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Small Details Only Hardcore Fans Notice In The Death Stranding 2 Trailer

A new game from Hideo Kojima is always a cause for excitement, but the fact that his team has created a sequel to his 2019 hit "Death Stranding" has some fans particularly excited. The original game told one of the most atmospheric and deeply moving stories in video game history, even if it can be quite hard to follow at times.

The trailer for "Death Stranding 2" dropped during the 2022 Game Awards, and it has everything you'd expect from a Kojima production. Beautiful imagery, original music, and plenty of incredible-yet-confusing moments. Fans have been going wild with theories about what the new game might entail, not to mention how it might go about mixing up the formula from the previous entry in the franchise.

Admittedly, what we know about "Death Stranding 2" amounts to little more than speculation. That said, the announcement trailer is ripe with clues about how Sam, Fragile, and Louise have been doing since we last saw them, as well as the changes coming to their world. What better way to spend the time between now and the game's eventual release than unpacking every frame of the trailer? At this point, all fans can do is speculate about various small details. But as Kojima hinted during the Game Awards, that's exactly what he wants.

BB's growing up around Easter eggs

No one knows for sure how much time has passed between the ending of "Death Stranding" and the beginning of its sequel, but the first trailer for Hideo Kojima's latest game seemingly gives us some hints about how Sam's BB, Louise, has changed since we last saw her. The trailer opens with several shots of Louise's home, which includes a number of Easter eggs tied to the first game. 

First, a small cart with moving dolphins rolls into frame, and it's sporting a sticker that says "BRIDGES" and another that says "I fans debated their role in the story. The matching block for the crab cut out is red, which is a color that seems to have a huge amount of importance in "Death Stranding 2" — but we'll get into that later. 

Finally, the trailer cuts to a height chart marking just how much Louise has grown since the end of the first game. Fans of the game probably noticed right away that the handprints marking Louise's height are eerily reminiscent of the markings BTs would sometimes create. Everywhere Louise goes, references to the larger world she lives in seem to follow. 

Have things changed for Fragile?

Fragile had a tragic backstory in "Death Stranding" that left her body withered and old thanks to the effects of Timefall. She often wore a suit that hid the aged parts of her body, so you might be forgiven for forgetting that detail in the years since the game's release. In the "Death Stranding 2" trailer, however, Fragile's physical condition seems to have changed quite a bit.

When the camera cuts to Fragile holding baby Louise up above her head, she's wearing a tank top and her arms are clearly visible. Instead of appearing wrinkled and gray, Fragile's arms match her youthful face, which might lead some to think the shots of her and the baby are part of a flashback. It seems more likely, though, that some kind of cure or treatment has been found for Fragile's condition.

That might explain why, just seconds later, the camera cuts to a BB tank from the first game, but this one is filled with cryptobiotes. The first "Death Stranding" revealed that eating cryptobiotes could, to a limited degree, protect against Timefall. If humanity figured out a way to boost the effects of cryptobiotes, Fragile might have a sustainable way of keeping her entire body young.

Louise has wings

There is another subtle hint that the images of Fragile and a baby in the first part of the "Death Stranding 2" trailer aren't from some flashback scene. Near the end of the first game, Sam's BB unit died, forcing him to take the child to an incinerator. Luckily, the new UCA president also gave Sam his freedom, which also offered him the opportunity to remove the baby from its containment unit in an attempt to resuscitate it. The baby came back to life, Sam renamed her Louise, and he committed to raising her as his daughter.

In the "Death Stranding 2" trailer, the baby that Fragile holds has a pair of white angel wings attached to the back of their outfit. The wings could simply be a reference to the effect that the afterlife and death itself has had on this world, but it seems much more likely that the wings are meant to acknowledge the extreme ordeal Louise went through at the end of the first game, nearly crossing over herself. If that's the case, then it seems Fragile is helping Sam raise Louise, and the three of them are living together at the facility seen in the early parts of the trailer.

Sam's in the picture

One more clue in the "Death Stranding 2" trailer points toward Fragile, Sam, and Louise living as a kind of family unit. As Fragile is holding the baby with wings, the camera cuts away to show a dreamcatcher hanging in the room. Eagle-eyed fans of the original game will recognize it as the very same dreamcatcher that Sam carried throughout his journey.

