The announcement trailer for Death Stranding, Kojima's first game since breaking free from Konami, is pretty obscure. The promise is that it'll be unlike any other game you've played before. Kojima is still claiming they haven't even picked an engine for it yet (Ed - Obvious lies!), so we're probably not going to see more about this for a good long while. It's possible that Koj pulled this entire thing out of thin air 'cos Andrew House was like "Do me a solid, mate, and give us something to show, yeah?" On the other hand the man is known for never doing things by accident, so what can we learn about Death Stranding from what little we've seen?
A name to strike dread into the hearts of all who did English lit at school, William Blake is a famous Romantic poet (as in, part of the Romantic movement, given largely to droning on about how fantastic nature is and how things used to be better in the good old Medieval days, ignoring the fact that they demonstrably were not, even if your present day is the 1850s). This quote is from Auguries of Innocence, which you might remember from also being quoted in the first Tomb Raider film, where Angelina Jolie uses it to figure out how to travel through time. Or something.
Romanticism is, largely, a load of intentionally pretentious bollocks. Make your own jokes about why this pairs well with Kojima games here. Anyway, the rest of this poem is, true to Romanticism, droning on about how fantastic nature is, and specifically that doing bad things to nature makes you a dick and you deserve everything you get. Moving on.
A stranding is the term used for when big fish (like whales and dolphins) are stranded on beaches. This usually happens one at a time, and mass strandings, like the one seen in the trailer, are rare. When live animals are stranded they usually die; in a dead stranding the bodies are washed up after they've already died. The qualifier 'Death Stranding' is an interesting grammatical choice. Practically speaking a live stranding will almost certainly result in the animal's death if there's no intervention, so is in essence a death stranding anyway. Kojima said, in an interview with Geoff Keighley after the conference, that to him it means "something from some world comes and is stranded," which may refer to Norman Reedus' character, the floating figures in the sky, or the weird oily handprint presence on the beach.
Given that Reedus was involved in Koj's Silent Hill game that fell through, it's not a massive surprise to see him here. In the trailer he's lying on the beach naked, save for a strange necklace and a pair of handcuffs. The necklace has six metal items hanging from it, and there is some speculation about what they actually are. They're not locks, because you can see that they're solid pieces of metal. They look almost like dog tags or fishing weights, both of which kind of work in the context of the video.
The handcuffs, however, are a little more obviously handcuffs. They look a bit futuristic or otherworldly, and the fact that one half is unattached suggests ole' Norman may have escaped from something (or, possibly, that something has escaped from him).
The baby lying on the beach next to Norman has a wire that resembles an umbilical cord running from it back to a point in or around Norman's own tummy. It makes it look like he's the one who carried, or at least nourished, the baby, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior style. He's also incredibly relieved to find the baby alive, and cradles it in a very emotional manner.
When the baby disappears into a puddle of oil Norman stands to reveal a large scar in the shape of a cross on his abdomen, so at some point he's had some kind of major surgery, possibly to remove something. Like a baby. Listen man, we're just relating what the pictures are suggesting. It's possible that if the character has escaped from somewhere the baby was the focal point of that. It's also possible that the baby only exists in the protagonist's tortured memory of an event that happened in the past (given how healed the scar is), or that the baby never existed at all and is purely metaphorical. It could be anything.
So we see some kind of presence traversing a black sand beach and leaving hand prints which fill with a dark liquid — which we can safely assume is oil. These days we tend to associate crude oil with environmental damage, particularly to marine life. Knowing Kojima it's also probably significant that these are hand prints rather than footprints, even though people often refer to their environmental impact in general as a carbon footprint.
In this shot we can see that Norman's entire body is covered in the outlines of handprints.
And in this bit, when the baby disappears, his hands are covered with oil, and it then starts leaving oily handprints along the beach. The concept of touching things is quite a prevalent theme. If we're tying it to the Romanticism theme from the start, it is, on a very basic level, the fact that we touch nature what fucks it all up, and we then receive consequences from that. Or, as our great grandfather was apparently given to saying: "Don't poke nature, or it'll poke you!"
This picture is the beach that Norman Reedus wakes up on in the Death Stranding video. This next picture is of the black sand beach at Vík in Iceland.
See what we mean? Iceland has also had its fair share of strandings, including mass strandings. Enough that they have official standing procedures in place. If you're still unconvinced then consider the fact that the song used in the video is 'I'll Keep Coming' by a band called Low Roar. Want to guess where Low Roar are from? Yup. Don't try and tell us that's an accident. Iceland is involved somehow.
The five floating people in the sky
No idea. You're on your own with this one.