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Review

Bloodborne: The Old Hunters Review

  • First Released Mar 24, 2015
    released
  • Reviewed Nov 23, 2015
  • PS4

Borne again

The remaining humans in Bloodborne’s dead city of Yharnam think you’re making a mistake to even consider this new adventure. When you talk to them, they say that there’s nothing here for you, that it’s a nightmare. They’re incorrect on both counts. As an expansion that is a couple of areas and one boss fight short of being robust by add-on standards, The Old Hunters still has a good deal of tests for hardened Bloodborne and Souls enthusiasts. And no, the re-imagining of this Gothic urban landscape isn’t a nightmare--it’s a hellscape.

The Old Hunters is replete with difficult encounters, especially against hunters and fearsome bosses. The enemies that lurk along Yharnam's dark pathways are as ruthless as any you would find in the main game. Many approach you with heightened bloodlust and fearless aggression, driving the point home that you are unwelcome.

Conversely, the return of Bloodborne’s sublime combat makes The Old Hunters immensely inviting. Every encounter demands thoughtfulness and dexterity, an experience all the more satisfying when you learn how to be swift and efficient with your actions. It means waiting for chances to attack and using patience through defensive dodge maneuvers. There’s added depth in the Rally system that was also available in the main game, where lost health can be regained through assertive offense, which encourages many thrilling close quarter duels.

The new bosses here are a great complement to those from the main game, and they're more imaginative than what you can find in the chalice dungeons, too. They bring unexpected tactics to fights, making it hard to rely on your existing strategies. A couple of foes, such as the grossly deformed Ludwig, fight back against tried-and-true tactics such as rolling towards your opponent, so don't be surprised if they body slam you when you least expect it. Despite the somewhat familiar world and rules, The Old Hunters isn't short on surprises, even beyond boss fights. There are more than enough jump scares to make you yell at your TV and environmental traps that will make you feel like a complete imbecile if you have a propensity for leaping before looking.

The new roster of bosses are full of surprises.
The new roster of bosses are full of surprises.

Equally engrossing are the mysteries borne from the myriad riddles hidden in conversations and cutscenes. Even after vanquishing every foe at least once, there’s very little one can deduce regarding the history of the hunters, let alone the reasons why some cooperate with you while others simply want you dead. The many new items included in The Old Hunters add to the overall lore with cryptic inscriptions, too. If you love the backstory, there’s value in reading the history of an item as unassuming as the Constable’s Trousers. Then there’s the Beasthunter Saif, a predecessor of the Saw Cleaver that affirms the events in The Old Hunters preceded those in Bloodborne proper, adding another unexpected layer to Yharnam's mysterious past.

Despite the somewhat familiar world and rules, The Old Hunters isn't short on surprises.

Like many of the other weapons in this expansion, the Saif’s base stats don't deviate far from the arms in the main game. Same goes for the Fist of Gratia, a crude hunk of iron that effectively functions as a brass knuckle in the ranged weapon slot. While the Saif essentially functions like the Saw Cleaver, you’ll find nuance in the speed of the combos, with your hunter’s arm stretching a bit further with each swing compared to the immediacy of the attack from the Saw Cleaver. Alternatively, you can now wield the Whirligig Saw, a deadly pizza cutter that attaches to an almost equally lethal bent staff. Simon’s Bowblade, a sword that transforms into a bow, is an inspired piece of work even if its concept is more impressive than its application in battle, as it’s one of the tougher weapons to master.. Bloodborne reaches peak From Software fan service with the Holy Moonlight Sword, a large blade that has seen action in the studio's other titles from Otogi to Armored Core. Aside from being viable alternatives to the flagship weapons, it’s intriguing to see these new tools work in action even if some do not cater to your specific play style.

The much hated crows return, hiding in plain sight.
The much hated crows return, hiding in plain sight.

For as disturbing and depressing as Yharnam is in Bloodborne, it felt like the dark city still had a chance at redemption. The version of this city in The Old Hunters is beyond salvation. All the familiar paths are now covered in what appears to be hardened dough, with fingerprint-like lines and ridges. Countless gallons of blood drench the lower areas, leaving you to wonder how in this city managed to rid itself of these bulbous mounds and red pools before the events of the main game. This alien landscape makes this expansion feel fresh, despite the familiarity of the towering landmarks that make up Yharnam’s skyline.

