Mules are one of the most persistent enemies in Death Stranding. 2nd only to the BTs themselves. Accidentally trigger one of their sensors and they’ll swarm around you in no time. Unfortunately for you, Death Stranding’s combat is few and far between the gameplay that you’ll barely have time to master the basics. Most players start out not even knowing that they can dodge and parry attacks.
If you’re just starting out, you’ll barely have any weapons on you. You’ll get this equipment called a “Strand” but you might mistakenly use it like a garrote wire. But sneaking behind MULES and tying them up isn’t the only way to use it. If you time it perfectly, you can parry their attacks on cue. Though if you’re careful and stealthy, it never has to come to that.
Here is one of our Death Stranding guides.
Knowing The MULES
Basically, they are package bandits. They often hunt in groups. If you see a lone MULE, chances are his friends are nearby. Be prepared to take on numbers.
After frequent encounters with them, you’ll eventually learn that they are more interested in your luggage than you. Receiving attacks from them causes you to discard one of your cargo as well as lose health. As the game centers around delivering packages, one of your worst nightmares is losing an important delivery. As such it is in your best interest not to tank their attacks.
In comparison to a heavy loaded Sam, MULES are light, agile, and fast. They are persistent within the territory that they hunt, but won’t chase you too far. Much like Sam, however, they can also slip and trip over terrain. So you can be sure they are not immune to the game’s physics. Despite that, they are not easy to outrun if you are on foot alone. Even especially so if you are carrying heavy cargo. They can also throw their javelin at you which releases electricity on the ground that can slow you. So keep your eyes open.
Any luggage you leave behind will be picked up by them. This also includes luggage that their friends drop after they are knocked out. You can actually take advantage of this after proceeding further into the game. You’ll eventually get a smoke decoy cargo that MULES won’t be able to resist going after.
Despite the initially intimidating appearance, MULES are pushovers and go down surprisingly easy after a couple of hits. What makes them scary is the numbers they present. Attack one and another one have his back. Stay in one spot and they’ll surround you. Don’t blindly mash the attack button on them either, since they do know how to block.
The Ins-and-Outs of CQC, Sam
Combat in Death Stranding is neither hard nor complex. But it can be intimidating as you’re not given enough time to get used to it. Like decent action games, Death Stranding does have decent combat. If you’re early into the game, you won’t have access to much weaponry at your disposal. If at all.
You’ll be able to punch, dodge, and parry your way through but there is an effective way to properly taking them down. The key to Death Stranding’s combat is to always keep moving. If you’ve been spotted and stealth is no longer an option, try outmaneuvering them. Isolate them and pick them off one by one.
This is where you need to learn to tackle. Press the L2 and R2 button consecutively and then square. This will lunge Sam forward and tackle any MULE in his way. That MULE will then be stunned and open to a few attacks. Once you learn to isolate MULES then this method will come very handy. You’ll quickly find yourself taking down armies of MULES along the way. Even in HARD difficulty, this technique is an effective way to take them out quickly.
Parrying is another useful way of taking down MULES. Remember that strand you have on your inventory? It’s not just for tying MULES from behind. If you time it to enemy attacks, you can parry them leaving them open for a one-hit take down. Though be warned, the animation time for this take down leaves you wide open for his friends.
MULES also drop cargo themselves. If you’re feeling desperate, you can make a grab for one of them with either L2 or R2 and then press square to throw it in their direction. You have to be facing them directly though, else it will miss. It isn’t your cargo so don’t worry about it being damaged.
Metal Gear Sam
Stealth is also a viable option. As much as the direct more confrontational approach, taking them out one by one is also an effective way of combat. However, Death Stranding’s stealth isn’t as in-depth as Kojima’s previous works. This isn’t Metal Gear Solid. Sam Porter Bridges is decent at stealth but he’s no Solid Snake. Sam can’t CQC multiple enemies at once. But that being said, Sam is a competent fighter.
Tallgrass can help you hide behind effectively from sight. But if you’re carrying too much cargo you’ll be spotted anyway. To top it all off, MULES set sensors around their camps that can detect your presence. Finding a route around those sensors would require a keen eye or building a Watchtower to help you see.
As mentioned up above, MULES only care about your cargo. If you’re carrying ordered deliveries you need to take to a certain area, their scanners will detect you. If not, MULES will ignore you regardless of what you’re carrying. Use this to your advantage and plan ahead if you want to infiltrate enemy camp.
MULES will even have vehicles in their camp at times. These are extremely valuable for you to take especially early game. These cargo trucks that the MULES use can be used to carry a lot of cargo all at once. You can indulge in getting materials from the MULES’ camp to build roads and finish construction sites. You can also use it to help in deliveries.
It Takes Time
As you keep progressing, you’ll find more and more ways to combat MULES. You’ll even get a nonlethal gun called the BOLA GUN within the early segments of Episode 3 that shoots restraints. Though this won’t knock them out permanently and they will be able to get back up unless you aim specifically for the head. It will, however, keep them down for quite some time allowing you to finish off their friends before approaching to take them out for good. MULES you tie up with the BOLA GUN on rivers surprisingly do not drown. They’ll end up being knocked out immediately and float upwards. So don’t be afraid of accidentally triggering a void out.
Like with anything, preparation is key. Don’t carry so much needless equipment if you’re planning on raiding a MULE base. You have to be patient and be willing to set aside excess luggage if you’re planning on raiding them for materials.
A word of warning for a mistake that a lot of people make. There are friendly porters around. They look like MULES they carry sticks as well that you might mistake for a weapon. And you can actually attack them. But they are not hostile to you. They usually appear after you’ve cleared an area out of MULES and their names will flash blue instead of orange. You can greet these fellow porters by pressing the touchpad. They might even give you something back.