Basic Info on Materials in Death Stranding

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This is a relatively simple page that collates some known information, and establishes a few terms and concepts.

Table of Materials

This is important for understanding some of the other concepts I present. In particular, terminology for the XL series of materials containers. Still, it's good to have this info gathered in one place.

Type S M L XL1 XL2 XL3 XL4 High-density
(XL1 in a M)
(XL4 kg / 5)
Material first appears
Resins 40 80 160 320 480 640 800 Elder Timefall Farm* At Start
Metals 50 100 200 400 600 800 1,000 Film Director Weather Station At Start
Ceramics 40 80 160 320 480 640 800 Geologist Veteran Porter Activate Lake KC
Chemicals 30 60 120 240 360 480 600 Evo-devo
Spiritualist Activate South KC
(WW1) then visit Mama
Special Alloys 60 120 240 480 720 960 1,200 First Prepper Paleontologist At Weather Station (PCC 2)
* Note: MisterCrowbar says that in the DC, Timefall Farm gives out Lightweight Metals or Ceramics instead of Resins. Rewards may be different for other preppers, too, in DC. The values shown here are for the original PS4 and original PC version.

When a type of material first becomes available, it will then be visible at all knots, even ones you visited earlier. Check your Map to see levels at other knots.

For example, when you first get Chemicals, they instantly become visible and usable even at knots back in the Eastern Region. They were there all along; you just couldn't see them. Just like materials you can see, they got their initial reserve when you first activated the knot, and have been getting Knot Material Increases ever since.

The game shows weights in kilograms, but labels materials containers with hectograms or hgs (which equal kgs x 10). I guess it makes it easier to grasp mentally, shrug.

A slightly simpler way to look at Materials

For what it's worth, here's a different way to look at the various materials' container sizes.

  • Ordered by lightest material (Chemicals) to heaviest (Special Alloys) and
  • Ceramics and Resins are the same, so they just get one row:

# Type S M L XL1 XL2 XL3 XL4 Vs. #1 Vs. #4
1 Chemicals 30 60 120 240 360 480 600 1.000 0.500
2 Resins & Ceramics 40 80 160 320 480 640 800 1.333 0.667
3 Metals 50 100 200 400 600 800 1,000 1.667 0.833
4 Special Alloys 60 120 240 480 720 960 1,200 2.000 1.000

Smalls vary by 10 hg per type of Material.

The lightest material is half the mass of the heaviest.

An In-Depth Look at the XL Container Size

I call the four types of XLs XL1 to XL4, to make it easy to remember. XL4 has a special place in the game because it crams so much material into a container.

Here's a simple table of XL relationships, for what it's worth. It's the same for every single material, but easiest to grasp when thinking of Metals with XL1 = 400, XL2 = 600, XL3 = 800, and XL4 = 1,000 hgs.

Divide By Get
XL2 XL1 1.500
XL3 2.000
XL4 2.500
XL3 XL2 1.333
XL4 1.667
XL4 XL3 1.250

Stated another way: When going from a Large container (which is 4 Small Cargo Equivalents or SCEs) to the next size up ...

... You might have expected a doubling of container size (to 8 SCEs) and a corresponding doubling of the container's mass. After all, that's what you get for other size increases (Small, Medium, Large, and XL1).

But the additional XL sizes (XL2 to XL4) are all gravy – same XL form factor but more mass.

As shown in the little table above, the XL4 packs 2.5 times as much mass into the XL form factor as an XL1. A huge bonus right there – but there's more.

Everything but the Mule Truck follows the "Rule of Six". So for Sam and all Bridges vehicles, an XL4 occupies six SCEs instead of the eight one might've expected.

So, in fact, for everything but the Mule Truck, you can pack 3.333 times as much into an XL4 as one might've expected a priori for the XL size. That's 2.5 for the XL4/XL1 increase, times 1.333 for 6 SCEs instead of 8 (8/6 = 4/3 = 1.333).

So the XL4 is kinda magical.

A little less magical with a Mule Truck. But for it, you can use Sneaky Sam's Shotgun Space loophole. With it, you put containers on Sam instead of the truck. On Sam, they do follow the Rule of 6, and they don't add anything to the truck's load. Win win.

Special Forms of Material Containers

Lightweight Materials

Not a lot to see here.

All five materials can be obtained in a lightweight form, which divides the XL4 mass (600 to 1,200 kg) by five, while keeping it in the XL form factor.

Dividing an XL4 by 5 gives you the mass that would've been in a Large container. For example, an XL4 for Metals is 1,000 kg and a Large one is 200.

But it's still in an XL form factor. Too bad it didn't decrease that, too (but then it would overlap into high-density territory).

Anyway, there's not a lot to see here, except that Lightweight materials are a great way to lighten your load.

High-density Materials

This one's a lot more interesting, at least for somebody testing DS like me.

