E3 2014: The Similarities and Differences Between Bloodborne and Dark Souls

Yes, PS4 exclusive Bloodborne looks like a Souls game. But in what way is it different?

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If you saw the announcement of From Software’s upcoming PS4 exclusive Bloodborne at the Sony E3 2014 press conference yesterday, then you probably thought the same thing I did: that this was a Souls game in everything but name. And after seeing the game in action today, I’m still of the same opinion, although it seems that Bloodborne won’t merely be a simple transposition of the successful Demon's/Dark Souls formula to a different environment. Bloodborne looks like it may be changing up the sometimes defensive-focused action of its progenitors, forcing you to become more offensive against its dangerous enemies.

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First up, Bloodborne has no storyline ties to the Souls games, and has no link to those worlds apart from the fact that it’s being developed by From Software and directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, who also oversaw both Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. Bloodborne takes place in a Victorian-era town called Yharnam, which, according to a post on the PlayStation blog from Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Studio producer Masaaki Yamagiwa, is a "terror-filled gothic world, a world full of deranged beings and nightmarish creatures."

The setting may be different to the medieval Souls series, but there are plenty of things that are highly reminiscent of both Demon's and Dark Souls. Everything from the way enemies hide around corners in ambush, or play dead until you walk right past them, to the way "souls" seem to flow out of a slain enemy into your body, or how your character hops backwards to avoid attacks, all looks very Souls. The game's structure also has shades of Dark Souls. In the demo I saw, the main character made his way around the narrow streets and bridges of Yharnam, taking on enemies in small groups and avoiding large gatherings. Eventually, the character was able to open up a shortcut that allowed him to access the area where he first began. While this is certainly more reminiscent of Dark Souls, game director Miyazaki did say that the overall layout of the game would be more akin to that of Demon's Souls.

What did look different, however, was combat. The character in Bloodborne wields both a melee weapon and a gun at the same time. In this demo I saw, he had a mean-looking weapon called a saw cleaver in one hand, and a blunderbuss in the other. The saw cleaver could transform on the fly--its compact form seemed to allow for quicker swings, but when extended, it seemed to swing slower but deal more damage.

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This translated to a faster combat feel in this Bloodborne demo, or certainly faster than most shield-wielding characters in a Souls game can muster. The character in Bloodborne often had to get in close to enemies, blasting them with the blunderbuss before following up with a swing from the saw cleaver. In fact, game director Miyazaki says making players more proactive in combat is one of the key things the team wants to introduce in Bloodborne, a deliberate move away from the defensive engagement he saw many players who played with sword and shield in previous Souls games relied on. In fact, Miyazaki said players who play passively in Bloodborne would be "overwhelmed", and that they needed to be aggressive at most times.

With aggression comes more death, however, but there may be some relief in that regard (or at the very least some changes). Miyazaki said that while the penalties for dying in Bloodborne had not been finalised yet, he did want the death penalty to be "not too severe this time".

The Bloodborne demo ended with a large boss fight against a towering, emaciated creature with long straggly fur and an exposed chest cavity. It looked tough to beat, which for any Souls fans, is great to hear. How the game's greater focus on aggression and its changes to death penalties will affect the crushing, oppressive, and demanding feel of a Souls game remains to be seen, but there's one thing that's clear about Bloodborne even at this early stage: it's building off a solid base, and I'm excited to see more.

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Vodoo

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Oh well... Don't like the Souls games so this is off the table for me. It's like the same damn thing. They didn't try to differentiate the two games hardly at all.

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zeca04

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Myiazaki! I miss you since dark souls 1! Please never leave us again!

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DannyDopamine8

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If this doesn't come out on pc i am having my mom call them so hard... When dark souls 1 reached an absurd number of petitions to get released on PC they did (and it was a poor port) but after seeing it became one of the best sellers they said "Dark souls 2 will be taken much more seriously for the pc this time around"


So they understand that the PC is very profitable.


Why THAN decide to make it for ps4 only?

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JediMasterJ42

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I'm really excited for this. I'm just now playing Dark Souls for the first time, and I'm obsessed. I'm thinking this will be out by the time I beat Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 haha. The environment of this game looks very promising; can't wait for more footage and information.

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Suicide321

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Wait, No shields?! Bye bye my parrying skills... Also he said that death isn't too severe, hmmmm. *Thinks about all the bad things that might happens when you die*

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strrckshn

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<< LINK REMOVED >> You can block however.

