The Souls series has come a long way since From Software debuted Demon’s Souls on the PS3. I remember reading an article about it, speaking about the unforgiving content and world where a single misstep could send you to your demise, and I grew more and more excited in the days to come before release. My patience was rewarded as I booted up for the first time, created my first character, and was killed nonchalantly by the undead enemies in the first act. I ran straight into my demise so many times before catching on to how the combat was supposed to work. I felt like a king unlocking the first shortcut. The Phalanx fell quickly to my flames. Then I reached the Tower Knight, where once again I was killed over, and over, and over.
I saved Boletaria in the end. It took me quite a while, but Demon’s Souls became easy finally. I knew enemy locations, attack patterns, where all the easy to grab loot was, I was done. When Dark Souls was announced I was ecstatic. The fact that it was a spiritual successor didn’t shake my faith one bit; my mind instantly drifted to thoughts of what may be. When it came out, there was no hesitation making it a day one purchase on Tuesday and I’d finished it by Friday.
This time around, I was much more prepared. I knew the basic mechanics and while a few things like the bonfires were new, I had no problems getting to the first boss. However, my pride was quickly shattered as he tore me to pieces and sent me back to square one. Something similar happened when Dark Souls 2 came out, although I didn’t go in with nearly as much confidence this time. It took me a bit longer but after I had lit all the bonfires and become the new king of Drangleic, again I was finished.
“Bloodborne, the spiritual successor to the Souls series, will likely live up to the expectations of fans, if not possibly even surpass them.
Now, From Software has a new title that arrives on PS4 March 24: Bloodborne, the spiritual successor to the Souls series. Not only was this announcement one of the major reasons I bought a PS4, but it’s been the game I’ve been looking forward to the most for quite a while. What’s been promised and shown so far is clear testament that Bloodborne will likely live up to the expectations of fans, if not possibly even surpass them. However, this time around there has been some rather large changes.
First of all, there are no shields. The game is set in Yharnam, a city akin to Victorian-era London and has much more of a steampunk feel. Sword and board is out, saw and musket is in. The developers have stated they wanted to speed up the combat a bit, and that’s easily achieved by forcing players to move around. You can’t simply turtle behind a shield any more and figure out your enemies. Instead, you have a musket that can stun monsters in their tracks and allow for counter-attacks. These can actually heal you too, another new feature. While some are saying this will make the game too easy, I firmly disagree. In my opinion it’s a great risk versus reward mechanic that won’t always be easy to pull off.
“Sword and board is out, saw and musket is in… you can’t simply turtle behind a shield any more and figure out your enemies.”
Aside from lacking shields, combat itself seems sped up. Animations and dodges are faster, both your own and the enemy’s. You can also charge attacks now, and many weapons can transform. While not quite near twitch-action games like Devil May Cry, this is all a very nice change of pace from Dark Souls 2 and I’m eager to play the final build on release day. I’m a big fan of other action games so the speed won’t be anything new, but most games aren’t quite as forgiving. I fully expect to be torn limb from limb.
Another big change is the new Blood system. Players will be collecting Tainted Blood from their fallen foes, which if they consume too much of will cause them to turn into beasts. It will be harder to control your character, and the world will change visually. This can be fixed by consuming Pure Blood, sort of like consuming stones of ephemeral eyes in Demon’s Souls. This is what I’m most intrigued by as so far I’ve gotten pretty used to being hollow or in soul form.
As for magic, it’s all but gone. Fitting with the steampunk theme, gadgets have taken that place and I know they’re going to be a big part of my first build. I must admit I’m a bit conflicted here; on one hand, magic is always pretty cool and it was tons of fun leveling up to the point where you can cast powerful spells, but on the other hand magic or faith builds did get a little overpowered. It’s still in Bloodborne, just to a much lesser extent apparently. Instead I’m sure you’ll find yourself tossing traps and firebombs so it’s certainly not the end of the world. Overall, I think they’re making the right decisions in sticking with the theme. Yharnam is a very different city and I’m sure that will remain apparent throughout the entire game.
“There are tons of elements in line with From’s previous releases but Bloodborne is a new start, and deserves its chance to spark a new series.”
The art style and environment are more reminiscent of Demon’s Souls, at least from what’s been revealed. Dark Souls 2 became a bit too light for me, and the darkness of Demon’s Souls will fit this more savage title quite well. Everything seems so brooding and ominous, and the monster design is frightening. The best part of all this is with Bloodborne, I don’t feel like I’m just getting a spiritual successor. When Dark Souls initially released, I was thrilled because despite its changes it still felt like the sequel to Demon’s Souls. Bloodborne doesn’t illicit that same feeling but instead makes me think of it as truly its own game, and I think that’s perfect. Yes, there are tons of elements in line with From’s previous releases, but this just feels so fresh and vibrant. It’s as if someone breathed some life into the Old King and sent him into the future, in a land far different from Boletaria. Bloodborne is a new start, and deserves its chance to spark a new series.
With only about a week away my excitement is boiling over and I’m not alone. With prices being as high as they are and disappointments being released more and more frequently, AAA titles are sometimes a bit of a gamble, especially if you don’t have a lot of money to spend. However, I already know I’ll be getting this on day one. I hate that I want a physical copy, because it means I can’t just download and instantly play as soon as possible. From Studios has done a great job in the past, and Bloodborne surely won’t be an exception. All I ask is that they somehow manage to sneak those three little words somewhere into the beginning of the game so we can all be reminded once again of what is to come: you will die.