If The Game Awards 2016 had an category for "Most Enigmatic Trailer" Hideo Kojima's further unveiling of Death Stranding would have taken it home easily. Famous for its E3 reveal featuring a weeping Norman Reedus in the nude holding a baby in the middle of a dried seabed filled with dead whales and crabs (yes, that really happened), Death Stranding left many wondering exactly what Kojima Production's first game might be about. Unfortunately, the new, longer trailer seems to hold few answers, but that hasn't stopped fans from trying to guess as to what it all might mean.
The new teaser, which clocks in at about five minutes takes place in an emptied riverbed, reminiscent of the first trailer, with a digitized Guillermo del Toro seeking refuge in a sewer from a conflict raging above. Planes fly over bombed out buildings, an inverted rainbow arcing away from the ground above them. Del Toro can be seen looking back in horror at something happening behind him. We see he has what looks to be a surgery scar running across his forehead and a badge with an image of the United States of America crossed by a massive spiderweb with the word or acronym BRIDGES written above it.
As Guillermo del Toro is about to enter the sewers, a tank rumbles over the entrance, covered in large internal organs, human skeletons, and the autonomously moving black ooze omnipresent in both trailers. Soldiers follow behind, similarly streaked with ooze and linked both together and to the tank via a long umbilical cord. As they pass overhead, water begins to return to the riverbed. We finally see that del Toro has been carrying a large canister this entire time, a canister that contains a baby. Guillermo hooks what appears to be his own block umbilical cord into the canister and the baby seems to awaken, opening one eye to stare directly at the camera. A doll cast aside long ago begins floating down the river, into the sewer, bumping into del Toro as it passes. He then stumbles into the sewer as if he expects to see someone just around the corner.
The camera follows the doll as it floats through the sewer and begins to fill the surrounding water with an orange glow, a glow that is faintly answered farther down the tunnel. Soldiers step out of the darkness, armed to the teeth and wearing skull masks. They all appear to be attached via black umbilical cords to their leader, portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen seems to be able to command his unit wordlessly and without gestures (he gives gestures, but he is clearly standing behind them and outside of their line of sight). With a swipe of his hand, his helmet dematerializes and the umbilical cords between him and the soldiers follow suit, setting them free to hunt the sewers for their prey. The doll bumps into Mikkelsen's leg, its broken body bearing a disturbingly similar scar to the one Norman Reedus bore in the first trailer. The doll's only remaining eye opens, revealing an unnervingly real eye as a scream seems to come from it. Mikkelsen smiles.
All of it adds up to whatever Death Stranding is - and there are now a lot of theories as to what this game might be. There are a dizzying number of them. People have proposed everything from nanomachines to quirks of quantum physics leading to the reanimation of the dead to some kind of post-apocalyptic civil war. Personally, I have my own interpretation. Hear me out:
There's a number of signs that make me think Death Stranding could be an alien invasion story. The mysterious black ooze seems to be alive, behaving in decidedly unearthly ways. So far, we have only seen two characters who aren't covered by the black ooze, del Toro and Reedus (though he does have a vision of black ooze on his hands). This, combined with the advent of technology no human would really have a desire or see the necessity in inventing (i.e. connecting one's self to other people or technology via a synthetic umbilical cord), indicate that not only is this black ooze alien in origin, but it might even be a method of mind control.
Yes, mind control - I believe Death Stranding is going to focus heavily on psychic powers. The compass on Mikkelsen's combat jacket can be seen spinning crazily as he sets his soldiers free from their cords. A psychic link would seemingly explain how he is able to coordinate them from behind without any obvious form of communication. Also, it would fit with the recurring symbol of three eyes, which I believe is a reference to the concept of a psychic/spiritual "third" eye. Perhaps these umbilical babies are means of hiding from psychic enemies or the umbilical link helps them to become inoculated to mind control. Given del Toro's possession of a baby (with a seemingly cruder cord than Mikkelsen's), his medical forehead scar, and the badge on his coat, I'd hazard a guess that he's a scientist working for the BRIDGES organization, maybe even one that specializes in the aliens or in psychic research.
There are other little details that I think might indicate aliens. The tank covered in large internal organs seems to indicate either some altercation with a beached whale or perhaps a larger organic creature. I'd speculate that the weirdly receding and returning water that resulted in dead aquatic life in both trailers might be due to super massive ships throwing off tidal patterns by being too close to the planet. A large ship might also explain what del Toro was looking back at in such horror and the oddly inverted rainbow in the sky. Aliens would also explain some of the futuristic-looking technology the trailers display for brief moments, like the glowing handcuffs both del Toro and Reedus wear. Finally, this alien theory would also gel with the older theory that Reedus' character eventually dons the space suit/armor featured in the Kojima Productions logo (the video for which states the game being shown is Death Stranding).
Whatever Death Stranding turns out to be, it will certainly be interesting. The internet can't seem to get enough of Hideo Kojima's penchant for weirdness - and that's exactly what the game seems to be tapping into.