Updated: Our list now includes even more weird Kojima-isms. Check out the bottom of the page for some new additions — keep in mind that we don’t outright spoil plot points, and label some spoilers, but every definition on this is a kind of mini-spoiler if you are going in blind, so watch out!
Despite being on all of our collective radars for more than three years now, with a bunch of trailers and demos flooding our newsfeeds over the past few months, there’s still a lot to take in when it comes to getting a handle on just what the hell is going on in director Hideo Kojima’s latest project.
In order to do our best to help folks make sense of Norman Reedus’s wacky ghost adventure, we put together a handy dictionary for the main wild buzzwords you may need to refer to when playing through one of this year’s most anticipated releases.
The United Cities of America are what remains of the United States after the Death Stranding catastrophe. A disparate collection of underground metropoles, the reconnection of the UCA is Sam’s main goal in Death Stranding.
We may never be told explicitly what the acronym DOOMS stands for, but it seems to be a condition inherited by few people that give them an affinity for “the beach”, which seems to result in the ability to react to or sense BTs, and may also be linked to triggers of hallucinations or nightmares (that Sam often experiences when resting).
Bridge Babies, or BBs, have become instrumental to surviving the world after the Death Stranding. Technically still “unborn,” they’ve been… extracted… from their comatose and braindead ‘stillmother’ – yeah, we know, the whole concept is… not great…. and placed in a carrier that replicates the internal conditions of a womb. BBs are used to detect and avoid the spectral BTs that are found across the world.
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Short for “Beached Thing,” which basically means an interdimensional ghost. A spirit that has been “stranded” in our world, either unable or unwilling to return to the land of the dead.
They were professionals once, and some still are. Some even complete proper deliveries from time to time. Fragile Express has been known to use them. They’re basically junkies driven crazy by a desire to steal supplies.
Sure it may look like a bunch of USB sticks – which, aside from the weird floaty thing, it basically is – but these devices are used by Sam to establish connections on the Chiral network between cities and centers across the UCA.
Personal Construction …. Cartridge? Okay, so we aren’t exactly sure what the acronym stands for, but these portable – oh that’s probably what the P stands for! – cases allow Sam to construct a variety of helpful items and structures out in the field, from bridges to cross gaps and rivers to power generators and mailboxes.
The president’s last name. Also your close combat rope weapon, made from strands of rope imbued with Sam’s own blood. Also the name for the umbilical cords.
These shoulder-mounted scanners can gather topographical data and ping the location of lost cargo or valuable materials. When used together with a BB unit, they can allow DOOMs-sensitive travelers to detect BTs nearby. The name and appearance comes from Franz Kafka’s short story “The Cares of a Family Man.”
After the cataclysm known as the Death Stranding rain began affecting the world differently, causing whatever it touched to rapidly age, as if time began moving faster within its droplets. This effect has since become known as TimeFall.
From the Greek word for “hand,” chirality is a concept in chemistry in which different compounds can have mirror images on a molecular level that behave differently. It’s easier to understand when Walter White explains it on Breaking Bad.
In Death Stranding, these are small organisms which, when eaten, can prevent the effects of Timefall and replenish blood supply. In reality, a cryptobiote can refer to any primitive organisms which presumably existed, but left no trace, as well an organism that enters the state of cryptobiosis in response to environmental changes, such as Tardigrades or Sea Monkeys.
A fear of physical touch/intimacy. Sam exhibits clear signs of this state of mind, though he also suffers from a unique condition – or perhaps a very extreme form of Aphenphosmphobia – where he’s literally allergic to human contact.
Being poisoned by chemicals found in one’s own body. BB will succumb to autotoxemia after undergoing too much stress.
Everyone who dies in the world of Death Stranding (with few exceptions) are subject to necrosis, whereby your body will eventually turn into a BT. It’s why bodies must be burned shortly after death to prevent the process from bringing in more harmful creatures into the world.
As a Repatriate, Sam goes into a place called The Seam, which is the environment his body is left in but underwater. His soul is able to travel to his body in this place to be repatriated and thereby revived, back into the living world. It is suspected that the sea creatures littering the landscapes of Death Stranding also originate in the aquarian world of The Seam.
In Death Stranding, the Ka and Ha are terms that represent the soul and body, respectively. The ancient Egyptians used the term “Ka” to describe the soul that left the body at death. Similarly, Sam’s Ka is separated from his body upon death (like when you get overwhelemed by BTs), but, thanks to special Repatriate abilities, his Ka can return to his body freely.
Beaches are essentially an afterlife in Death Stranding: Everybody has their own beach equivalent where their soul would theoretically pass through to the other side. Special characters like Sam, and even more so like Fragile, can access and return from beaches.
Sam is a repatriate, and has the ability to repatriate, which essentially means he never dies, and as long as his soul finds his way back to his body, he can return back to life.
Cataclysmic death stranding events cause Beached Things, or BTs, to suddenly appear in the world of the living. The antimatter/matter collision of the BTs with the world of the living triggers an explosion-like voidout that eradicates everything caught up in it, leaving nothing but a crater in its wake.
In ancient South American cultures, including Incan culture, a Quipu was a recording device that used a sequence of strings with knots tied into them to store information. Amelie wears a Quipu, also taken and worn by Higgs briefly, as a talisman that connects her to her beach. Fans translated this Quipu a few years back and it revealed a music video by Death Stranding soundtrack band, Low Roar.
Preppers are survivors living in the wilds of the UCA. There is a single prepper dwelling in each Chiral Network region, and only by appeasing them can you convince them to join the network. While main missions will lead you to most preppers, some, like this familiar otter-obsessed prepper, can only be found by searching the open world — or with the help of our complete prepper locations guide.
From the Latin, mad man, this is a term for the nuke-loving terrorists that destroyed Central Knot City. The goal of this terrorist group is to keep Edge Knot (on what used to be America’s West Coast) separate from the UCA. Higgs is the leader of the terrorist.
An Extinction Entity is a sentient creature that triggers a world-scale mass extinction. There have been five mass extinctions going back hundreds of millions of years on Earth.
Those are the big ones that may be useful during your playthrough, but of course, this is Kojima, so this is far from everything in Death Stranding’s complex lore. Add any other unique words you come across in the comment section below!