497 - Death Stranding

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JaySevenZero
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497 - Death Stranding

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions for Death Stranding for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder that where the feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but keeping it brief is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mostly reading out essays. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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Gadget8Bit
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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

Post by Gadget8Bit »

Death Stranding shouldn’t work. It really shouldn’t.

A metaphysical, hyper-philosophical narrative set in a post apocalyptic America but also in the afterlife (or maybe the place between this life and the next) with gameplay set around being the most badass postman in the world. Oh, and you’ve got a baby strapped to you and ghosts want to eat you.

But it works. Somehow, Kojima managed to put something into the game that makes it all gel together. I loved the almost meditative experience of exploring the world. The Icelandic vistas were beautiful, the crest of each hill rewarding me with a new favourite view.

I distinctly remember the end of chapter 2, when you schlep to Port Knot City. Coming over the mountain and seeing what is (at this point) the largest city you’ve seen so far, only for the camera to pull back and a Low Roar song to start playing. It’s a breathtaking visual enhanced by superb production.

It’s not a perfect game. The product placement is deeply irritating and really pulls you out of the narrative. There is a vast amount of interesting lore and story that gets buried away in the email system and the user interface needs to be scrapped and redone

But none of that mattered. Death Stranding is one of 4 games that’s ever made me cry. The flaws don’t matter to me. It’s incredible despite them.

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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

Post by 2SmokingControllers »

I'm writing this the very night I just wrapped up my 120 hour road to the platinum for this game. I can honestly say I loved all my time spent with this it.

There's a feeling this game gives you that is impossible to explain to anyone who hasn't played the game. In the simplest terms it's mostly a feeling of accomplishment but I believe there's more to it than that. It hit me the hardest probably when I drove on my first road that I completed. This mostly likely comes after you've trudged back and forth across the map a few times and had a few struggles. Driving past those trouble spots and remembering how difficult it used to be is a moment to behold. A similar yet quite difference experience is later when you start laying Zip Line networks across the map. Though more convenient than the roads I don't think they have the same impact.

Now at this point I'm obligated to end this post in the only way a porter knows how.

Keep on keeping on!

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Belmont03
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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

Post by Belmont03 »

Death Stranding was easily the most excited I was for any game last generation. I watched every trailer more times than anyone should, and on the week leading up to the release my roommates and I had no problem watching all the trailers back to back everyday. The night the game came out we even made a point of playing through P.T. before 11pm just to cap off the wait. Once P.T. was done I went to my local shop to pick up the Death Stranding PS4 PRO, I just had to have that BB themed controller.

The whole release felt like an event to me even if the game itself didn't live up to the hype I think I had enough fun with the trailers to warrant the cost of admission. To be upfront about it, for me the game lived up to the hype.

I loved everything about it. The slow nature of the games mechanics resonated with me something about just walking in a dangerous environment was enough for me. The fact that these environments were beautiful was just icing on the cake. Ill never forget; walking over a hill to a new vista, being greeted with a wonderfully curated licensed track (which I honestly can't believe as I typically hate licensed music in a game), and then getting an exposition dump that set up the new mechanics for the area. All of this made the game worth playing in my book but Kojima went and added a start studded cast to tell his brand of story in an engine where the motion capture for faces and conversations didn't work for me previously. Don't get me wrong I loved Horizon Zero Dawn to death but the conversation between the characters in that game were horrible in comparison for how the game looked in motion in the moment to moment game play. Kojima and his team worked magic on an already great foundation leaving me very hopeful for future Decima engine games.

To sum it all up I loved Death Stranding from beginning to end. In the future I hope to give it another playthrough but in an offline mode to really set in the sense of loneliness. I also plan on turning off the HUD for that playthrough as well to up the difficulty.

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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

Post by the_t_time »

I'm a long time Cane and Rinse listener and I'm writing my first post because I feel compelled to praise this amazing game.

As a long time fan of the Metal Gear Solid series, I was watching this game with extreme interest. At first I was pretty confused but as I continued to play and reveal the meta-game of building up the infrastructure of the world, I slowly began to understand the genius of what I was really playing: a triple A Marxist video game. What do I mean by this?

This is a game about common working mail carriers saving the world by collectively funding public projects so that other mail carriers can keep people connected in a world destroyed by environmental catastrophe. Most games glorify the soldier/ killer as their protagonist, Death Stranding elevates a common worker. But most importantly, it doesn't do this by turning him into a soldier but by having him simply do his job under extraordinary pressures.

