'Death Stranding' Beginner's Tips: DOOMS, BTs, Bridge Babies & More Explained

Death Stranding is overwhelming from the start, especially since your mind is likely still reeling from all the cutscenes, which introduce everything from exploding cities to the last President of the America before you even delve into the peculiar gameplay. Even though Death Stranding starts you off small—simply tasking Sam Porter Bridges (Norman Reedus) with walking down a hill to Capital Knot City—the contracts, maps, equipment, lockers and overwhelming flood of data can make it difficult to know what's important when beginning your first playthrough.

DOOMS Birthday and the Death Stranding Story

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This guy is a real jerk. He also has higher-level DOOMS powers than you. Kojima Productions

In Death Stranding's opening, you first encounter both the invisible BTs, or Beached Things, and meet Fragile (Léa Seydoux), who describes Sam as having Level 2 DOOMS. Both of these are side-effects of the catastrophic death stranding, an event that you'll learn more about throughout the game. But DOOMS feels pertinent early on, since you're asked to choose a birthday and told, "higher levels of DOOMS abilities have been observed in those born under constellations such as Cancer, Pisces, Cetus, Delphinus and Gigas."

So, first, what are DOOMS? Most simply, they're superpowers. Sam, with a weaker case of DOOMS, can sense the nearby presence of BTs, but not see them. In short order he'll acquire a Bridge Baby—the bottled fetus of a mother in a coma—with which his DOOMS will be augmented enough to see BTs. Sam is also a repatriate, which just means he's a rare person who can return from death.

But while it seems the case that certain birthdays can result in "higher levels of DOOMS abilities," no one's yet figured out exactly what differences manifest, if any, based on the birthday you input. But should you want to try for one of the birth dates singled out in-game, the astrologers over at Inverse pulled some of the dates from their star charts. Like everything astrology, your results may vary:

Cancer: June 21 - July 23
Pisces: February 19 - March 20
Cetus: November 22 - December 22
Delphinus: August 22 - September 22
Gigas: November - February

Since no one has yet noticed any differences, don't worry about it too much if you didn't pick one of these DOOMS dates. This is a good general attitude to take into the Death Stranding story, which often uses complicated verbiage to obscure relatively straightforward game elements.

For example, you'll need to bring you "Qpid," whatever that is, to various computer terminals in order put settlements on something called the chiral network. While the story involves Sam crossing the United States connecting up doomsday bunkers and fortress cities to a network of fancy communication software and time-travelling 3D printers, the gameplay reality is likely to be familiar to anyone who's played an open world game before: all you're doing is opening up new map segments, similar to climbing towers in Assassin's Creed, or Horizon Zero Dawn, or Marvel's Spider-Man. Really common gameplay mechanics often sound a little nutty in Death Stranding. Which brings us to a very important tip.

More Tips for the Death Stranding Story

  • Skip cutscenes by pressing the Options button. You'll have to confirm.
  • Don't linger unnecessarily on the first map. The game significantly expands after your arrival at Lake Knot City.
  • Doing non-required deliveries to facilities pays off: expanding resources, total chiral network bandwidth and unlocking higher level weapons and tools—plus music!—as your star rating increases.
  • Float around and touch other players in The Seam—the place you go when Sam dies—to increase your connection with others to share more facilities and signs.

Don't Worry About the Data

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"Death Stranding" throws a bewildering amount of data at you, but it's mostly nonessential to gameplay. Kojima Productions

Death Stranding dumps a lot on you, right from the start. But it will soon become clear how thoughtful the game is with regard to streamlining. For example, in the Cargo Management menu, you can stack cargo and tools on your back or attach them to your right shoulder, left shoulder, right hip, left hip, tool rack, or carry in the hand of your choosing. Or you can just press the triangle button to auto-arrange it all. With a few exceptions, you can do this throughout the game and completely automate the balancing act. A lot of Death Stranding is like that, where complicated mechanics are entirely optional.

Treat the massive flow of data that way. Read the emails that catch your eye, pay attention to the mission statistics that matter to you, but don't feel like you're missing some important element of the game, since there's really only one important objective in Death Stranding: delivering packages. As long as you're delivering the packages, the game will advance apace.

More data and interface tips

  • Get used to holding the X button to affirm menu selections, rather than conducting your sub-menu business and then backing out with the O button.
  • Low Stamina has multiple effects, including deteriorated balance, so it's worth keeping in check.
  • When scrolling through Death Stranding's many lengthy menus, press left or right on the d-pad to save time by jumping between categories.
  • Don't press the triangle button to auto-arrange cargo when carrying pizza, because it might store the pizza sideways, ruining the toppings.
  • Park your reverse trike or truck near enough to a settlement computer terminal and you won't need to manually unload delivery cargo from the vehicle.

Building is Free

There are limitations, including chiral bandwidth, but generally you should get used to carrying PCCs and building often. With no resource cost—except the cost of creating and the weight of carrying PCCs—Death Stranding encourages you to build. But since most structures significantly improve in Level 2, it can be worth it to bring along enough resources for an upgrade, should you have the room.

