Advertisement

We thought Death Stranding was Peak Kojima, but Death Stranding 2 already looks like it's scaling new heights of his personal WTF mountain

 Death Stranding 2.
Death Stranding 2.

If it doesn't make you say "what the fuck" out loud is it even a Death Stranding trailer? The marketing for the original Death Stranding was a masterclass in intriguing nonsense that everyone wanted to talk about even though we did not understand a lick of it. There were dead whales, blood urine, and a baby inside Norman Reedus. Also Mads Mikkelsen was there?

After 60+ hours of playing Death Stranding, finally all those things made sense. So you might think the sequel wouldn't have anything left to baffle us with, but no. In the nine-minute trailer that debuted at Sony's State of Play, Death Stranding 2 was almost immediately as incomprehensible as its predecessor seemed in those delightfully weird prerelease trailers. Here are the things we were most surprised and confused by.

Troy Baker is back and now he's electric guitar Joker

Death Stranding 2
Death Stranding 2

Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: Troy Baker played Higgs in Death Stranding, the mask-wearing villain I enjoyed punching repeatedly. Somehow he's back in Death Stranding 2, but with a harlequin makeover like he's one step away from subjecting Sam to a menacing monologue about dogs chasing cars. (Which is funny, because he did voice the actual Joker in Arkham Origins.)

Given that Baker's guitar-playing ability was previously highlighted in that incongruous scene in BioShock Infinite I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the fact his character has a guitar in Death Stranding 2. But there's no impromptu jam session in this trailer. Instead, he whips that axe around like he's in KISS and shoots lightning bullets out of it before engaging in a full-blown anime duel with a katana robot. Hideo Kojima knows writers who use subtext, and he murdered them all with that lightning guitar.

Fragile and Sam are blue sometimes

Death Stranding 2
Death Stranding 2

Morgan Park, Staff Writer: How very Kojima to cut from an autopsy of a tar-gushing freak to Fragile giving a tour of her airship while blue. Why are Sam and Fragile a deep shade of blue, and why is nobody commenting on it? [I thought they looked blue-gray but let's not make this a "what color is the dress" issue. — Ed.] When I showed the trailer to my partner she thought something was wrong with our TV's color balance.

My best guess is that the ship is mid-travel during this sequence, and because Kojima likes to season his worlds in strange details, I bet turning blue is just what happens when you sail across the sea or fly too high in the post-Death Stranding world. Their skin and everything they're wearing turns blue, but the inside of the ship itself is somehow unaffected. Maybe it's a trick of perception? We're talking about the same world where a small percentage of the population have superpowers that make them cry when BTs are around, so I'm not counting anything out.

Sam Porter Bridges' newest friend is a sentient vampire puppet he clips to his belt

Death Stranding 2
Death Stranding 2

Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: I am immediately ready to die for this little puppet man, who appears in the Death Stranding 2 trailer sitting on Fragile's shoulder before joining Sam on his mission to build more bridges, or whatever it is, exactly, that he's doing in this sequel. What feels like it could be a throwaway gag from an SNL writer's room seems to have been given an incredible amount of attention here—the puppet is animated at a lower framerate than the rest of the game to make him look stop motion, his skin and hair have a distinct plasticy texture different from the human characters, and he's of course voiced by a famous film director Hideo Kojima is friends with. Fragile speaks highly of him, saying "his knowledge and experience will probably come in handy down the road," which I assume means the puppet is actually some super genius whose body was dying so he transferred his consciousness into this little doll, or some wild nonsense like that.

Also, he's a vampire? When electric guitar Joker torments him later on, the puppet pulls a sudden red-eyed, fangs out hissy face out of nowhere. I predict dracula puppet will be the first videogame character nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2026 Academy Awards. And he will win.

Fragile's hand necklace

Death Stranding 2
Death Stranding 2

Morgan Park, Staff Writer: I love that everyone in Death Stranding has to have a "thing." Die-Hardman had his mask, Heartman had his handy-dandy defibrillator, and now Troy Baker has lightning guitar axe. It seems like Fragile's hung up her old "thing" (that cool teleporting umbrella) and traded it in for something way weirder: a pair of mechanical(?) hands that she wears like a necklace. We see it react to what she's saying, like making a "shush" motion, and then later light her cigarette with the snap of its fingers. Disturbing, a little goofy, and undeniably cool. I bet we'll learn halfway through the game that those hands contain the soul of Fragile's dead friend or something.

What's up with that baby cyborg ninja?

Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: Interrupting Sam's capture by Higgs partway through the trailer, we saw the ghost of Kojima past: a got-dang cyborg ninja doing all kinds of sick as hell cyborg ninja stuff in a duel with glam rock zombie Troy Baker. Kojima has always seemed to prefer we play as the gruff, jack-of-all-trades normal guy while the robo ninja serves as some kind of friend, enemy, or even frenemy, but Death Stranding 2's take on the archetype distinguishes itself by being positively caked up with legs like a champion powerlifter and… crying like a baby?

Death Stranding 1 is still on my "to-play" list despite everything, so I'm missing the cyborg ninja baby-related lore context that may or may not be found in that game. Whatever the case, I'm on board—I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason for the caked-up giant red baby cyborg ninja friend.