'Death Stranding' With a Treadmill Is the Ultimate Walking Simulator

Turns out that walking across America is tougher than it looks in a video game.
February 3, 2020, 5:26pm
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Image: Allen Pan/YouTube

Death Stranding is, primarily, a game about walking. Sam Porter Bridges puts his body through hell by walking across America and trying to connect us all. Now, thanks to YouTube creator and freelance engineer Allen Pan, you too can physically experience Sam’s hellish trek across the United States. Pan removed the left joystick from the PlayStation 4 controller, hooked up Death Stranding to a defunct treadmill, and made the game as realistic as possible. When he walked, Sam walked. Turns out sojourning across America is a tiring nightmare.

Pan used a broken treadmill for his experiment. “Almost the entire game is just walking around,” Pan said in his video. “So all I have to do is just take the rotary encoder from the treadmill and use an arduino to calculate how fast someone is walking on the treadmill. Then the arduino can control a digital potentiometer that is connected to a PS4 controller.”

Pan rerouted the signals from his treadmill into the PS4 controller. A light walk would make Sam walk and a jog would make Sam run. When Pan firsted tested the setup, he immediately sent Sam careening down a cliff. “It’s a lot harder walking with the treadmill,” Pan said.

He lasted just over four minutes before giving up and passing the controls to a friend. They didn’t do much better. It turns out that running on a treadmill that’s no longer hooked up to a motor is harder than anything Sam ever has to do.