Of course, that raises a couple of other questions. First off, where is Sam? The trailer doesn't show him in this particular domestic scene, and when he does show up later on, it's in a very different context (more on that a little later). Perhaps Sam's current absence has something to do with the second question: Who is attacking Fragile?

An unknown aggressor breaks into the home, chases Fragile outside, and shoots at her as she tries to escape. Though Fragile is alarmed when she realizes that something has breached the facility she lives in, she doesn't look all that surprised, so it's possible that she and Sam are on the run and well aware that someone is looking for them. The UCA might seem like the obvious culprit, but they were the ones who allowed Sam to leave with Louise at the end of the first game. At least in this trailer, there aren't any solid clues that can put this question to rest. All that's known is that it looks like Sam and Fragile are in this together.

Sam and Fragile might still be running deliveries

So what kind of lives are Sam and Fragile leading now? Aside from the many hints that the two of them are living together and helping to raise baby Louise, the "Death Stranding 2" trailer offers up the possibility that they're also working together in a new delivery business.

In the first game, Sam delivered packages for the UCA, which was a sticking point for many players. The mechanics of getting packages across the disparate cities of America might have been the main reason behind negative reviews for the first game, but wrestling his way across so much hostile terrain certainly made Sam a delivery expert — and that's before you take all his BT-slaying into account.

It'd make sense for Sam to continue working in this field, and the building where Fragile and Louise are living in the trailer definitely seems to be an old delivery outpost. When the building is breached, Fragile takes Louise and makes her escape through one of the freight elevators used to move supplies in the first game. If Fragile and Sam have started a new delivery company, it might become one of the major factions vying for power in the new game. Then again, maybe they're just using an old delivery truck that suits their nomadic needs.

The Beach is infecting Fragile

When Fragile attempts to take Louise and escape from whoever invaded their homes, things don't exactly go as planned. She rides a freight elevator out of the building, and even manages to get away for a minute, but eventually she's shot and falls off the bike she was using to make their getaway. Then the camera pans over to her face and shows that streams of black tar are pouring from her eyes.

That particular visual element was one of the most memorable pieces of the original "Death Stranding." Cliff Unger regularly had streaks of black pouring from his eyes, a condition that related directly to his death, the world of the dead (known as the Beach), and his ability to control BTs. Higgs sported a similar black tear effect and a connection with the BTs. With that in mind, Fragile's black tears might have some huge implications for her role in "Death Stranding 2." 

Maybe Fragile will gain the ability to control or influence BTs. It's also possible that, like Unger, her black tears only arrive after she actually dies, which would mean that she doesn't survive the escape attempt we see her making in the trailer. Considering we also see what appears to be a baby inside of Fragile — with black tears just beginning to well up in its own eyes — things aren't looking great.

Hints of a time skip

We've talked about how the early portions of the "Death Stranding 2" trailer hint at Fragile, Sam, and Louise living together, all without ever actually showing Sam in the picture. Judging by the size of Louise in her scene with Fragile, at least a bit of time must have passed between that moment and the end of the first game, but the trailer also potentially hints that there will be a larger time jump coming.

When Sam finally does appear on screen, his hair and beard are completely gray. He steps out of the shadows and stands behind Fragile, who is back to wearing a suit that looks much like the one she wore during the first game. At that point a massive floating ship belonging to an organization called Drawbridge rises out of a pool of black liquid in front of them.

All of that seems to imply some kind of time skip. After all, it would take a while for Sam's hair to completely go gray, and one would imagine that it takes a long time to gather the resources necessary to build a giant ship. Fragile's noticeable change in demeanor could also be the result of years passing between the version of her we see at the beginning of the trailer and the version of her standing next to Sam. But if that's the case: How come Sam has aged so much and Fragile has not?

On Twitter, Kojima hinted at Elle Fanning's role in the new game, and a time skip might let her play an older version of Louise.

Chiralium seems to have changed

Chiralium plays a huge role in the world of "Death Stranding." In essence, it's matter from the afterlife that's slipped into the world of the living. Because it's so out of place, it has some strange effects in this world. Chiralium often takes the shape of golden crystals, but it also affects the atmosphere, creating the Timefall rain that ages whatever it touches and causing many of the characters of "Death Stranding" to have an allergic reaction to the air that makes them cry.