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GunEye

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I was really disappointed by this article:

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According to this: the game is confirmed to run at: 1080p - but only at an underwhelming 30 frames per second!

For a game that runs on a PS4 - and feature such narrow corridors and allyways: there is no reason in hell for it to be a lousy 30fps 1080p.

PS4 can chew this game for breakfast Considering it will run The Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid Phantom Pain, and The Division @60fps average.

There is just no excuse - Bloodborne is a game on a lesser scale. Should be smooth 100% of the time.

From Software - needs to employ some better game programmers: a non open world game like this, with no "living eco system" like the games I just mentioned: should never go below 60fps on a freaking PS4.

They must optimize it before the release. Next gen gaming is about 60fps with great visual fidelity.

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strrckshn

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@GunEye Open world I heard. Yharnam is one seamless open world, and Miyazaki promises variety throughout the city and its surroundings.

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naryanrobinson

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Actually there are going to be a lot of games this gen that run at 30fps, you're just going to have to find a way to pull on your big girl pants and deal with it.

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doggiezilla

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Gamespot there is some Bloodborne gameplay on Youtube right now. The video is called Bloodborne - First Ever PS4 gamplay - (E3 2014) By Punish. What do you guys think?

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jasongm

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I remember saying "What if its not a Souls spinoff?" and i had several replies from people saying it was, well.. who's right now huh?

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eternal_napalm

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<< LINK REMOVED >> "What if it's not a Souls spinoff?"


...is called a spiritual successor to Demon's Souls..

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strrckshn

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> And read Miyazaki PlayStation Blog people. It still not a Spiritual Successor or being treated as one to Demons Souls.

Miyazaki would have confirmed it on the blog.
There is no evidence to support that it is a Spiritual Successor.
Or treated as being one..
From the Devs or Yoshida. It just hearsay because when it was Project Beast everyone thought it was going to be Demon Souls 2.
So it was named Bloodborne then everyone assumed it's the Spiritual Successor to Demon Souls. That's why the Creator said it's not a sequel nor mentioned confirmed nor treated as to it being a Spiritual Successor. Simply inspired By Demon Souls, and that is as far as it should go. NEW IP and of course talked about the Game in General. It still as the signatures hallmarks what FROM is know best for creativity is in this game and the difficulty etc. But people will still go around and still call it a Spiritual Successor but it simply isn't. Just saying.
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AK1015

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I was sold on it being Demon's Souls II, but hey, I'll not complain. It looks awesome whatever it is.

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eternal_napalm

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Praise the Blood!

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push88

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It definitely seems like they are going for mass appeal with this game. Oh well, whatever. It's still early and I'm sure the game will be awesome. I still really want to see a true "Souls" game on next gen though. They could do so much with this new technology.

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spacecadet25

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Focus is still on difficulty rather than story or gameplay? Pass!!

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strrckshn

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<< LINK REMOVED >> No.

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strrckshn

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Wrong.

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CyrenII

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<< LINK REMOVED >> The hell do you mean 'still'? The gameplay and story of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls are excellent, the game just doesn't spoon-feed it to you.

Wait....you probably didn't make it passed the Asylum Demon did you -___-

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strrckshn

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@spacecadet25 From Software's Hidetaka Miyazaki gets straight to the point. "Just to make everything clear," he tells a small audience assembled at Sony's booth to see Bloodborne, his recently announced PlayStation 4 exclusive, "this is not a sequel to Demon's Souls."

After seeing the game in action, Miyazaki's clarification comes across as perhaps a little unnecessary. Yes, this is a third-person action RPG, complete with thunderingly impactful combat and a delicately entwined world, but it's also a departure from the medieval melancholy of King's Field, Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. There's melancholy here, for sure, but it's a more toxic, brooding kind - the shadows here are blacker, the blood flowing more freely.

Bloodborne's set in Yharnam, an imposing, sprawling city that, with its verticality, has something of a deeply gothic 19th century Edinburgh to it (Miyazaki won't be drawn on comparisons, though he admits they do exist, for fear of upsetting inhabitants of the cities that have inspired him with his dark, diseased vision). It's grim, although its intricacy inspires the same level of awe as From Software's other fantastical situations; hidden pathways unlock shortcuts, while you're often granted fresh perspectives on paths previously travelled as you explore new parts of the city.

