Underneath my yellow skin

Bloodborne: Seeking the Blood Moon

So. Still sick with the chills and now sinus crap. I’m drinking my Simply Lemonade with mango and my ginger/lemon/honey tea like a boss as I’m hunkered down on the couch. May I say that getting the chills is terrible for me because I like being cold, so it feels like a slap in the face to me. I’m watching more Bloodborne vids because that’s how I roll. They’re ones I’ve already seen, but it’s more background noise than anything else. It’s blustery outside, and it snowed yesterday, even though it didn’t stick, and it’s gray today–which fits my mood.

In Bloodborne, I’m alternating between my tank playthrough and my NG+ playthrough for my arcane build, and I have many more thoughts on the game. I’ve already said how I had a more difficult time with the early bosses on melee than I did with my arcane build, and I think it’s because I don’t have my beloved Hunter Axe, which I just bought for this character. The damage is REAL, yo, as I have my Strength at 30. That’s already higher than for my arcane build, and I’m not even halfway through the game yet. My arcane is so sad for this character, but that’s the way it has to be if I want to beef up my other stats. I need two more Dex, er, Skill levels in order to use the Cannon, which will be exciting. When the game was released, apparently, you could use the fully-upgraded Cannon to kill bosses. Now, the bullet expenditure is 12 per use, which means you get one shot without using methods to increase your Quicksilver Bullet capacity (runes, blood bullets, etc.). I’m doing my best to do a Strength/Bloodtinge run, which means moar guns, yo! Or rather, stronger guns.

I’m also wearing the Hunter Set (without the bib on back. Hunter Set B in the link), though I recently switched out the Top Hat for the Yharnam Hunter Cap because the latter has better defense. I really like the Hunter Set w/Top Hat, however, so I might switch back. I do wear different sets for resistance, but I like having one main outfit that I wear throughout the game. It’s the Bone Ash Set with my arcane build, and Fashionborne is real, yo! I bought the Maria Hunter Set at the insight shop (for my arcane), and it looks cool as fuck, but the stats aren’t as good as the BAS. I like wearing one complete outfit, so it pains me when I have to mix and match. Fortunately, however, it’s usually a whole set that is best against, say, poison or other elemental effects. Also, I always play as a female character*, so I have all the female versions of the outfits.

Back to game difficulty on the second playthrough. I will say in general, the game is much easier on the second playthrough, naturally. Even though I’ve seen several Let’s Plays of the game before playing it, it’s still much different playing it. I got lost several times, and it doesn’t help that certain areas (looking at you, Forbidden Woods) look the goddamn same all throughout it. I can’t tell you how much time I wasted looping around, trying to find the right path, only to end up on the same goddamn path several times in a row. I have another problem on the second playthrough–skipping over areas. The first place of the Forbidden Woods is where I did my grinding run over and over again. I know it like the back of my hand, but there’s an area I skip when I do it (that takes you to Iosefka’s Clinic). When I ‘discovered’ the area on my tank playthrough, I had to remind myself that there was another area. I couldn’t find it, and I was wondering if I was losing my mind. I found it (and doggy town part 2, which I couldn’t find more than once in my first playthrough), and it was relief that I knew I wasn’t losing my mind.

Now that I’m done with my first playthrough, I can take a deep breath and reflect on the game in general. When I’m in it, I’m pretty much just thinking about what I’m doing, where I’m going, etc. I’ve never played a game** that captures my attention the way this game does, even when I’m not playing it. It’s really like a good novel in which you lose yourself, and you live in that world for as long as you’re in it. Except, in this case, it’s over eighty hours or so, rather than two or three. FromSoft games totally feeds into my obsessive nature, and I have no problem with that. It’s my gaming style, playing the hell out of a game until there’s nothing left of it, and Bloodborne is a perfect game for that.

But, Minna, what about PvP? You hate that. How was that handled? Well, first of all, I went offline most of the time I was in the known PvP areas (the Nightmares, for example), so I was only invaded twice. Once, it was in the Nightmare Frontier, and I was very much over-leveled when I finally tackled the area. The invader was thoughtful enough to wait until I killed the enemies in the area before we battled. Then, we bowed to each other, and it was on. I Augured them to the face, waited for them to get up, and they…didn’t. I killed them, and it felt great! I’m sure they were way lower-level than I was (they can be 20 +20% lower, which means if I were level 100, they could be level 60). The other time I was invaded was when I was in the Nightmare of Mensis, running past the goddamn spiders and the Hunter who was spraying me with the Rosmarinus as I sprinted by the Mergo’s Attendants. As is my wont, I ignored the invader as I tried to make it to the next shortcut, and they arcaned my ass into oblivion, but after I opened the shortcut or picked up the shiny or whatever. They did the applause gesture at me as I died, and I shouted at them to go fuck themselves. Then, I promptly switched off the online function and went on my merry way. So, two PvP duels, and my tally is 1-1. That’s better than I normally do, but I have a hunch the first number wouldn’t change if I did several more battles.

The thing is, though, I didn’t have much trouble with the other hunters in the game, as I’ve said before. One thing I’ve noticed in the Let’s Plays is how to a man (and, sadly, I can’t find a woman I enjoy watching play the game except Chloi Rad of IGN) they’ve said the hunters are the true bosses of Bloodborne. They’re agile and quick like you; they are often outfitted with the same gear you have; they have unlimited ammo and stamina. They seem to react to what you do, and I was very concerned about them before I started playing the game because I suck at PvP. The first NPC hunter I ran into in the game is Djura’s buddy. I don’t think I fought him at that point, though. The first two I actually fought were the asshole buddies in the area to the right of the Grand Cathedral (facing it). One has the Tonitrus, and the other has the Rifle Spear plus another gun. I was able to trigger the lightning guy without alerting his buddy, and he was fairly easy to dispose of. The double gun dude, however, was more of a pain in the ass. He’s really quick, and several times, I was sure I’d hit him, only to end up fighting the air. I killed him in a couple tries, however, and I realized the hunters weren’t so tough!

