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One of the biggest complaints about cross-gen saves for PlayStation games has been how cumbersome it can be to get your save from PS4 to PS5. While more recent games have made this somewhat easier (requiring only that the PS4 save by present on a USB drive or in PS Plus cloud storage), some cross-gen games require you to have the original PS4 version installed and transfer your save from the main menu of the last-gen version of the game—particularly annoying back when the PS5’s internal SSD wasn’t expandable beyond its tiny 667GB storage limit. Death Stranding Director’s Cut leans into this, integrating the PS4 to PS5 save transfer into the game in a very meta way that requires you to make one final delivery before moving to PS5: your old save file.
Now, at the very least, you won’t have to haul your save file across treacherous terrain. The process simply involves booting up the PS4 version and finding a delivery terminal. From there, you’ll find the option to “Export Save Data” from within the System menu. After that, it’s as simple as booting up Death Stranding Director’s Cut on PS5 and importing your save from the main menu. Regardless, needing to actually play as Sam one last time on the PS4 version is an unwieldy, yet thematically appropriate choice; something that no other games have done.
Was it formally designed to be that meta? That’s debatable. There are a few things that don’t carry over from Death Stranding to Director’s Cut. Requiring you to do it from within the game may just be a safeguard to make sure you’ve completed any outstanding deliveries before attempting the save transfer (the save cannot be transferred if you have any Open Orders). Regardless of its intentionality, it’s a bit poetic that Death Stranding of all titles—a game that controversially relies heavily on its foundation of cumbersome tasks and is arguably better for it—makes the PS4 to PS5 save transfer more difficult to do, not easier.
And while it may not involve Sam literally carrying your Death Stranding save file to a delivery terminal to upload it, it still feels quite a bit like you are making that delivery as Sam. The requirement of clearing up any outstanding orders and making your way to a delivery terminal creates a strong bridge between the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game, more so than any simplified save transfer might.
I certainly hope that any future PS4 to PS5 save transfers continue to get easier for players, but for Death Stranding, I give it a free pass for just how it fits into the meta commentary and themes that the game already exudes. Chances are if you played the original and loved it enough to upgrade, you’ll appreciate the extra effort that it takes for the save file transfer. After all, it’s just one more incommodious beat that serves in Death Stranding earning its ultimate payoff.