“A director’s cut in a movie is an additional edit to a shortened version that was either released reluctantly because the director did not have the right to edit it, or because the running time had to be shortened,” Kojima explained on Twitter this morning. “In the game, it is not what was cut, but what was additionally produced that was included. Delector’s [sic] Plus? So, in my opinion, I don’t like to call ‘director’s cut’.”
Based on Kojima’s tweets, it seems that the new content coming to Death Stranding: Director’s Cut isn’t missions or mechanics that had to be cut out due to time or budget. Kojima’s directorial vision for the game isn’t only now being restored; the PS5 version is just getting new elements that are created specifically for this re-release.
It’s a misuse of the idea of a director’s cut that Sony has already started to lean on with the recently announced Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, which adds a new island to explore with added story content, characters, armor, and enemies; a long-awaited fix for proper lip-syncing for the game’s Japanese voiceover; and DualSense-specific features like adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. They’re nice additions, but no one at Sony or Sucker Punch seems to be claiming that they’re part of Ghost of Tsushima directors Nate Fox and Jason Connell’s original restored vision. (Neither Fox nor Connell is even mentioned in the announcement.)
Rather, it seems that Sony is using “director’s cut” as a catch-all phrase for an expanded edition of a game that it’s re-releasing for next-generation consoles with some added DLC. It’s the sort of title that gives the re-releases a veneer of artistic high ground that an “expanded edition” or “game of the year” release doesn’t. Charging an extra $10 or $30 for a PS5 version of a title with a few minor upgrades is a tough sell. But charging that price to play Kojima’s unadulterated vision of Death Stranding is presumably an easier sell, even if the reality just isn’t the case.
Of course, contentious director’s cuts are nothing new: consider the infamous Blade Runner: Director’s Cut, which was based on a workprint version of the movie but wasn’t actually produced directly by director Ridley Scott. (Scott was able to produce a version of the film with total artistic control in 2007, known as Blade Runner: The Final Cut.)