And so another yarn has arrived from Yharnam just in time to remind us why Bloodborne is one of the best games of the year. The Old Hunters is a full-blooded expansion, boasting nightmarish new environments and a bevy of brutal beasts to slaughter, but it's the vast array of original equipment that will have moon slaves practically salivating over this add-on. As far as DLC goes, this is one of the stronger sets that you're likely to see.
Everything about it is as ambiguous as you'd expect, but that's always been one of the primary appeals of the package as a whole. To access the Hunter's Nightmare – one of the new locations that you'll be visiting – you'll need to sacrifice yourself to a giant space beetle clinging on to the Cathedral Ward wall. Once you're away with the not-so friendly fairies, From Software's familiar gameplay loop starts to formulate – it's hunt or be hunted in this gothic otherworld.
The combat, as described in our review, is so far ahead of its peers that it's not even funny; howling wolf people hiss and groan as you decorate their torsos with irreparable wounds. But it's buoyed here by the introduction of new weapons: the Whirligig Saw is a great hunking club which transforms into a mechanical sawblade on a stick, while the Boom Hammer can be heated for a short period in order to provide extra elemental damage to your strikes.
We're particularly keen on the Gatling gun, an arm-mounted cannon that allows you to pepper enemies with quicksilver bullets. There's also a knuckleduster for those who prefer the close and personal approach, as well as the Loch Shield – a welcome addition for the Dark Souls faithful, which comes in useful against the Queen of the Astral Clocktower, an especially unpleasant individual named Lady Maria.
The five boss fights are much as you'd expect: abhorrent, brutal, and brilliant. Ludwig – a character who'll be familiar to disciples of Bloodborne's lore – is a hefty individual, defined by an abundance of teeth and stringy sinews. He contrasts heavily with the Living Failures, grotesque gelatinous substances which are willing to die in order to protect a wilted sunflower. Each is more challenging and memorable than the last, with the final encounter proving a real test.
But it's not just the big battles that shine here, as the sense of discovery is also a highlight. The Research Hall is a gigantic vertical staircase littered with the remains of failed experiments, while the Fishing Hamlet is a barnacle pocked seaside port, cursed with corpses covered in silverfish and aquatic adversaries who gurgle and sputter as you put them to the sword. The level design is excellent, though the sheer diversity of the locations means that they don't quite overlap as well as the main game.
Still, even in spite of this minor oversight, the art direction remains as squalid as ever. Crooked turrets pepper the skyline of the opening environment, offering a twisted fairytale-esque introduction to the add-on. But as you progress things get progressively darker; the gothic architecture is expertly crafted, and while you will happen upon recycled assets, tiny touches such as bloody bodies banging against closed gates help to illustrate the depths of despair in this dreary dream world.
And the incredible thing is that after over 15 hours of exploration, we're still yet to see everything that the DLC has to offer; locked doors elude us, while the Simon's Bowblade – which has featured heavily in pre-release press materials – remains an undiscovered scythe in our side. But it's secrets like this that are going to keep us playing long beyond the review process; even the final boss, a fearsome fire foe, took us a number of hours to track down.
We should stress that beating that final beast is very much a worthwhile endeavour, as it unlocks a new rune which will enable you to indulge your darker side. In fact, there's an absolute ton of loot alongside the weapons that you can take back into the base game, with a dizzying degree of costumes and accessories for you to experiment with. For hunters already drunk on the main outing's offering, this DLC will ensure that you remain intoxicated until Dark Souls III arrives.
Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is much more of the same from what is already an outstanding game. The new environments and boss encounters add hours to the main experience, but it's the deluge of additional equipment that will keep veterans most occupied. If you've been yearning for a reason to return to Yharnam, then this DLC practically demands your Blood Echoes. Just remember that the life of a hunter is defined by death – and you're going to die a lot.
I'm happy to take any questions about the DLC you may have, but please bear in mind that as pointed out in the review, there are some bits I haven't been able to find after hours of playtime myself!
Excellent review, Sammy. I cannot wait to dive back into my personal 2015 GOTY and tackle the new horrors that await!
@Glacier928 You won't be disappointed, man - it's glorious.
For the bowblade, just kill the hunter as soon as you enter Hunter's Nightmare behind the locked door on the right. The one that normally goes up to Healing Church
@get2sammyb Oh I believe it! If I wasn't stoked for it already, the review definitely has me trying to rush through today just to play it tonight.
@gameongreggy Oh him! I kept him alive because I thought he may come in useful later on, but he's disappeared now!
Look's like I'm the only person in the World that dislike this game... 😟
But anyway, great review... 👍
@get2sammyb how much is it in the UK, Sammy?
@whizzkidd I'm sure you're not. What didn't you like about it, though?
@AhabSpampurse £15.99, which is actually more than what it was announced for. It is still worth it, though.
Awesome, I'll be getting this
@get2sammyb do you have to be a certain level to play the dlc? I'm about level 70 and haven't finished my first play through. Would you suggest doing it at ng+1?
Still no easy mode I guess? I like killing, just don't like dieing.
@Ajdibbs I found it quite challenging and I was level 127, so you should be just right at level 70 - you may struggle tbh. I'd say go for it - plus, you'll have all of the new kit to play with in New Game Plus if you do it now.
@rjejr Absolutely not, I'm afraid.
So, I'm near the end of my NG+ run I had going before I stopped playing for other games. Do I have to start NG++ and kill Vicar Amelia to access the DLC? @get2sammyb
@get2sammyb Best new weapon, armor and NPC in your opinion?
@get2sammyb I'm fine with that as a price point, I was expecting £20 so I can buy a sandwich now.
Another quickie if I may... I've finished the main story and started new game+, and got literally about 30 mins in before getting whipped and setting it aside. Can I go back to my new game+ and expect to bump into the dlc through natural progression, or do I need to start a new file from scratch?