It's a city gripped by disease, as told by the coffins that line its streets and the infected that stalk its dark corners. Yharnam's bleak architecture reflects Bloodborne's downbeat premise: the city was known for a medical remedy, attracting the afflicted who are now permanent citizens, often unaware of the horrible plight that still consumes them.

It's a city told in exquisite detail, too. The legacy of the Souls games is evident in how fully formed Bloodborne's aesthetic is - and it's also evident in a frame-rate that makes some dramatic plunges from time to time - but the fidelity makes it feel like a clear generational leap. Clock towers glow orange on the horizon, while stonework glistens with an imposing damp, painted thickly with gargoyles and etchings that all help make Yharnam an architectural wonder.

Some of that darker philosophy shows in your character, decked here in a flowing coat that over the course of the demo soon becomes drenched in blood. Miyazaki's games have never shied away from violence, of course, but in Bloodborne it's a more tangible, more sickening force that makes for an atmosphere somehow bleaker than the Souls series. "I want players to feel that every fight could be their last one," says Miyazaki. "You're going to see a lot of blood splattering. When you face an enemy, you're going to face death. You'll constantly face terror and horror."

Other enemy types patrol the slim area of Yharnam on display right now - oversized crows and aggressive bloodhounds were two particularly vicious opponents.

The added emphasis on violence extends to a play style that's another departure from what's gone before. "In Demon's Souls, you were equipped with a sword and a shield, so you could seek out an area and take a passive approach," explains Miyazaki. "But we're going to switch that up from passive to not aggressive so much, but more pro-active."

As such there's no shield in Bloodborne - instead, you're dual-wielding weapons that themselves have dual purposes. In your right hand is a saw that doubles up as a cleaver, transforming from one form to another with a flick of the wrist. The act of transformation is an attack in itself, suggesting that the shotgun in your left hand acts not as a cheap ranged weapon but as a perfect flourish to pepper off a counter-attack. The emphasis might be on the offensive, but it's been complemented by a deepening of the strategic options at hand.

Enemies, too, have more nuance. The diseased villagers that patrol the city have broader behaviour patterns - a mob of them may converge in a town square, working together in a hunt, before the familiar ring of a town bell will send them back out again on their own individual paths. It makes for a more organic, more emergent place to explore - enemies no longer simply spawn, it seems, but rather patrol the city according to their own internal logic. There's tragedy to that logic too, their behaviour part of some ritual the citizens of Yharnam are unwittingly locked into.

Unravelling how exactly that ritual relates to Yharnham's own history is of course one of the core pleasure's built into Bloodborne, and like Drangleic and Lordran before it this is a location steeped in enigmas. There are other, more straightforward enigmas surrounding Bloodborne right now, too. At one point you chance across an NPC locked in combat, and aiding them will grant you a little assistance when you face off against the area's boss, a hulking hybrid of Pan and a werewolf dubbed the Cleric Beast. As to how exactly the process of fighting alongside other players will work, Miyazaki's coy. "The key concept, or phrase, that we have right now is it's an open explorative community," is all he'll give away.

Yharnam is one seamless open world, and Miyazaki promises variety throughout the city and its surroundings.


While many of Bloodborne's systems are taken directly from the Souls' series, some remain absent - for now at least. The demo runs without a UI, although each felled enemy sees a familiar whisp emerge from their corpse and enter the player's body, and thanks to invincibility being enabled for this demo, player death isn't encountered once. "The death penalty, and the concept, I don't want to make it such a heavy thing," ponders Miyazaki. "It's there, but I don't want it to cause undue stress."

Bloodborne's a fascinating proposition, then, a clear continuation of the themes established by Miyazaki while a departure that's relentlessly, almost impossibly grim. Is it all perhaps a little too dark? There's no cause for alarm, it seems, as Bloodborne will stay true to another of the director's other, more unsung traits.

"One of the core concepts that I've had, even with Dark Souls and Demon's Souls, is my mission and my goal is to make a very beautiful game," he says as the demo draws to a close. "I know a lot of people have a hard time believing it when I say those words, because that's not the first thing that comes to mind. I always believe that there is beauty in darkness. And so with Bloodborne, I feel like the darkness is darker, which means the beauty is going to rise - and you'll be able to really see that beauty out of the darkness."