Even though Sam Bridges' journey seems to revel in solitude towards the beginning, the game always reminds you that other people are never far. Whether it's an abandoned ladder, seeing new resources put into a road way by another player, or simply yelling into the void and hearing a distant response the player never really feels truly alone in this vast, barren landscape.

I decided to play this game again over this last summer. As an American who's been stuck in my home for a full year now due to the COVID pandemic, this game has obviously taken on a totally new meaning than when I first played it in 2019. Even the ending, which admittedly seems to drag on forever in typical Kojima fashion, had me emotionally drained. I understand people's issues with this game, but if you're willing to look past some (sometimes pretty glaring) control issues, I think you'll find a truly revolutionary game that will hopefully shape the course of video game design and philosophy for years to come.

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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

Post by Whippledip »

This became one of my favourite games of all time. It's the one time I can confidently say that it's the perfect meld of narrative and gameplay, none of that ludonarrative dissonance here! As an aside that is a term I don't really like but does a good job at explaining how at odds those two elements often are.

All your actions, as much as the dialogue and the acting in this feel like a contribution to the story being told, and themes it is trying to explore. This is truly one of those times where it is a story that can only really be told through a game. Every time I returned from a journey, battered and bruised and drained of my resources, I had a little smile, knowing that my work now, would not only make my job from now on easier, but also easier for some other poor sap just trying to do the same as I already have. I'll never meet them, I'll never see them, I'll never know who they are, but it doesn't matter because my actions have helped to lift someone, somewhere, out of trouble.

As an actual game, the walking portions were surprisingly fun, and honestly once the main game was done I wished there was an option to switch off all MULE and BT encounters to just be able to traverse the game world, making deliveries. Planning out your route, figuring out which items to take and vehicles to use was fulfilling, the few variations in there to make you change it up were simple but effective (the cold packages, the pizzas staying upright etc.). Some of this is invalidated once you get better technologies and you settle in to the same loadout for every delivery (I basically never went anywhere without the stability enhancing legs once I got them) but then I guess that is kind of the point of the game, make of that what you will I guess.

The shooting sections were....ok. Passable. It felt a little tacked on by someone higher up who insisted there must be some sort of combat or conflict or else bloodthirsty gamers would get bored of the pace of the game, but then all the Mads Mikkelsen portions are based solely around that so maybe it was just a case of a lack of time for polishing or testing? Either way they feel clunky to aim and move, the lethal options feel largely pointless, and most of those encounters feel dead simple to pass, MULEs will just run in straight lines at you basically. The BTs were marginally more exciting, but once the ability to sneak up and sever their connections with your cuffs was made available they became pretty trivial. All in all they felt like neat concepts that didn't get the devotion that the actual delivery sections did. Which is fine as that really is the meat and potatoes of the game.

Story wise it was a bit all over the place, (people who have been affected by a miscarriage or stillbirth might want to stay away). I've never played other Kojima games so his worst excesses are things I'm aware of simply by gaming cultural osmosis but they feel like they're in full effect here, some truly out of place dialogue (you know which line I'm referring to), tonal whiplash with some of the performances, and of course extremely, overly long verbose exposition dumps, both in dialogue and extraneous writing dumps in the forms of emails and whatnot. It also feels like some parts were wholly excised from the narrative and so it requires you to just take a lot of stuff on faith, Tommie Earl Jenkins final breakdown scene meant nothing to me, even though it was clearly supposed to, but the in game story as it's presented didn't really warrant or properly build up to that event and just came off extremely melodramatic. The product placement was weird, but just one of those quirks I put down as being part of the Kojima charm. Norman Reedus referencing his tv show when you jump on his bike was just such a weird moment but I also kind of loved it?

But I give all of that a pass because the world and it's associated lore is extremely imaginative and feels ripe for further exploration, and incorporating in to the scenes, like the beach scenes, the way it did was a risk that may not have entirely paid off, but I'm glad at least that someone is trying to do something different.

Also, you can ignore a lot of mainstream criticism about the movement and controls in this game, it works perfectly fine, I can think of maybe one or two times where it didn't work the way it was supposed to during my long play through. The main example that sticks out is the Dunkey video (but I have definitely seen it elsewhere), where he loudly complains about how bad and clunky the movement is over the top of a scene of him trying to drive a motorcycle up an 89 degree incline. The game very clearly highlights how and when you're supposed to be using particular methods of transport or locomotion, both in text and in practical use that I can really only blame yourself for complaining about how Sam handles in game. If you play within the constraints it sets out you will have no problems.

