Death Stranding Director's Cut is finally upon us and I've been thoroughly enjoying its brand new Firing Range so let's get ready to shoot.
When I played through Death Stranding a couple of years back, I ended up having very mixed feelings about it. As a huge Metal Gear Solid fan, I loved its story, world, and cinematic qualities but didn't enjoy its gameplay all that much. However, that all changed with Death Stranding Director's Cut because it has an awesome new mode that acts as a wonderful throwback for MGS fans. That's right; I'm talking about its Firing Range which is strikingly similar to Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions.
Now that I mention it, Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions has a special place in my heart because after mastering the original PlayStation game back when I was way under the ESRB's recommended age rating, I became obsessed with its VR Missions spin-off which released a year later. It featured hundreds of missions that tested your sneaking abilities and proficiency with its wide assortment of weapons and I absolutely loved it. In fact, I distinctly recall trying super-hard so I could unlock the photo shoots and the action-intense ninja mode. Years later, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance offered a similar set of missions that blew my mind and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance had its own VR Missions. Other than that, this mode has been sorely missed; until now, that is.
Needless to say, the VR Missions in Death Stranding brought back many memories of the Metal Gear Solid franchise but what exactly does this mode entail? After accessing the Firing Range, you're treated to 3 benches that display every single available weapon on them which you can then pick up, equip, and use on a collection of moving targets. Although this provides some unstructured fun, the meat of the experience is the Drills which you access via a terminal. Right now, I have a couple dozen Drills to choose from but there is clearly some missing. Now that I think about it, there are a few spaces on my benches, too, so perhaps I didn't unlock all of the weapons yet?
Anyway, the Drills are impressively intricate and will thoroughly test your abilities to use each weapon type. Unfortunately, there are no sneaking missions that I'm aware of but you do get to take out all sorts of enemy types such as MULEs, Terrorists, BTs, Jellyfish, and plain old Targets. There are usually a large number of enemies to snuff out and once you're done, you unlock the exit which you then must run to. After a Drill, you'll get graded, earn some likes, and can retry to your heart's content. In addition to all of that, there are Ranked Drills where you can compete via online leaderboards. These have specific rules and bonuses and you can only choose from whatever's currently available which seems to be a few different Drills every couple of weeks. I look forward to seeing how I rank! 😅
What makes playing these VR Missions even more enjoyable is the DualSense's adaptive triggers which do an excellent job of making each weapon type feel authentic. For example, holding R2 to the point where you sense resistance then pushing a bit further will make it feel like it's going over a bump which simulates the pulling of a trigger. This works with haptic feedback as well to make the weapons even more tangible. To illustrate this, as you charge the Bola Gun, you'll feel a slight rumble (low roar?) that increases in intensity as it charges up. I also enjoyed throwing grenades as the adaptive triggers easily allow you to toggle between underhand and overhand throws which alters the trajectory as well as speed of the throw. Whoever worked on the DualSense features here deserves an award.
I'm having a ton of fun with the Firing Range in Death Stranding Director's Cut and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I am. What are your favourite MGS VR Missions memories? Played any Firing Range Drills that you particularly enjoyed? Let's chat below! 😄