In Death Stranding, there’s more danger out in the world than just the supernatural BTs – you’ll also have to watch out for aggressive humans too. MULEs are basically porters gone bad – real bad – and they’ll obsessively hoard cargo in their camps and attack anyone that gets close to add more stolen cargo to the pile.
We’ve gathered up some tips and tricks for how to avoid MULEs with stealth, take them out quietly, or even knock out entire camps to claim their ill-gotten gains as your own in Death Stranding.
When first encountered, MULEs can seem pretty intimidating with their shock sticks, since you’ll have next to no weapons. If you’re not feeling sure of yourself, it’s totally a valid option to run as fast as you can through their territory – but you do have options.
Even though they won’t actually kill you, if you get shocked enough, you’ll eventually lose consciousness and wake up at the edge of their territory minus any cargo you’ve been hauling.
MULEs really do only care about cargo – so much that if you aren’t carrying anything that needs delivering, they actually won’t bother you at all… unless you get too close to the main camp that is. Therefore, the best ways to deal with them is A) Avoidance – if it can be helped, B) Stealth, and finally C) Combat.
If an order isn’t specifically sending you into a MULE Camp, it’s sometimes better and safer to skirt around their territory, or at least stick to areas where MULEs aren’t patrolling.
Once you reach the yellow sensor poles that mark their territory, you should be able to view the range of their camp on your map. So long as you’re anywhere near that circle, you’ll need to be on your guard.
Your own Odradek Scanner can be used to highlight their own postboxes full of loot, and while it cannot mark MULEs in its base form, it can mark the cargo they carry – and you can track the moving cargo to figure out where they are at all times.
Even if they don’t see you coming, you’ll always be pinged when getting close to their camp. You’ll see a yellow scan similar to your Odradek Sensor, but the sensor wave will first recede into the center of their territory, and then shoot outwards after a moment. If you’re carrying cargo, your position will be marked, and any MULEs close by will come to check things out. That should be your cue to get out of there as fast as possible – and stay crouched to increase the chance they won’t immediately see you. If there is tall grass nearby, use it as cover to remain out of sight as they look around to see where you went.
Note: Upon reaching the Timefall Farm in Episode 3, you’ll gain a new upgrade that allows you to negate MULE scans by scanning your own Odradek Sensor when you see the first orange wave recede – but before it shoots outward. If you time it correctly, they won’t be able to ping your location, allowing you to better move unseen past them.
When MULEs are alerted to your position, or are trying to spot you from a distance, you can see yellow lights at the edge of your HUD to indicate how many MULEs are coming to investigate. If these lights turn red – that means they’ve spotted you and are currently on the attack. If you have no cargo to steal, they’ll still keep an eye on you so long as you remain nearby.
If the worst should happen and they start hunting you, it’s best to make a beeline and sprint for the edge of their territory. They are pretty fast and some may catch up to you, so try and use rocks and cover to vault over and stop them from trying to take a swing at you. They will also throw their shock sticks like javelins to electrocute the ground where they hit – so be constantly on the lookout for incoming strikes to change direction – as getting hit can also send your packages flying. Even vehicles aren’t immune to their attacks, and an electrical strike can short out your vehicle for a decent amount of time leaving you vulnerable.
Note: Be sure to raise your connection level with the Timefall Farm to level 3 to get another Odradek Upgrade to scan enemy human locations, and raise your connection level with the Film Director Prepper to obtain hologram tech to disguise yourself as a rock!
Even if this is a Kojima game, you won’t find all the tools and abilities you’d see in a Metal Gear Solid game. Stealth mechanics are fairly limited – you can crouch down to lower your visibility and detection, hide in tall grass, and use some silent takedowns. MULEs are also surprisingly docile – so long as you don’t carry any cargo or try to get too close to their camps – but they will watch your every move if spotted, which can make sneak attacks harder. MULEs generally attack with shock weapons that can be thrown or swung, and it will be harder to stay conscious the more you’re hit. Get knocked out, and they’ll lock up your stuff in their camp and dump you outside.