@JesWood13 No, when you buy the DLC you'll find the items you need in the Hunter's Dream.
@JMillsDezign I really like the Whirligig Saw, and the beast rune is pretty cool.
@AhabSpampurse Yeah, you'll be able to access the DLC after Vicar Amelia.
Call me stupid, by I didn't like the ambience and gameplay.
Not my type of game entirely... Sorry...
Looking forward to this.
Is it harder or easier than the chalice dungeons?
@whizzkidd No need to apologise, we all like different things.
@Mega-Gazz Which chalice dungeon in particular? It's easier than the defiled ones because you actually have all your HP here.
Would it be ok to roll with Bloodborne GOTY edition as my first experience of the Demon's/Dark soul series? This is really calling me...it looks so fluid and inspired. And I love a challenge.
"We are born of blood, made men by the blood, undone by the blood. Our eyes are yet to open, fear the old blood".
@get2sammyb Are there interesting lore stuff in the expansion? No spoilers obviously.
@Feena As someone who tried both Demon's and Dark Souls but never did anything for me, I love Bloodborne because it's world and lore is much more interesting, plus it has a better balance in the challenge of it's gameplay.
@get2sammyb you have no idea how happy I am to hear that.
Bloodborne has the best combat I've played in any game. That good. THIS IS GOING TO BE SO SWEET.
@feena it isn't as hard as people make it out to be, and more importantly the difficulty is fair not cheap. And as with other rpgs, I have found that in bb more than dark souls, you can out-level stuff if you want it easier.
@Mega-Gazz @adf86 ty guys, I'll get it asap!
Also, overleveling for life (in JRPGS though).
@get2sammyb Not to go off topic too much, but are you able to say if and when the Just Cause 3 review embargo lifts?
@Feena Yes, Bloodborne is a fine entry point for the Souls games. My only advice would be to read a few guides before you get playing so that you know what to expect and have a rough idea of the kind of character you want to build.
@adf86 Yes, plenty of lore, but it's understated in the same way as the main game.
@RaymanFan2 Don't really know to be honest. It's not any time soon as far as I understand.
@get2sammyb Can these new weapons be used in the chalice dungeons? If so, can they better help if one were getting their hunter handed to them in the defiled dungeon?
@Aslanmagic You can use them in the chalice dungeons, yes. As for whether they'll help you — well, it depends really. Bloodborne is incredibly well balanced, so no weapon (of the ones I've found) is really better than any others. However, it's certainly possible that you may find some new gear that "clicks" with your playstyle better than any of the vanilla items, so it may help you in that regard.
@get2sammyb @feena to that point I found the saw cleaver to be the best starting weapon by far, and a "quality" (even str/skill) build to be very strong
@get2sammyb thanks for the reply, I'll have to see if one works better for me. It's that darn dog.
@get2sammyb Thanks, will do some research!
@Aslanmagic Yeah, I can't do it either. I love the game, but I feel like the defiled chalice dungeons make it a teensy bit unfair to be honest. I'm sure some would disagree with me, but I kinda wished they'd rebalance it.
I cannot wait to play this love Bloodborne it's definitely one of the best RPG's of 2015, I would love to see a Bloodborne 2 but sadly it's not happening like Dark Souls 3 is also the last Souls game. The Old Hunters will definitely keep me going until Dark Souls 3, but I will always keep coming back to both long after I've finished them.
@banacheck You don't think Bloodborne 2 will happen? I think it's a certainty personally.
@whizzkidd you're not alone, have never been able to find the appeal of this or the Souls games. It's not the difficulty that puts me off as much as the opaqueness of the whole experience. I keep trying to find what so many others find so special but just find it a joyless task and don't want to admit defeat by trading in, like I did with Dark Souls!
My brothers' fave game of all time. And yet I can't bring myself to play such a game. Even Dark Souls was too dark for me, too much... Idk... evil. This one is even more extreme.
Wish I could experience the gameplay but, there's just no way I could play this. Oh well, at least my brother enjoyed it. I know he's amped for this DLC.
Finished the story a few nights ago so starting a new character to playhrough so I can access the DLC. I was going to wait for the DLC to come out before I finished the story but got so excited being near the end I forgot all about it still won't complain playing through this masterpiece again, best game of this gen in my opinion and I fancy going for the plat which I don't usually bother with
@Hego Good luck with the Plat - those chalice dungeons are HARD.
That's precisely that what I feel...
Nice read, Slayed Ludwig last night and brought his Blade to +10, alas my hunting is on hold till Sunday now. What I've played has been magnificent tho
Was working on chalices last night. I found the most absurd level farming spot - Ailing Loran Chalice, with all three Moon runes equipped (they stack), the first room in the first floor has a bunch of easy hags. 58,000 blood echoes per 4 minute clear (including load screens).
@get2sammyb I'm just one trophy shy to get my first platinum. Too bad it's so hard!
BOOM HAMMER <3 <3 <3 <3
Glad we have this expansion to last us till Dark Souls 3 comes out
@Aslanmagic IKR! I just need to finish the Chalice dungeons to nab my first ever Platinum but its so darn hard, just like this expansion...
My first platinum had it be Bloodborne since its probably my game of the decade <3 What a game!
@AyeHaley this game is so good, and to think I wanted to sell it right shortly after first playing it. I didn't think I would have the time or patience to continue. But I'm so glad I did. This and Mario Maker are my favorite this year. I'm definitely getting the expansion soon. Hope you get your plat!
Chikage, Evelynn and I have some prey to slaughter >
Fear my blood. The blood of the hunter, The blood of the dream.
(Excellent review Sammy)
@get2sammyb If ypu make the game easy it looses a lot of its shine
Tap here to load 49 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...