Hideo Kojima has been tweeting about the final trailer for Death Stranding: Director's Cut for weeks now. He wants you to know that it was "self-edited", "handmade", that he obsessed over it. He sounds more like someone selling artisinally roasted coffee beans than a Sony-funded blockbuster that contains Monster Energy product placement.
The trailer is out now and you can watch it below.
In 2013, music critic Matthew Perpetua made the same observation about Justin Timberlake. Perpetua argued that Timberlake was positioning himself as "an upscale pop star", someone who "emphasized his craft and artistry" and aimed to transcend the charts to become someone who doesn't "necessarily need hits because they've ascended to a realm of quasi-royal celebrity."
Whatever you think of his work, Kojima is as close to a quasi-royal celebrity as exists in this industry. That's in part because of the nature of his games, but it's also driven by the persona he's cultivated online. Kojima's social media accounts mostly consist of commentary on old art films and his growing vinyl record collection, alongside photos of expensive merchandise and of the sandwiches and coffee he's drinking while working hard on his extremely personal, locally sourced, multi-million dollar action games.
The consequence is that Kojima's banal tweets are news, and also that he only ever seems a few days away from making a YouTube video about his latest office refurb in which he attempts to sell you a Grovemade desk pad. But it also means he can make a trailer like the one above, a nearly five minute-long music video packed with abstract imagery that offers almost no coherent sense of what Death Stranding is.
It helps that Death Stranding has been out for a couple of years. We aleady know what it is, and it is great. Its expanse of seemingly incoherent ideas is part of why Death Stranding is great. But this trailer's commitment to artistry over concise explanation is also - just like this re-release with a new kart racing mini-game being called a "Director's Cut" - working to further Kojima's brand as an artiste. What does it matter that Death Stranding sold substantially fewer copies than many of its Sony-published peers? Kojima has trancended the charts to become videogame's first upscale game director.