High-density materials pack the mass of an XL1 into a Medium containers. For example, 400 kgs of Metals (normally an XL1) into a Medium (which is normally 100 kg for Metals). That's a 4:1 increase in density! It causes HD Special Alloys to be the densest item you can carry, at 240 hgs/SCE (480 hgs / 2 SCEs for a Medium).

An SCE is a Small Cargo Equivalent; the number of small cargo units in a container. This useful concept is explained in Load Capacities.

Note: I haven't played at Very Hard difficulty (yet), but MisterCrowbar tells me that Mules drop a 200 hg Small of materials at Very Hard. That's for all materials – it's 200 hgs, whether Chemicals or Special Alloys. Thus all these Smalls are the density of a Special Alloy XL4, namely, 200 hgs/SCE. (But Medium-sized HD Special Alloys still take the "density crown" at 240.)

A deeper look at the density of HD Special Alloys, and other dense items

Given the Rule of 6, you can fit, e.g., 1,200 Special Alloys into an XL4 of 6 SCEs. That's 200 kg/SCE (1200/6).

But a High-density Special Alloy (available from First Prepper) fits 480 kg (ordinarily an XL1) into a Medium (2 SCEs). That's 240 kg/SCE (480/2).

Stated another way: HD materials pack 20% more into an SCE than the XL4 (240/200). HD Special Alloys are the densest item that I know of (in terms of kg/SCE) in the game.

  • The most-dense item you can fabricate is the Climbing Anchor Lv.2. It's a 7.1 kg Small (1 SCE). As such, the HD SA is 33.8 times more dense (240 kg/SCE / 7.1 kg/SCE.)
  • I've refined a Standard Order list from reddit. Not sure it's 100% complete but anyway, the most-dense order there is Order 146, Chemicals from Port KC to Cap KC.
    It's 996.0 kg total in 8 Small and 6 Large containers (32 SCEs) for an average density of 31.125 kg/SCE (996/32). For the record, that's 10 times as dense as normal Claimed Chemicals; a Small Chemical container is 3 kg/SCE (3.0 kgs a.k.a. 30 hgs in one SCE). XL4 Chemicals are 10.0 kg/SCE (60.0/6 with Rule of 6), still nowhere near 31 kg/SCE.
    Anyway, AFAIK no orders come close to the density of Special Alloy containers. Much less the density of HD SAs.

What you could test with a lot of HD Special Alloys

If I marshalled a ton of them, I could get boot wear rates above Step 37, and could test vehicle speeds at higher loads. Here are the highest loads I've tested so far:

Subject Tested with
Special Alloys
with HD
of HD SAs
Sam 865.5 1,033.5 14
Bridges Bike 762.4 1,321.5 20
Bridges Truck 3,360.0 4,032.0 84

  • Sam would need 14 HD SAs to increase his load to the max I can think of, 1,033.5 kgs (versus the 865.5 kg I've already tested without HD). Here's that loadout, and here's the boot-wear-rate step table that could use more data (see endnotes 4 and 5 of that table). It would be 19.4% more load.
  • Sam, with the HD-load just mentioned, could get on a Reverse Trike with six more HD SAs (+288 kg) in its cargo racks, for a total of 1,321.5 kg. That's 73.3% more than what I've tested.
    • Unlike trucks, bikes add Sam's weight to their load.
    • Bikes follow the rule of 6 and can hold 6 SCEs on each side, for a total of twelve. (Each HD SA is Medium size, or 2 SCEs.)
  • That mothership of all DS vehicles, the Bridges Truck, can hold 168 SCEs. That's 28 XL4s (168/6) or 84 Mediums (168/2). It would be exactly 20% more than I tested, just like the comparison above. (It's different from Sam, and when he's on a bike, because he gains extra weight by carrying some other things that are not material containers.)
  • With these heavier vehicles, I could extend the speed-versus-load curve by 20%.

But that, my friend, would take a lot of visits to the First Prepper.

Maybe I'll get around to it some day, but for now I'm trying to finish up other things on this wiki. Stuff that's actually within the reach of mere mortals. And even then, most of my stuff is more a curiosity than actually useful, laugh. Testing with HD SAs would be going down a rabbit hole.

Still, there it is. Somebody's personal achievement.

How Recycling Works

For this section, I'm going to use the general term charges to mean anything contained within an item. For example, ammo in guns, anchors in climbing anchors, blood in blood bags, spray in container spray. A Blood Bag has a full charge if it has 500 mLs of blood in it.

