An end-of-year spotlight for me was that, following months of teases that finally simply received a bit annoying, Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions gave us the primary actual glimpse of Dying Stranding 2, formally referred to for now as DS2. We have identified the sequel was on the way in which ever since actor Norman Reedus, who performs the primary game’s protagonist Sam, blurted out its existence in an interview however, even so, this confirmed as soon as extra that Kojima and his crew are in a category of their very own with regards to the artwork of the reveal.

These 4 minutes set up a brand new world within the aftermath of the primary game’s occasions, in addition to mirroring one of many defining moments in Hideo Kojjima’s profession as a significant director. Kojima’s video games had already met with native success, and certainly he’d already pioneered most of the concepts he’d later come to re-use, earlier than Metallic Gear Stable’s world success gave his crew a brand new alternative and drawback: an enormous sequel price range, a generational leap, and the expectations that got here with each.

This isn’t the place to re-litigate Metallic Gear Stable 2’s many successes, aside from to notice {that a} key precept behind it was upsetting viewers expectations: most infamously within the shift in protagonists, but additionally by way of issues like making the US authorities the principle antagonist. It mirrored components of the game it was succeeding, and now over 20 years later we arrive at DS2, one other big-budget sequel to a success, and discover echoes of MGS2 in all places.

DS2’s reveal exhibits us a world where apparently inconceivable issues have occurred. It is usually a significant shift in path for the sequence that has an actual world context. Dying Stranding was launched simply earlier than the pandemic and, after the years that adopted, its themes of loneliness and isolation now hit with huge energy; it grew to become a game outlined as a lot by what unfolded round it as what it was.

The sequel has been created on this wake, and the trailer means that it’s leaning into a number of the points that, maybe by chance, have come to look so defining. It opens with shots of childrens’ toys, the form of issues a toddler performs with, and a have a look at a height-measuring chart with small BT handprints marking development.  That is overlaid by guitar strumming and the singing of Troy Baker, antagonist Higgs from Dying Stranding.

Kojima’s first large twist is that Lou, your BB from the unique game, seems to have grown up: which mustn’t have occurred, besides the ending of the primary game noticed one thing else inconceivable occur with Lou. There isn’t any cast-iron approach of telling if this toddler is the child you carried with you over an American wasteland, in fact, however the particulars within the scene are suggesting so: we see the BB container, now repurposed as a form of toy aquarium, then that Fragile is taking care of her. 

A scene that in its composition explicitly mirrors this particular version field artwork, which exhibits the characters Olga and Sunny, and is making specific the game’s theme of what we select to move on.

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Fragile was a key ally in Dying Stranding, a companion all through the journey who helps Sam avert the “final stranding” on the game’s climax, and on the finish joins Bridges (the organisation Sam has been serving to to rebuild America). Right here she is elevating the woman in obvious isolation when an armed group rushes the compound, forcing her to flee on a outstanding trying one-wheeled bike… then comes the following twist.

In trailers like these, heroic stuff occurs. There is a soar minimize earlier than any scares or large reveals. As you are anticipating Fragile and Lou to zoom off into the gap, the gunfire begins. Fragile is clipped, crashes, and falls, defending the kid by way of the tumble. They find yourself metres away from one another on the bottom at which level somebody, and it could be Higgs, goals his weapon. There is a gunshot and the suggestion is that he shoots both Fragile or the kid.

This seems like a Kojima fakeout, and should even appear acquainted. Over the primary game we study why Fragile and Higgs are mortal enemies earlier than, in a climactic scene, the game suggests she shoots him on the seashore. We later discover out she left Higgs alive, with the selection of being completely stranded or ending it himself. Gee, what a shock he is again.

And because the DS2 trailer goes on to point out, each Fragile and Lou are very a lot alive. We subsequent see Fragile trying barely older, together with her pores and skin apparently healed of the withering timefall impact, subsequent to a white-haired Sam. This means a substantial shift in timeline, one thing the Metallic Gear Stable sequence would do with each main entry, and extra importantly we see Lou’s BB pod with one thing manifesting in it: an angel child, a trapped BT, or a tentacle horror, at completely different factors.

It is right here we begin to get some super-explicit echoes of MGS2, first with the enormous tar-traversing mech that emerges. Dying Stranding had some Metallic Gear components to its world design, and the Director’s Minimize added significantly extra, however that is explicitly a large Yoji Hinkawa-designed mech. Not simply that nevertheless it’s an amphibious mech, the large promoting level of MGS2’s Metallic Gear Ray, and at one level we see its identify: OHV Magellan.

