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Breaking Down the Secrets of the Death Stranding 2 Trailer

An ocean of possibility.



Breaking Down the Secrets of the Death Stranding 2 Trailer

Death Stranding 2 The Game Awards Trailer Analysis

When it comes to Hideo Kojima trailers, or anything Hideo Kojima does for that matter, it’s best not to take things at face value. That is because there is nothing this gaming auteur loves more than to misdirect and play with audience expectations.

When Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was first revealed, it was under its subtitle’s name, The Phantom Pain, and was apparently being developed by one Moby Dick Studio. PT was released as a demo for an untitled game by 7780s Studio, yet was in fact an elaborate tease for the (sadly) canceled Silent Hills. Then, of course, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty famously pulled a bait-and-switch by only allowing players to play as Solid Snake in the first mission, before taking him away and replacing him with Raiden, much to the anger and disappointment of many. And the trailers for the first Death Stranding were shrouded in mystery and intrigue.

All that being said, it seems almost foolish to pick apart his trailers–as careful camera shots, ingenious editing techniques, and a lack of context deliberately alter and misconstrue key events and potential reveals. With a Hideo Kojima trailer, it’s very easy to get entirely the wrong end of the stick. Yet pick apart we shall.

This year’s Game Awards was filled to bursting with fantastic debuts and reveals, but the one that got me the most excited was none other than the reveal trailer for Death Stranding 2. Kojima, naturally, is keeping his cards close to his chest at the moment, but even so, the trailer revealed (or potentially revealed) many new and interesting details about this upcoming game. Here’s what I was able to uncover.

Image: Kojima Productions - The Characters
Image: Kojima Productions – The Characters

The Characters

With so much going on in the trailer, it might be best to start with what we already know. Namely, the characters. And first things first, two major characters are back from the original game: Léa Seydoux’s Fragile and Norman Reedus’ Sam Porter Bridges. Credits towards the end of the teaser trailer also confirm that Elle Fanning, Shiolo Kutsuna, and Troy Baker will be starring in the game.

Elle Fanning and Shiolo Kutsuna were teased by Hideo Kojima in the run-up to the reveal, but their roles are currently unknown. Whereas Troy Baker played the antagonist Higgs in the first game. Last we saw, Higgs was stranded on Beach, unable to get back to the land of the living. Will he make his return in the sequel? Or is Troy playing an entirely new character? (More on that later.)

Regarding the two we see the most of in the trailer – Fragile and Sam – Fragile is the most prominent by far. Could it be that she will become the main playable protagonist, replacing Sam? Or is this simply an indication that a large part of the game’s story will focus on her and her struggles?

Image: Kojima Productions - Different Timelines?
Image: Kojima Productions – Different Timelines?

Different Timelines?

Speaking of Léa Seydoux’s Fragile, the trailer opens with her living in an underground bunker. Several references to the first game can be seen down there, such as inky handprints, Sam’s angular dreamcatcher, and a BB pod that has been turned into a cryptobiote aquarium/terrarium. But most interestingly, it also shows Fragile playing with a baby.

It’s very easy to assume that this baby is Lou, Sam’s BB from the first game, and that is very clearly what the trailer is trying to suggest. If it is Lou, now freed from the curse of being a BB, she has survived and grown, as a real baby should. She now looks to be a little over one year old. But what if this is a classic case of Kojima misdirection? In these opening scenes, Fragile shows off the skin of her arms and part of her back and chest, and said skin appears youthful.

In the first game, Fragile was exposed to Timefall while trying to save a city from a nuclear explosion, causing the skin on her torso, arms, and legs to age rapidly. Does this mean these events take place before the events of the first game? In which case the baby cannot possibly be Lou. Or has something happened to reverse the effects of Timefall?

When we finally see Sam a little later on, he is grey-haired and noticeably older. And in the same scene, Fragile is covered up, so the viewer cannot see her skin. Did Sam transfer some of his vitality to Fragile in order to rejuvenate her skin? Did Sam get caught in some Timefall of his own? Or is this a side effect of closing the world off from the Beaches? Due to the way the trailer has been pieced together, it’s impossible to tell. But perhaps everything to do with the baby and the bunker happened before Death Stranding 1, and the scene with Sam and Fragile together happened after.

Weirdly enough, Sam’s dreamcatcher, which appears so prominently at the start, is replaced by a completely different one when the bunker is attacked. Is this further proof of timeline trickery going on?

Image: Kojima Productions - The Baby
Image: Kojima Productions – The Baby

The Baby

As already mentioned, the baby certainly appears to be Lou. But regardless of who they truly are, something terrible appears to befall them at some point in the game. At the start of the trailer, the baby is seen to be wearing toy angel wings on their back – a small piece of symbolic foreshadowing for something awful that happens a minute or so later.

As Fragile rides away from the bunker, attempting to flee her attackers, she is shot and falls from her uni-wheeled motorbike. She is then, apparently, shot by a mysterious hooded man who bears a passing resemblance to Higgs (although, unless this truly is a flashback, it probably isn’t him, as I’ll get to shortly). In the original game, Fragile was unable to repatriate (essentially, return from the dead), but it certainly appears as though she can here. There is even the glimpse of the baby in the throat that was displayed whenever Sam came back to life.

Fragile returns to a scene awash in flames. It looks remarkably different to the location she was in prior to getting shot, and the Voidouts caused by death in the first game tended to result in large, distinctly fireless craters, so it’s quite possible we are looking at another time jump hidden away in editing here. Whatever the case, the devastation has spelt doom for the baby. They die and seemingly come back in BT form inside the pod that had been used to house cryptobiotes. And what’s more, they come back with wings.

