Death Stranding Director's Cut Haptic Feedback Review - VRGyani News and Media

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Death Stranding Director's Cut Haptic Feedback Review

Death Stranding is, of course, an unusual video game, one that teeter-totters between "immersion" and "isolation" with more creakiness than the protagonist of Death Stranding himself. The idea of connection is stranded within Hideo Kojima's work explicitly, on both a narrative and gameplay level; the premise's goal is to connect the United States of America on the same network again, and the player's goal is to make deliveries to and fro various outposts until they're properly connected. When this connection works, when a well-acted NPC tells me how grateful they are for me or when an online player builds me a bridge to use, it feels like nothing else. But when it doesn't, when it topples too far over into its eccentricities, I'm left struggling, frustrated, and more lonely-feeling than ever.

Its PlayStation 5 Director's Cut (which Kojima would rather we call "director's plus," which is awesome) goes a long way in bridging this gap using a subtle set of tools. Yes, its remastered graphics, crisp 60FPS performance, and added gear are all splendid adjustments to the game's particular goals. But in this PS5 Director's Cut, the biggest standout and biggest improvement to its immersion ability comes from the PlayStation 5 controller itself.

RELATED: Watch a New 'Death Stranding Director's Cut' Trailer Edited by Hideo Kojima

As those weighing the options whether traversing the ginormous demand and oscillating supply is worth even getting the console might know, the PS5's controller features a special kind of rumbling function called "haptic feedback." Now, rumbling in video games is nothing new; shout-out to everyone else who remembers sliding Rumble Paks into their Nintendo 64 controllers. But with the PS5 controller's more numerous, nuanced rumbling motors, various sensations can be expressed tactilely with various levels of subtlety. In console launch titles like Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and especially Astro's Playroom, the possibilities were felt with excitement. When Miles walked through snowy Harlem, you felt the particularly accurate crunch in your palms; when Astro rolled across a wooden bridge, you felt his wheel clunk up and down in appealing synchronicity. Other PS5 games since have added elements of these haptic pleasures, but Death Stranding Director's Cut is the first I've played in a while where you can feel the care, craft, and intention in designing this new element of the game — and it elevates the entire thing.

To feel the controller seamlessly, quickly shift through different types of terrain, from dirt paths to grassy hills to rocky mountains to hip-deep rivers, as your Sam (Norman Reedus) plods or bikes his way through each corresponding type is simply remarkable (let alone the rumbling that occurs when you're on your bike). Death Stranding is as much about connecting with nature as it is with our fellow humans, and the haptic feedback goes a long way into making these long strains of travel hypnotic and experiential rather than, well, boring and awkward. Your emotional tethering to your BB is also communicated more impressively with the controller, his emotional well-being and heart rate pumping soundly, developing this relationship with as much sensory realism as a video game can attain. Combat, though relatively rare, also gets a bump with this Director's Cut, your guns, grenades, and fists exerting with much more visceral power given that you feel them with every trigger pull, explosion, or punch. When all of these elements combine — during a rain-soaked BT encounter with your BB moving and whimpering over different types of terrain, let's say — the PS5 controller works hard to incorporate every single part of the sensation that would be felt, resulting in some thrilling damn video game immersion.

Heck, I'd even encourage you to ignore that instinct of putting your controller down during the cutscenes (it's a Kojima joint, so you know there's a lot), as the rumbling continues during these vignettes, too, keeping the player connected even when another author takes over. A thrilling, introductory, one-take set-piece involving our first interaction with timefall and the BTs is an outstanding work of animation and filmmaking to experience; with the controller's haptic feedback interacting along in your hands, it surrounds you within the world and keeps you there with even more of a strong, inviting force.

This, ultimately, is the lesson of Death Stranding; the idea that we must build and keep these forces of surrounding invitation and connection to stave away the darkness. In its original state, this idea kept getting bogged down by uninviting, disconnecting gameplay mechanics. But in this Director's Cut, much more headway is made thanks to the handy use of a very engaging PS5 controller device. Buzz, buzz.

Death Stranding Director's Cut is available on PlayStation 5.

KEEP READING: 'Death Stranding' Review: A Beautiful Story Burdened by a Dull Game



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