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The definition of a true gaming fan? Someone who’ll wait two hours to watch Norman Reedus take a piss.
But for the crowd that packed the convention center in Cologne, Germany, on Monday night for the opening night kickoff to the 2019 Gamescom conference, it was worth it.
After sitting through more than 90 minutes of trailers and product announcements from the likes of Electronic Arts, Sega, Square Enix and Ubisoft, fans rose to their feet in a standing ovation for the main event as legendary game developer Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid) took to the stage to reveal the first uncut gameplay footage from his mind-bending, futuristic new title, Death Stranding.
And what did they see? The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus, who plays lead character Sam, waking up and taking a pee.
The deliberate anti-climax drew a huge laugh from the crowd (which grew louder when a giant mushroom sprouted just where Sam had urinated). The remaining few minutes of gameplay showed Sam climbing to a station to help a stranded prepper (a cameo by opening night host and Games Award creator Geoff Keighley) before he falls down a cliff and then, in a surprisingly maternal scene, rocks the Bridge Baby he is carrying to sleep.
Kojima also introduced two new characters in the Death Stranding game, showing clips featuring Once Upon a Time in Hollywood actress Margaret Qualley as Mama and Oscar-winning Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) as Deadman. In the Mama clip, Qualley explains to Reedus’ Sam character how her daughter was born “on the other side” but that she remains linked to her by an invisible umbilical cord. In the Deadman clip, del Toro’s character explains to Sam how the Bridge Baby allows him to sense the predatory BTs around the world.
Kojima followed up each scene with explanations of the Death Stranding story that revealed very little. The overarching plotline and gameplay still largely remain a mystery. In describing the game, Kojima has said it is a new genre, what he calls a Strand game, referring to the game’s goal of linking people and characters, or strands, to form connections. Sam’s goal in the game appears to be to connect the isolated and abandoned communities of a post-apocalyptic United States, moving from the East to the West Coast.
But even if the story of Death Stranding remains a mystery, it is clearly radically different from the bulk of mainstream titles on display at Gamescom’s opening night event, which were largely sequels to hit franchises, including Borderlands 3, Gears of War 5 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, most of which relied on the tried-and-true appeal of shoot-’em-up violence.
Death Stranding features a star-studded cast of Hollywood actors. In addition to Reedus and Qualley, French actress Lea Seydoux, Danish star Mads Mikkelsen and director NIcolas Winding Refn all have speaking roles.
Death Stranding is set to launch Nov. 8 on PlayStation 4.
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