More Building Tips

  • Fulfilling requests for upgrade resources grants bonus Likes. Look for a pyramidal icon on your map to find structures other players are hoping you'll help upgrade.
  • Without extra resources for maintenance, objects you build will decay and eventually disappear, though it takes real-world hours and days for that to happen.

Fighting BTs

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BT encounters are terrifying, but you'll soon have the tools to navigate haunted territory. Kojima Productions

Don't. You may be able to swing a punch, but there's no use taking on BTs in the first few hours of Death Stranding. You'll later earn weapons that can dispel them, but generally avoidance is the best policy in the game's opening chapters—detecting them is difficult enough. While Death Stranding offers tips for everything, detecting BTs is a little obscure the first time you run into the spectral beings.

You'll know you're in BT territory, because a cinematic will play of Sam's odradek sensor spinning up. The odradek will then point at the nearest BT, spinning faster and more open the closer you get to one. If your odradek starts clicking like a pair of snapping jaws, you're safe to move relatively freely. Once the odradek starts spinning, it's time to crouch and be as stealthy as possible because there's a BT quite close. If your odradek is spinning fast and opened wide enough to look like a flat circle, there's a BT practically on top of you and an attack is likely imminent. It's time to hold your breath with R1 and back away slowly.

An easy mistake (especially since the game's opening cinematic encourages it) is to think of BTs as roving predators, hunting for you, when really they're more like stationary landmines, only springing when you get too close. Unless muddy footprints are splashing up from the ground, they're not hunting you. This means standing still is almost always an option. Moreover it's essential, since standing still for a few seconds is the only way BTs become visible.

Should you get too close and initiate a BT attack, an initially confusing sequence of events unfolds. It begins with the BT charging you, manifested as splashes of black tar bursting from the ground. In these last few moments, you can turn a weapon on a BT and still prevent the attack, but that's not an option early in the game. It's coming for you. The BT will open a broad pool of tar, which is made even harder to walk through when grasping hands come out of the muck to pull you down. Follow the on-screen prompts, shake off and lean against the forces pulling you under, but it's also important to move toward the perimeter of the tar field and keep moving toward your destination.

Your end goal is to break free and run, which can get complicated if the BT attack advances and buildings start rising from the mire. Should you get pulled down, don't worry, you're not dead yet. In the initial stages of the attack, BTs scatter your cargo, but don't otherwise hurt Sam. After the BTs are done pulling you around the map, you can try and recover your cargo immediately or just make a break for it and come back later. If an oozing monster with a glowing yellow maw shows up—the terminal stage of a BT attack—it's time to get out of their and cut your losses. Your only real option, for now, is to run.

More Combat Tips

  • Hold down the triangle button to stack everything within reach on Sam's back. This is useful after a fall or when cargo has been scattered nearby.
  • Bola Guns aren't permanent solutions. Enough MULEs, and they'll be breaking themselves loose faster than you can keep them down. A Level 1 Bola Gun holds a MULE for approximately one minute and 10 seconds.
  • After getting pinged by a MULE sensor—visible as a yellow, scanning scroll over the landscape—you have a few seconds to negate it (a skill picked up relatively early in the game) by pressing your own scan button. It doesn't require perfect timing and has a more generous cushion than you might think.
  • It's ghoulish, but Sam carries unlimited body bags.

Taking Care of Your Bridge Baby

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Sam's Bridge Baby allows him to see enemies called BTs in "Death Stranding." Sony Interactive Entertainment / Kojima Productions

Your Bridge Baby, or BB, is likely stressed out after a BT encounter. If the yellow meter at the bottom of the screen has drained completely, then your BB has autotoxemia, disabling the tool until you've taken it back to a safe house. However, if the yellow is just low, or if BB is crying through your DualShock 4, then it's time to soothe him.

Doing this involves one of the more complicated combinations of button presses in recent gaming memory. First pull up the compass with L1, then press down on the D-pad to look at Lou, and, finally, press square to remove the BB from its cradle and hold it in your hands. It's very easy to shake your BB too hard and make no progress. You're almost certainly shaking your BB too hard. If you're doing it right—gently—Lou will calm down almost immediately. Continued soothing motions will increase the yellow bar and stave off autotoxemia.

More Bridge Baby Tips

  • Healing springs can restore stamina but won't fix autotoxemia.
  • Leave your BB in a state of autotoxemia too long and your connection rating will start dropping a half-star at a time.

Death Stranding appears complicated but is a simple game about delivering packages at its core. Once you understand that, the purpose of the myriad other in-game systems and details becomes more clear. Which is not to say Death Stranding becomes more simple, just less forbidding. There are so many wrinkles, complications and alternate ways to do everything in Death Stranding, but once you have a grasp on the basics, those other choices become a playground for experimentation. Good luck in your deliveries.

'Death Stranding' Beginner's Tips: DOOMS, BTs, Bridge Babies & More Explained | Gaming