Bloodborne PS4 Guide: 13 Essential Tips To Know Before Starting
Surviving the Nightmare
Bloodborne is one of the PlayStation Plus free games of March 2018. If you're here, it's likely because you've just downloaded this critically acclaimed action-RPG. As a follow up to From Software's Souls franchise, Bloodborne will be very familiar to those who have followed the series. The good news is that you absolutely do not need to have prior knowledge of the Souls games to understand, appreciate, and most importantly, play Bloodborne.
For the seasoned Souls player, it would be a mistake to assume you can skip through the tutorials. Even if you manage to pull off the new visceral attack, you may not know how you did it, let alone how you can do it 100 percent of the time. You can also say that the regain system fundamentally makes this wholly different from Dark Souls.
To help both series veterans and newbies coming into this dark adventure for the first time this month, we've detailed the intricacies of the games mechanics and tactics in the 13 tips ahead. These will greatly make your first couple hours in Bloodborne considerably easier in what is already a challenging game.
Now is the best time to jump into Bloodborne seeing as the game's online community is rallying to return to the game for the PlayStation Plus release. If you're curious about our full thoughts on Bloodborne, read our review. And be sure to check out our other guides, detailing which Bloodborne class is best for you and how to defeat every boss in the base game.
What Starter Gear You Should Choose
When you arrive to the Hunter's Dream after your first death, you'll get to arm yourself with Bloodborne's starter weapons, with a melee weapon in one hand and a firearm in another.
With the myriad monstrosities that await you, it's important to choose the right starter weapons. Here's what you need to know about each weapon to help you make an informed decision.
- Saw Cleaver -- This is the most balanced of the three weapons. Its extended version has effective reach while the compact version makes it light for a quick series of attacks. This makes for a solid pick if you're unsure what to go with.
- Hunter Axe -- Direct and brutal, this axe has great damage, provided you can manage its slow speed. Its longer, alternate version has one drawback in that it needs to be held with two hands.
- Threaded Cane -- With its long range, this cane is great against crowds even if its damage isn't as high as the other weapons. Its speed is also impressive.
- Hunter Blunderbuss -- This functions like a shotgun, meaning that its range is poor but can hit multiple targets at close range. It's also more potent against a single target when you're even closer. Note that a single shot only requires one bullet.
- Hunter Pistol -- Better range than the Blunderbuss but you can only hit one target at a time. It's also effective in attracting attention from afar like the pebbles in the game.
How To Defeat The Most Challenging Early Non-Boss Enemies
Now that you're armed, you can exact vengeance on the lycanthrope that likely killed you in the opening moments of the game. But that's not the only tough adversary that awaits you; there are plenty of other tough combatants you'll be fighting relatively early in your adventure.
Along with the lycanthrope, we've noted two other large-sized enemies you'll encounter in Bloodborne's initial hour. Learning how to beat these three will train you in the fundamentals of combat, often applicable to bosses.
- Lycanthrope: This fast-moving beast can be dealt with using quick melee attacks. Its animation before it lunges is easy to read so be ready to dodge and attack to its side (or better yet, its rear). You should be cautious about its lunges since there's the possibility it can grab you by its teeth, which often results in death.
- Gargantuan Pig: Your first encounter with this pig will most likely be in the sewer. He poses a unique challenge in that his size does not make combat easy in the confining and narrow passages of the sewer. Do not face him head on if his front half is up in the air; it means he's about to slam down. You should also be mindful of his head swipes, where he swings his front half back and forth. Like many other enemies, his weak spots are at his sides and rear.
- Ax-Wielder: If you want to cut your teeth in learning the fundamentals of close range defense, particularly dodging, you'll want a duel with this guy. When you head down the stairs leading to the passing mob, make a U-turn and you'll find this round, hulking foe surrounded by coffins and a carriage. He's slow but deadly and makes for a great training partner in rolling moves. Practice with him to learn how to get behind an enemy.
Study Every Enemy
Speaking of tough enemies, every one you face in Bloodborne has their own unique attacks and moves. You're encouraged to experiment, but also know that some enemies are easy enough that a series of quick attacks might be all you need. Some enemies in Yharnam are very easy to kill in a 1-on-1 fight, but you might want to plan a different strategy when they're in crowds. That applies to the ground-hugging carrion crow, an easy creature to kill, but can also overwhelm you if it has friends.
Take Advantage Of The Regain System
The Regain System is an integral part of combat where you have a very brief window of opportunity to regain lost health by dealing damage to the enemy that hit you. You'll know you've regained some health if you glow red with a successful blow. Bloodborne encourages up-close, assertive combat as opposed to Dark Souls, which allowed you more opportunities to distance yourself and regroup. Expect heated exchanges where you're not only trading blows with an enemy, but also trading health bars.
