Sam Bridges must brave a world utterly transformed by the Death Stranding. Carrying the disconnected remnants of our future in his hands, he embarks on a journey to reconnect the shattered world one step at a time.
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment (PS4), 505 Games (PC)
Reviewed on: PC (Ryzen 5 2600, RTX 2070 Super, 32GB DDR4)
Also available for: PS4
Cast: Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Léa Seydoux, Margaret Qualley, Troy Baker, Tommie Earl Jenkins, Jesse Corti, Darren Jacobs, Lidnsay Wagner, Emily O’Brien
Developer: Kojima Productions
Directed by: Hideo Kojima
Written by: Hideo Kojima, Kenji Yano, Shuyo Murata
Art Director: Yoji Shinkawa
Death Stranding was one of the best games of 2020. In fact, we awarded it with our pick for Best Game of 2019 and I can safely confirm that it’s going to be one of the best PC games of 2020. This is a fantastic port of one of the PS4’s greatest games.
Let’s start with the weird, and I don’t mean the plot of Death Stranding. When you boot up the game on PC the first message you’re greeted with is “Sony Entertainment Corporation.” An odd feeling, but one it seems like we’ll be getting used to with Horizon: Zero Dawn also on its way to PC next month. But if Death Stranding is any sign, the DECIMA Engine is going to play very nicely with PCs.
In my original review for the game I said:
“The final few hours of Death Stranding do play out like a movie as Kojima works to wrap up the story in a way that makes sense. Certainly, there are elements up for debate and discussion, but the game’s back-heavy plot doesn’t feel unearned, or unnecessary. For the 30-40 prior to this point Death Stranding is one of the most videogamey video games of 2019. As much as the ending feels like a feature film — because it’s that long — everything up until that point couldn’t have been done in any other medium than video games and that’s why Death Stranding is so special. The bonds you make aren’t the connections to the cities in-game, they’re to the players you interact with on the way. The journey is often more important than the destination and that is never more important than in Death Stranding and its ending is only earnt and emotional because of that journey.”
I’m going to focus this review on the PC-centric stuff, but if you’d like to read more about my thoughts on Death Stranding’s story, or general gameplay, please check out my full PS4 review.
Death Stranding was already one of the most beautiful games you could stick in your PS4 Pro to show off how far gaming has come to your friends and family, but the PC version certainly takes it to another level.
I’ve been playing the game with an RTX 2070 Super on a 1440p screen with all the settings set to very high and easily sat above a constant frame-rate of 60fps. There is a ‘default’ setting for everything which seems to be the equivalent of what playing on a PS4 is like. You can get your FPS uncapped and upwards of 240fps if you have the rig or need for that, but playing the game at 60fps when you’re used to the way it played at 30fps on the PS4 is an experience. In a lot of ways, it makes the game easier. Sam’s actions seem less rigid and with purpose; even with a giant load of deliveries, he seems to move with so much more ease at 60fps than 30. It’s not a direct complaint, and it certainly won’t ruin the game, but it is noticeable just how much of the game was designed with the PS4 in mind.
You have both AMD and Nvidia options for performance-enhancing and super-sampling included here – Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FidelityFX. The former I’ve been a big fan of over the last few months with DLSS 2.0 proving to be a lifesaver when running Minecraft at higher resolutions with ray-tracing turned on. But it’s actually AMD’s option that I felt offered the biggest improved here. FidelityFX CAS beats DLSS 2.0’s ‘quality mode’ in a noticeable way with noticeably improved details such as smoothed edges and smaller improvements on effects not losing their quality like rain and the particle effects on things like BT’s or the rain melting your packages with slight sparks bouncing off them.
I didn’t see a giant increase in FPS with DLSS put in “performance’ mode either and couldn’t justify turning it on. I was averaging around 80-90fps with FidelityFX CAS or DLSS turned on with all other settings set to very high. FidelityFX was just proving the keep the most detail. The only time the game noticeable dropped close to 60 was during cutscenes where it seems the game automatically limits the FPS to 60.
I don’t own a monitor to test 4K/60, but Nvidia is claiming anyone with a 20-series card and DLSS 2.0 turned on should be able to hit it no problem, and I’m inclined to believe that at the moment. Similarly, there’s also support for ultra-wide monitors for those that have one.
As I said, the game was already stunning on PS4 but it continues to stun on PC. There’s an amazing beauty to Death Stranding’s post-apocalyptic world with lush-green mountains and relaxing rivers. Is this the best way to play Death Stranding? From a visual standpoint, there’s definitely a slight increase to fidelity, but unless you can have a rig capable of the higher settings and 2K/4K resolutions, there’s really no reason to stress over this on normal quality vs the PS4 version.
Although I’ve fallen back to playing the game with a controller for the majority of my time, I did spend a decent chunk with a keyboard and mouse which works quite well. Instead of holding any of the triggers on a controller for balancing each of Sam’s arms, you use the mouse buttons and everything else kinda just falls into place. Of course, because this is PC you’re able to rebind what you’d like and if you’d like to make the game easier for yourself you can bind both of Sam’s hands holding to one-button. However, I wouldn’t advise taking away from the struggle of Death Stranding, it’s one of the reasons the experience resonates with you for so long.