Death Stranding – The Beginning (Review #3)

Episode 8: Heartman

Picking up where we last left off, Sam makes his way to Heartman’s lab after the second battle royal between he and Clifford. This is no easy task however as Sam is given Mama’s remains to carry to the incinerator that Heartman has at his lab. On top of that, Sam has to traverse more mountain tops covered with snow and steep, impassible rocks. He will eventually make it there, however, and you will Heartman in a rather… strange way. He will be incapacitated when you meet him and you quickly find out that he is actually “dead” if you will. The second he is awake he dives into all the detail of why he was “dead.” His family was killed in a void out near the hospital he was in while getting a heart transplant. He died for 21 minutes, and while on his beach, he saw his wife and daughter walking off into deaths ocean. He now has a defibrillator attached to his body so that every 21 minutes when his heart goes into cardiac arrest it will revive him after 3 minutes, which is apparently the perfect amount of time for him to spend searching for his family while also not causing to much harm to his body. It’s a rather strange concept for an even stranger man, but it’s an excellent piece of the story. Not to mention its another perfectly crafted name from Hideo Kojima.

After the introductions, and two or three more cardiac arrest episodes, Sam is finally tasked with connecting the last few cities around Heartman’s lab. This, for the most part, was very easy. I don’t think I had one problem with any of these missions and the terrain was not nearly as tough to maneuver as some of the other areas on the map. You will also unlock the oxygen mask here for one of the missions, which is a very neat item but not used very often. The last mission will require Sam to sneak through a massive field of BT’s to pick up some materials for the Evo-devo Biologist. Once that’s done, you will be tasked with heading towards Edge Knot City, but you first need to repair one final chiral relay. Another mission that isn’t too far away, so grab your gear and get to moving. And if you have the extra room in your backpack bring some level two PCC’s with you to build zip lines along the way (makes traveling back a hell of a late easier later on in the story).

Once the relay station has been re-connected, it’s time to travel across the massive, daunting tar-belt that stretches all the way to Edge Knot City. Now, I struggled with this for about 15 minutes before I finally searched google for the answer. I knew you couldn’t build hundreds of bridges across and knew you couldn’t simply drive through the tar, but I ran up and down the coastline looking for any clue to help figure out this problem. I even attacked BT’s, which didn’t die by the way, and that alone should have been my clue to what was needed. Sam needs to begin an encounter with a BT in order to be dragged out towards the middle of the tar belt. From here, towers will begin skyrocketing out of the tar for him to run across. You will need to be careful here though as the buildings move and Sam can take some pretty gnarly falls if you aren’t paying attention. On top of that, you will need to make your way through countless leaping whales and lion monster BT’s, so keep Sam’s head on a swivel!

Episode 9: Higgs

This episode begins immediately after the Amalie cutscene from episode 8 ends. You’ll receive a call on your codec almost immediately telling you to head to the distribution center nearby. Sam needs to link it to the chiral network before he can go find Amalie, but in doing so he will essentially be leading Higgs right to her. You’re then given a network activation key to use within Edge Knot City itself, and you’re warned that you better not lose it because there is only one of them (don’t worry, it’s impossible to lose). Be sure to gear up before you head out though because you will be facing loads of enemies on your trek to the final chiral plugin spot. the second you make it to the edge of the city a mini cutscene triggers and introduces new tentacled BT balloon monsters. These BT’s can sense Sam a little easier than normal BT’s, yet they are much more harmless if they do find him. They will float down and rest on the ground once they sense Sam, but he can easily walk by or shot one hematic round from an AR into it to get by. You will pass through a field of these creatures before reaching a smallish area that is flooded with BT’s before you make it to the distribution center within Edge Knot. Sam runs down and connects the city, but Higgs is there to greet him the second he attempts to leave the distro center.

This triggers the Higgs boss fight, which is time-consuming but overall super easy. He summons a massive tar BT that he morphs himself into to control. However, in doing so he leaves weak spots (yes I said spots, Higgs will move around quite a bit here) wherever his torso is sticking out, so you will want to start unloading wherever that may be. You more than likely didn’t come into this fight with a grenade launcher or a rocket launcher, but those will be what you want to use. They do the most damage and make this fight go by much, much quicker. the only thing is, the helpful tar creatures that throw weapons and health packs at you don’t drop these very often, so be prepared to unload AR rounds and hematic grenades at the monster in the downtime. There will be three or four iterations where Higgs moves and Sam needs to continuously shoot the tar creature, but once the health bar hits zero another cutscene triggers.

So Higgs ends up with Amalie even though you beat him, and now Sam must jump to her beach with the help of Fragile to save her. Sam runs to the distro center just outside of Edge Knot and ports over to the beach just in time for the final boss fight against Higgs. This fight is very basic in the way that Sam has no weapons other than his fists and his strand. You start the fight with Higgs shooting at Sam. The only thing to do here is sneak up on Higgs and begin throwing haymakers at his face. I mean technically, you could just bum rush him, take the bullet damage, and eat cryptobiotic after like I did too, but it’s probably more effective to sneak. After you beat the crap out of him five times phase two begins. Now Higgs will be voiding around the map trying to stab you with his steely knife but you can easily dodge with R2. Sam will wrap him up five times and kick him a bunch more before the third and final phase kicks off. This is legitimately just a boxing match between Higgs and Sam, and even though it was kinda lame I totally loved it. Avoid Higgs punches and eat the crypto’s when they appear and you will have zero problems finishing Higgs off. Once he’s defeated, a rather lengthy cutscene triggers and brings you into episode 10.

Episode 10: Die-Hardman

This is a very short episode and doesn’t really require you to do anything other than make your way back to Lake Knot City. You could, of course, cut through the mountains and make this trip extremely simple if you had been planning zipline routes during the last few episodes, but if you hadn’t been anticipating another cross country trek, the normal routes will do just fine. I hopped in a long-range truck, loaded it with materials, and accepted any orders I hadn’t already done yet to do on my way back to the main city. One word of advice though, don’t accept any orders for Lake Knot city itself. As you pull up to the outskirts of the distro center there the cutscene that launches you into episode 11 triggers and you will lose any and all items associated with those orders. So once you make it to the last prepper or distro center before Lake Knot, load everything into a private locker or recycle it so you don’t have to go back and start over after.

And that’s that. Be on the lookout for the last Death Stranding review over the next few days, but in the meantime head on over to to read all of the other DS articles we have. For more of my personal content, make your way to!

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