First released back in 2019, Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding has proven to be one of the stand-out games of the PS4 era. Even though it seemed to have been a rather divisive game at launch, as a bit of time passed, Death Stranding proved to be quite a hit thanks to the unique experience that it provides. In fact, the game has even sold 5 million copies to date, meaning it’s a certified hit as well.
Now, we revisit Death Stranding with the release of the game’s Director’s Cut; well, it’s more of a “Director’s Plus” as Kojima puts it. This is because the original release was entirely Kojima’s vision and was not compromised by a big studio (the reason why some films get Director’s Cuts). Plus, this version of the game doesn’t radically alter anything about the original. Instead, Death Stranding Director’s Cut brings lots of new additions, including new missions and structures, as well as gameplay enhancements. On top of these, the Director’s Cut also runs much better as it is able to take advantage of the PS5’s more powerful hardware.
Given these additions, is Death Stranding Director’s Cut worth the upgrade for fans of the original? And is it worth getting for PS5 owners who have yet to play the original? For us, we reckon it’s an easy recommendation for both!
(NOTE: We will be focusing more on the new additions in this review. For more on the base game, read our original Death Stranding review).
A Good Reason to Go Back
Unlike PlayStation’s other recent Director’s Cut for Ghost of Tsushima, this enhanced release Death Stranding release does not come with a massive new land to explore. Instead, this Director’s Cut has a lot of small additions that, when taken all together, make for a compelling reason to return to the United Cities of America.
One of the additions that I was most excited for was the Ruined Factory, a new location that comes with a set of new orders (or missions). In the trailers for the Director’s Cut, the orders in the Ruined Factory evoked Kojima’s iconic Metal Gear series, so I expected a stealth action series of missions. While the missions did offer some opportunities for indoor stealth a la Metal Gear, they were incredibly short and rather easy.
To be fair, I did play the Ruined Factory missions in the post-game, so I was fully decked out with weapons and armor. I didn’t mind that they were easy to be honest, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the short length as it only took me a bit over an hour to complete. If you play these missions while in a new game, they should play much better as they’ll be slightly more challenging. But if you’re a returning player, don’t expect these missions to be on the same level as a typical DLC expansion Even if this storyline isn’t expansive, it did offer a short and touching storyline, as well as some memorable moments that are worth experiencing.
After breezing through the Ruined Factory, I was almost ready to call this Director’s Cut a disappointment. But then, I tried out the rest of the new additions. Playing through them changed my mind entirely.
For starters, there were also other orders added in the Director’s Cut, including the Half Life and Cyberpunk 2077 collaboration stuff from the game’s PC version. As I wasn’t able to play the PC version of Death Stranding, I had fun fulfilling the new orders, especially the Cyberpunk 2077 ones; and that’s because they proved to be a bit more challenging than usual, not just because they rewarded me with cool items.
Speaking of challenge, a simple addition in the Director’s Cut that made a big difference for me is the addition of machine gun placements in MULE/Terrorist camps. They might not seem all that challenging at first, but if you go in guns blazing, you’ll likely get shredded by machine gun fire (especially on the higher difficulties). This necessitates a more tactical approach when going through enemy camps.
Another addition that may not seem to be noteworthy at first glance is the new highway segment that connects the Waystation South of Lake Knot City to Mountain Knot City. Once you build this section, you’ll be able to travel by vehicle from the Waystation to Mountain Knot through the mountains without having to go the long way round. While this is great for deliveries, I personally enjoyed it more for the fact that there were more roads to build. Personally, completing the highway in the original release was one of my favorite things about it. So, if you’re like me in this regard, the new roads will add a couple more hours to your Death Stranding revisit.
In terms of gameplay hours, the introduction of the Racing Track and the Firing Range are also certain to give you more reason to spend time in the game. The new Racing Track lets you take a vehicle and set the fastest time you can using your chosen vehicle (either a Reverse Trike, a Truck, or the circuit-only Roadster); you can set your time on your own or participate in the Ranked time trials. Though I did wish there was an option to race against other players or even just AI drivers as time trials may get old for some players.
