Bit late to the table with this review, but as mentioned in a previous article, we are poor and don’t get sent everything for free, so better late than never. I’m a huge fan of the Souls games and Bloodborne was no exception, having done multiple play-throughs, some involving taking advantage of the duplication glitch before it was patched out (although not for online play, that’s a dick move).
One of my criticisms of the Bloodborne game was the lack of variety in builds. With only a small amount of different weapons in the game, there was only a limited way of playing it and early doors, the Arcane and Bloodtinge builds were next to useless. Or too challenging for me. Delete as you feel is applicable. Thankfully, a whole mess of new weapons have been introduced, including a bow, which combined with the monocular, makes sniping a possibility. Some of these new weapons are fantastic and the downside now was finding a particular favourite to stick with, meaning constant going back to the Hunters Dream and changing out the best blood gems.
It is an often made point that Bloodborne and indeed any of the Miyazaki directed Souls games have incredible level design. The Yarnham area of the game had a myriad of shortcuts and this game expands on that, creating a nightmarish version of this area, populated by quick NPC hunters as well as the usual mobs. This new version of the area seamlessly links the Yarnham and Cathedral Ward areas of the game into one, feeling both familiar and alien at the same time. The Research Hall area accessed during the mid-portion of the DLC is another example of such intricacies and has the mind bending way of changing the same area’s accessibility with a spiral staircase twisting up one floor. Another new area is also added to the game in the form of the fishing hamlet/ coast adding more Lovecraftian Eldritch enemies to encounter.
There are five new bosses to fight in the game; Ludwig, Living Failures, Maria, Orphan of Kos and Lawrence. And like previous Souls DLC entries, they are all much more difficult than most of the main game. The first of which almost had me abandoning the game completely as I began to doubt my skill. Thankfully I persevered and was treat to the adrenaline rush of overcoming tough odds that the Souls series doles out in spades. The following two bosses were defeated in the first attempt, although watching other people play through this online, that isn’t universally the case. One thing I have always loved about the From Software games is that different people see different bosses as more challenging. For example, I struggled immensely with Grey Wolf Sif in the first Souls game, much to the amusement of other people I knew playing the game, yet the dreaded Ornstein and Smough were beaten on the second attempt. I digress, the Old Hunters bosses are a varied bunch and none feel like repetitions of what has come before, something Dark Souls 2 was particularly guilty of.
The Old Hunters is probably the best expansion that From Software have produced to date, although the £15.99 price tag is a little much for the content available, especially considering you can pick up a brand new version of the original game for the same price now. I was able to complete the whole thing in a single seven hour session, but this could be much longer if you are less familiar with the game series, or even shorter if you don’t meticulously explore. There is the Game of the Year version available now, containing both versions, so if you haven’t delved in to this game yet, now is the perfect time to do so.