Thanks to a sale a month ago I was able to pick up and just now complete Death Stranding.
It is probably my game of the year, one of the most unique, beautiful and emotionally resonate games I have played in a long time.
I don't want to get mad at Giantbomb for dismissing the game as much as they did (other than on music this game has a fantastic soundtrack and deserves more praise for that, I can't actually remember that discussion from GOTY)
I can definitely see it being a game that isn't for everyone but I think this game more than any other suffered from the review process and any new players now will have a different experience than the reviewers.
Consider the following: throughout the whole game I benefited from other player creations, I would estimate only about 40% of the time I needed to built a structure the rest of the time I was always taking advantage of other player bridges/ladders/ropes/generator.
Although I had to built most of my network of ziplines, a few key placements other players ziplines taught me of their importance and helped start my network. I also was always finding an abundance of vehicles and equipment.
All roads were already 40-60% complete when I found them, I just had to finish them.
All of this cut down on some grind and frustration.
I was also able to slowly play the game over several weeks and take in the atmosphere and environment (which again seems less difficult to traverse now than it was for the GB staff)
I could take my time to do extra deliveries as I wanted and unlock and read the emails and data entries which helped flesh out the story.
I also think this game hits differently now while playing it in quarantine than it probably did in the fall when the idea of being the delivery-man in the apocalypse came across as silly.
My final thoughts are that if you dismissed this game because of some games media's take on it and you can get the game at a sale you are comfortable with than most gamers should give this game a try, it might be your game of the year too.