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Sharpen your ridiculously large weapons and grab your guns, the hunt is back on in Bloodborne: The Old Hunters – Bloodborne‘s first (and only) DLC episode. Loaded with exciting new areas, characters, weapons and outfits, The Old Hunters is well worth fighting through. And remember, if your hunter is not wearing a ridiculously large, impractical hat, you are NOT doing fashion souls.
I’ll start with this – Bloodborne‘s clear advantage over many other games when it comes to DLC is its minimalist storytelling. There’s no huge number of cutscenes – most of the story is told through the environments and background characters littered throughout to drop a few cryptic lines. Everything else is left up to the player, which actually makes for quite an intricate story.
Unlike other games with DLC episodes featuring noticeably lower quality cutscenes and a generally emptier feeling, The Old Hunters manages to keep up the same pace as the rest of Bloodborne. With only a handful of other characters, The Old Hunters doesn’t feel any emptier for it – in fact this only serves to heighten the atmosphere and overall isolated tone.
It’s adapt or die in this new set of scenarios in the Demon’s Souls-inspired Bloodborne. Or at least it was for me, having taken the time out to play through Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin. Bloodborne may be a part of the Souls series in all but name, but its play-style is wildly different. Those of you that haven’t played in a while or readjusted to Dark Souls‘ slower combat had best take some time to refamiliarise yourselves – this DLC is truly unforgiving.
It’s almost cruel just how difficult this DLC pack is considering its £15.99 price tag. And yet, that’s the beauty of the Souls series. You can’t really expect any less from the series that prides itself on providing players with a such a high level of challenge that just can’t be found elsewhere.
That being said I do worry about the lifespan of The Old Hunters due to its difficulty – those intensely (and sometimes unfairly) tough boss battles might be prohibitively difficult to go back to alone once online play has died down. Oh, and if you thought the bosses in the main game were difficult, they have nothing on some of the monstrosities in here… Consider The Old Hunters as more of a challenge pack.
The locations of The Old Hunters have a touch of familiarity – starting out you’ll notice the first area is a very recognisably restructured version of another area from the main game. This makes sense, with The Old Hunters being based upon the history of Yharnam (the location of Bloodborne), but the differences are enough to stop this coming across as a lazy re-texture. As you make your way further in you might even notice one of two other clever nods to areas in the original game.
Familiarity aside, the locations of The Old Hunters are quite different to anything we’ve seen in the main game. One particularly difficult area definitely taps into the horror atmosphere that Bloodborne was made for – dark, narrow corridors that make every fight tense and challenging, whilst also providing plenty of jump scares. Capcom could definitely take a few notes for Resident Evil.
On top of that there are really only one or two enemies that have been re-textured to fit into the new environments – all other monsters are new and deadly. From the moment you set foot outside of the first safe area you’ll be up against some of the titular Old Hunters, and they don’t care if you’ve forgotten how to play Bloodborne. Fortunately you can’t play The Old Hunters from a new game, only after reaching a certain point in the main story. If you happened to have a character already up to that point, however…
There’s a whole arsenal of new and sometimes downright weird weapons. The weapons are one of Bloodborne’s strongest points, I’ve found. There’s not quite the sheer amount that’s available in Dark Souls, but there’s much more variation – each weapon is entirely unique, with its own play style. The same goes for all the new weapons here – again, no lazy re-textures!
There’s plenty for players to experiment with to figure out what they enjoy, and of course they can all be used in the main game too. There are even some new arcane tools (Bloodborne’s equivalent of spells) and a shield! One thing we never expected to see in Bloodborne!
Though some weapons are inspired by some of the original game’s weapons, there are noticeable differences. Like the environments, even this can be put down to the lore of Yharnam’s history – some of these brutal and heavy weapons have clearly been refined into the original game’s weapons that they share similarities with (though only one weapon implies this in its description). It’s clever little story elements like that that really make a Souls game. Well done, From Software.
Saving the best for last – fashion. The hunters of Yharnam LIVE for fashion. The Old Hunters does not disappoint. There’s a whole range of new coats, hats and various other garments for you to stomp the blood-drenched streets in. Werk.
The only real drawback here is that some of my favourite pieces happen to be some of the weakest except in very specific circumstances. But that’s not what Fashion Souls is about – Fashion Souls is all about showing off your best look, the consequences be damned. After all, if you’re good at the game you shouldn’t need amazing armour, right? Or so they say …
The Old Hunters does well to inject some life back into Bloodborne for those that had completed everything the main game had to offer (or just needed something to pull them back in). The difficulty curve is extreme, which might put off some – particularly in the long-run when online play dies down and help is scarce – but the rewards are great.
A new story, with clever nods to the original game, a challenge worthy of Bloodborne, new weapons and a whole wardrobe of fashionable ensembles make this a hunt well worth partaking in. Slay, hunters. Slay.
Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is available now exclusively on Playstation 4.