Bloodborne DLC: The Old Hunters – Review
From Software has had a solid track record when it comes to post-launch DLC. Artorias of the Abyss for Dark Souls and The Lost Crown Trilogy from Dark Souls 2 introduce some of the best content in their respective game. Bloodborne’s first and likely only expansion, The Old Hunters, stays true to the developer’s reputation of offering quality DLC. The Old Hunters has everything you can ask for in a DLC: new weapons, items, costumes, enemies, lore, bosses, and areas, yet at the same time, blending perfectly into the themes and setting of the core game.
In The Old Hunters, players will explore “The Hunter’s Nightmare”, a literal nightmare where corrupted Hunters of the past dwell in a perpetual Hunt. In order to put an end to this hellish state, players will uncover the Hunters’ and Healing Church’s darkest secrets aggressively kept hidden from the world.
The first area of the DLC will be immediately recognized by existing players as it’s a remodeled version of Yharnam from the core game, fitted to resemble an area such as Nightmare Frontier. I’m a little 50/50 on this design as it feels like an easier way to make a “new area” instead of designing a new level entirely. At the same time, it fits with the lore, considering it is a nightmare, which would consist of areas familiar with the one constructing the dream world. There are sections of this area designed in a way to make it look like something new, such as removing a wall to connect a different pathway, but most of what you see will be familiar. The Artorias of the Abyss DLC from Dark Souls did the exact same thing, but to a more successful degree. In fact, for some time people weren’t entirely sure if a particular area from the Artorias DLC was the same area from the core game, fueling speculation, until it became obvious the area was just reoriented and had new ascetics. Fortunately, some of the later sections of the game are completely new.
Despite the familiar view, this trip through Yharnam offers a different experience. Hunters and beast clash as you walk by, which can be used to your advantage. The numerous beasts can be used to distract the much more powerful hunters for an easier kill. These AI interactions included some really cool moments that caught me by surprise. The sense of past, rudimentary hunting techniques are apparent as you discover new weapons and armor that seem to be from an older generation not yet perfected.
There is no need to worry about any lack of content here; The Old Hunters is dense with new material. The most surprising is the amount of new weapons which almost doubles the amount in the main game (at least for primary weapons). A couple of my favorites are the awesomely named “Whirligig Saw” and “Boom Hammer”. The Whirligig Saw is a club that transforms into a giant buzz saw, and the Boom Hammer is war hammer with a built-in furnace that can be ignited to deal fire damage. There are also some much needed Covenant Runes with a couple having some VERY interesting affects that I won’t spoil. The weapons alone make The Old Hunters great because they make me want to replay the game with different character builds just to try out new weapons.
Don’t expect to breeze through the experience, in fact I’d recommend not playing this DLC for the first time on New Game Plus, unless you really, really want a challenge. Some of the bosses are really rough, to the point where I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to beat them by myself. Like always, I managed to persevere, but it took many, many blood vials, bullets, and Insight. I made the mistake of starting with a fairly low level character of 55, and had to gradually level-up to take on a few bosses. It’s notable to mention the number of new bosses was of just the right amount; one of which was perhaps my favorite boss fight in the entire game.
Bloodborne’s core game lacked NPC interaction and questlines; it was one of my biggest complaints about the game. Old Hunters remedies the shortage by adding tons of new NPC interactions that build off the existing story and uncovers some major revelations. Many of the characters are minor, but they help enhance the lore, and many fans will agree; they love their lore. There were also hardly any NPC summons to assist in combat in the main game, but that too was addressed. In addition to new, regular summons, there is a new covenant called, “The League”, that includes exclusive NPC summons as long as you have a specific Rune equipped. “The League” was introduced for free as part of a new patch, but I’m including it with this DLC as it was released very close together, and the mechanics can frequently be found within The Old Hunters.
The Old Hunters enhances Bloodborne in every way and improves on every aspect the original game lacked. For anyone who loves the Lovecraftian setting of the game, there is even a new area called, Fishing Hamlet, that strongly reminded me of The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The $20 price tag felt like a fair amount to pay and worth the money. I strongly recommend picking up this DLC for anyone who has played or plans on playing Bloodborne.
Style – Single-player/Co-op, Action RPG
Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer – From Software, SCE Japan Studio
Release – November 2015