The Old Hunters is Bloodborne from another time and place, and with more difficult bosses and confounding stories to unravel.

Knowledge of the full game’s maps and shortcuts are of no value here and that’s okay. Figuring out a new locale is one of Bloodborne’s many pleasures. To find the opposite side of a locked gate, thereby revealing a shortcut to a previously visited area is also immensely gratifying. It’s a fitting reward for vanquishing the last few dozen foes that hindered your journey to that gate. These exploration-driven rewards are certainly present in The Old Hunters.

Choosing between familiar blade types and more imaginative weapons is a fun problem to have.
Choosing between familiar blade types and more imaginative weapons is a fun problem to have.

With optional companions, this unfriendly world becomes slightly less hostile. An NPC hunter is an adequate contributor in battle, distracting bosses and taking off small chunks off the enemy’s health in the process. You can return the favor by getting the opponent’s attention, thereby giving your companion a chance to heal. The AI can be an asset but given their inconsistent behavior and the inability to give them directions, there’s more profit to be found in allying with players. Speaking of co-op, the League serves as a substantial addition to Bloodborne’s Oath factions. Compared to passive incentives to joining the Executioners or the Vilebloods in the original game, the League is more goal-oriented, encouraging co-op play while also bringing a performance-based leaderboard into Bloodborne.

There’s beauty in both success and failure in Bloodborne. A one-second lapse in concentration can place you at the receiving end of a fatal combo but if you can maintain a persistent presence of mind, a triple-digit killstreak is not unheard of. Being tested by new foes in these new lands is an unquestionable joy, as is the ability to bring these newfound armaments and treasures into the main game. The Old Hunters is Bloodborne from another time and place, and with more difficult bosses and confounding stories to unravel, it's a fitting complement to the original, gruesome adventure.

Back To Top
The Good
Great variety of new weapons
Mysterious characters and artifacts excite your imagination
Captivating environments
The Bad
Disappointing AI companions
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Bloodborne

About the Author

Miguel’s prior work on Bloodborne walkthrough for Gamespot gave him more than enough preparation for The Old Hunters. What resulted was an eight-hour playthrough through all of this expansion’s locales and an additional hour using the new gear in the main game.
459 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Drkr_Zen

GOTY 2015 for me alongside some of the best DLC since Artorias of the Abyss. You can definitely tell it was done by the same team given the amount of content, challenge and satisfaction versus the asking price.

Avatar image for blprater
blprater

Great game. Finished the main game awhile back, took a break and just completed Dark Souls 2. Now I am hopping back on Bloodborne. I haven't bought the DLC yet as I need to work my way though the first few levels, but for any newcomers here, if you don't care for the Dark Souls series, I would def give this one a try. It is a faster pace game that requires skill, dogging and luck. For me, I actually like the way I can summon (ring a bell) for help if I want to instead of relying on a summon sign like in DS or DS 2.

Avatar image for tanerb
tanerb

Does the expansion make any changes to main game? I am wondering if I should buy it now or wait until I finish the main game

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Divisionbell

Is anyone else having an issue where you can't get souls back after you die? After the dlc and update I no longer get them for killing the guy who killed nearly, but instead have to find them on the ground and pick them up. Now when I die the game has stopped even doing that and I no longer get souls back. Kinda kills the fun of the game.

Avatar image for RaveNRolla
RaveNRolla

@Divisionbell: I know that in the dungeons (and probably in the main game/dlc as well) enemies below or above the location where you died can pick up your souls, in which case you have to go look for them. E.g. i was farming hunters for bloodgems in a cursed dungeon. Every once in a while they killed me and my souls always got picked up by a rat which was in a room below the room where i died (which i had to kill in order to get them back). That your bloodstain is on the ground is the most normal thing to happen, you always leave a bloodstain when you die (you seem like you didn't know, that's why i say this). Enemies that walk over that spot automatically pick them up (which i assume happened to you most of the time) which leads to you needing to kill them to get them back. Apparently though your bloodstain can also be picked up by enemies in a room below or above where you died as i mentioned. This also happened to me when i failed the roll to the abandoned old workshop. The enemies in the room above picked up my souls.

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Erebus

This is honestly some of the best single-player Souls content ever released. Two of the bosses are among the top five Souls bosses ever.

