Bloodborne (PS4) E3 Impressions
Kalvin Martinez / Jul 8th, 2014 No Comments
Bloodborne officially debuted at Sony‘s E3 Press Conference with a cinematic trailer. When the trailer started and Hidetaka Miyazaki popped up on screen the entire joint erupted in cheers. Whether it was a case of you had to be there or the right crowd is unsure, but the short tease hinted at the direction and style of the game. Before its official unveil at E3, screenshots and footage leaked online under the guise of Project Beast.
It was a not-so-great kept secret. The sad part is the leaked gameplay footage would have made a bigger splash, but the cinematic trailer gives a better idea of what to expect tonally from the game. Bloodborne is going to be a departure for FromSoftware and Miyazaki from the look, tone and atmosphere of Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls. The game is moving away from the medieval setting and defensive, conservative style of gameplay from the Souls series. It will favor a more gothic setting and a faster style of gameplay.
On the E3 show floor, Sony showed off a small snippet of Bloodborne in action. The hunter, seen in the E3 trailer with leather coat, tri-corner hat and cleaver-axe, is stalking through a city full of a deranged villagers, mutated dogs, werewolves and more in the demo. The city is full of tall stone buildings and everything is dark and only lit by scarce sources of light emitting off torches, either lit around the village or in villager’s hands. Streets seem deserted as he begins his trek through the city, but they are not safe.
Danger comes when you least expect it, enemies pop out from secluded corners and from out of the darkness. The hunter walks down an alley with a cluster of recessed doorways and occasionally a villager wielding a pitchfork will pop out of the corner before he moves past. Or when you think you made it safely through, an enemy jumps out from behind. Once an enemy shows up, the hunter attacks with ferocity.
The hunter has a main melee weapon that can switch from a a blunted weapon to a sharp blade with a flick of the wrist. Each side of the weapon has its benefits and switching between the two is highly effective. If enemies get too close for comfort or a bunch of villagers bunch up, the hunter can let loose a blast from his blunderbuss to scatter them and create an opening. Watching the combat in Bloodborne, it becomes clear the gameplay moves much faster than the Souls series. The hunter dodges a villager’s attacks with deftness and ease.
When the hunter gets deeper into the city, the streets are no longer abandoned, now a procession of crazed villagers shamble toward the city center for some reason. The cool thing that the demo hints at is that some enemies will leave you alone if you avoid conflict and stay quiet. As the hunter was able to take an alternate route around the procession, he avoided fighting a violent mob. Avoiding conflict allowed the hunter to view the ceremony happening in the city center where the villagers burned a werewolf on a stake. These villagers may seem like slack-jawed yokels, but they are harsh slack-jawed yokels.
In the full game, exploring the world will reveal more information about the story and setting. Avoiding a fight also gave the hunter a chance to gather some intelligence as he witnessed a couple villagers moving toward a giant gate. Something on the other side was banging hard against it causing the villagers to rabble. The hunter took to a dark back alley away from the villagers to see what was happening on the other side of the gate.
The darkness is not your friend. Low growls echo through the alley while the hunter carefully navigates through it. Then out of the darkness a hellhound leaps and attacks the hunter. The hound is quick, so the hunter is swift to take it out without making too much noise. The dark alley is full of terrors, so making noise will attract enemies otherwise uninterested in you.
After dealing with the hellhound and other lurking terrors, the hunter figures out what was banging against the gate and it was a big’un. A giant, bulky beast catches wind of the hunter and charges with all of its weight toward him. The speed of the hunter comes in handy when fighting a heavier enemy as he outmaneuvers the big’un. Then with some well placed melee attacks and a blunderbuss shot or two. The hunter downs the big’un and is finally on his way to the prey he was tracking.
The end of the demo saw the hunter witnessing a bunch of werewolves attacking another hunter on a decrepit bridge. Like the Souls series, you can choose to help troubled NPCs with enemies and have them fight on your side. In this case, helping the distressed hunter would have him aid you in the boss fight. The other hunter had a very leather driven look similar to “the hunter” mixed with Chakan the Forever Man. For the sake of brevity, Chakan hunter was left to his own fate.
The hunter sprints to the end of the bridge avoiding devil birds and triggers a boss fight. What comes out is a flurry of tangled fur, gnarled horns, claws and fangs. The boss is imposing, but is impressively rendered. The demo ended before squaring off against the boss, but if the speed of the gameplay is any indication, the boss fights will be fast, dogged and harried.
While the demo was impressive showing off eye-catching graphics and gorgeously rendered details and animations, there were some framerate issues. The demo hiccuped a bit when things got heated, but this is an early build and the team acknowledged the framerate is not quite there. By the time the game hits next year, the framerate should be hammered out, hopefully.
Even though the game is a departure from the Souls series, it still will have the deep action RPG trappings of FromSoftware’s prior work. Despite some rough edges, Bloodborne was one of the best things at E3 2014. The demo showed plenty to be excited about if it can fully deliver upon its early 2015 release.
tags: bloodborne , E3 2014 , FromSoftware , Hidetaka Miyazaki , previews , ps4