Well, here we are, folks. After playing through not one but two different characters in FROMSOFTWARE’S recent DLC for Bloodborne, I have to say that this is definitely their best work yet. Yes, that even includes all of the DLC that they provided for Dark Souls, which weren’t bad at all. It’s just the sheer amount of content that was poured into their first and sadly their last DLC for Bloodborne, that it simply shines. The fact that I’ve gone through multiple times to play it all over and over, well that should say something. While Bloodborne departs from the same gameplay formula that was created via Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, it’s just something that keeps pulling me back to play it and that DLC was just the icing on the cake. But let me take a step back and break into why I’ve enjoyed Bloodborne: The Old Hunters so much.
Oh and if you are currently playing this game and haven’t gotten very far, a lot what I’m going to talk about will be spoilers. So stop here if you don’t want to be spoiled.
Game Name: Bloodborne: The Old Hunters
Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Release Date: November 24, 2015
There hasn’t been a single boss in Bloodborne that has made me toss my gamepad across the room, and no I’m not lying. You’re reading from the tightly wound mind that has played up to NG5 in Dark Souls 2 for the PC, and NG3 on the PlayStation 3, with all 3 of their DLC’s. So I know I thing or two about going mad. However, with The Old Hunters, my poor Dual Shock 4 has finally known the pain of being crushed into the floor and making imprints into the walls in my off. Two encounters come to mind; Laurence, The First Vicar and Orphan of Kos.
I’m sorry my lovely DS4, I promise I won’t do it again… that’s until later in 2016, I’m sure at least.
OMFG! Both of those encounters are basically akin to banging your head against a wall, repeatedly, hoping to get lucky. With Laurence, it’s not too bad, just have to study this pattern and avoid that fire damage. But when you get him down enough and he splits, then it becomes a different fight. Between him firing, well. fire at you from the front and dripping liquid hot magma (Say that in a Doctor Evil voice), it’s freaking hard as can be to get an open without doing some sort of damage to yourself. Still doable, but still a pain. And then there’s that blasted Orphan of Kos, I hate this fight. It’s bad enough this game is powerful, but he has the range as well when he swings that makeshift axe on his arm. But then just when you think you got it figured it out, oh no, he starts tossing bombs every damn where and even flying. Really? Can’t you just stay grounded enough so I can slay you a bit easier?
And for those wondering why I didn’t put Lady Maria on that list, well it’s because she’s extremely punishable and you can cheese that entire fight if you have access to the Augur of Ebrietas and basically knock her down for some free hits or even a visceral attack. So yeah, she’s a decent encounter but definitely not the hardest. In fact, I’d say some of the hunters in the game were a tad harder than she was.
Yeah, I said that.
Overall, all the encounters were fun and definitely not something I expected from a $20 DLC.
While parts of Bloodborne: The Old Hunters are rehashed, nightmare-ish versions of areas from the original game, well that’s sort of the point, isn’t it. You’re here to unlock, to discover the secrets that are behind the premise of the original game. And even still, the designs still had that something that made them feel fresh. Combined with the new areas such as the Astral Clock Tower, which I really loved, Research Hall and Fishing Hamlet, the later which feels like a design straight out of Dark Souls. All have a unique feel, great spaces for combat against both AI controlled and PVP opponents, as well as enough surprises in store for those who like going off the beaten path. And while it doesn’t seem like 4 levels is a huge addition, these levels are pretty large, though technically it’s like 3 levels as the Research Hall and Astral Clock Tower are connected.
Ah yes, the weapons, all those wonderful toys that hunters love to play with. And there was no shortage of them in this DLC. There was a beefy 12 to acquire via different means, and all have their uses. It’s ultimately up to the hunters to decide which will come their favorite and thus the one or two they level up first. From the Pizza Cutter… um, Whirligig Saw, to Simon’s Bowblade, both are my favorites, there’s a ton of variety to utilize the standard and secondary forms. And that’s just the primary weapons, but FROMSOFTWARE also added a nice chunk of firearms, such as a Gatling Gun and even a shield (there you go shield fiends). Hell, even the Moonlight Sword, which is in every Souls game, made it into Bloodborne as well.
But they didn’t stop there as they added more runes, some of with give you new forms and abilities, and new armor sets to collect.
While not completely directed towards the DLC, FROM has introduced several patches, that change up the game. Starting with the addition of “The League”, which introduces NPC’s that you’re able to summon for dungeon / area runs and boss battles, which is very similar to how it worked in Dark Souls. They’ve also adjusted several items, mainly weapons, that were sorely in need of adjusting and most importantly have added the ability to buy blood stone chunks and blood rocks. And while they’re very costly at 20 and 60 insight, respectably, if you’re an avid co-op / PVP player, you’ll rack up that amount needed to purchase them in no time, which also lets you level up your weapons pretty quickly.
Sadly the game still has a few issues that I wish FROM would address, such as the matter in which you can die in a co-op game or issue of having being summoned to a different game, yet having no items on hand to help heal you. If we have items in storage, I wish they would be put into our on hand items vs possibly screwing us and forcing us to abandon our session and having us head back to the Hunters Dream. I also wished we had access to store more bullets. Sure we have blood bullets, but with only 5 on hand at a time, I’m stabbing myself like a mad man while using the Bowblade. Sure I could stop using it, but it’s so good that I can’t. No, that I won’t stop using it.
Oddly enough, we’re still not able to change items, heal or basically anything while on ladders?
Sadly, the more and more lore that was hinted at or explained via FROMSOFTWARE’S cryptic storytelling, the sadder I started to feel. Not because I felt bad for the characters and NPCs who suffered via the game. Nah, they deserved everything they got. It just feels that Fromsoftware has dedicated themselves to making this first and perhaps only DLC for the game its swan song. Which effectively wraps up the Bloodborne story, which is a shame. Now while I hate to see that happen, especially since this game was the main reason why I picked up a PlayStation 4, I really can’t complain about how the lore is being handled, though I felt that the universe deserved a bit more than this and was worth revisiting in the future.
The Old Hunters is easily Fromsoftware's best work to date.
Compared to Bloodborne's opposite, Dark Souls received two games, several DLC's and a 3rd game that will be making its way to multiple platforms in 2016, I surely hope that we see one more DLC for Bloodborne. Please FROM, one more... just one more!
All in all, as much as I enjoyed the original game of Bloodborne, I found myself enjoying the DLC just as much, perhaps even a little more. The eerie setting, the backdrops, tons of mindless action, and PVP is just the tip of the iceberg with Bloodborne: The Old Hunters. So much that I know I'll be trying to beat the game just one more time before I perhaps hang it up for good, and anticipate the third coming of Dark Souls.
But if you haven't tried it for one reason or another, you definitely need to try out the DLC for my 2015 GOTY.