Keep on keepin' on

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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

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designermatt
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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

Post by designermatt »

Death Stranding was the first Kojima game I'd ever tried, and I went in uncertain how I'd feel. I'd seen trailers and was intrigued by what seemed to be a slow-paced, dreamy tone and beautiful, Icelandic-inspired landscape, but was less enamoured by what looked like a convoluted plot and some really weird character names (Die Hard Man? Really?). I was well aware that lots of people love the Metal Gear Solid series, but for some reason they'd never appealed to me much. Maybe if I'd gotten into them years ago, I'd feel differently.

I love 'walking simulators' like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and Firewatch, and had adored my many hours spent in the wilderness of RDR2, so the idea of slowly making your way across a quiet, beautiful landscape really appealed. The reality however - for me at least - was instead quite tedious and frustrating. I'd spend most of my time falling over small pebbles or stumbling around in circles, unsure how to get over the next hill. When I did finally reach my destination, I'd be given some long cutscenes of Norman Reedus and friends talking exposition which to be honest bored me, and even made me laugh in places. The dialogue and acting seemed really clunky, and I got lost amongst all the acronyms and jargon they used without really understanding what was going on.

I really wanted to like this, and hopefully I gave it a fair chance, but eventually I only managed a few missions across a few hours of play before I decided I'd rather put the time into something else, and uninstalled it from my PS4. I guess Kojima games must be an acquired taste and not for me, after all. Oh well, maybe I'll play Ghost of Tsushima some more instead...

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Pconpi
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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

Post by Pconpi »

Despite it being surreal, having a convoluted narrative, using peak Kojima proper nouns, and swigging Monster Energy from a canteen, Death Stranding managed to have me feel and think about core principles of humanity more so than most media. I felt lonely and connected, vulnerable and powerful, useful and in need of help. I was constantly reminded of the cycle of life with a fetus strapped to Sam that helped us see the dead. And, those dead just wanted connection too, terrifyingly reaching out to Sam for something, whether it was to sever their connection in purgatory or just to touch a living being again.

The gameplay took about 20 hours before it really took hold with me. It is a game that required me to be a “good student”, necessitating reading the Tips section or watching YouTube videos to fully grasp the items and systems involved. For instance, I didn’t see that each Order would give you hints on the items or dangers you might encounter on a delivery until I was at the last few chapters, so I would bring a random hodgepodge of items that I wouldn’t need while leaving that ladder I did need at the Distribution Center. But, once I started to pass my Death Stranding exams, the gameplay hooked me in that joyous way where it becomes all you think about or want to do. I grew to love looking up a big mountain, planning my route, seeing what obstacles might require a ladder or where the best place to put a zipline would be. I’d be all in for Kojima and team to create a mountaineering simulation, allowing me to explore Everest or Denali without the risk of destroying the environment or myself.

The world and characters are full of original and imaginative design. The Odradek, Fragile’s umbrella, the Q-pid, chrial crystals, the trucks and distribution centers…the list is endless of interesting design that all feels of that world and helps build it. That combined with the ideas of the Beach, Extinction Entities, Bridge Babies, Timefall, and Chiral Networks provided the intrigue that kept me going through those first 20 hours when the gameplay hadn’t grabbed me. It was strange and telling of my immersion that by the end of the game all the surreal ideas felt normal to me. At the point where I had to transport Mama to Lockne my wife asked what was going on. My brain jammed up trying to find a place to start the explanation, I just shock my head realizing I was in deep and she would probably be more disturbed than interested hearing about
Spoiler: show
me severing an already dead baby’s umbilical cord so Mama can reunite, die, and eventually merge into her twin sister who, by the way, is the actual mother of the baby.


Death Stranding is an awesome achievement, that has Kojima unleashed in all his brilliance and faults. The ending goes on for far too long, the interface is challenging to grasp, and you must decide for yourself whether a line like “Mario and Princess Beach” is either playful fun or incredibly dumb. But, I am so glad I experienced this world and gameplay. I didn’t even mention Norman Reedus’ performance, the Low Roar soundtrack, and the multiplayer community all of which I loved. Excited for the discussion on this one as there is a lot to get into. Keep on keeping on!

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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

Post by Tolkientaters »

I don't have much to say about this game especially compared to other members of the forum, but I'm of the people who just couldn't get on with the game.

I played about 15 hours and couldn't bring myself to keep playing. It looked fantastic, had great music, and a interesting way of gamifying traversal, but to have all the (somewhat tedious) missions end with a boring conversation with a hologram wasn't enough to motivate me to keep playing.