This isn’t the first time players have seen a BT baby, as Mama was kept alive by her connection to her own dead/unborn BT baby. If the BT baby seen in the trailer really is Lou, then perhaps one of the main driving points in the story might be Sam and Fragile’s quest to reunite BT Lou with her body in an attempt to bring her back to life.

Image: Kojima Productions - The Ship
Image: Kojima Productions – The Ship

The Ship

Speaking of driving plot points, Sam’s appearance in the trailer comes alongside the reveal of a truly impressive-looking ship. This ship, which bears more than a passing resemblance to one Metal Gear Rex, seems to be owned by Fragile (either as part of her family’s shipping company, or maybe some new venture she has joined), and comes manned with its own private crew.

The first Death Stranding centered around reuniting the scattered pockets of civilisation spread out across the United States of America, but could Death Stranding 2 focus on reuniting the entire world? Sam would certainly need something capable of transporting him and his cargo across vast distances if that is indeed his lofty ambition. And this ship may very well be that something.

The ship also bears one of the three new symbols Kojima teased prior to the trailer’s release, specifically, that of a drawbridge. Shown fullscreen a little later on, Drawbridge appears to be the name of a new company, one that promises to use “Both the stick and the rope. To protect and connect. Together, for tomorrow”. The symbolism of two bridges coming together could indicate Fragile and Bridges joining forces to connect the world. And it’s not the last time we see this iconography in the trailer, either.

Will this ship travel by sea? Perhaps by air? Or by something else entirely? In the original game, Fragile could use her connection to the Beach to quick-travel across America, and when the ship emerges from the water in the trailer, it drips black tar. The very same tar that is linked so heavily to Beaches and BTs. Could this ship be similarly connected, using the Beach to travel great distances in the blink of an eye?

Image: Kojima Productions - The Cult
Image: Kojima Productions – The Cult

The Cult

Having mentioned Beaches and BTs several times now, it’s probably time to address the tar-covered elephant in the room. At the end of Death Stranding 1, Amelie closed off the Beaches and ended the Death Stranding. As a result, all BTs should have disappeared, no one should be able to repatriate, and all Timefalls and Voidouts should have ended. But it’s clear to see that this isn’t the case in the trailer.

While it’s possible that some of what is shown takes place in flashbacks, much of it is clearly set after the events of the first game. And if that is the case, then someone (or a group of someones) must have found a way to reopen the connection to the Beaches.

The likely perpetrators are the red-robed figures seen carrying a blood-red sarcophagus across a sandy waste near the beginning of the trailer. The hoods and robes, as well as the almost religious-looking iconography they carry (most prominently, the scepter with what appears to be an idolized version of Amelie on top) all cry out “cult”. Could this cult be responsible for the return of the Death Stranding? If they worship Amelie, then all signs point to yes.

Amelie was the spirit of the sixth extinction entity. Her existence on Earth caused the Death Stranding, and her purpose was to bring about the next extinction event. However, with the help of Sam, she chose to go against her nature and prevent the sixth extinction by cutting off the connection between the world and the Beaches, trapping herself on a Beach in the process.

Perhaps the cult aims to bring her back and fulfill her destiny. And if the trailer is anything to go by, it seems they have succeeded, at least in part, because the Death Stranding is back, and someone who looks remarkably similar to Amelie appears to be up and walking.

Interestingly, the sandy waste the red-robed cultists are wandering across looks completely unlike anything seen in the first game. Could they be in another country? On a different part of the Beach? Or in another world entirely? And even more fascinatingly, the two towering monolithic structures they are carrying the sarcophagus to resemble the towers on a drawbridge. Could this spot be a bridge between worlds?

Image: Kojima Productions - The Man(?) in Red
Image: Kojima Productions – The Man(?) in Red

The Man(?) in Red

Last but not least, the trailer ends with a glimpse of a new character. A man in red, with a guitar, a mask, and quite possibly Troy Baker’s voice. Again, this last could be misdirection, as while the character is introduced while Troy Baker is singing BB’s Theme, that doesn’t necessarily mean he voices them. And then again, if this is a brand-new character, why do they look so much like Amelie? They have her hair, her necklace, their mask even resembles her face. Their body, however, is more androgynous.

Could this new character be Amelie’s soul brought back in Higgs’ body? Or vice versa? Or both of their souls brought back in the same body? Could the cultists have been trying to resurrect Amelie only to accidentally bring Higgs back from the Beach with her? It’s quite possible. It may even have been intentional. Higgs wanted to bring about the sixth mass extinction but wasn’t able to. Amelie was able to but didn’t want to. Put them both together and you have a real recipe for disaster.

Image: Kojima Productions
Image: Kojima Productions

I am sure there is much, much more waiting to be uncovered in the trailer that I was unable to spot. And I am certain we will only end up with more questions than answers when the next teaser drops. But whatever comes next, it’s sure to be as wild a ride as any other Kojima reveal. And I am looking forward to jumping right back into it.

Max Longhurst is a keen gamer, avid writer and reader, and former teacher. He first got into gaming when, at the age of 8, his parents bought him a PS2 and Kingdom Hearts for Christmas, and he’s never looked back. Primarily a PlayStation fan, he loves games with a rich single-player experience and stories with unexpected twists and turns.