First Impressions Of Bloodborne
When I first heard that Bloodborne was going to be exclusive to PS4 I was a little distraught. I couldn’t see myself getting the console anytime soon, but as I loved Demon’s and Dark Souls so much I wanted to be able to continue playing these games. My boyfriend decided to take the plunge and bought a PS4 bundle with the game on the day of the launch and was kind enough to let me have a go. Well I found that I loved the game, so then he convinced me to take the plunge myself – probably to free up his own console :P.
On the surface Bloodborne looks like a Dark Souls game, but the pacing is very different. You no longer use a shield and can instead stagger enemies by shooting them at the start of an attack (a visceral attack.) Aggressiveness also pays off as you can regain HP by attacking an enemy quickly after receiving damage. That being said, you still have to pay attention to your surroundings and how your enemies behave. Even though I played a lot of Dark Souls prior to this, I still had to go through a bit of a learning curve to adjust to this new pacing (plus my muscle memory kept stumbling over the subtler differences.) I’ve since gone back to Dark Souls and with its higher focus on defence it now feels a lot slower by comparison. I really like this offensive take on the system as it livens up the gameplay. The four boss battles I have completed so far were pretty frantic and also really fun.
Another difference is that you now use a trick weapon, allowing its form to be changed during combat. For instance, my saw cleaver can be extended for further reach. Weapons can still be upgraded, but can also be fine tuned using blood gems to apply different effects. All of this gives me a lot of control over how I want to use my chosen weapon. The switching animations are cool too.
In some ways Bloodborne feels to me like it’s drawing more deeply from the roots of Demon’s Souls. For instance, health is now regained using blood vials – a regular drop – reminding me of the grass in Demon’s Souls. Fog gates appear behind you as you enter a boss area and lamps – equivalent to bonfires – become available upon felling them. There is also a hub that you must return to for levelling up, repairing weapons and buying items. The world itself however, appears to be open and continuous.
The world design is probably one of the best that I’ve seen so far in one of these games. One of the aspects of Dark Souls that I loved was that feeling of exploration, balanced with risk and reward. Locating a new item, short cut or bonfire could really make the difference between an easier play through and a nightmarish one. Unfortunately, Dark Souls 2 lost this somewhat by having separate branches from the very beginning – you could teleport between them. Bloodborne has returned back to a tighter world design, with lots of secrets and hidden passageways waiting to be discovered. I’ve found that even after sweeping through an area I could still go back to find something new. At the same time I’ve never really been stumped to know where to go next, although there have been a few moments where I’ve had several places I could check out at once. The dark Victorian theme is also incredibly atmospheric and ominous.
The few things that I do miss in Bloodborne are the lack of magic, rings and not being able to upgrade armour. Once you are use to the new system it does seem a bit simpler in many ways and I’m not sure if there will be as strong a variety in class builds. There are lots of nice perks too though, like not having to deal with the hollowing – for once I can appreciate the appearance of my character. In fact, the only loss from dying seems to be the blood echoes (equivalent to souls) and progress. Although, on a slightly meaner note, enemies can now pick up your dropped echoes – their eyes will glow blue – and so you have to kill them to get them back; no more dashing in to retrieve lost experience from tricky enemies. The fact that this game is challenging goes without saying, although once I adjusted to the system it became a lot easier; So far not as bad as some of the areas in Dark Souls, but I guess I’ll see how this goes as I get further into it.
Out of the first three games the original Dark Souls was my favourite, but I think Bloodborne may be able to happily nudge up next to it. It’s similar enough to Dark Souls to give me more of the offerings that I love, but at the same time it’s different enough to liven up the experience. I can say that once again I have become truly hooked on a From Software game. Well worth moving onto the next generation for.
There are some interesting Bloodborne challenges happening over on VaatiVidya’s channel at the moment – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLei0sHIL9Q – for anyone brave enough to give it a go.
Dark Souls II Scholar Of The First Sin has also recently been released on PS4 and Xbox one, apparantly improved and containing all of the DLC.