Having beaten the game, I still don’t think they are so bad. The worst is when they’re in gangs (side-eyeing the three assholes in Yahar’gul, the Unseen Village), and you can’t separate them out. The hardest hunter by far is the Hostile Choir Hunter, who is such an asshole. She uses the Threaded Cane, and she can whip you endlessly. In addition, she has the Augur and A Call Beyond, both of which can outright kill you. She has mad stupid health, and she can attack you for days. You really want to get up in her face and not let up because she’ll arcane your ass if you get too far away. I said some really not kind things about her once I beat her, but it was such a triumph.

One thing I can’t stop marveling at is that my favorite weapon in the game is the Hunter Axe–a starting weapon. I’ve tried all the weapons I can use, and I am quite fond of the Tonitrus and the Whirligig, but nothing compares to my Hunter Axe. I just bought it with my tank character, and even though I’ve gotten used to the Kirkhammer and am quite proficient in it (and I really love blamming things), I’m upgrading my Hunter Axe so I can use it as my main. One thing about Bloodborne is that having two weapons equipped means I actually use two weapons. In the Souls games, I may have two weapons equipped, but I main one the whole time. The only exception is that as a caster, I use the Pyromancy  Flame, a staff/talisman, etc., which are also classified as weapons, but I usually main one other weapon in addition to my casting equipment. With my tank, I’m actually switching between the Kirkhammer and the Saw Spear. I’m mostly using the Kirkhammer, but the Saw Spear is better for beasts. And, when I get to kin and other enemies weak against bolt, I’ll be using my Tonitrus. Having this mentality is so different, and I’m eager to apply it to Dark Souls III when I go back to it.

There’s a lot of discussion in ‘the community” as to which is better: Bloodborne or Dark Souls? It’s not unreasonable given that they’re made by the same company and the basic mechanics are similar. However, the more I played Bloodborne, the more I viewed it as a completely separate game. Well, OK, not completely separate, but different enough that I have a hard time comparing the two. Dark Souls is methodical, plodding, calculated, and you have to take into account things like equipment load affecting your mobility. Dark Souls is reactive, waiting for your opportunity, exploiting weaknesses, biding your time, and making shrewd decisions. Bloodborne is all about aggression, moving quickly, smacking around the enemies, regening your health as you do, and taking care of business efficiently. You don’t want to bide your time–not that you want to rush in willy-nilly–you want to take advantage of every mistake your enemy makes, and you have to not recoil as your first instinct. You also have to resign yourself to not having a roll if you’re locked onto the enemy. You sidestep instead. I got used to it, but I will say I prefer the roll.

Bloodborne is brutal. It really is. Is it harder than Dark Souls? Personally, I found Dark Souls III to be easier than Bloodborne, but it’s probably because I’ve played so much Souls. I will say that I beat all the bosses in the main game of Bloodborne on my first playthrough, including all the optional bosses. In DS III, I summoned for a few bosses, including the Nameless King because what a fucking asshole. If you want to go by that metric, then Dark Souls III is harder. I think Bloodborne feels more difficult because you don’t get your Blood Vials automatically replenished if you’ve run out of your stock in your storage, which means mandated grinding for more vials. This is one of my biggest gripes about this game, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it in every post. The last thing I want when I’m banging my head  against a boss is to have to stop and grind for more Blood Vials. On the other hand, it was usually a signal that I should quit for the day, and I suppose I should be thankful for that.

It’s funny how I hated the game SO MUCH during the last fourth, then immediately forgot my pain once I beat the game. It’s like childbirth or so I’m told. I went into NG+ and decided to just see what would happen. Before I know it, I’m beating Blood-Starved Beast and well on my way into a NG+ playthrough. In addition, I’m into the Forbidden Woods on my tank playthrough, so, yeah, I’m not quitting any time soon. one of the best things about Souls games is that they make me want to keep playing, no matter what. I’ve joked that they’ve ruined me for other games, but it’s true. I’ve tried dozens of games in between playing Souls games, and I can’t get into 99% of them. It’s not that I consciously say, I will only play balls-hard games, so there! It’s just that…most games bore me. Sorry, but it’s true. I’ve given plenty of games a decent try, but if I’m not engaged after an hour, then no thanks.

I was a FromSoft fangrrl before I played Bloodborne, Hidetaka Miyazaki in particular, and I’m even more of one now. Bloodborne is brilliant, grueling, and challenging on so many levels, and  I can heartily recommend it to someone who has no problem with exploration, progress that isn’t always obvious, and dying over and over and over again. Obviously, I’ll still be playing this game for some time to come, and I cannot wait to see what FromSoft (come on, Miyazaki! I’m dying here) does next. I hardly ever pre-order games, but I wouldn’t hesitate to do it with a Miyazaki game. I can’t think of a better recommendation than that.





*Well, almost always. My two current characters on DS III, including my onebro, are male. I did that for two reasons. One, some of the armor sets (and props, such as a certain talisman) are gender specific. Two, one of the NPCs, Anri of Astora, is the opposite gender to your character, and I wanted to see the female version at least once.

**Souls games, too. They’re just so goddamn special.

Leave a reply