Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is a Grueling Trial
Ben Sheene / Nov 30th, 2015 1 Comment
With a heavy heart, I admitted defeat several times in my first day with Bloodborne: The Old Hunters, From Software’s first (and likely only) DLC for the incredible Bloodborne. I consider myself a Souls veteran. Painful, one-hit deaths are something I’ve endured from Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls to this year’s Bloodborne. Countless monsters and towering bosses conquered me multiple times before I learned their patterns, breathed easy, and bested these challenges. But this time? This time was different.
Let’s backtrack for a minute. The Old Hunters, like previous Souls DLC, is integrated into the world and not simply accessed through a menu. More than ten new weapons, new runes and new armor are included for players to dive into and fine-tune their ideal hunter. Five new bosses are included with a handful of new areas. Minus some of the bosses, these were all elements I hoped to touch upon in my first 10-15 hours of The Old Hunters. Boy, was I wrong.
The Old Hunters starts off in the Hunter’s Nightmare, a stark contrast to the safety of the serene Hunter’s Dream where players can level up and upgrade weapons. To reach the DLC, players need to have beaten Vicar Amelia at the Grand Cathedral. After approaching the altar where Amelia was first encountered, a ritual will be triggered that changes the game’s time from day to night. Players then need to return to the Hunter’s Dream to collect the eye of a blood-drunk hunter. Using a tombstone to teleport back to the cathedral ward, head left into a courtyard. Standing next to the dead body by the tree will have players be terrifyingly whisked away into the DLC. That’s the easy part.
One of Bloodborne’s strengths is how it tests players’ skills. While many areas and enemies are accessible right from the start, it doesn’t mean they will be a cakewalk to tackle. Those skilled and persistent enough will be able to kill the hulking executioner with an ax. Most just leave him alone until they are leveled up. It’s From Software’s way of imposing a subtle level restriction for players who aren’t doing insane level one runs through the entire game. As suggested by Sony, The Old Hunters should be tackled at about level 65. Yeah, that’s funny.
Difficulty Railroad Spike
To play The Old Hunters, I planned on using my level 109 character on his first new game plus (NG+). As fans should know, NG+ raises the difficulty of enemies and bosses but increases the amount of blood echoes received. It’s certainly a challenge but manageable enough for experienced players. I felt as if my level 50 character was too low and didn’t have enough gear to pose any kind of threat. Upon awakening into the Hunter’s Nightmare, I got my bearings because the area was nearly identical to the Cathedral Ward but with mangled rock formations and eerie scenery. Then I encountered my first enemy.
Climbing up the path lined with bloody tombstones I saw a hunter in the distance, his eyes glowing red. Gripping one of the new DLC weapons, he lashed it out meters in front of him to attack two oncoming creatures, killing them instantly. Unfortunately, I was his next target.
I swiftly dodged his first attack and smacked him with my highest damage sword. It might have knocked a tenth of his health off. A poorly timed roll away and he hit me, draining half my health. I desperately fled into the nearby courtyard. About a dozen black-furred monsters were having a convention that two more hunters wanted to break up. One hunter had the new “boom hammer” with its flame attacks. Before I knew it I was on the losing end of the battle.
Throw in a few more hunters and monsters and a lot more deaths and you’ve summed up my first hour or so of The Old Hunters. It didn’t take long for me to recognize how deadly and overpowered every enemy is. I found a shortcut that allowed me to skirt around the courtyard, but I walked into a new area where I was shot from a distance by guns and had timed molotov cocktails thrown at me. And had another boom hammer hunter attack me. And saw a river of blood with grotesque spiders skittering around its corpse-filled banks.
A Tired Hunter
Death. It was death everywhere. I’m getting exhausted thinking about it. My first few hours of The Old Hunters were spent trying to get my bearings and watch my stamina and health bars rapidly decrease just by trying to get away. Obviously I was not strong enough. The difficulty of NG+ weighed heavily upon this playthrough, but the results were about the same with my level 50 character.
After countless deaths my patience began to wear thin. I was less than impressed that The Old Hunters’ first new area was just a remixed version of Bloodborne’s starting area and the Cathedral Ward. Even with the magnificent gothic architecture and orange moon glowing in the background, the new area wasn’t blowing me away. From Software has a deft hand in creating fluid, inspired environments. Here it felt like “nightmare” was just an excuse to slap some overly creepy elements on currently existing assets; freaky but familiar.
Keeping in line with the groundwork laid in the base game, The Old Hunters’ weapons are incredibly cool looking and fun to use. But there’s one flaw. The game really pushes players to specialize in a couple weapons because upgrade materials are spread thin. Almost half of the DLC’s new weapons can be found before the first boss. While upgrade materials are found in the starting area, players might already be far too comfortable with their current loadouts. Combined with the heavy difficulty of the opening area, these weapons might best be used to farm easier sections of the game.
Suffice it to say, my first plunge into Bloodborne: The Old Hunters was peppered with bitter familiarity. The DLC is obviously for fans of the game, but it’s specifically for those who are already on an NG+ playthrough. Then again, it’s those fans who likely already have multiple characters or are so familiar with the game they can glide easily to a decent level cap. And as much experience with the game I had, nothing could have prepared me for Ludwig, The Old Hunters’ first boss.
tags: bloodborne , Bloodborne THe Old Hunters Review , Bloodborne: The Old Hunters , from software , ps4