If you can, set up a watchtower outside their camp sensors to scope out the terrain first. You can figure out their positions by scanning for the items they carry, and then look for tall grass or rocks to sneak in from. Luckily, once you advance far enough into Episode 3, you’ll get an Odradek Sensor upgrade at the Timefall Farm that lets you nullify their scans if you ping your own scanner when you see their orange sensor move inward – but before it shoots out. You should also take the time to get the Timefall Farm’s Link Connection to level 3 – as they’ll give you another upgrade to detect actual human bodies with your scanner.
With these tools, you should have an easier time avoiding detection so long as you take things slow, stay crouched in their territory, and keep moving when they ping your cargo location.
If you need to, you can hold out your Strand tool when moving up behind a MULE to knock them out and bind them up – and they’ll stay unconscious for a long time or until their friends come and wake them up.
Once you’ve made it into the camp, you can then quickly pick up the cargo you need, or hack their postboxes (which takes a bit more time than a regular postbox). A great strategy is to use their own gear against them – like hijacking one of their trucks to beat a hasty retreat with as much cargo as the trucks can hold.
Sometimes, whether stealth isn’t an option – or their forces are too much to ignore, you’ll have to take the fight to the MULEs yourself. Luckily, you have a lot of options to choose from – and even more as the story progresses. Plus, knocking out MULEs isn’t just fun: if you manage to take out the whole camp, they’ll stay knocked out for an extended period, allowing you and other friendly Porters to traverse the area freely.
The most important thing to note is that even if stealth fails, your Strand is still a valuable asset. You can hold it out as a defensive tool, and intercept their attack with a timed block to knock the MULE off-balance. When they stumble past you, immediately use the Strand to choke them out.
Sam is also not afraid of a beatdown, and can engage in a melee fight if you’re feeling gutsy. It’s a lot harder to avoid incoming attacks this way, but it can also let you take on groups of MULEs if you move fast. You can tap X repeatedly for a three-hit combo ending with a kick that will send MULEs off balance even if they’ve been blocking, allowing you to finish them off if they weren’t already caught off guard. Speaking of which, you can try running around them to bait an incoming swing, then hold both L2 and R2 to brace yourself before ramming into them with square – this ensures that they won’t be able to block so you can quickly dash behind them and hit them with melee strikes.
However, since your punches and kicks can take a while to work, there’s always a more savage method: Look for some throwaway materials or MULE items and hold one in your hand by holding R2. While in your hand, press square to smash the cargo into a MULEs head to instantly knock them out – destroying the cargo in the process (but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep using the box to bust heads!)
Another more volatile method of taking out MULEs may seem a bit extreme, but can be surprisingly effective: Ride a Reverse Trike into their camp and step on the gas to ram into a MULE – sending them flying and knocking them out instantly (don’t worry, they’ll be fine!).
This is harder to do on a Truck, as they’ll usually dive for cover, but it’s still possible – even with the very Trucks MULEs will use to hunt you down – just be sure they don’t short out the vehicle before you can charge at them.
Note: Never underestimate how useful MULE Trucks can be for a quick escape. If you manage to lure them away from one of their trucks, quickly take control and ram it into their postboxes to transfer all the cargo over, and speed boost your way out before they can catch you to rake in the rewards!
As you progress through Episode 3 and beyond, you’ll start getting access to more weapons (and so will the MULEs) that you can use to turn the tables on them, and rapidly defeat MULEs with even more options. These include:
- Stun Grenades can give them a taste of their own medicine when used properly, as it will render anyone caught in the blast unconscious. This can be especially helpful if being chased by a truck full of MULES, as you can shock the entire vehicle and disable everyone on it – and you can also lure them near water to spread its effects.
- Once you obtain the Bola Gun in Episode 3, you can use it to bind up MULEs and take them out of the fight. It’s important to note that simply binding them up won’t knock them out, and they’ll break free in about a minute – but you can walk over to them and kick them to ensure they stay down.
Remember that as you progress through the story and gain more tools and upgrades, so too will the MULEs you’ll face, so be wary of stronger MULEs that may take more punches to take out, or those that may use other weapons to fight back with. MULEs are always strongest when swarming you, so always try to pick the ones at the edge of the camp first before moving in, and don’t stand in one spot too long if they are coming to attack from all sides. You can also use their tents as cover when they start throwing javelins, and lure them indoors one at a time.
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