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Death Stranding is a deceptively good stealth game

death stranding tar belt
(Image credit: Kojima Productions)

Death Stranding has been described as many different things—post-apocalyptic hiking sim, cargo-carrying adventure, a strange stroll around Hideo Kojima’s subconscious. We even wrote about how it can turn into a pretty high-octane action game if you want it to. But while there’s been plenty of praise for Death Stranding’s imagery and design innovations like the asynchronous multiplayer, there’s been little talk of its stealth credentials.

Which is surprising. After all, this comes from the same mind that brought us Metal Gear Solid, one of the greatest stealth series of all time.

And while the game’s humble hero Sam Porter-Bridges may not have Solid Snake’s martial arts or neck-twisting skills, there’s a definite similarity in how you scout out and approach enemy outposts. Out in the wilderness, you’ll come across MULEs—crazed former porters turned bandits who ambush couriers like your good self and hoard their cargo in encampments. Retrieving this cargo is a great way to build your reputation with friendly outposts.

Taking a position on a perch overlooking an encampment, you can zoom in on outposts and plan your approach. If you’re in MULE territory, you’re always at risk of getting pinged with their scanners, which pinpoint your last known location and causes a band of them to zero in on it.

But you can turn this vulnerability into an advantage. At one point when the MULEs pinged me, I snuck away from where they spotted me, leaving some smoke-emitting decoy cargo in my wake. Using some fortuitously placed long grass to my advantage (mindful that my backpack wasn’t so stacked that it gave away my position), I moved in on their camp while a truckful of MULEs moved in on my decoy cargo.

Panning the camera, I looked back to see a puff of smoke rise up from my cargo, leaving the confused rabble of fallen porters spluttering (and murderously angry). The decoy worked, and by the time they recovered and searched in vain for the culprit, I had scoured through their camp and robbed them silly. 

Working my way through the camp, I encountered one more MULE with his back turned. I squatted down, readied my climbing rope, and garrotted the fool like Hitman 47 disguised as a sci-fi Royal Mail postman.

The stealth mechanics take a horror twist in encounters with BTs—essentially souls of the dead that have become tethered to the mortal realm. These spectral baddies can’t see you, but have extremely good hearing. The feeling when their footprints splatter towards you while you hold your breath to a fast-depleting air meter is suspense at its finest, especially if that baby attached to your chest starts bawling.

So if your idea of a good time is somewhere between laying traps for wild bandits and cowering with your hand over your mouth as a cosmic ghost stalks you (or any of the other thousand eclectic ideas that Kojima dabbles in here), Death Stranding has you covered. You can buy it now on Steam or Epic Games Store.