Playing it through for the first time on NG3 made the difficulty exceptionally brutal and the sense of accomplishment for completing it incredibly rewarding.

Too bad PvP in this game is still trash.

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GhostofYharnam

@Erebus: I was about to like the comment until you said "PVP was trash". Moving on.

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oj1029_

BRILLIANT

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maxguevera

Never played a FromSoftware title of late I'm wondering if I should get this or wait for Dark Souls 3 as I'm getting a PS4 soon. Don't really have time to play both, as there are so many others on my list.

Avatar image for Erebus
Erebus

@maxguevera: Bloodborne is probably the better "first-timer" entry into the Souls series. That doesn't mean it's easy, far from it. However, it's a little faster and slightly more "slop" tolerant from the player... but that's to be expected from a game that moves at this speed.

Then again, I've only played the network test demo for dark souls 3, so I certainly can't say for sure that Dark Souls 3 won't be the better bet in the end for newcomers.

Personally, I love the Dark Souls series much more than Bloodborne due to its more complex character variations, more stats, more armor types, more weapons and magic, high-quality PvP, etc.

But I still love Bloodborne.

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GhostofYharnam

@Erebus: Bloodborne is my favorite Souls game and actually favorite video game of all time.

I completely disagree about the PVP. I have not had so much fun in PVP since Demon's Souls. Also, in general, I have not put in this many hours into any Souls game since Demon's Souls ( Close to 400 hours now).

I completely disagree about the weapons as well. Dark Souls 1 and 2 are filled with the same generic medieval weapons and move sets re-skinned 50 times so in reality the weapon variety is far lesser in the previous Souls games. Bloodborne, in comparison, has a very robust library of inventive and unique weapons and items that all can transform with multiple move sets. Bloodborne hands down wins in the weapons category among many other things.

The combat is by far the most entertaining and satisfying. The level design is by far the best and this game is also the most finished and polished of all Souls games to date with some areas in DS1 seeming rushed and DS2 basically being a complete cluster**** on countless different fronts.

I recommend you play Dark Souls first only because Bloodborne will destroy most other games for you so it's best to enjoy those first.

Now telling how good DS3 will be but it looks awesome so it's hard to say now. Chances are when you play DS3 or BB you'll want to play the other game afterwards regardless which you choose.

Avatar image for deactivated-5bda06edf37ee

@Erebus: "Personally, I love the Dark Souls series much more than Bloodborne due to its more complex character variations, more stats, more armor types, more weapons and magic, high-quality PvP, etc."

This. But i really love the faster combat of Bloodborne. Seems like DS3 will combine this all, can you confirm? It would be so perfect.

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Erebus

@groowagon: I can only confirm that during the network test, melee combat was indeed noticeably faster than previous Souls game, but not quite Bloodborne pace.

Interestingly,, magic seems to have suffered a bit. With the bump to overall game speed, I found magic to be just a bit too slow to be as effective as it once was. There is a soul dart spell which is meant to be a more rapid-fire solution, but it doesn't really work that way. The pre-cast time is a bit too long and the damage a bit too low to be useful.. It was far more effective to bring something sharp into battle. I found it odd that Alexa of Gamespot mentioned that magic felt "a bit too easy," whereas I was able to solo the entirety of the test area with a melee character but had no such luck relying on spells. Maybe she meant it was too easy while playing with friends. But then I would argue that Souls games become incredibly easy when played with friends who understand the mechanics..

Keep in mind this was only a network test. Anything could change, even post-launch.

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Bond_Villain

Good game.

Avatar image for cherub1000
Cherub1000

POSSIBLE MAIN GAME SPOILERS

I know this isn't the normal place to post but I don't get how blood rocks work? I have found 3 in chalice root dungeons in chests and have found 2 in the main game from under the motherbrain (ng+). I understood that you could only get 3 from chalice dungeons yet I have another 2 that dropped from defeating the layer 3 boss on pthumerian root dungeons (just basic dungeon, no fetid etc). Are they just stupid rare drops now or will they show up randomly in dungeon chests?

Avatar image for girlusocrazy
GirlUSoCrazy

@cherub1000: Since patch 1.06, Chalice bosses now drop two things, blood gems is one, and then randomly blood chunks and blood rocks also. Small percentage you can find them in cheasts but definitely possible - this was always the case for randomly generated user dungeons.