As for the Firing Range, I didn’t expect much of it at first. Though instead of just being a space to test weapons, the Firing Range also features some Challenges that harken back to the Metal Gear Solid VR missions. If, like me, you enjoyed those old Metal Gear VR missions, these Challenges should give you some more hours of fun.
Finally, there’s the introduction of new structures. As someone who played on save file where I already finished the main storyline, I though that these new structures were fun to play around with, but at the post-game point, they just can’t beat the usefulness of the Zip-line. So, on a post-game save, there’s not a lot of reason to use them outside of trying more creative delivery methods. But this changes if you play the game again from the beginning.
A Great Excuse to Replay
The newly introduced structures shine when you play through the game again from the beginning, making for a great reason to replay the game. This is because most of them can be accessed during the earlier stages when the Zip-line is not yet available, giving you more options to fulfill deliveries. For instance, the Cargo Catapult lets you shoot a selection of cargo over a vast distance, meaning instead of lugging around carriers through a MULE camp, you can just launch them to safety while you stealthily work your way through a camp without fear of losing cargo; you can also do these for environmental hazards. While the other structures – the Chiral Bridge and the Jump Ramp – are not as useful for me as the Cargo Catapult, they still had their uses in certain areas.
Structures aside, there’s also the new Maser Gun and the Support Skeleton. The Maser Gun is essentially a souped-up taser that lets you stun enemies. As this is unlocked in the early game, the Maser Gun is a useful weapon that can be used as an alternative to the Bola Gun. As for the Support Skeleton, it’s an exoskeleton that may not be as specialized as the others that you unlock, but the fact that it is available in the early game makes it an invaluable addition for initial deliveries.
These new items indeed help in deliveries and combat, but there are also other small additions that add depth to the core gameplay. One of these is the enhanced melee combat which gives Sam more moves to use against enemies. Then there’s the expanded Stamina system; now, by doing tricks, you can make BB get excited which also restores stamina. When BB gets excited, his BT detection skills also improve, meaning you’ll also be able to see BTs even while moving.
Another improvement that I found useful was the ability to use a Floating Carrier in Zip-lines. While you are limited to only one carrier, the fact that you can now carry a carrier with you when riding Zip-lines makes a lot of deliveries more convenient to fulfill.
When taken on their own, these new features may seem small, but they do add up to bring a fresh experience, especially when playing through the game again. On top of these, the Director’s Cut’s enhanced performance also makes it the definitive way to play Death Stranding.
The Best Way to Experience the Game
The Director’s Cut is able to take full advantage of the PS5’s hardware, so it runs at a smooth 60 FPS, all while having a higher resolution – great for users with large, 4K displays. This sharper resolution and 60 FPS gameplay make it play even better coming from the PS4 version.
Along with improved graphics and performance, the Directors’ Cut also adds 3D Audio and Haptic Feedback to the game. As a big fan of the PS5’s 3D Audio, I was happy with Death Stranding’s implementation of it as it allowed me to pick out the directions of sounds better, helpful during the game’s various BT encounters.
Though personally, I did find the Haptic Feedback slightly lacking. Personally, the implementation didn’t feel as big when compared to the true PS5 exclusives like Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart or Returnal, or even the recent Ghost of Tsushima Directors’ Cut. Still though, the improved haptics do feel way better compared to the PS4 version.
Final Verdict – 9/10
The original Death Stranding release was a memorable experience that we recommended to players looking for a one-of-a-kind game. As for the Directors’ Cut, we still feel the same way. While the new content doesn’t really shake up the core of Death Stranding, they do add up to make for an improved experience. So, if you haven’t played the original game yet and are a PS5 owners, Death Stranding Director’s Cut is definitely recommended.
Sidenote: Should You Upgrade?
Now, if you’ve already finished the game, should you upgrade? Yes!
While the new content isn’t as large in scale as the Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, or even the FF7 Remake Intergrade DLC, they will still provide hours of gameplay. In fact, as someone who got the Platinum trophy for the original, the Director’s Cut still added 10 or so hours of gameplay. What makes this even better is that the Directors’ Cut upgrade is only USD 10 (around PHP 500), making it very much worth it.
Now, if you have yet to finish the original game, or if you did but still have lots of orders to make, the Death Stranding Director’s Cut is a no-brainer.