Bloodborne, and the Old Hunters DLC, really brings back the memories of running through the first Dark Souls game, as well as the Artorias the Abysswalker DLC. The feel of new, beautiful scenery, new items and gear to find and use, and a few new, bloodthirsty enemies that want nothing more than to rip out our innards.
Bloodborne, however, is different from the Souls games, gameplay-wise. Where they focused a lot of emphasis on defence, Bloodborne focuses on offence. The most obvious of this is the lack of shields and heavy armour; in fact, defence doesn’t do much at all here, and combat is focused on dodging and hitting fast.
This isn’t at all a bad thing; it’s refreshing to have a change in game mechanics, and essentially throwing all my past Souls experience and knowledge to the beasts. The combat is fast-paced, tense and requires more skill than the previous games, and so shines here.
And of course, this wouldn’t be a From Software game if it didn’t boast high difficulty. One issue I expected when loading it up for the first time was that, “Oh I’ve played the Souls games, so this won’t be a challenge at all”. Boy was I wrong.
The main game itself throws punches and cheap shots every chance it gets, whether it be ambushes from a mass of AI, bosses that can heal themselves with not much warning, and the other AI Hunters themselves, all make the game difficult and, oftentimes, rage-inducing. And with the DLC, From decided to hit us with a chair, and it became one of the hardest From Software DLCs I’ve ever played.
Despite how tough it is, nothing is insurmountable in this game, and so, with much time, force and tears, the game can be beat, as well as the DLC (I’m fighting the final story boss in the DLC as we speak, and it’s almost driven me to rage-induced tears). The difficulty isn’t a bad thing though; it’s what makes these games what they are, and so it keeps that From Software charm.
When it comes to graphics, the From games have never been about pretty areas and such, yet they are often some of the most beautiful scenery in any game. Bloodborne is no different. The areas in the game offer very different sights as you explore, whether it be the infested city of Yharnam, the dark forest of the Forbidden Woods, or even the Nightmares, the game looks beautiful most of the time.
If there was a problem with the graphics, however, it would be that there are the occasional texture glitches. Walking through an area or standing in a certain spot, when suddenly you can see through walls and into the sunset, does break the immersion when running through the game. These are common in such games, but it does take away that feeling of actually being in the world.
The story of Bloodborne relies on the same methods of explanation as the previous Souls games; item descriptions and lore. You get the general understanding of the story; you’re a Hunter, and it is your job to clean the streets of Yharnam and purge the beast threat.
While this is an interesting, new type of story compared to the others, you don’t get much explanation as to WHY any of this happened. Why are the beasts running rampant? What is the Hunter’s Dream really (The hub area in the game)? Why do the citizens blame ME for causing this? And what is Paleblood?
The reliance on lore, item descriptions and the fanbase to piece it together has always been an interesting concept in the From games, and personally, I’ve always loved looking up the lore to put the story together. But new fans and such may find this method of story-telling off-putting.
Another area of the game, and perhaps my favourite overall, is the online multiplayer. Similar to the Souls games, you can either summon another player or two for co-op, or summon players to engage in PvP. Where this is different, however, is the mechanics of it.
Players own three different bells, which perform different tasks. One allows you to summon others into your world, one allows you to BE summoned for co-op by those who rang the Beckoning Bell, and the third allows you to “invade” as an enemy player, and fight the host. Now, the co-op in Bloodborne is fantastic. It’s smooth, it works well and feels like a definite improvement.
The PvP however, is where it suffers disappointingly. There are various concorns with the PvP. One, and this is a major one, is that it relies entirely on someone else owning a Bell Maiden, who are only caused by the host summoning someone else, which then puts you in an outnumbered situation, or the player ringing their own Sinister Bell, but then they’ll be in the same situation as you.
Only two areas in the game have forced Bell Maidens, but if you wanted to invade in different areas, you’re usually out of luck. Another issue is the disadvantage you’re put at as an invader. When you invade a player, your health is massively reduced.
This could be argued as fair, as you can use the enemy AI against the host. But, if the host has killed all the AI in the area, and has the required co-op player(s) in order to invade, you’re in an incredibly unfair situation. PvP has always been one of my favourite parts of these games; testing my build against another human player is a great experience, and when it does happen in Bloodborne, it’s an amazing, intense battle. But the fact that it lacks the PvP a lot of the time, and really restricts you to one or two areas, it really lets us down.
Overall, Bloodborne provides us with the classic Miyazaki-style of game, with an amazing PvE and beautiful worlds. PvP was a let down, but that doesn’t prevent it from scoring high, with an 84%. Fix that one aspect, and the graphical bugs, and you truly have a masterpiece.
Gamer’s Pantheon Score – 84%
– Graphical bugs