As for finding two blood rocks under the brain. What?! I never had that happen. NG+8 here. Maybe this is new for 1.07.

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Cherub1000

@girlusocrazy: finally! Thanks for clearing that up, I'll keep hitting those chalice dungeons then ha!

My mistake in the 2 rocks under the brain, I didn't word it very well. I meant I picked up the 1 you can get but I'm at the end of my second playthrough that's all so I have a total of two over the 2 main game runs.

I watched a few youtube vids if other players, jeez some of these guys have over 100 rocks?!?!?!

Avatar image for girlusocrazy
GirlUSoCrazy

@cherub1000: Check out this dungeon for blood rocks: http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/805577-bloodborne/71565122

Ppl with 100 blood rocks used an early item dupe bug to cheat I'm sure! https://youtu.be/joagDJE2AmA

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runnermpls

@pasullica: There would be no reason to have competitive systems if they all played the same games. Having competing systems pushes the industry forward as each company tries to do better, faster than the others. While it may seem "unfair" to you that you can't play every game on the one system you purchased, trust that the state of video games is far richer for the competition than it would be without.

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Ezioprez9709

@runnermpls: I totally agree.

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Cherub1000

@pasullica: it is frustrating, I stopped pc gaming a long time ago, hope to go back to it sometime soon, after that I was an Xbox flavored guy and now I'm on the ps4. I've missed a lot of exclusives at different times and like you said it does feel like your feeding the cash cow. However these days I'm just borrowing friends console to play older exclusive titles, Demons souls for example, possibly a friends x1 soon to check out tomb raider. These days I personally try my best to support the smaller,budding developers, feels like they deserve the money more and to be fair I seem to be playing these games much more than most AAA titles at the moment. Fingers crossed for Axiom Verge 2!

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Fernin-Ker

@pasullica: QQ moar. While you do, I'll play every platform for the games they have that I enjoy instead of crying that one isn't on my specific favorite.

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phili878

@Fernin-Ker: as soon as your mom and dad lend you their CC.

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pc-ps360

nice expansion but its too expensive. i dont know why reviewers lie. beat the expansion with 100 percent trophies in 2 hour while exploring everything. the expansion is veeeeeeeeeeeeeeery short. if your not doing trophies just beating the expansion will take you an hour, its very linear.

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GirlUSoCrazy

@pc-ps360: Congrats, I've been playing for 6 hrs at least so far and plenty more to go, so YMMV

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EdwardNygma

Nice job on creating a quality expansion! Can't wait to play this exclusive. :

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Creed02

meh. the game is pretty boring

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Mesozoic25

@Creed02: Everyone has diff tastes...I get that. But this is one game that I recommended to everyone that I game with. A rare can't miss title in my opinion.

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JDlok

@Creed02: Whenever somebody says that, it is 100% certain, and an automatic red flag that 1) They never played a second of the game or 2) They couldn't get past the first mob in Central Yarnham. Get gud son. .

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PJDespaw

@jdlok:

BB is fine for the first say, 20-30 hours. After that you realize the PvP has no meta and it becomes old fast.

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Cherub1000

@jdlok: haha I remember a buddy of mine saying how much he hated it and how naff it was, we hung out one weekend and I gave him some pointers to pass.... yep, you guessed it, that first mob haha. Now he's hooked!

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phili878

@jdlok: or 3) they actually invested the money in buying the game and came to the conclusion that it actually is really boring.

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harlemsfinest27

@phili878: Or 4) they invested money in the wrong console and are just trolling

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franzito

I expected no less. About the erratic AI companions, I remember Lucatiel from Dark Souls II in the optional boss Smelter Demon battle doing "her best" to hit it and dying in about 3 minutes, leaving me desperate with a little more than a half bar to deplete... I guess nothing would be like Witch Beatrice or Solaire again joining the fray.

Bloodborne More Info

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  • First Released Mar 24, 2015
    released
    • PlayStation 4
    Bloodborne is a new PS4 exclusive title from Software and Hidetaka Miyazaki, creators of the critically acclaimed Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls games.
    8.7
    Average Rating716 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    From Software
    Published by:
    SCEI, SCE Australia, SCEE, Sony Interactive Entertainment, SCEA
    Genre(s):
    Role-Playing, Action
    Theme(s):
    Fantasy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Violence