As we move deeper into this new generation of consoles, ports of games from the tail end of the PS4’s life cycle are inevitable. It seems that Sony is moving in the direction of Director’s Cuts for its late PS4 titles, a trend that began with the release of Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut in late August. Stepping back into the shoes of Jin Sakai and taking on the new Iki Island expansion was a great time, so naturally, I was pretty excited to jump into Death Stranding Director’s Cut. Unfortunately, Death Stranding Director’s Cut isn’t as meaty of an upgrade as Ghost of Tsushima, but it’s still a better version of the 2019 PS4 release.
Despite all the talk of new features and improvements, Death Stranding Director’s Cut is really just a slightly expanded PS5 port of Death Stranding. It’s nowhere near as expansive as Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, which added the Iki Island expansion on top of PS5 enhancements. Death Stranding Director’s Cut also includes some new story content, but there’s really not a whole lot to entice returning players to come back, which explains the lesser price tag and cheaper upgrade.
If this is your first time playing Death Stranding, however, then you’re in for a fantastic time. New players will be treated to a retuned progression system that drip feeds new items and constructs throughout the campaign, though. The new nonlethal Maser Gun is available quite early on, giving you a new tool to deal with pesky MULEs and protect yourself on deliveries. You’ll also get the Support Skeleton fairly early in the game as well, making Sam faster and making it easier to carry heavy loads.
Later in the game, you’ll unlock new tools like the Cargo Catapult and Buddy Bot to make your travels much less of a headache. Initially, I was worried that these new features would break the game’s progression, but they really just give players new tools to solve problems. At its core, Death Stranding is a delivery sandbox, and players found all sorts of ways to deliver cargo quickly back in 2019. Things like the Cargo Catapult just add new alternatives to endgame constructions like Zip Lines.
In addition to new equipment, there are a handful of new activities as well. Death Stranding Director’s Cut features a race track, which is a huge change of pace from the standard deliveries and BT sections. It doesn’t really feel that significant, and the novelty wears off really fast. Some people will probably enjoy it, but most will probably unlock it and only mess around with it for a short while. There’s also a firing range now, but just like the race track, it’s not really a meaningful addition.
All of the new features feel really minor. There are a lot of new things, sure, but no one thing stands out in particular as the defining feature of the Director’s Cut. Being able to customize Sam’s backpack and the BB pod is a nice addition, but these things don’t feel significant at all. Even the new “action-packed” delivery missions feel tacked on. It really feels like they added these missions just to be able to put “new story content” on the back of the box.
These special deliveries take you to a new abandoned factory area. The factory is crawling with MULEs, and you’ll need to get through them to access the delivery terminal. You won’t be able to enter the factory on your first delivery, but later in the game, you’ll be able to progress deeper into the facility. This sounds exciting on paper, but there’s really not a whole lot of content there.
Once you get inside, there’s basically just a few rooms of combat encounters and that’s that. If you transfer a completed PS4 save like I did, you can clear all of the new factory missions in an hour or so depending on your playstyle. Do not go into this game expecting a large chunk of new story content. You will be disappointed. There’s not even much in the way of cutscenes, either. Just a few rooms to shoot your way through and then a half-baked reveal.
That being said, the rest of the game is still great. We awarded Death Stranding 4/5 stars in our initial review, and that opinion still stands. On PS5, there are a lot of gameplay improvements that make everything that much more enjoyable. The game runs at a smooth 60 FPS and takes advantage of the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. There’s also an optional wide mode that adds black bars to the top and bottom of the screen so you can play in an ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio. The game looks and runs better than ever.
It’s also a bit strange revisiting the world of Death Stranding now of all times. The PS4 version released in a pre-pandemic world, and many were drawing similarities to the game world’s isolation and reliance on deliveries as the pandemic began to spread in early 2020. Now that we’ve lived through over a year of this, Death Stranding hits a little different. I won’t muse on this too much because I’m sure other reviewers will bring it up as well, but the game may very well be worth a replay if you haven’t touched it since the initial launch. You may get something new out of the story by looking at it through this new lens.
If you haven’t had the chance to check out Death Stranding yet either on PS4 or PC, then picking up the Director’s Cut on PS5 is a no-brainer. It’s the same great game as it was two years ago, only with several improvements. Returning players may not find many reasons to stick around after getting through the brief new story segment, but with a much cheaper price tag and upgrade price than Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, it’s worth upgrading to the PS5 version just to mess around and do a few deliveries.
Overall, Death Stranding Director’s Cut is solid as a PS5 port, but underwhelming as a Director’s Cut. If you were expecting a big new story expansion akin to Iki Island, then you’ll be disappointed by this Director’s Cut. If you just want to jump back into Death Stranding for a few hours in 60 FPS, then you’ll have a decent time. I wish more could have been done on the story front, but Death Stranding Director’s Cut is still a solid experience on PS5.
Death Stranding Director's Cut
- Score: 4 / 5
- Available On: PS5
- Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Developed By: Kojima Productions
- Genre: Action Adventure
- US Release Date: September 24, 2021
- Reviewed On: PS5
- Quote: "I wish more could have been done on the story front, but Death Stranding Director's Cut is still a solid experience on PS5."