I have a confession to make that will probably get me kicked out of the Souls community, but YOLO.
Bloodborne is my least-favorite FromSoft/Soulsborne game to play out of the four (still haven’t played Demon’s Souls) for a variety of reasons.
Before I get into the reasons why (and why I’m writing about it again), let me clearly state that I think Bloodborne is a brilliant game. It’s gorgeous and lush, and all the intricate mapping that Miyazaki is known for is amply present in this game. If you can see it, you can get there, and it gives you something to work towards. I love the Hnter Axe even though it’s basic, and I will admit to having oodles of fun hitting an enemy in the face with the Augur of Ebrietas and yelling, “Tentacles to the face!” In fact, the only time I won a PvP encounter was when I followed this formula for massive damage and the kill. Granted, I was in the area way later than I could have gone so I was pretty OP for the area, but still. I was pretty satisfied with killing an actual player in this manner. However, it was not recommended that you go in with an arcane build on your first playthrough, but I’m stubborn. I’m a caster until the day I die, and it’s how I play all the Soulsborne games for the first time. I will say that I’ve changed to being a strengthcaster, but that’s for subsequent playthroughs.
Anyway, I can objectively say that I was amazed by Bloodborne. I wish I hadn’t watched countless playthroughs of it before playing it, but I never thought I’d buy a PS4, so I thought the only way I would experience the game was by watching it. I do sometimes wonder if I would have a warmer feeling for it if I had played it through unspoiled, but I go back and forth on that. I think I would have been completely frustrated if I’d gone in without any prior knowledge because it’s different in several ways to the Souls games. On the other hand, one of my favorite parts of these games is the exploration and discovery.
Side note: The boys of RKG nee Prepare to Try celebrated their 3rd birth-i-versary yesterday with a seven-hour stream of the original Dark Souls. They were passing the sticks on each death, and Gav was saying how he had practiced for a couple hours before the stream because he hadn’t played much of the games before. He said that he thought for him some of the fun of the games was having Krupa there to explain the lore and to guide them. Gav and Rory had said more than once that they never would have gotten out of the Undead Asylum (first area of the original game) without Krupa’s help. Their goal was to see how far they could get in the original game (remastered) during the stream. They put a call-out for summons, and I was sad they were playing on the PS4 because that meant I couldn’t be summoned, but it was so cool to watch people in the stream get summoned. With all the summons and the shit they dropped for the boys, they made it well past Biggie & Small. They said they’ll do another stream in which they finish this playthrough which had a Finchy (all their characters are named Finchy) with a magic build.
Back to Bloodborne. It is widely accepted as the best game in the Soulsborne universe. People gush about it with a reverence that borders on ridiculous. I went into it with reservations because there are no shields in the game*, and I leaned on my shield as if my life depended on it. Come to think of it, it did, but that’s not the point. The point is, I knew that Bloodborne was not going to be great for my playstyle, and, sadly, that proved to be true.
Now, for the cold and brutal truth. The main reason I don’t play Bloodborne is because it’s on PS4. I know it sounds stupid, but I hate having to get everything set up before playing whereas I can play any of the Souls games on my laptop. I also don’t like the DualShock as much as I like the Xbox One controller, but then again, I have an unnatural affection for my Xboner. I am not a brand gal at all, but I’m loyal to my Xboner until the day I die.
I know, I know. It’s a dumb reason not to play the game, but I’m very much a creature of comfort, and I like to keep my ass firmly planted on my couch. Yes, I could play Bloodborne from the same couch, but I don’t have a top-notch TV, so it’s difficult to see from that distance. Also, I don’t like the wireless DualShock because I’m never sure I’ve plugged it in properly.
In addition, there are several things about the game itself that make it less enjoyable to me. One, the no-shield thing as I previously mentioned. Two, parrying (by way of guns) being a primary factor in this game. I got around this by using the Augur of Ebrietas in place of the gun, and it had a much more generous window. I was shite with the gun, however, and once I got the Augur of Ebrietas, I never used the gun again. The best part of the AoE is that it wasn’t bound to a hand so I could use my Hunter Axe two-handed and still employ the AoE.
I mention these two things in conjunction to my worries about Sekiro. I’m trying to stay as spoiler-free as possible, but I’ve seen the boys play the demo (video above), and I know the general mechanics. No shield, very limited healing items (they appear to replenish upon death, and I’m assuming you can get more later), and…parrying as a primary way of blocking.
Can you see why I’m worried about it? Also, it can be a stealth game, which is not my jam. There doesn’t seem to be any magicks, though there are prosthetics for the protagonist’s missing arm (left arm). The one that has been highlighted is a grappling hook, which looks fucking badass, but there are supposedly others as well.
The game reminds me of Nioh, but much prettier. Also, the protagonist is my new vidya game boo. Lots of consumables, which worries me. Nioh had so many button combos and consumables mapped to the same buttons, it became too much halfway through the game. Let’s not talk about Nioh, though. I’m still sad that I never finished it, but I also know I probably never will.
Side note II: Speaking of new vidya game boos, I’m all over old Dante in Devil May Cry 5. I’ve heard so many good things about the game, and it’s making me tempted to try it. I played a hot second of DmC, which I hated for many reasons, but I’ve heard that this game isn’t as dependent on combos. I hated combos. So very much. even in MHW, I had three bread-and-butter combos, and then I just did whatever the fuck I wanted. Anyway, there’s a new character called ‘V’ in DMC 5, and he’s an emo goth (and probably is Vergil) who goes around looking gloomy and spouting gloppy poetry. But! His thing is that he has three familiars. One is a black jaguar named Shadow. I mean….MY BLACK CAT IS NAMED SHADOW! Also, another of his familiars is a raven. My beloved other cat who is no longer with me (also a black cat and Shadow’s littermate) was named Raven. For this reason alone, I want to try DMC 5.
Back to Sekiro. One of the mechanics is that you have to parry enemies in certain circumstances, such as to get them into their second life (you can rez in this game) or to finish them off for good. Watching Rory in the video above hack away fruitlessly before finally landing a parry is disheartening. In the RKG FB page, someone mentioned that you can also dash/dodge…wait. He was saying it as part of defense, not my specific issue with having to parry in order to do a finisher.
Yeah, no. I don’t want any part of that. I have gotten better at parrying by practicing in Anor Londo, but it’s still not my preferred way of playing. Yes, I can do it in a controlled situation like the Silver Knights in Anor Londo or against the peons in Undead Burg where it doesn’t matter if I miss, but doing it against, say, the Black Knights when the stakes were much higher made me much less willing to try it more than once.
Sekiro comes out in a week and a day. I’m going to buy it and play the hell out of it, of course, but I’m worried that I won’t like it or will get extremely frustrated playing it. I don’t know enough about it to say for sure (and I’m keeping it that way until I actually play it), but I’m worried that my love for FromSoft games will take a beating as I play this game.
*Well, there is one, but it’s a joke shield. There’s also one magic-blocking shield in the DLC, but that late in the game, who the hell is going to use a shield for the first time?