Let’s get this out of the way: Death Stranding’s new trailer at The Game Awards, although beautiful, dramatic and instantly unforgettable, didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Haven’t seen it yet? Take a minute or two to watch below. You’ll see what we mean.
Not everyone feels the same way about this gorgeous and inscrutable video. The vigilant members of the Death Stranding subreddit took no time at all to get cracking, posting thread upon thread of new theories, clues and symbols they’ve decoded from the video.
Are the characters — played by Norman Reedus, as well as newly revealed additions Mads Mikkelsen and Guillermo Del Toro — in limbo? That’s what Carpe_DMT posits in a top Reddit thread.
“I believe that our actor friends — Mads, Reedus, and Del Toro — are all people from our world who found their way into purgatory / limbo, one way or another,” the user wrote. “The technology — Reedus' and Toro's handcuffs, the baby-chamber, this all serves to allow living creatures to transcend the planes of existence and enter the afterlife.
“Perhaps Reedus and Mads are clones,” the theory continues. “Bred for battle and made by man, they have no true souls and are thus welcome in Limbo. Perhaps Toro, with his head scars, is some sort of brain trauma / coma victim, thus also perfect for the job. All three enter limbo via the power of undeath — an unborn fetus, suspended chemically between life and death, the state of each can be altered at will.”
There’s much more to it than that, as Carpe_DMT goes through this hypothetical storyline beat-by-beat. There’s talk of whales, soldiers and angels, all drawn from the trace amounts of Death Stranding footage we’ve seen thus far. The theory is complex and a little hard to follow, but that’s exactly how Hideo Kojima — and his legions of fans — like it, and they’ve given this Redditor a vote of approval.
“I think that's crazy stupid good,” said box77. “If this isn't the actual story, I think you at least may have hit some of the same notes.”
“This is almost exactly what I was thinking, and I'm willing to bet you're spot on,” added Maritius. “No other theory so far holds up to Kojima's level of crazy genius.”
Troyal1 made a short list highlighting other things seen in the trailer. Among these are that the airplanes have umbilical cords, reminiscent of the ones seen in the debut trailer, as well as the reappearance of handprints from the first Death Stranding teaser. But the list really served as a jumping off point for the rest of the subreddit’s subscribers, who launched into other details they picked up on.
“The baby at the end also happens to open the same eye the baby does in the fetus-tank,” wrote CranoodleCradude. “And this means something to Mads' character, because he seems to recognize this, also, the baby was being moved by those black umbilical cords.”
“Good catch man,” Zskillit responded. “The cords ‘saw’ the man with the baby in the tank while he was hiding from the soldiers (and he looked like ‘uh oh’ when he saw the cords touch the babydoll, like he knew he was caught) ... then the cords took that baby doll to the bad soldier and did the same eye motion, which he obviously recognized.”
The baby and Mads Mikkelsen remain the hottest topics of debate, inciting the most questions from fans. Mikkelsen’s character is seen using supernatural powers, which some theorize are the result of abusing some apocalyptic, intergalactic colonial infrastructures.
“Earth is experiencing withdrawal and serious economic and humanitarian destruction as a cause of fossil fuels being depleted,” explained ianmcc06. “Humans are able to travel across time and space to other planets to discover similar sources of energy and in doing so they build colonies. Colonies rely on these umbilical cord-like things for some reason for artificial sustenance but the infrastructure is badly regulated and gets abused (see Mads).”
But what of the more earthly elements, like all those umbilical cord-bearing army vehicles and soldier iconography? Those are still inexplicable, even by Kojima’s standards. Guillermo Del Toro’s character wears a military-like badge bearing the “United Cities of America” logo, labeled Bridges. There’s no consensus from Redditors on whether this is an alternate United States, the name of the organization he works for or something else entirely.
All these unconfirmed theories aside, however, this seems to be something most can agree on: