kind of ballpark.
It was great fun revisiting the lush mountains of Death Stranding, which is definitely not Iceland’s version of post-apocalyptic America. If anything, the weirdest thing is seeing this same world I know and love on a new server, devoid of all the annoying neon signs, yelps of “Keep on going!” and the one-upmanship bridge building that made up the bulk of the original’s asymmetrical online multiplayer component. It’s actually quite refreshing to see these pristine, unspoiled landscapes again, though I imagine it won’t last long once returning players flock to their well-worn delivery routes. As for what’s new, is it worth going back and forth? As with all expando games, the answer will very much depend on if and how much you played the first one.
Much like the PlayStation version of Death Stranding’s Director’s Cut, this isn’t just a free upgrade for existing PC owners. Instead, you’ll need to spend an extra £9/$10 to turn your base version of the game into a Director’s Cut. Luckily, importing your backup is relatively simple. Admittedly, I was provided with the full retail version of Director’s Cut before launch, rather than the upgrade version, so the following may not actually apply. Still, all I had to do was launch the old Death Stranding, load up my most recent save, head to a delivery terminal and access my cufflinks menu, then use the “Export save data” option in the cufflink’s system settings. A little convoluted, perhaps, but that’s it. When I then went to load Death Stranding Director’s Cut, there’s an option right there on the menu’s start screen to import your save and continue where you left off.
As RPS supporters may remember from my BB Boys road trip diary, the place where I left Sam and BB was back in Capital Knot City, the place where you start and end your Death Stranding journey. When you’ve finished the game, it takes you back in time a bit to a period where you’ve beaten the final boss but haven’t yet gone through the final final chunk, dressing it up in the guise of “passing time” until it happens so you can go away and fix all the issues. That’s part of why returning to Death Stranding now feels so strange. With this new server wipe, getting out on those first coastal mountain trails is almost like I to have the game started again, but with only the structures I had placed long ago rather than everyone else.
This part of the map is also where most of the new story content takes place. Accessible from Chapter 2 of the main game, The Factory is a dilapidated new ruin for the Director’s Cut that towers above the home of Geoff Keighley (aka the Ludens Fan). You’ll visit it three times throughout the game. New players will see them staggered as they progress, with the last part unlocking at the end, but having already reached that point in the game, I ended up doing them all one after the other. This makes them a bit long and repetitive, especially since it requires you to visit it (and climb the accompanying cliff) three times before you can access the full extent of what’s there. has inside. You’re not asked to do much more than take out Mule’s henchmen as you scavenge various pieces of cargo, but it offers some neat story beats around Fragile’s character, as well as Sam himself, once you’ve finished it.
The last section of The Factory is what we saw during the Director’s Cut’s initial revelation, with Sam tenderly stepping into a very large cardboard box as he considers how to approach the room full of heavily equipped guards below. In keeping with the spirit of this somewhat endearing cutscene, I indeed tried to do my best Solid Snake impression here, opting for a nice clean run by linking everyone with my whimsical Strand bands for silent kills and non-lethal.
However, given Kojima’s pedigree in this area, it’s almost hilarious how ill-suited Death Stranding is for any type of stealth. I thought I tied the first guard up out of everyone’s line of sight, but their muffled scream ended up literally alerting everyone in the room (without an exclamation mark, unfortunately), and the whole thing turned into a messy confrontation with Bola Gun. You get at least one fancy new gun to play with here – the Maser gun, which fires bolts of electricity for automatic knockout, no kick required. Had I had this earlier in the game, I suspect my trusty Bola Gun would have seen much less use as I progressed.
I feel the same way about his new delivery aids. It’s great to see the Buddy Bot take on a bigger role here, having been promoted from an automated delivery dog to a full-fledged companion. If you have a particularly heavy load to carry, Buddy Bot can share that burden with you, faithfully following you as you lead the way. It’s also surprisingly good at tracking you through Death Stranding’s rugged terrain. When I fell down a ravine, I was surprised to see that Buddy Bot had actually jumped over a small gap on the other side to try and find me, and when I came back to the surface, he’s came back almost instantly. If you stray too far from it, he’ll just return to the nearest delivery hub, mind you – so no zooming in on your truck or bike – but if I hadn’t completed all the key deliveries in the game, you can bet your cotton socks my BB Boys diary would have quickly turned into BBBB Boys once I unlocked it.
The stupidly large Cargo Catapult is another great addition (although it’s still not as powerful as the almighty Zipline). While it’s a shame it can’t also veer you, Sam Bridges, over the mountains and the like to join your cargo once you honk it on the map, it does help ease the burden of travel . If you have a particularly steep climb ahead, building a cannon to lob your cargo ahead of you at least saves you the worry of accidentally tripping and watching it all roll down the side of the mountain in a broken heap. It’s a bit clunky to use, as you can’t always see where it’s going to land or really what direction you’re aiming in unless you press Tab to check out your map screen – where a little line will appear telling you where you shoot – but luckily it comes with a parachute and tiny little boosters you can deploy to help guide it to a safe landing spot. They also have the added bonus of spawning much earlier than the Zipline, giving you a powerful mid-game upgrade to your delivery arsenal.
I’m less bothered by the racetrack and shooting range, though they provide a nice reprieve to indulge in anything other than package delivery. Most of the time, though, they’re designed for leaderboard fiends who want to compare times with their friends. A fine enough thing on its own, but not my particular cup of tea.
Other than those new additions, however, it’s still the same Death Stranding as it was two years ago – a bewildering but beautiful rambling post sim that’s so weird I can’t help but love it. . If you haven’t yet taken in the full Death Stranding experience, the Director’s Cut is definitely the way to go – especially since it does a bit more this time to teach you the ins and outs of its traversal system from the start of the Game. It is still massively pre-fed with a lot of Weird cutscenes and galactic brain story beatsbe careful, so there’s a good chance you’ll bounce on it if you didn’t get into it the first time.
If you can handle the Kojima-ness, however, the rest of Death Stranding is a real treat. It’s a fantastical open world to get lost in, and the way it asks you to assess and interact with its beautiful landscape also makes it one of the most engaging open worlds to date. We never properly reviewed Death Stranding when it came out, but it was one of my favorite games of 2020and our vid bud team liked it a lot also, so read and watch those for more.
If, like me, you’ve seen everything there is to see in Death Stranding, I’d be more cautious about purchasing the upgrade pack. There’s certainly a decent amount to see and tinker with for £9/$10 – it took me around 5-6 hours to see and unlock everything – but I’m afraid many of the new additions will only come to life when another full game, and after spending a good 100 hours playing it the first time around, I just can’t bring myself to start over so close to the last time I finished it. Give me another five years, and I might be ready, though. The BBBB Boys story Homework be said.