While Xbox Game Pass frequently adds new games to its library, some titles do leave the service every fifteen days. Sometimes, those games are fantastic and PC Game Pass will lose a heavy hitter on August 15: Death Stranding. If you aren’t familiar with this game, it, ironically, is a PlayStation console exclusive that’s part of Microsoft’s subscription service only on PC. Death Stranding first released on PS4 in November 2019 and tells a story about a man who is trying to reconnect a post-apocalyptic while dealing with lots of supernatural threats along the way.
It didn’t come to PC until July 2020, before that was followed by Death Stranding: Director’s Cut for PC and PS5 in the following years. The version of the game that’s available through Xbox Game Pass is based on the July 2020 PC release, although it only came to PC Game Pass in August 2022. After a year on Microsoft’s subscription service, the deal is up, and it’s going to leave on August 15. Death Stranding is a game with a very compelling and socially relevant story and gameplay not quite like anything out there, so Game Pass subscribers who haven’t tried this game yet need to before it leaves the service soon.
Death Stranding follows the journey of Sam Porter Bridges, the adopted son of the President of the United Cities of America, as he attempts to reconnect what’s left of America with a Chiral Network and save his sister. Of course, this game has Kojima’s signature eccentricity, as Sam also carries around and starts forming a deeper connection with a baby in a pod (called a BB) that helps him avoid deadly creatures called BTs and gives him visions of a mysterious figure played by Mads Mikkelsen. On that note, Death Stranding has a stacked Hollywood cast as it stars people like Norman Reedus, Lea Seydoux, and Margaret Qualley and features characters modeled after Lindsay Wagner, Guillermo del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn, and more.
I’m not a huge fan of this game’s melodramatic dialogue exchanges and arduous pacing that leaves a lot of the most interesting reveals for the end. Still, it undeniably has some prescient themes about how important connection is, something that became even more apparent and relevant in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Few video game writers can craft narratives that are as engaging and memorable as the ones in Hideo Kojima’s games. Though what I like most about Death Stranding is its gameplay, which isn’t quite like anything that came out before or since.
For the most part, Death Stranding is a game about delivering packages. It initially seemed like a shocking change in style for the man behind the Metal Gear Solid series, but the connections become a bit clearer to me as I had to stealthily avoid BTs and saw the Metal Gear Solid V-level of freedom the game gives players in making deliveries. To maximize profits from deliveries, I have to balance all of the packages in Sam’s possession, keeping a close eye on the terrain, and finding the best ways to get Sam to his destination without damaging much of the goods he’s carrying.
The best open-world games make navigating through their worlds entertaining, and that’s almost the whole focus of Death Stranding’s gameplay. While balancing packages might not sound that exciting, there’s a fundamental intensity and satisfaction that happens with doing a delivery that I’ve never gotten from a game other than Death Stranding.
Then there’s its sensational multiplayer element eo, which allows players to build things that can help players navigate the world during their journeys. It reemphasizes the main theme of connection, and should help make the game feel fresh if you haven’t played Death Stranding since it launched in 2019. It’s a solid PC port too, so you don’t have to worry about the unexpected technical issues that sometimes plague these kinds of games.
While Death Stranding is leaving Game Pass, it’s not the last time you’ll hear of the series. At The Game Awards 2022, Hideo Kojima announced that a sequel, Death Stranding 2, is in development for PS5. Death Stranding: Director’s Cut is also making its way to Mac sometime soon. As for the Xbox side of things, Hideo Kojima announced at Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase in 2022 that Xbox Game Studios is publishing one of his upcoming games.
If you’re an Xbox fan but have never played anything Hideo Kojima made before, Death Stranding is a great introduction to his work. Currently, players with a strong PC and Game Pass subscription have an easy way to try the critically beloved open-world game out, so don’t miss your chance to play Death Stranding before it leaves the service for an undisclosed amount of time — perhaps forever.
Death Stranding leaves Xbox Games Pass for PC on August 15
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