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When Bloodborne launched earlier this year it was a special game. Still the best experience I’ve had on PlayStation 4 so far; it was a beautiful yet horrifying game. Perhaps most well known for it’s extremely hard difficulty but under the surface lies so much more. When it was all said and done I felt emotionally and physically exhausted but adored the experience.
Which now brings us to The Old Hunters; Bloodborne’s first and seemingly only expansion. Jumping back into a game so unforgiving after seven months without playing definitely takes a little getting used to but I was surprised with how quickly I got back to slaying beasts with relative ease. Bloodborne’s combat is still as brutal but satisfying as ever and is one of the main draws of the game.
The beginning areas of the expansion will be familiar to Bloodborne veterans. You start in what looks like an even creepier Cathedral Ward but things quickly change into something new entirely. I was worried we would see a lot of reused environments but that isn’t the case at all. Exploring and seeing new areas is a huge reason why I love this game and that is still here in full force.
Early on you are tasked to fight multiple hunters which were one of the most annoying enemies to fight in the base game. They are a lot easier this time round and once you get out of the initial area you start to fight all sorts of new and returning enemies which is way better.
There are sixteen new weapons contained in this expansion which cover an entire range of different types of weapons. Whilst around half just seems like slightly different versions of past favorites like the Saw Cleaver; there are so many cool weapons that are totally different to anything seen in the main game. In particular the Whirligig Saw and Holy Moonlight Sword are both awesome. It’s just a small shame they all start completely un-upgraded so for them to actually be effective and not just fun novelties you will have to spend some time upgrading them. The game also switches up previous expectations by actually including a shield that isn’t completely useless as well as brass knuckles you can use instead of a gun.
As always the game has just incredible sound and level design. They are so many stunningly eerie environments to discover and one of the best parts about this expansion is how much is completely optional. If you stray from the path from time to time you will discover entirely new areas that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. At one point I went down a dark hole which resulted in me discovering a new area that contained a brand new weapon I would have otherwise missed. There was also a previous boss from the main game just chilling down there, acting like a normal enemy which was a great touch albeit rather scary.
Another interesting area is a labyrinthian room filled with long and winding staircases that sometimes lead to nowhere. It’s very reminiscent of the prison area in Demon’s Souls and starts out incredibly confusing but you slowly start to understand the layout and what you must do to progress. Truly the only sort of level design From Software are capable of.
There are five bosses in total (one is optional) which is a good amount considering the original game had seventeen. For the price of entry of $19.99/£15.99 I would say it’s a very reasonable deal. Considering the amount of new weapons and areas that add to the replayability of this game it’s a small price to pay to fans of this incredible game.
One major new component that was added to the game in an update in preparation for this expansion is The League. It’s basically a way to summon NPC’s into your game to help you tackle the difficult bosses. It works really well and it’s a shame it wasn’t around ages ago when more people were maybe trying out Bloodborne for the first time. People still playing it probably won’t need to summon for help but it’s a great system to add regardless.
As for the new bosses themselves they are all really good well done fights. The first one is by far the hardest which shows From Software haven’t lost their twisted sense of humor and they also pull a really mean trick later in the game which was very uncalled for. Overall they are all worthy new adversaries for you to fight and wouldn’t have felt out of place in the main game.
Before I played The Old Hunters I was scared. There has been a lot of forced and unnecessary DLC for games I’ve liked recently such as The Evil Within and Arkham Knight that were so poor; actually changed the way I felt about those games. I really didn’t want this to happen to Bloodborne and thankfully it has had the opposite effect. After beating the DLC I now find myself finishing off my new game + and wanting to even stick around and just help other players so I can play with all my shiny new weapons.
This expansion is everything it should have been. It has provided me with more entertainment in a game I love but perhaps more importantly reminded me why I loved this game so much when it was originally released. Maybe this was intentional with game of the year just around the corner and if so it has worked wonders. If you, like myself had a blast with Bloodborne; don’t hesitate in picking up this expansion at once.