Title: Bloodborne: The Old Hunters DLC
Version Tested: PS4
Available On: PS4
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Official Site: Bloodborne: The Old Hunters
Release Date: December 3rd, 2015
Where To Buy: PSN
There’s an uneasy feeling that came up as I took my first steps in Bloodborne’s first expansion The Old Hunters. As someone who had played the core game to death and currently on my third play through, I was genuinely curious just how difficult this could be. Surely it couldn’t be that bad, as it becomes accessible after you beat one of the game’s earliest bosses: Vicar Amelia. Once more Bloodborne proves it is a game to not be taken likely as this self-contained 12-15 hour expansion turns up the bloodied mess in almost every way imaginable.
The world of The Old Hunters feels both familiar and surreal; as if sections of the game had been taken apart and stitched horrifically back together. Paths you may recognize from Old Yharnam lead to entirely different areas or are distorted in such a way that leaves you guessing. While the core game’s design was foreboding enough, it’s the distinct absence of color that proves the most visually striking. Yharnam appears stripped of all life, a bleak and blasted ruin of the former city. Rivers now run red with blood and the mad laughter of the demented villagers is replaced with an eerie silence. This emptiness is balanced nicely by entirely new areas such as the Research Hall; whose twisted verticality can have you roaming lost for hours. Though you never feel truly alone as this journey offers far more encounters with NPC Hunter’s lost in the nightmare…I think. The story does answer some lingering questions, but once again From Software tells this tale in a cryptic manner.
Bosses seem to play a more important role this time around, as they no longer just feel like another big monster we have to slay. Each one is clearly significant in its own right, showing off the tragic fates of some of the game’s most notable figures. The encounter themselves have also been stepped up as at least four of the five new bosses transform in more impactful ways. They don’t just gain new move sets but force you to change your attack strategy entirely, allowing a more frantic feeling to the combat. They hit far harder than any boss that comes to mind, able to easily kill even the most skilled of players in a few quick strikes. Sadly not all of the bosses are up to par as the second one you encounter is so rudimentarily designed the battle is over in a matter of a few minutes. While in contrast the first boss you meet is so difficult it made me question if I was high enough level to even take on such a monumental battle. This, of course, enforced the concept of summoning friends to help you brave this powerful nightmare. Something I found myself doing far more frequently than any time in the core game.
Enemies themselves range from the familiar, to the depressing, to the downright terrifying as everyone single one seems to tell a story. The patients of the Research Hall cackle and mumble to themselves, attacking with wild, frantic swings. Some of them do not even notice you, content with rambling about the madness you have stepped into. Others such as the fish like terrors of Fishing Hamlet, come off as traditional, but horrific. Old favorites return such as crows and the brain headed women that are capable of decimating your health bar in a matter of seconds. Yet, it’s the plethora of NPC Hunters that make up the terrifying encounters. Each one tells a story and feels like a mini boss battle in their own rights; offering up some truly challenging encounters.
One of the few complaints I had with Bloodborne was its lack of weapons in the main game. Each skill tree only felt like it had one or two viable options that truly changed your style of combat. Thankfully, The Old Hunters adds a plethora of new toys to your bloody war chest. Each trick weapon feels incredibly unique in both design and control though they seem to lean more towards Strength-based builds. My personal favorite is Simon’s Bowblade, which in the light form is a curved sword that can hold a good amount of damage. Transforming it allows you to wield a powerful bow that gives Bloodborne the much-needed ability to instill heavy amounts of ranged damage.
The only issue, and it’s a fairly noticeable one, comes from the way in which you access the DLC. Unlike expansions in other games, this cannot be activated anytime during your play through. As stated, players must kill Vicar Amelia and then traverse cryptic steps to access the expansion. The issue is that if you have beaten the game it will instantly send you into New Game Plus mode, forcing you to go through a few more hours of content to even get to the expansion. I understand gating it off for the first time through, but for those who have beaten the game and moved on, this is exceptionally frustrating. One shouldn’t have to go through several hours of old content to access the expansion set because they were not warned of what would happen if they killed the final boss.
Thankfully though this is the only real annoyance that The Old Hunter faces, as the rest of the experience is largely enjoyable. It may not revolutionize the Bloodborne formula, but it offers enough content to make it well worth the trip into this nightmare.
- Gameplay: This is the same fast-paced, visceral combat that gets your heart racing. The addition of new weapons, more Hunters and dynamic boss battles breath new life into Bloodborne.
- Graphics: Hauntingly beautiful and incredibly unsettling. The color is used scarcely at times and there is a wet look to the game.
- Sound: From the babbling of mad patients to the whispering winds; the sound truly brings this nightmare to life.
- Presentation: One never feels truly safe in this world and the surreal familiarity adds a new layer of dimension to the streets of Yharnam. Unique level designs help compliment this even further, giving the one of the game’s best areas in the Research Hall.
- Gorgeous Level Design
- Enhanced and Unique Arsenal
- Great Dynamic Boss Fights
- NPC Hunters Offer Significant Challenge
- Convoluted Accessibility
- Second Boss is Underwhelming
A recent graduate of Arcadia University, Collin MacGregor is a freelance video editor and writer. He covers video games, television, and film for The Nerd Stash. Collin currently is the head film/television reviewer for the site.