In a generation that has had its fair share of huge PlayStation 4 titles, both multi-platform and exclusive, delayed time and time again, Death Stranding feels like an enigma. Developed in the space of three years, Kojima Productions has managed to put out 2019's biggest title probably at least 365 days earlier than anyone thought it would. Had you told me six months ago that it would be releasing in mid-November, I wouldn't have believed you. Had you told me six months ago that I would be applying the finishing touches to my Death Stranding review in late October, I most certainly would not have believed you. I was convinced that this wouldn't be a game we'd all be playing until late 2020 at the earliest. And so it beggars belief how the Japanese studio has managed to get its next project out so quickly.
Let's cast our minds back to E3 2016. Hideo Kojima surprises everyone by getting on stage at Sony's presser to announce that he's back following the split from Konami. It's been just 10 months since Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain launched, so it's not like he's actually going to have anything to show, right? Incorrect. The creator announces Death Stranding, complete with a Norman Reedus cameo that gives us a very early look at what would become the experience you'll be playing in a handful of days time.
That trailer brings the house down, but it takes another half a year before it is even announced that Death Stranding is up and running on a PlayStation 4 engine. Borrowing Horizon: Zero Dawn's Decima engine from Guerrilla Games, it's the reason we all thought the game was so far off. How could a title that has only just got up and running on an engine release within the next few years?
Trailers and slices of gameplay came and went in the years following that, further cementing the thought that it was still a ways off. It was even reported in March 2019, just seven months ago, that development of Death Stranding was "slightly out of the initial plan, but not much delayed." Then, on 29th May 2019, that all changed. Kojima Productions announced a launch date for mid-November, and it has managed to stick to that without a single announced pushback. It's an impressive feat in this day and age, but I still can't quite work out how the team has managed it.
One clue, unearthed earlier this month, could give us a slightly better idea of how the project might have come together so quickly. Found at the bottom of a Eurogamer article from July 2012, a quote stated that Hideo Kojima "plans to talk more about a new project, a game that connects people." That is, of course, Death Stranding. Going down this line of thinking, has the man himself been planning for this type of title for more than seven years? It makes sense when you consider how quickly the project has made it to release. It looks like Kojima already had the entire narrative and its mechanics mapped out, and so it was just a case of translating that into a functioning video game.
Whether that's actually true or not is a story for another day because it doesn't take away from the fact that Death Stranding went from a concept to a product we'll be buying shortly in the space of three years. While other studios take half a decade to develop their new IP or delay the next big PS4 game by half a year, Kojima Productions comes along and makes the biggest title of 2019 in a fraction of the time. No matter which way you look at it, that's an impressive accomplishment.
Do you have any ideas as to how Death Stranding was developed so quickly? Are you impressed by the complete lack of any delays? Share your thoughts in the comments below.