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The Death Stranding (Experience) Comes to London!

Tomorrow is in your hands.

For most people, those five words don’t mean anything. Is it a proverb? A quote? It seems rather enigmatic, doesn’t it?

However, for enthusiasts of renowned video game creator, Hideo Kojima, these words are an assignment. A duty. A mission. This especially rings true for none other than the hundreds of devotees who braced torrential rain and galeforce winds to queue up in Camden on the 2nd November for the Death Stranding Experience.

Okay, maybe I’m slightly overexaggerating the severity of the weather conditions but as one of the people who was actually there on the 2nd, I think I’m entitled to a little bit of hyperbole.

That’s right, I set my alarm the night before for 8am, thinking that it would be enough time to get to Camden and queue up for a couple of hours before entering the Experience and then finishing the day off with a bite to eat.

I couldn’t have been any more mistaken.

Instead of waking up to my alarm, I instead was awoken by a message from one of the friends I was attending the Experience with – a Tweet from someone who had apparently been in line since 7am, even though the event itself didn’t start for another 3 hours. The event veterans reading this are probably turning their noses up at me and my innocent naivete and you know what? You’re right. I made a grave mistake in underestimating just how dedicated some of these fans were and I paid the ultimate price for it.

A 6+ hour queue.

I took a lot of photos documenting the slow but steady progress of the queue but I think these photos are sufficient in illustrating my point.

Now, onto the actual Experience!

Upon entering the Experience, you’re flanked by multiple screens displaying a selection of concept art from the game – ranging from characters to environments and everything in between, wonderfully illustrated by the talented Yoji Shinkawa who is in charge of art direction. The photos here only show a small selection of what was displayed. The latest cinematic trailer was also shown to really set the tone for the event and remind everyone of the world that they’re set to dive into when the game releases.

In case you haven’t yet seen it, do yourselves a favour and give it a watch. This is most likely the final trailer we will get before the game comes out and it really does its job of tasking you with your duty.

Now this next portion of the Experience was unique to yesterday (2nd November), as two of the leading minds responsible for bringing us Death Stranding were actually present in London! That’s right – both Yoji Shinkawa and Hideo Kojima were meeting with fans throughout the entire day, taking photos and enjoying conversations with everyone looking forward to the game, all as a part of the World Strand Tour. Kojima was only supposed to be present for two hours but apparently he cancelled his flight and continued to meet with fans for over 7 hours!

If you didn’t respect the man enough already for what he’s done to progress the art of game creation, surely you have to now.

Just to mention it more explicitly – Kojima & Shinkawa were only there for this one instance. Even though the Experience is open on the 3rd and then again from the 8th to the 10th, they will not be available for the meet and greet.

After taking the photos, we were guided into the “Experience” itself, which started with us being escorted into a laboratory of sorts, with mannequins on display equipped with technological apparatus that looked similar that which the main character, Sam Porter Bridges, uses over the course of the game. There were small displays with the BBs (the babies in the incubator/test tube-esque enclosures) that moved and main a wide array of baby like noises, that really hammered it home that over the course of the game, you do basically run around with someone else’s baby (not a baby-like piece of equipment) and use it to save the world.

I can’t wait for this game.

A voice then begins to play over the speakers, talking to everyone in the room as if they are Sam. They begin to talk about the nature of the BBs, the fragility of the equipment in the room and the purpose of Sam’s mission. The staff member who was responsible for escorting us throughout the Experience, began instructing us to not touch any of the very expensive equipment and let us wander around for a few minutes whilst the voiceover continued to talk about all of the technology before us.

Before long, the BB’s started to show signs of “instability” as they started to cry and the room began to flash red. The staff member hurried us out of the room whilst speaking on a microphone that he “had to get the civilians out of here”. In stark contrast to the sterile environment that we were just in, the next room was anything but. It was a sewer-like setting, with streams of questionable liquid behind and in front of us. Despite all of that, the most notable feature present in the room was a large screen which began playing one of Mads Mikkelsen’s more iconic scenes from one of the game’s earlier trailers where he is seen leading a squad of skeletal soldiers (try saying that 10x in a row) through a sewer.

I don’t know about you guys, but this part of the Experience felt incredibly realistic. I can’t quite put my finger on why…

That marked the end of the event and afterwards we were greeted by a return to normalcy as we exited the sewer and entered a merchandise shop where we were able to pick up physical copies of our photos as well as purchase official Death Stranding merch from £5 wristbands to a £300 replica of the necklace that Sam wears.

All in all, was the Death Stranding Experience worth the 7+ hour queue?

Yes.

Yes it was.

Even without Kojima & Shinkawa being there, it was a great opportunity to immerse myself in the world of Death Stranding which has been a game that I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced. If you’re in the London area and have a bit of free time, I would definitely recommend checking it out when it comes back to the Camden Market on the 8th – 10th November. I imagine the queues won’t be as long due to the absence of a particular pair of celebrities, but expect to wait before being let in as the actual Experience is only for 15 people at a time.

Credit to Sketch on Twitter for the recordings used to create the two GIFs.

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Yemi Oladimeji

Yemi is a huge fan of anything anime, manga, light novel and video game related. He often spends his spare time binging various series, streaming over on Twitch or crying over various gacha game rolls. You can find more of him over on Twitter, @OraMagi.

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