I'm glad an interesting high budget game like this exists, I really wish the writing was better, I think a more compelling script and character might've kept me playing. I didn't get attached to Sam and got tired of the writing that bashed you over the head with it's message in every other line of dialog and name. I thought the setting was incredibly creative, but the execution was lacking. Pathologic 2 had a better mix of intentionally frustrating gameplay mechanics with GOOD allegorical writing to keep you playing.

So it wasn't my cup of tea, but I'm glad it exists though I wish they had given the script another draft or 5. Also I think the incredibly blatant ads would've been criticized more if it was anyone other than Kojima.

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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

Post by DomsBeard »

Death Stranding I will always remember as the game that kept me together during a very tough time.

I was going through a horrendous time mentally and work-wise in November 2019 and decided to pick this up on a whim as I needed a distraction.

Every night for at least two or three weeks I would spend 2 to 3 hours playing this, late nights walking along holding down the buttons to keep hold of my delivery kept my mind distracted. I remember one memorable session trudging for 45 minutes straight through the snow to place a delivery and just the silence of me, Sam and BB only interrupted by the crunch of the snow under Sams boots.

Having this to get to on an evening kept me going some days.

The story is an absolute casserole of nonsense (ironic with 2020) but highlights were Higgs introduction and the sections with Mads. Have to say however the story got me by the end and I was gutted it was over.

Again hoping for a PS5 upgrade as I would love to play this again with a clearer mind (I'm on the other side of all that now this week literally!)

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Re: 489 - Death Stranding

Post by luke10123 »

I remember starting Death Stranding with absolutely no idea what it was about. I’d seen the cinematic trailers which were absolutely no help and a lot of speculation, but I’m a big fan of Hideo Kojima, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
After completing the game, I still had no idea what Death Stranding was about. Although I did care enough to watch some lore and plot videos on YouTube which helped. Probably not a great sign that tangential learning is required to work out what on Earth is going on. But I digress…

I actually really enjoyed my time with Death Stranding. For some reason the gameplay made me think of Elite: Dangerous of all things. I’d loved setting myself up as an intergalactic limousine driver / bounty hunter and I suppose that’s not that far from the gameplay of Death Stranding. This just involved a lot more inventory management. And less spaceships. I found the hiking gameplay surprisingly enjoyable. Taking in the beautiful game world as I climbed a mountain or expertly laid a ladder across a deadly gorge was a real joy and I was almost annoyed to be interrupted by the BTs or bandits. I rarely found myself engaging either in combat if I could help it. The latter in particular – you could defeat a camp of bandits and liberate their ill-gotten gains but there was usually no point unless you had an empty vehicle nearby or for some reason were not carrying any cargo already. Otherwise, you’d have to leave things behind, something that I absolutely hated doing.

Speaking of which. One of the goals I set for myself was to build roads between all the major locations. This took absolutely ages but I felt real satisfaction when I was finished. Only then did I realise that roads degrade over time and eventually all my hard work and effort was literally for nothing. I was so annoyed by this I genuinely considered quitting and playing something else instead. This wasn’t helped when I reached the mountain range area of the story and found it full of other player’s zip-lines which removed a lot of the challenge later on. But I still really enjoyed the moments where I was alone with a fully laden pack and had to navigate a particularly difficult section of terrain. The gameplay would then be a puzzle to solve more than anything, and it was incredibly satisfying to get my cargo delivered on time and in one piece. The issue is, this doesn’t prepare you at all for the games boss battles which at times feel like could be from another game entirely. Some BT boss fights look like they could be from a Resident Evil game, the Clifford fights take place in Call of Duty esq battlefields and the last phase of the final boss is almost a copy-paste of Old Snake’s last battle against Liquid Ocelot from Metal Gear Solid 4. I feel like having to deliver a really awkward to balance cargo over difficult terrain on foot against the clock would have been more suitable. Then again, this is a Hideo Kojima game, I expected something totally unique and I can’t complain that that’s exactly what I got. If nothing else, that the game feels so different to anything else on the market is something to be celebrated.

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Pixel Hunted
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Re: 497 - Death Stranding

Post by Pixel Hunted »

Death Stranding has a very special place in my heart. As the game was released I was neck deep in the doomed campaign for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party general election campaign. Almost every night I was walking around the dark and gloomy streets of London with a clipboard and list of addresses in hand, knocking on random people's doors and talking to them about politics. I'd come home exhausted and play Death Stranding for an hour or two before bed.

So a tired Sam with sore feet trudging through a desolate landscape trying to connect people really resonated with me, and all that earnest Kojima writing and those blunt metaphors hit home. Obviously, the election was a crushing defeat, but I look back on all the connections and bonds I formed with fellow activists and think this was the perfect game at the perfect time.