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Forcecaster

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"One of the core concepts that I've had, even with Dark Souls and Demon's Souls, is my mission and my goal is to make a very beautiful game," he says as the demo draws to a close. "I know a lot of people have a hard time believing it when I say those words, because that's not the first thing that comes to mind. I always believe that there is beauty in darkness. And so with Bloodborne, I feel like the darkness is darker, which means the beauty is going to rise - and you'll be able to really see that beauty out of the darkness."


This is just epic.

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Swinny14

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<< LINK REMOVED >>"I want players to feel that every fight could be their last one," says Miyazaki. "You're going to see a lot of blood splattering. When you face an enemy, you're going to face death. You'll constantly face terror and horror."


THIS! This quote makes me so damn happy :-) The darkness and hopeless, despair-filled atmosphere of the original Dark Souls was my favourite aspect of that game, so I was disappointed in Dark Souls 2, it wasn't dark enough IMO.

But now, with Bloodborne, the darkness is being turned up to 11!! Oh, and they're bringing back the seamless world structure of Dark Souls, man, this is my dream game.

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doggiezilla

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I think that's the most words I've seen in a comment.

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strrckshn

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> As long as you enjoyed the read.:)

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Gravelord_Nito

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<< LINK REMOVED >> people like you are scary as **** sir, i have no idea what you saw in the vid the rest of us seen with you.

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ashlake

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Someone LIKED his comment too! The world is a frightening place.

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push88

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Who the hell said that?

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BrahManDude

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aggressive is better we don't need Havel monsters to PVP

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M3o5nster

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"game director Miyazaki did say that the overall layout of the game would be more akin to that of Demon's Souls."

Music to my ears... Shortcuts were important in Demon's Souls, so I'm not sure why Randolf thought it was more a Dark Souls thing, maybe he didn't find them in DeS lol. The way Miyazaki talks about the game and DeS, he seems enthusiastic to be going back to the Souls roots and building something fresh.


Umbasa.

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strrckshn

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<< LINK REMOVED >> seamless open world.

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M3o5nster

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> More like seamless paths that link together... Which isn't a bad thing, because not games should be like Skyrim or GTA.

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strrckshn

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>

<< LINK REMOVED >>


Yharnam is one seamless open world, and Miyazaki promises variety throughout the city and its surroundings. But could be what you say too:))

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M3o5nster

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> TBH I thought you were talking about Dark Souls... But I look forward to seeing what he does with the new project.

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strrckshn

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@M3o5nster @strrckshn No worries. Hope you enjoy the read. :) Have a nice day/eve.

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meatz666

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I preferred Demon's Souls too

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Gravelord_Nito

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<< LINK REMOVED >> bcs the overall design of the levels of dark souls was much much more mature and ingenious then the demon's souls was. demon's was a great game, a truly great idea that only reached what it should be in dark souls :D

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M3o5nster

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I see your avatar, so yeah... I'll play along though, how is it more mature? If anything Demon's Souls is more "mature" since it has a classic gaming setup of using stages. It's almost like the old 2D games like Ninja Gaiden, tough as nails, and if you die then you gotta go through it again. I think we can tell which Miyazaki prefers through his interviews in the past.

Not sure if you're old enough to remember NES games though.


And isn't it more "ingenious" to come up with the original idea than to expand upon it?

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Gravelord_Nito

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> i am actually 31 today.

actually...no. you can have the right idea, but you may not realize its full potential on the first try. yeah, i figured you'd find me a dark souls fanboy bcs of the avatar and name. i actually bought a ps3 JUST to play the demon's souls. and it was great.

but you need to cast your own fanboyism aside here. this isn't just my words, but a general acceptance of how these two games differ. dark souls has a much bigger scale and depth of things. and the level design is like nothing that's seen in any other game. to have so many places intertwined and connected...any schmuck can make stages set apart.


demon's souls was made from the right idea, dark souls was made with that special spark.

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M3o5nster

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Bigger isn't always better... Not all the connected areas in Dark Souls made sense, but I guess you confuse that with depth. Miyazaki himself said he wasn't too happy with how Dark turned out... But I guess you'd have to see things beyond a surface level. It's not a coincidence he keeps going back to Demon's Souls in interviews about this game.

People throw the word fanboy around so loosely, without constructing valuable input and/or evidence. Any schmuck can do that...