The trailer for "Death Stranding 2" offers some hints at how chiralium has changed in the years since the first game. Throughout the trailer, we see thin tendrils that seem to act like chiralium once did, only these are colored blood red instead of black or gold. There may be some connection between these glimpses and the massive silver structures seen in the early parts of the trailer, but it's not clear as of yet.

However, chiralium must still be a rampant issue in the world. When Sam and Fragile are standing together in front of the Drawbridge floating ship, both of them have tears streaming down their faces. That could mean that chiralium has something to do with the ship, possibly affecting how it manages to float or hide in the black liquid  in the first place.

Three competing powers

At least part of the plot of "Death Stranding 2" seems likely to be centered on power struggles between different organizations connected to the UCA. The first game focused on Sam reconnecting various cities across America, but now there appears to be new factions rising up, and the chances are good that they'll all come into conflict in one way or another.

Hideo Kojima wrote "Start a new journey" on Twitter, alongside a picture featuring three logos. Two of the three can now easily be connected to the "Death Stranding 2" trailer. First there's the Automated Public Assistance Company, and though it's not exactly clear what the APAC does, the organization was called out by name in the trailer. Next up there's Drawbridge, which is presumably some kind of delivery company with ties to Fragile and Sam. It's also the organization that apparently owns the floating ship seen in the trailer.

The final logo, however, remains something of a mystery. The logo is vaguely animal shaped, and it looks somewhat like an octopus with two notable differences. The creature in the logo has only seven tentacles, not eight, and its head and body seem to be roughly the same shape as the dolphins on the baby toy shown right at the opening of the trailer. What's even stranger is that the logo can also be faintly seen on the Drawbridge ship that appears in the trailer. The two organizations must be related somehow, but their exact connection is unclear.

Taking cues from Metal Gear Solid

Hideo Kojima is no stranger to making hugely successful and extremely cinematic video games. At this point, creating games that are a fusion between American action movies and extended fever-induced nightmares is practically Kojima's entire brand. "Death Stranding," though very much in the Kojima wheelhouse, featured an entirely original story — but it looks like the sequel may be pulling a few more hints from previous Kojima games.

It's impossible not to think of "Metal Gear Solid" when the Drawbridge ship shows up in the "Death Stranding 2" trailer. The ship would fit right in with Snake and his comrades, and if it ends up functioning as a base of operations for Sam, then "Death Stranding 2" could borrow a major game mechanic from "Metal Gear Solid 5." A huge focus of that game is visiting Motherbase and recruiting new teams to work on it. A similar concept could make a great addition to this new game's formula.

The story of "Death Stranding 2" also appears to be heading in a "Metal Gear Solid 4"-esque direction. That game had a lot to say about the ways in which private military-industrial companies influence the world, and the "DS2" announcement trailer puts heavy emphasis on APAC being a problematically powerful private company. If Kojima is indeed pulling from his back catalog for his latest project, it'll be exciting to see what changes he makes to further evolve these concepts.

The red faction

Hideo Kojima understands that video games, like movies, are a primarily visual medium. That's why his games have no shortage of epic imagery, and why colors have such important thematic roles to play in his stories. Anyone who watches the "Death Stranding 2" trailer can already tell that the color red is going to be a motif in the game, but it also appears to be the chosen color of a particular in-game faction. 

In this trailer, Troy Baker voices a character wearing a red mask and wielding a red electric guitar who seems to have some degree of control over a group of robotic red humanoids standing behind him. It's a seemingly antagonistic introduction for the character, but whatever group he appears to lead was introduced much earlier in the trailer: After a brief flash of a red religious icon, a group of people wearing red armor can be seen walking through a desert toward a massive silver structure. 

Players of the original "Death Stranding" might remember that Amelie wore a red dress throughout the game. That seems like too much of a coincidence for these new red characters to not have some connection to her. It's possible this faction is trying to complete the extinction event that Amelie failed to initiate. They might also be somehow tied to the group behind the mysterious third logo in Kojima's Twitter post

Of course, it's also worth noting that Troy Baker previously voiced the character of Higgs in "Death Stranding." Higgs wore a golden mask, and this transition to a new color seems to mirror the change from gold to red that chiralium may have undergone. For now, the real identity and motives of the group are a total mystery.