In Death Stranding, the path to making a successful delivery is paved with myriad dangers. When you’re not avoiding horrifying BTs or hiking up a steep mountain, you’re dealing with MULEs. This bandit-like crew of unofficially sanctioned deliverymen who live for the high of making deliveries, so much so that they’re willing to attack innocent porters and steal their cargo to get it. MULEs are a frequent annoyance who can instantly inconvenience even the most straightforward delivery.
Below you can find tips detailing how to engage with MULEs and what to consider before you cross into their territory. For more Death Stranding features, check out our in-depth beginner’s guide and our feature highlighting all the most significant celebrity cameos we’ve encountered so far.
How To Sneak Past MULEs
You typically run into MULEs at their camps spread across the world. They’re often situated on the way towards significant delivery stations, so you’ll usually have no choice but to cross their territory. MULEs attack on sight, so it’s essential to stay hidden–at least if you want to pass without causing any trouble.
It’s pretty easy to sneak past MULEs, as there aren’t a lot of them in a camp. You’ll find a few patrolling the outskirts either on foot or in a truck, but as long as you cut through the small pockets of open space between them, you can typically emerge unscathed. If you see tall grass, make it a point to take advantage of it as cover. Keep in mind that tall grass will be useless as cover if you’re carrying too much cargo.
Despite your best efforts to be sneaky, you’re likely to encounter trouble from the MULEs’ scanning pylons, which periodically trigger as you travel through their territory. When a scan initiates, any marked cargo on Sam will get pinged, alerting MULEs to the location it was last picked up. If this happens, immediately try to find cover as far away from where you were pinged as possible. With some luck and persistence, you’ll avoid their incoming patrols. It’s worth noting that in Episode 3, you’ll get an ability that allows your Odradek’s scanning ability to negate MULE scans. It’s unlocked after you arrive at the Timefall Farm for the first time.
If you’re not carrying any cargo (tools or deliverables), know that MULEs will largely ignore you as long as you stay away from their main camp area. Get too close and they’ll become aggressive, so maintain your distance and you should be able to walk through their territory with no trouble. This behavior can be a nice way to spare yourself any trouble from MULEs. For example, you might want to build yourself a postbox to offload all your equipment prior to entering MULE territory.
How to Fight MULEs
Nobody is perfect, so there will inevitably come a time when MULEs will corner you into a fight. Early on, the best strategy is to run for dear life. When you do, try not to sprint in a straight line, as they’re quick to throw their shock spears ahead of you, which upon contact can knock cargo from your backpack and temporarily halt your movement for a short time. This effect gets to be more strenuous later on when you get vehicles, as MULE shock spears can render your ride immobile for a much longer time.
When push comes to shove, you can defend yourself against MULEs by punching them when their guard is down–which temporarily knocks them unconscious. That, or if you’ve got a piece of cargo in your hand that you don’t care about, you can smash it onto a MULE’s face for a swift knockout. But if you’re feeling particularly brave (and are without valuable cargo), you can tackle them by sprinting and pressing the attack button with both triggers held down. This maneuver can stun MULEs, leaving them open for attack; it’s also particularly useful against armored MULEs.
It’s also possible to use more defensive maneuvers against an attacking MULE. While it’s perfectly viable to dodge an incoming MULE’s lunging attack with a well-timed sidestep, you can counter it with your Strand as long as you hold it up just before contact. If performed successfully, Sam will use his Strand to throw them off balance, leaving you an opening to deliver a swift grapple attack that instantly knocks them out. The Strand is also capable of stealthily dispatching MULEs for a brief time. Approach a MULE from behind, hold up your Strand, and use it to incapacitate and tie them up in one fell swoop.
Speaking of tying up MULEs, you’ll eventually unlock the ability to fabricate a Bola Gun, which can instantly tie up an unsuspecting MULE from a distance. However, keep in mind that doing so will quickly alert their comrades around the area. Regardless, if you’ve managed to take down a MULE with a bola shot, be sure to pass by and kick them while they’re down to knock them out, as they’ll get up much quicker if you don’t.
Other useful tools against MULEs are Smoke Grenades and Shock Bombs, which are both incredibly effective at stopping a pack in their tracks. Once you’ve unlocked these grenades for fabrication, it’s recommended to have them on hand whenever you’re crossing through MULE territory. You never know when you’ll need them.
There is decoy cargo, like the Smoke-Emitting and Vog-Emitting cases, which can draw MULE attention while also potentially incapacitating them. Both are handy when you get pinged while sneaking and want to turn back the odds in your favor.
Regardless of how much you make use of the tactics we’ve detailed, if you find yourself overwhelmed, there’s no shame in running way. A swift escape is always within reach in any MULE encounter, so always keep that in mind. It’s generally not worth engaging for too long if it means all your precious cargo getting damaged beyond repair, or worse, stolen.