One of the earliest and most stand-out trademarks of Hideo Kojima’s next game Death Stranding was that of the BB, or Bridge Baby. Even from the very first reveal trailer of the game from E3 2016, babies have played a major role in the game. Like most aspects of the game, Bridge Babies have remained a staple of the footage and gameplay shown, but little has been actually explained about what a BB is.
Much of that changed after Gamescom where some new trailers and footage for Death Stranding shed more light on the mysterious Bridge Babies and their role in the narrative and world of Death Stranding.
The main character Sam carries a BB with him on his chest in a mechanical, artificial womb. Having the Bridge Baby attached to him allows him (and the player) to sense and see BTs (which stands for Beached Things), the whispy-black ethereal figures seen in much of the footage as the supernatural enemies of humankind in Death Stranding. The main function of the BB is explained by its name—it is a bridge between the world of the living, where Sam is tasked with connecting the United Cities of America as part of the Bridges company, and the land of the dead, which Sam visits every time he dies in-game.
In a new cutscene released for the game, more is explained about BBs by Guillermo del Toro’s character Deadman. In this cutscene, Sam must return his BB to a service station of sorts to help it recover from “temporary excessive stress.” Likely, as players experience danger and troubles along their journey, the BB will experience stress. Out in the world, players can rock the BB using the PS4’s motion controls to calm it, but most likely players will need to return to these artificial incubators periodically.
At these stations, the BB is connected back to its mother, who Deadman says is a “stillmother,” which the cutscene explains is the BB’s brain dead mother who is back in an ICU in the game’s fictional location of Knot City. Deadman says the “stillmother’s womb facilitates a connection between the world of the dead and the BB.” When Bridges operatives like Sam connect themselves to a BB, it allows them to sense BTs.
Deadman says that the pods BBs are kept in were made to simulate the womb of their mothers, which is required to keep the BBs functioning properly by making the BB think it is still within its real mother’s womb. But he says that the deception of making the BB think it is in its actual mother’s womb can only last so long, which is why BBs need to be brought to these stations to update and synchronize the BB with a stillmother via something called the Chiral Network.
When Sam makes a remark that his BB looks happy, Deadman says to remember that the BB is “equipment” and to “try not to get attached.” Deadman also says that because BBs are physically removed from their mother’s wombs, they are “unpredictable” and often fail. In fact, he says no Bridge Baby has ever lasted for more than a year.
While it is speculation at this point, this cutscene sets up a lot of narrative threads for the player’s BB and some theories can be extrapolated from it. There is clearly a connection being made between Sam and his BB, and the mention of BBs not lasting more than a year very well could come into play considering the fact that Sam will journey across the country—and the game’s open world—from East to West Coast by foot.
Deadman also says there is still a lot that is unknown about BBs but that as more of the Chiral Network comes online, they might find their answers. That could be a hint of what is to come as Sam activates more communication arrays across the country, it is possible that more knowledge of the BBs could be discovered.
Outside of the BBs place in the narrative and gameplay, the Bridge Babies are clearly an important part of the theme and message that Kojima is trying to communicate in Death Stranding. Kojima has already said that connection is a major theme of the game, but outside of the connection between the people living in the world of Death Stranding, there are also many references in the game to the connection between mother and baby. What exactly this all means will likely have to wait for players to find out more for themselves once the game is out.
Death Stranding releases November 8, 2019 for PS4.
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