Death Stranding story explained: your spoiler-free guide to Kojima's epic

We try to make sense of it all

Death Stranding story explained
(Image: © Kojima Productions)

Consider this your spoiler-free primer to Death Stranding. Without ruining the game’s emotionally-charged late moments or dramatic denouement, the premise of Death Stranding can be explained fairly concisely. 

It’s convoluted, sure, and there’s a lot to take in. But the bare essentials should give you enough information to progress through the game with at least a little bit of a clue as to what is going on.

What is the Death Stranding?

Death Stranding story explained

(Image credit: Kojima Productions)

The Death Stranding was a phenomenon that killed quite a lot of people. Society subsequently crumbled. An institution known as Bridges entered the fray in order to try to reconnect the fractured cities of America. 

However, terrorist groups interfered, and several Bridges communities and expedition groups in the west were all but wiped out.

That’s where Death Stranding begins, in which you play as Sam Porter Bridges. 

Who is Sam Bridges and what does he do?

Death Stranding story explained

(Image credit: Kojima Productions)

Sam Bridges is a porter, just like his name says. That means you deliver cargo from one Bridges facility to another, and sometimes from a Bridges facility to a bunker not yet signed up to the chiral network, the communication system created by Bridges to connect the whole country. The goal is to say, “hey, we helped you — wanna join the network?”

The more people you sign up — using a strange necklace called a Q-pid — the more areas you can build structures in and view detailed minimaps of. This also makes Bridges happy, as you’re building metaphorical bridges between places that were tragically disconnected from one another after the Death Stranding.

What do you do in Death Stranding?

Death Stranding story explained

(Image credit: Kojima Productions)

Your main purpose in the game is to go all the way to the Pacific Ocean, connecting as many hubs as possible on your way across the country. There are weird invisible aliens called BTs that will try to kill you, and also ex-porters-cum-terrorists called MULEs who will also try to kill you. 

In addition, there's Troy Baker, or Higgs, as he is called in-game. He too is trying his best to kill you. Essentially everyone is trying to kill you.

Fortunately, you are a repatriate, which means you cannot really be killed — instead you’re merely sent to the Seam, where you can swim back to your body and come back to life following a strange sequence involving the infamous baby sucking its thumb while sitting in some sort of human throat. Kojima.

As you progress through the game, more terrorists will appear, the reasons for what you’re doing will become even more ambiguous, and you’ll do a whole lot of walking over snowy mountains and sinuous rivers. Don’t fret: everything will become clear in the end. For now, just remember that it is your job to deliver cargo, and to do so without damaging it, if you can help it — your recipients are in desperate need for supplies, and if you want them to join your team, you’ll need to impress them. 

There's not much we can say without spoilers...

Death Stranding story explained

(Image credit: Kojima Productions)

That is all you need to know going into Death Stranding: people died, America fell apart, people tried to bring it back together again, terrorists interfered, benevolent efforts failed, and you’re here to pick up the pieces, even if you don’t want to and genuinely have no idea why this task was imposed on you in the first place. 

Also people want you dead, but you can’t die, so you have to keep trudging on until you complete your objective. 

A lot unfolds between the time you obtain even this knowledge and the end of the game, however, so if you truly want to know the story of Death Stranding, boot of the game with the above in mind and prepare yourself for one hell of a ride.

We've purposely only explained the start of Death Stranding's story in order to keep this guide as spoiler-free as possible.

Cian Maher

Cian Maher is the associate Editor at TheGamer. He is a freelance reporter with work in The Guardian, The Washington Post, Techradar, The Irish Times, The Verge, VICE, WIRED, Ars Technica, MTV, Eurogamer, VG247, Polygon, GameSpot, Rock Paper Shotgun, IGN, Variety, Red Bull, Gamasutra, PC Gamer, SYFY, and more. First Class Honours BA in English Studies from Trinity College Dublin.