Although Death Stranding was nothing if not divisive, I was very much on the side of those who loved it. The debut title from the newly independent Kojima Productions had its flaws, of course, and I wouldn’t take issue with Andrew’s review headline that called it both “breathtaking and boring.” But in totality, the experience really landed for me. There truly isn’t anything like it, and it’s rare to see such an expensive project with such an uncompromising vision.
That feeling has only grown stronger during my time with the PC version, which is set for release tomorrow. Death Stranding is a game that benefits from a second playthrough, as I’m learning, and it helps that it runs a lot better on my PC than it did on my PS4 Pro.
The PC I’ve been playing a prerelease version of Death Stranding on has an i5 6600K processor, a GTX 1080 GPU, and 16GB of RAM, and I installed the game to a regular hard drive. For context, this was a high-end PC when I built it more than four years ago, but I’m planning to do a rebuild after next-gen consoles arrive because I doubt it’ll keep up. When it comes to running current-gen console games, though, it generally does well enough at playing them well above 60 frames per second on a 1440p G-Sync monitor unless the port is particularly poorly optimized.
I’m happy to report that Death Stranding runs great on my hardware. I can comfortably play the game at high frame rates with the graphics turned up to max, meaning it looks and runs much better than the PS4 version — which itself was already pretty stunning. There’s a solid degree of customizability in the graphics settings, too, so I’m confident that most modern gaming PCs will be able to run Death Stranding without much trouble.
The only hitch I found is that the in-engine cutscenes are capped at 60fps and could occasionally drop frames depending on your hardware, but they still look good. I’d certainly take this solution over the low-res prerendered clips that are still frustratingly common on PC games. Anyway, if you have a decent PC and never got the chance to play it on PS4, my advice is to check out Death Stranding if you’re at all curious. It’s one of the most memorable games I’ve played in years.
If you did play it on PS4, well, you’ll know why it’s the kind of game that might benefit from playing it a second time through. Death Stranding immediately assails you with arcane, evocative terminology right from the start, plunging you into the world without explaining anything at first. On PS4, this held my interest; I wanted to find out what “BT” stood for or what “DOOMS” meant, not to mention what “the Death Stranding” actually was. Now that I know the answer to all of those questions, Death Stranding’s early hours take on a new resonance.
The actual gameplay experience, too, benefits from knowing what to expect. What feels like frustrating drudgery the first time, with valuable items getting swept away by rivers and progress often stymied by what feels like random battles against enemies made of goop, turns out to be empowering upon a second run. Despite Death Stranding’s surreal aesthetic and focus on heavy exposition, it’s fundamentally a game with very solid systems, and it’s a breeze to play once you understand them.
When I played Death Stranding on PS4, I felt compelled to get to the ending and figure out what was actually happening in the world. Of course, it didn’t help that I was on deadline at the time. But I’m looking forward to going slowly with the rest of the PC version, experimenting with the game’s unique mechanics and drinking in the atmosphere.
And yes, it helps that the game looks and runs a lot better on PC. It’s also a good omen for the forthcoming PC version of previously PS4-exclusive Horizon Zero Dawn, whose Decima engine Kojima Productions made use of for Death Stranding. That’s a game I didn’t get on with on PS4, but hey, maybe a better frame rate will draw me back. For now, I’m happy to recommend the PC version of Death Stranding to newcomers and veterans alike.