Bloodborne: The Old Hunters’ First Boss Hurdle
Ben Sheene / Dec 1st, 2015 1 Comment
Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is rife with seemingly impossible challenges. I expected nothing less considering how experienced I am with From Software’s unique brand of punishment. But nothing prepared me for the grueling trials I would face in this new DLC. Worming my way through shortcuts and checkpoints in the Hunter’s Nightmare on NG+ is a brand of difficulty few games have thrown at me. I thought being over level 100 would guide me to victory. I thought beating the game multiple times would have toughened me up. I was so wrong.
Ludwig, The Impaler
Already exhausted from making my way to the final lamp before the first boss, it wasn’t easy to gather up the few tiny pieces of courage I had left in me. The river of blood and bodies I had been wading through was leading up to an ominous entryway. You didn’t need experience to know a boss fight was coming. Despite being obviously underleveled and fighting extremely difficult enemies, I was confident that this first boss was going to be a jerk ,but a jerk I could beat after a handful of deaths and pattern memorization. I was so wrong.
As I walked into a blood-soaked arena lined with corpses, Ludwig the Accursed stirred from his slumber. As a fan of Bloodborne’s vague yet deep lore, I instantly recognized the name. He was the first hunter for the Healing Church, an important figure in Bloodborne. I even spent most of the base game and the opening of The Old Hunters using Ludwig’s holy blade as my weapon of choice. But here he was, a monster that had been twisted and deformed by a thirst for blood and the nightmare we were all in.
Ludwig the Accursed is typical Bloodborne fare; a massive boss with strong, sweeping attacks. I’m not sure what beasts Ludwig was mixed with but there had to be a horse in there to explain the fast movement and constant bucking. Of course there are claws and a freaky mouth-head that spits deadly streams of what I think is water but is likely foamy rabies daggers. The first thing Ludwig did was lunge at me. He caught me off guard. Seconds into the first boss fight of The Old Hunters and I had a sliver of health left. I was so dead.
The Agony of Repeated Defeat
The suggested level for this DLC is 65 and I knew that NG+ was going to throw that off a bit. But it wasn’t until facing Ludwig that I realized how daunting Bloodborne can be. Ludwig took me to a point of frustration I almost never experience in a game. There have been times I’ve lost hours of gameplay to a crash or glitch; times online matches have been lost because of cheaters. But nothing compares to the countless deaths from Ludwig. The opening attack that nearly killed me was not unique. Ludwig’s furious swipes could shave a third or even half my health off. A charge attack he used that could take him from one end of the arena to the other resulted in almost instant death. He also jumped into the ceiling out of view and landed on me, killing me instantly if I wasn’t running.
Every attack Ludwig has in his repertoire could render me dead faster than I felt comfortable with. His massive size and nimble movements made it even harder to dodge his attacks. Even my highest damage weapon, Ludwig’s Holy Blade, did about 1100 damage with the slowest, strongest attack (which was maybe a twentieth of his overall health). I might as well have been slapping him. Trying to avoid his aggressive movements just to occasionally tap him with a sword meant this fight was going nowhere fast. I kept dying. And dying. And dying.
I tried summoning the help of a friendly AI. He became a meat shield, distracting Ludwig so I could unleash heavy attacks. And then Ludwig went into his second form, the “Holy Blade.” He stoop upright and wielded a glowing sword over twice the size of my character. Now Ludwig could make grand sweeps at me or, if I moved too far away, slash the sword and send out blasts of curved energy at me. My heart sunk. This phase was just as hard.
After a handful of deaths, it felt like hours had gone by. I began to resent many aspects of Bloodborne. Much of my resentment was due to how bitter I was, but I had wiped out my large stock of blood vials and was missing the Estus Flasks from Dark Souls. Since I was playing in the days before everyone else had the game, I was having no luck summoning human players for help. It made me miss leaving a mark on the ground pleading for help that anyone could see. It became apparent that The Old Hunters is best experienced on a fresh playthrough, for extremely advanced players, or for those so ridiculously leveled up that nothing was a challenge.
The Old Hunters was making me feel gross. Really, it was Ludwig who was slowly picking away at my sanity. Additionally, my frustration was growing because I wanted to finish the expansion in a timely manner for review. With those dreams obviously shattered, I took to making my character stronger. I went into the areas of the base game and got the assistance of other players. I had fun summoning other hunters and clearing out a zone and boss in one fell swoop. But even though I jumped up to level 120 after these sessions I still was fodder for Ludwig.
Long Road Ahead
I will never know how many times I died before I finally beat Ludwig. I don’t want to know. But I certainly didn’t do it myself. Long, boring minutes were spent waiting near the boss room trying to summon fellow hunters for help. At times, the game would mock me by showing the shadowy image of my character rather than other human players who could be summoned. After about 10 failed attempts with a combination of other players and AI hunters, I got desperate. As soon as the first friendly player was summoned into my world I messaged them, pleading my case. “I’m on NG+. I’ve died a billion times. I’m waiting until another players comes in.” They didn’t budge. Normally it took minutes for even one player to stumble into a session with me. This time a second player hopped in within the minute.
Confidence bubbling inside me I went through the gate. I’m not proud of how many times I cowered back to heal or calm my nerves. I’m not proud of how many times I missed attacks or felt like I wasn’t doing anything. The Old Hunters was a struggle and Ludwig was putting me in a bad place. I wanted to beat him at all costs. When I finally did, I did not get that typical feeling of joy that comes with besting the challenges of Bloodborne. Instead, I felt tired and relieved that I wouldn’t have to do it again. “THANK YOU SO MUCH,” I messaged one of the players who led me to victory. Their response? “Ok.” I chuckled and readied myself for the next impossible challenge.
tags: bloodborne , Bloodborne THe Old Hunters Review , Bloodborne: The Old Hunters , from software , opinion , ps4