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Why is Hideo Kojima the only dev around who knows how to make a good goddamn trailer

Kojima Productions has released the final trailer for its upcoming Death Stranding: Director's Cut, a game that is currently slated as a PS5 exclusive (Death Stranding was originally supposed to be a PS4 exclusive, then just before release the superb PC version was announced). Hideo Kojima has been banging on about this trailer for months now, going to great pains to point out how involved he was with its production and the importance of editing your own stuff.

Kojima is kind of insufferable about the process at times, tweeting out things like: "The final trailer of my own work is being released quietly, but I've edited it with all my 'soul'." Don't get me wrong: I adore Kojima's games, and find his eccentricities absolutely charming for the most part. But the guy's got an ego the size of the Himalayas.

Which is why it pains me to say, on the topic of editing your own trailers, he's 100% right. The above is a masterclass in selling a game and creating, somehow encapsulating and giving a sense of the weirdness and scale of Death Stranding, intercut with these snippets of the game itself in its most defining moments: the long trudges, the sight of a Bridges facility at the bottom of a hill, falling over in a river. God it's good.

It also includes the debut of blood urine, the most powerful weapon against BTs: but "there is a sacrifice to be made in order to get the blood urine out." Innovative.

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I particularly enjoyed that, at the end, Kojima has Heartman delivering a little in-game 'like', one of Death Stranding's lighter social touches but a delightful one.

Hideo Kojima has always been great at trailers: at E3 in 2000 Konami showed the trailer for Metal Gear Solid 2, which was so good that the entire games industry spent the next 18 months talking about it. In an age when video wasn't yet a part of the 'normal' internet experience, this trailer was distributed on games magazine cover discs, VHS (actual videos!!!), and eventually Sony started packing it in on the demo disc that came with your PS2. Even now, 21 years down the line in 4:3 and looking like it's being viewed through vaseline, this knocks spots off any other trailer from 2021.

Yes, even Death Stranding Director's Cut. Now I'm not saying Kojima Productions is the only developer that's ever made a good trailer (I'll always have a soft spot for Assassin's Creed: Revelations, below), but when you see something like this it really drives home how poor the standard fare is. To be crystal clear I'm talking about the big heavily marketed games that have the budget for these things, but where the trailers feel designed by committee, almost formulaic at times.

Maybe it's just because I watch so many but I'm sick of gruff voice overs, clumsy cuts and terrifically bad rock music: I have had it.

Kojima is a figure that, at times, seems almost beyond parody: such as when he recently announced he wanted to make a game starring Mads Mikkelsen called MADS MAX (on which note, he's subsequently clarified that "my project is not an apocalypse story set in the desert, but a cop buddy story in the near future.") But the flipside of his obsessive attention to detail and to branding is the quality of all elements of the final product.

This is a bit odd but I always thought one of the bonuses in being a Metal Gear fan was that the merch is expensive, but it's all good stuff that's clearly had a lot of thought put into it rather than just a t-shirt with a logo (though you can get those too). Kojima has a unique status in our industry and, while I laugh at his foibles as much as the next person, not a little of that is down to how completely he controls and stamps his influence on every element of a given title: whether that's the trailers, the promotional art, or the game itself.

It's why this trailer for Death Stranding: Director's Cut grabbed me and, over the course of a few minutes, reminded me of so much that I love in that game and that world. The way the song carries the atmosphere and bleeds into the cuts at points is exceptional. I can taste this place, almost feel it, and I want to be back there. Why can't every trailer be like this, a standalone production in itself, almost, rather than just footage and jump cuts.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."