As you fight enemies, it's natural to assume that once they die, you'll no longer be able to siphon health from it--but if the regain system is still active, that's not the case. Enemies who are performing their death animation can still be attacked to regain health. So, if it's safe to, keep whacking away at collapsing corpses to maximize your use of the regain system.
Methodically Transform Your Trick Weapons
A crucial part of combat is distance management, and the state of your melee weapons can make a huge difference against a particular enemy. With a tap of the L1 button, you can toggle between two weapon lengths. The longer version will obviously give you better reach, something to consider when taking on enemies with longswords and spears. Conversely, the shorter version of your weapon allows for quicker attacks.
It is imperative that you keep your weapons in good shape. Do not wait for the weapon durability warning to appear. It's not a case of whether the weapon works or not. Its effectiveness gradually reduces with every dozen or so hits. Repairing weapons costs very little so you should have them repaired often at the workbench inside the house in the Hunter's Dream.
Your Trick Weapon Transformation Is Also An Attack
Though pressing L1 to transform your Trick Weapon while idle looks cool, it's even cooler when you fluidly integrate that transformation into a combo. If you're in the middle of striking an enemy, you can press L1 to perform an attack that also transforms your weapon into its other mode at the same time. This is especially useful if the distance between you and the enemy suddenly changes, and you don't want to let up your barrage of strikes.
Know And Master The Visceral Attack
Bloodborne takes a page from counter moves in fast-paced action games by giving you an opportunity to stun an enemy and deal significant damage. With the right timing, a shooting an enemy in motion can stun him and bring him to his knees. You know you've accomplished this if you hear a high pitched metallic sound. Knowing when to fire depends on the enemy but the miniscule window of opportunity is usually when they're about to strike you. One exception is the second boss, who can be stunned during his forward roll.
A stunned enemy will allow you to deal as many as six melee blows before they can fight back. If you're right next your foe while he's on his knees, you can deal a massive "visceral" stab attack. It's deadly enough to finish off most non-bosses in a single strike and can take off significant health from the bosses.
Always Look For Shortcuts
The initial area of Yharnam is a dense, labyrinthine district of a much larger city. It takes a while to fully explore, but once you've visited each section repeatedly, you'll realize that these areas are actually smaller than they initially feel. Its world is fundamentally more akin to Dark Souls than Dark Souls II, which means that shortcuts abound. If you come across a locked gate, there's a very good chance that there's an path to the other side of that gate. With the gate open, two lanterns checkpoints that were once far apart are suddenly close to each other.
Blood Echoes And How To Manage Them
With every enemy you defeat, one of the numbers on the upper right corner of the screen increases. This is known as blood echoes, the equivalent to souls in Dark Souls. Note that you will not be able to redeem your blood echoes until you reach the first boss, the Cleric Beast.
The greatest risk in Bloodborne is in dying, because you end up losing whatever blood echoes you have. You do have an opportunity to gain them back, though. The catch is that you have to return to the scene of the crime and that includes the same enemies in the immediate area. Like Dark Souls, a bloodstain will indicate the spot where you died. Interacting with it will give back your blood echoes. Note that in Bloodborne, your blood echoes may not be found in a bloodstain. Instead, you will have to kill a creature close to where your bloodstain would normally be. It’s not hard to pick out this enemy as the one who holds your blood echoes is indicated by glowing eyes.
You Can Restore The Health Lost From Blood Bullets
If you press up on the D-pad, you can create some extra bullets from your own blood at the cost of a portion of your health. However, that health lost has Bloodborne's regain system applied to it--which means you can restore most of that health if you attack any nearby enemy immediately after creating those blood bullets. Free ammo is always useful!
You Can Attack While Climbing A Ladder
This is simple to pull off, but we wouldn't be surprised if you've never tried. Just press R1 to punch upward, or R2 to kick downward. It's rare that you'll ever need to use this, since NPCs don't seem to climb ladders all that often, but if you get into a PVP stoush over climbing space, this will definitely come in handy. Just don't run out of stamina while on the ladder, or you'll fall to your death.
You Can Break Out Of Grab Attacks
Throughout your journey, you'll encounter enemies that grab you and deal a lot of damage while you're unable to move. If you quickly alternate between pressing L2 and R2, you can break out of the grab slightly quicker. Additionally, you'll be in a different state when breaking out of the grab. Without pressing L2 and R2, you'll end up knocked to the ground and it takes seconds to get back up. If you do press L2 and R2, you'll throw the enemy off you and will immediately be able to take action.
You Can Add Gestures To Your Notes
When using the Notebook to jot down a note, press R1 a couple of times to find more options. You can add a second set of words to your note, and you can also add a gesture which other players will see in spectral form when reading your note. I've found that adding the "Point" gesture is most useful here, because it actually saves the direction you're looking in when you start writing the note. As such, it's possible to literally point out secrets and specific pathways for other players if you line yourself up just right when writing a note.