And I agree with what Leon said in The Last of Us II podcast - subtlety is extremely overrated!

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Alex79
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Re: 497 - Death Stranding

Post by Alex79 »

Let's get this out of the way - I think Kojima is a visionary and a genius. From Snatcher and Policenauts, to the Metal Gear series, to PT and Death Stranding - I can't think of a game he made that was anything less than truly brilliant.

I came to Death Stranding already holding Kojima on a pedestal, and he didn't let me down. And please don't think I'm dismissing the hundreds of other people who worked on this game, as it was a collaborative effort, I know. But without the man himself, it wouldn't have existed.

I enjoyed the endless trudging across rocky terrain, balancing my wares on my back. I enjoyed rebuilding the roads and using bikes and trucks to make my deliveries. I enjoyed the trademark bizarro story and characters, each and every one of them bringing something slightly unique to the conversation. I enjoyed being terrified, and holding my breath both in the game and real life, sneaking past the unearthly BTs. The flashbacks to a war that never happened, the relief of spotting a ladder some kind soul had left to help me on my journey, and the anxiety of dashing through a camp of Mules, or being sucked in to a tar pit and trying to escape.

We were given a beautiful, desolate world to play in, and it felt real. The sights, the smells, the damp rain, the crunching snow, the wind in my hair as I descended down a mountain on a zip line.

I loved this game, and I love Kojima. The landscape of video games is a brighter and more interesting place for him.

THREE WORD REVIEW: Another Kojima masterpiece.

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Taz
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Re: 497 - Death Stranding

Post by Taz »

I wouldn't describe myself as a Kojima fan. I loved Metal Gear Solid 1 + 2 back in the day but couldn't get into the later games in that series. As such, going into Death Stranding I was intrigued but I expected to bounce off the game and trade it in. That didn't happen, I was hooked right away and couldn't put it down for the 50 or so hours it took me to finish it. I have so many criticisms of the game - the writing isn't very good, the characters are mostly rubbish, especially the women (there's nothing as egregious as Quiet in MGS5 but what's here isn't great), I didn't have a good time with the combat (although Sam isn't a soldier so maybe this is intentional) and obviously the story is the sort of overwrought claptrap that we've come to expect from Kojima but in spite of all of that, the core gameplay loop of collecting and delivering packages across inhospitable terrain was addictive and satisfying in a way that I still can't really explain. I have so many memorable moments of playing that weren't scripted, they were just well designed gameplay systems interacting with each other. It's one of those games that's at it's most engaging when your plans have come unravelled - having your packages destroyed by a sudden outpouring of acid rain, or taking a risky shortcut across a river and getting swept up - each little moment in the game is a constant weighing up of risk vs reward and it never felt unfair. I loved the atmopshere and the visuals, which were spectacular even on the base PS4 I played it on.

During the final mission of the game, 'Lay BB to Rest,' where you need to deliver Lou to the incinerator, my heart felt heavy. On that last journey, Kojima gives you a few moments to just reflect on everything you've been through together and it's one of the most hard hitting moments in recent gaming memory for me, which is such high praise considering that all you're doing is walking up a hill for a bit.

Bring Back P.T!!!

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Re: 497 - Death Stranding

Post by MarkHoog »

I've spent a lot of memorable hours in Death Stranding. I would traverse the barren landscapes, overcoming - mostly literal - obstacles, embracing loneliness and pondering existence and all that. The sound design, the music, the rain, there's a lot of stuff that makes travelling the empty world of DS a wonderful experience. Well, until you somehow manage to 'Austin Powers' your truck between two rocks halfway to your destination on a timed delivery, that is.

I started getting quite annoyed with DS after reaching the 'snowy' part of the world, which turns the game into Steep without the neat tricks. The increasing amount of 'lore dumps' didn't exactly alleviate this frustration, but I've been told that 'that's just what Kojima does'. I've also been told that I 'just don't get the game because it's all about connection and rebuilding the world together'. That's all well and good, but at the end of the day I want to enjoy a game first and foremost, and while I've enjoyed at least 40+ hours of the game, I had to drag myself across the endless final stretch towards the finish line.

It's a very special game for sure, but part of it is just not for me.

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Re: 497 - Death Stranding

Post by Alex79 »

MarkHoog wrote: September 27th, 2021, 1:06 pmI started getting quite annoyed with DS after reaching the 'snowy' part of the world, which turns the game into Steep without the neat tricks.
Ziplines.

That's all.

:lol:

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