Top 10 Hidden Messages in Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding Trailer

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Many people consider Sony’s presentation to be one of the best at this year’s E3 conferences, and that's mostly due to the reveal of the next project by none other than Hideo Kojima -- titled “Death Stranding.”

The famous creator of Metal Gear Solid series showed the world the first teaser trailer to the game, gave a few obscure commentaries concerning the gameplay mechanics, and challenged all of his fans to figure out the secret messages hidden in the trailer’s images.

This is Kojima’s answer to many current uninspiring video game marketing campaigns. He likes to puzzle his fans and creates massive hype by putting ambiguous hints in his trailers.

So, let’s take his challenge and see what all these symbols could actually mean.

Auguries of Innocence

The trailer to Death Stranding opens up with an excerpt from a poem “Auguries of Innocence” by William Blake, an 18th century English poet and artist.

The famous poem in its full context covers a huge territory -- everything from interdependence of things in the world to unjust and greedy behavior of the masses. It also has a strong religious subtext and makes it clear that the punishment is nigh.

So, what can we make out of all this? Probably Kojima simply wanted to say that his new game is just as massive in size and full of various meanings as this seminal Blake poem. And it would be no surprise, as now he has all the power and money to do what he wants.

Dead bodies

Then, the trailer shows us the dead bodies of sea creatures scattered all over the beach made of black sand.

Now, there are a few theories on the black sand part. The first one states that this is a reflection of the Exxon Valdez oil spill incident, which occurred on March 24, 1989 at Prince William Sound, Alaska. As a result, the beaches turned black after the bodies of dead whales covered in oil were thrown out of the water.

The other theory suggests that the black beaches are the homage to the Vík í Mýrdal village at the coast of Iceland that is famous for its naturally black beaches. But the first theory is much more plausible.

Human trace

The next shot reveals a print of a human hand on the sand, which fills up with some dark liquid -- probably another hint on oil spills.

The human hand can also symbolize the implication of humans to the forthcoming disaster. So, there could be a huge apocalyptic plot resolving in Death Stranding.

The catastrophic events, as always, will be a result of human influence on the environment, and it looks like it’s going to be something bigger than global warming or oil spills this time around.

Connected but not free

Finally, the trailer introduces the main character portrayed by Norman Reedus… and a baby. We see that they are connected with a wire that is attached to their navels. The character of Norman Reedus is handcuffed.

Things get more complicated from here on. First of all, why is he handcuffed? Does it mean that the human race gets imprisoned in the future? If yes, then who is responsible? As you see, there are too many questions that will probably be revealed in later trailers… hopefully.

The wire that connects the baby with the protagonist may hint on some new technology -- probably human cloning.

Protecting the innocent

Later we see Norman Reedus embracing the baby in his arms and showing how much he cares about this little human.

Again, there are too many things to consider. Could it be that they are related or are they the same cloned person? What if there is no baby, but it is just a symbol of future of humanity -- vulnerable and naked amidst a dark deadly world.

Protection is the key element here, as the protagonist shows that he wants to keep the baby away from harm. This could mean that we will fight for humanity -- we will need to protect them from an unknown threat.

Life turns to death

The culminating point of the Death Stranding trailer begins with the disappearance of the baby in the Reedus’ hands. The only thing that remains is the oil on his hands and handprints on his knees.

Does this mean that he fails to protect the humanity? Will it inevitably turn into oil just like dinosaurs did. Anyway, this moment is quite depressing and makes up for another proof of the apocalyptic scenario that will probably be revealed only with the release of the game.

However, the possible answer may already be discovered in the following scenes.

Formula of the universe

You can see the main character wearing six dogtags on his neck. It’s really hard to identify the inscriptions on the tags from the trailer alone, but the community still managed to find the solution on one of the posters to Death Stranding.

Fans discovered two formulas written on the dogtags: one of them is Schwarzschild radius formula, and the other one is the Dirac equation.

Basically, Schwarzschild radius theory explains the possibility to collapse a body to such a size that it would be impossible for the light to escape its limits, thus forming a black hole.

On the other hand, Dirac equation is used in quantum physics and it can be interpreted in such a way that every particle can have its own anti-particle.

So, what do we have here? Black holes and anti-particles -- this is getting more and more interesting, isn’t it?

death stranding poster

Connection lost

A few moments later the camera shifts down and shows that the wire that connected Norman Reedus with the baby also disappeared. Now there is only a huge scar in the form of a cross.

This could mean the loss of connection with humanity and a possible evolution into something else, something that is above human nature. The religious subtext may suggest that our character will become a god-like being that will be able to manipulate the powers of the universe, hence the suggestion by Kojima himself that Death Stranding will give death, as it is known to us, a completely new meaning.

The five guardians

The final scene shows five human figures floating in the sky above the protagonist. This is obviously a premonition of some huge event taking place in the future.

Some fans have even suggested that those five figures are clones of Norman Reedus visiting him from the future. However, Hideo Kojima has debunked this theory previously.

Others say that this is the symbol of humans who have transcended death itself, and they flow freely in the sky above the rest of the creatures that are lying dead on the ground.

It’s hard to say for sure right now which of these theories would be correct, so let’s just wait and see.

Death Stranding

At the very end we see the title of the game appearing out of the five figures in the sky. Stranding here means connection, as confirmed by Kojima himself.

What kind of connection? This new kind of connection or stranding is the key element of the whole game, and we cannot wait to see what it’s going to be about.

This trailer virtuously plays with your mind, and Kojima is well known for his ability to play with his audiences. He’s done it before and he’s doing it again.

Do you have theories of your own? What do you think Hideo Kojima tried to tell in his Death Stranding trailer? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Published Jul. 4th 2016


Sergey has been a freelancer in the video games industry for more than five years, writing for various publications around the world. His favorite games are MtG, Dark Souls, Diablo, and Divinity: Original Sin.


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