The Sixteenth-century explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s achievements embrace the Magellan expedition, the primary recorded circumnavigation of the world. The strait of Magellan, crucial pure passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is called after him. All of which means that, within the context of Dying Stranding, we’re right here an ocean-going vessel that may someway navigate this world’s seashores.

The water is a large a part of Dying Stranding’s surroundings, each in the true and seashore worlds, however within the latter case the game is sparing about placing you in it exterior of cutscenes. That is full scuttlebutt however feels price mentioning: some of the persistent early rumours about DS2 was the codename Ocean.

Which does not essentially imply something, although different imagery from the trailer suggests some type of drought (the cult followers in a desert) in addition to a tar ocean. A lot of Dying Stranding’s narrative rests across the macguffin of how the seashore, the ghostly otherworld, bleeds by way of into the ‘actual’ world and when and the way that may be intentionally or by chance triggered. The lengthy and quick is that there are guidelines, however as Dying Stranding suggests, these generally exist to be damaged.

And so we come to the trailer’s climax and maybe the largest MGS2 nod but. That game included the comparatively early, and moderately ludicrous, reveal that the primary game’s useless antagonist Liquid Snake had apparently fused with and brought over Revolver Ocelot due to an arm graft. Do not ask.

The trailer closes with what appears like one thing comparable: a fusion of the beach-bound Amelie and the beach-stranded Higgs, with a little bit of Guitar Hero added in for good measure. This character resembles Higgs however has components of Amelie’s design added, not least a coiffure supposed to attract the comparability. Their robotic followers, in the meantime, unmistakably flash a pink ‘!’ image that is barely completely different sufficient from the long-lasting Metallic Gear image to keep away from the legal professionals.

Lastly the tagline: “Ought to we now have related?” One other flip. Dying Stranding’s equal phrase was “Tomorrow is in your palms”, a phrase of encouragement that additionally has a component of hope, in-keeping with the game’s theme of re-connecting America through the chiral community. The sequel’s first intuition is to query such connection (arguably one other echo of MGS2’s large themes) at the same time as its core revolves round others: Is the web actually a power for good in our societies?

However the greatest clue about where we’re going here’s a Higgs voiceover that happens close to the top: “It wasn’t UCA that made the ultimate determination, it was APAC: a personal company”. The United Cities of America was that grand try at re-connection: the wording right here means that, no matter we achieved within the first game, it might finally have served completely different ends.

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A still from the DS2 trailer.

(Picture credit score: Kojima Productions)
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A still from the DS2 trailer.

(Picture credit score: Kojima Productions)
Picture 3 of 4

A still from the DS2 trailer.

(Picture credit score: Kojima Productions)
Picture 4 of 4

A still from the DS2 trailer.

(Picture credit score: Kojima Productions)


OK: here is some complete headcanon. The entire catastrophe of Dying Stranding was precipitated when BB was shot and killed, however then Amelie used some magic voodoo to heal and repatriate her again from “the opposite aspect”: and a load of BTs flooded into actuality alongside her. Now we have got an older Lou, even when precisely how previous stays to be seen (some are satisfied that is Elle Fanning’s function, which might be fairly a leap in age), who’s alive someplace whether or not it is actuality or the seashore, and is being stored from the great guys by the unhealthy guys.

In such a setup, traversing the oceans to search out the seashore Lou’s been stranded on would match. It additionally appears clear that the pink Higgs-like character has a reasonably large cult following, with extra of a sinister robotic edge than something seen within the unique world.

Hideo Kojima is, at any time, a self-referential creator. However it is a lot completely different to the standard easter eggs. DS2 is chafing towards being known as Dying Stranding 2 concurrently it calls Kojima Productions’ most well-known sequel to thoughts. It’s apparently giving followers what they need, most notably the return of Sam, whereas echoing a game whose pre-release hype was all misdirection.

This can be a cyclical trade, particularly past a sure scale. Whenever you’ve made one thing profitable, all that some will need is so that you can make precisely the identical factor once more. It is a cycle during which Kojima has managed to have his cake and eat it, by making superficially comparable video games which can be deeply completely different experiences. Humorous factor about cycles, although, is right here it comes once more. If something defines Hideo Kojima as a director of big-budget video games, it’s that need to transcend and upset expectations. And if there’s one expectation DS2 will face after its prescient and strange predecessor, it is that will probably be extra of the identical.