It doesn’t take long in Death Stranding before you can do as you please. You’ll have an ultimate goal of connecting various locations to the chiral network, but along the way you’ll meet a lot of people who have a lot of cargo to move around.
Successfully completing deliveries and accepting orders will increase your connection level. You’ll get likes, presents, or new blueprints for each star rating level you increase at an NPC character.
Early on, though, moving all of that cargo is a big task, so let’s talk about what missions, side missions, deliveries, and orders that you should do first before going back to fill in the rest of those stars.
Editor’s note: To avoid spoilers, we’ve split this guide into two parts. The first focuses on early-game strategies for the Eastern Region map. After the spoiler image, we discuss what happens many hours later.
Focus on orders for Sam at the beginning
Accepting orders and moving cargo are Death Stranding’s core gameplay motions. Complete those, and you’ll progress the story.
There are two broad types of orders/missions that you can select at a delivery terminal:
- Orders for Sam are main missions. Do those, and you’ll advance the story.
- Standard orders are Death Stranding’s optional side missions. These regular deliveries will earn you more likes and stars and create access to more materials.
Which should you do? There’s no wrong answer, we’d do main story orders until you have a better way to transport cargo (than your backpack). Transporting more cargo at once means that you go back and fill in those stars at facilities like the waystation or distribution center more easily.
Focus on main missions — orders for Sam in the menu — until you get the reverse trike in the Eastern Region (and other items later, which we’ll talk about on the other side of the spoiler image below.) Saving the side missions and standard orders until you have a better way to move cargo will make everything about Death Stranding easier and faster.
Once you get faster, more efficient ways to move more cargo, going back to complete the standard orders and max out each location’s connection level becomes much easier.
We know the best way to transport cargo, and we’ll talk about it after the spoiler image below.
The best way to transport cargo is the truck
Lugging around cargo is a time-consuming process. Sure, it’s serene and quiet, but if you want to fix America, you’re (fittingly) going to need to get a truck.
The reverse trike is nice to have, but focus on progressing the story into Episode 3. After you connect the Distribution Center South of Lake Knot City to the chiral network, you’ll head to the Junk Dealer. His story missions will take you to the Chiral Artist’s Studio, and then back to the Distribution Center South of Lake Knot City.
When you deliver his prototypes back to the distribution center, you’ll get the plans for the truck from Mama.
Trucks have huge cargo capacities. They’re hard to maneuver in rough terrain, but the size of the cargo bed more than makes up for it. And they protect everything in the bed from timefall and physical damage.
With a truck, you can take on multiple deliveries at once without worrying much about your weight or timefall damage. You’ll also have lots of room for materials to feed into autopavers and build roads. And that will make increasing your connection level with the peppers and outposts much easier.
Until then, steal trucks from MULEs
Until you have the truck blueprint (or until you reach a connection level where you can find someone else’s), the first trucks you’ll encounter are in MULE camps during Episode 3. Take out the MULES with your strand, bola gun, stun bombs, or fists, and then steal their ride. There’s at least one truck in each camp.
The MULE truck doesn’t have the same cargo capacity as the Bridges truck you’ll get later, but it’s still a huge increase over your backpack. Load it up with everything you can, and keep heading focusing on getting that truck blueprint.