America. Reconstructionism. Her dream isn't dead.
In his early adulthood, John Blake McClane was a member of the US Army Special Forces, serving under the command of Captain Clifford "Cliff" Unger. During his time in the military, John earned the nickname "Die-Hardman" due to surviving against impossible odds (although John believed it was due to Unger's leadership rather than his own ability).
John later left the Army and began working for Bridges, eventually becoming special advisor and security guard for President Bridget Strand, who he would then fall in love with. During this time, he became part of the Bridge Baby experiments and, among the BBs was the unborn son of Unger, who had submitted the child following an accident that left Unger's then-pregnant wife brain-dead.
Due to the potential of Cliff's son as a BB, Bridget chose to take the child for continued experiments, against the consent of Cliff. On the day before Cliff's baby was to be brought to another facility, he helps Cliff prepare an escape plan for him and his son, and deactivates Cliff's wife security systems, but warns him that if he is ordered to kill Cliff, he can't refuse and will do so. However, Cliff's attempt fails, as Bridges security shoot and chase him, even as Die-Hardman attempted to buy Cliff time and demand that he be the one to deal with Cliff. Fatally, Bridget Strand intervenes in the process and orders Bridges special ops to force the doors open to Lisa Bridges's room, within which Cliff was hiding. Die-Hardman begged Cliff to hand over the bridge baby, trying to hold off the spec ops from shooting Cliff. The Spec Ops shoot Cliff anyway, and the BB pod is taken and given to Bridget. They find that there is no BB left in it, since Cliff extracted it out of the pod. Die-Hardman aims at Cliff and orders him to bring the BB back, with Bridget ordering him to shoot Cliff. After the latter finally pronounced his last sentences, Bridget takes Die-Hardman hands in hers and pull the trigger, shooting twice and accidentally killing both Cliff and the BB.
To avoid implications for the incident, Bridget and John faked his suicide and forged him a new identity of Die-Hardman. Die-Hardman was given Bridget's mask to obscure his face, and used it for decades to conceal his identity. When asked about the mask, Die-Hardman would claim it was for hiding facial burns.
As a director of Bridges, Die-Hardman works to make possible the dream of President Bridget of the United Cities of America, a nation once again united and not fragmented following the event know as the Death Stranding. The experiments on the BBs continue in secret although, in the eyes of the public opinion, they were interrupted, going in parallel with the construction of the Chiral Network, the network that would have allowed Bridges to bring the nation together.
During the three-year expedition of Amelie, President Strand's "daughter", whom Die-Hardman had never met in person but only in hologram, BRIDGES I manages to install the various chiral nodes up to Edge Knot City. Here, unfortunately, Amelie is kidnapped by the Homo Demens, separatists who oppose reconstructionism, and the city is isolated by tar. After the capture of Amelie and President Bridget's death from cancer, Die-Hardman works with her to attempt to convince Sam to continue on her westward expedition, connect all cities to the Chiral Network, and bring her back to Capital Knot City.
During Sam's expedition to west, he is invited on the Beach by Amelie with a baby doll, and records a message that Deadman shows to Sam some time later, wher he confesses about his real face, and says that he plan to kill Amelie, as he knows she is an Extinction Entity and she's responsible for the Death Stranding. On the Beach he try to kill Amelie, posing as Bridget, and finally realizes that Bridget and Amelie are the same person, until Cliff arrives, also invited by Amelie, who kidnaps Die-Hardman, even if he finally recognizes the old comrade. At some point, however, Die-Hardman returns to the world of the living.
After Sam's return from Amelie's Beach, stopping the Last Stranding in the process, he delivers a speech in honor of the UCA, Sam, and of the Bridges. After the speech, Deadman tells Sam about his new discovery regarding Die-Hardman past. However, the latter calls Sam, and confesses in tears of his part in his murder, that he killed Cliff, but that Cliff's forgiveness has broken him. At the same time, he confesses his love for both Bridget and Cliff, saying “I loved him, as much as I loved her.” Sam tries to push him away, looking disgusted, but finally gives Die-Hardman the gun he brought to Amelie's Beach, and informs him that the old habits must die hard to build a better America, and quotes Amelie: "That gun won't help you here".
Die-Hardman is a stoic, loyal man, fully dedicated to the UCA and American reconstruction. While a large part of his motivation was his devotion and love for Bridget Strand, another part is his crippling guilt at causing the death of Cliff and his son.
Die-Hardman is an African American in his mid 50s or early 60s .He's a bit overweight but it's understandable given his job as a politician. McClane uses the Ludens Mask all the time and has short greying hair.
He uses a formal Bridges coat with a formal silver vest and a white shirt. His pants are black like his military boots. Also he uses a black ascot tie and two chains around his neck, one red and the other blue representing the colors of Bridges.
Die-Hardman is highly trained in combat having been in the special forces at the command of Cliff Unger, another great soldier from whom he surely learned a lot. Later, when he retires, he is hired as an expert in security and also works for the president of the USA. This makes him one of the greatest security experts in the world at the time.
Additionally, during the Death Stranding he became a prominent politician directing Bridges and eventually becoming the third president of the UCA.
- Die-Hardman's mask has text on its forehead that reads "BR-10-14P-9999 LUDENS.”
- At one point Deadman asks Sam why Die-Hardman wears the mask, since Sam had known him for longer. Sam replies that he was told it was to hide burns on his face.
- It is later revealed that his face is not damaged at all, and he was simply using it to hide his identity.
- Die-Hardman first appeared in artwork at TGS 2018.
- Die-Hardman is a reference to Die Hard, one of Hideo Kojima's favorite films. His alias is a direct reference, while his real name is a reference to John McClane, the lead character in the film, portrayed by actor Bruce Willis.