Recycling has some very straightforward rules:

  • You get half the materials back (50%) if it's undamaged and fully charged.
  • If it's damaged or not full, each of these factors reduce the Recycling yield, by up to 1/16th (6.25%) if completely gone.
    • A Skeleton that is Destroyed will yield 43.75% of original materials (100 - 50 - 6.25).
    • A Climbing Anchor with all anchors gone will yield 43.75%.
    • It's linear. If it's only 50% damaged or only half of the charges are gone, the recycling yield is only reduced by half of 6.25%.
  • Damage and charges add together. If something was 100% damaged AND was empty, it yields 37.5% of original materials (100 - 50 - (2 x 6.25) a.k.a. 100 - 50 - 12.5).

Of course, if that type of item never has any charges, it never takes a hit in this regard. (Examples: skeletons, gloves, PCCs, ladders, boots.)

Stated another way, if it helps:

  • You get 50% back (1/2) for anything with zero damage and full charge (if it has any charges).
  • The recycle yield can can get down to 43.75% (7/16ths) if it's either 100% damaged or has zero charges.
  • If it's both 100% damaged and empty of all charges, the yield is 37.5% (3/8ths).
  • Basically recycle yield is mostly high 40% or 50% unless it's real damaged and low on charges.

Other important notes:

  • Materials Containers are a big exception. Unlike everything else, they do not degrade linearly. You can always recover 100% of their contents until the moment they're completely [Destroyed], at which point they only yield 1 hg (0.1 kg) of their material type if Recycled. You heard right: no matter how big or small the container was, you only get 1 hg, period.
Basically, a Destroyed material container is complete trash, not worth wasting time on.
  • Custom Chiral Anchors, Boots, and Ladders yield 100 cgs of CXls when recycled.
They're a great source of chiralium! You can always Fabricate the next-best thing.
  • Hang onto anything that takes a lot of materials and recycle them, even if Destroyed. (Skeletons, big guns.)
That is, if you give a damn about recycling ... it's all funny money anyway.
  • You can use Recycling to "back calculate" how much it costs to Fabricate things that you can't make (custom chiral rewards, high-cap blood bags, Mule boots, etc.).

To see recycling yields for all items (even ones you can't Fab), look at the Items tab of the spreadsheet at the top of my DS Data homepage.

More details on Recycling

Recycling rounds up in the player's favor.

  • Example: Smoke Grenades (SGs) are the only items that use an odd number of materials to Fabricate.
    • If you recycle an SG1 (5 Metals), you get 3 back.
    • An SG2 (15 Metals) yields 8.
  • It's also rounded up for any fractional values from damage or used charges.

Due to rounding up and the math involved, damage and charges don't reduce the recycle yield of anything that needs less than 16 materials. (For individual materials, not the total materials needed to make the item.) At exactly 16 materials, you only see an effect (yield is reduced by 1) if it's 100% damaged or completely depleted.

  • Blood Bags only take 6 CXls and 6 Resin, so you always recover 3 CXls and 3 Resin, no matter how damaged or empty.
  • Container Spray takes 16 CXls and 8 Resin.
    • If it has 1 spray unit left, you recover 8 CXls and 4 Resin.
    • If it has 0 spray units left, you get 7 CXls and 4 Resin.
    • It's super easy to test and confirm yourself. Just Fab two Spray guys. Completely empty one, and get the other to 1 unit left. Now recycle each one individually. You can do all this at a knot terminal.
  • Earlier I said "damage and charges have no effect on anything that needs less than 16 materials to make." Actually it will affect anything that needs 8 to 15 to Fabricate, IF it has BOTH 100% damage AND it has charges, which are completely depleted. In this unique case, the two things add to 1/8th.

Container Spray is a precise demonstration of rounding up, as well as how it works based on percent damage and percent charges used:

  • Recycling always uses percents, and
  • It always rounds up.

You can tell exactly what you're going to get for any particular item that you recycle, no matter its damage or how many charges remain.

In case anyone wants clarification on how "charges" are handled:

  • It's pretty simple. Consider the topped-off number as 100%, and when it's all gone, that's 0%. It's as linear as it can be.
    • Example: The Assault Rifle Lv. 3 (AR3) has a 30-round clip, plus 210 additional ammo. Here, 240 is the 100%, 120 rounds is 50%, 0 rounds left is 0%.
  • The Spare Ammo Container (SAC) has no practical effect on this; it's basically ignored:
    • Wearing two SACs gives the AR3 144 additional rounds, for a total of 354.
    • The first 144 rounds do not impact the recycling yield.
    • Only when you drop below 240 rounds is there an impact. Just like described above.

I didn't specifically test the impact of container damage on recycling yield for items that have containers, but still, some of the items I recycled had container damage. Sometimes I saw small reductions in yield for items with a lot of materials that had no item damage, just container damage (like unused skeletons). My impression is that damage to container themselves might have a small impact on recycling yield, but I haven't quantified it.

I don't know of any way to damage containers except standing in timefall. I didn't want to bother, just for them. Also FWIW, I did these recycling tests months after most of my timefall tests.