Review: Bloodborne: The Old Hunters (DLC)

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Title: Bloodborne: The Old Hunters
Format: PlayStation Network Download (32.76 GB Game+DLC)
Release Date: November 24, 2015
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: FROM Software
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: M
Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is exclusive to PlayStation 4.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Review of the Original Game :
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Gameplay:
With “Game of the Year” and “Golden Minecart” talk starting to percolate all around the internet, I was seeing Bloodborne mentioned a lot for a variety of awards. This didn’t surprise me since I rather liked the game when it originally launched. However, there was that nagging feeling. Did Bloodborne really deserve to hang with the tons of other fantastic games that came out this year?

The Old Hunters expansion was the perfect excuse to dip my toe back into the world of Yharnam and see how the game, and the expansion, held up. However, dipping my toe turned out to be less and less apt a metaphor as the game threatened to suck me back in all over again.

Since Bloodborne isn’t the typical “hit you over the head with story” RPG, it makes sense that the DLC isn’t really a new epilogue or chapter in a story. That being said, it does explore some aspects of the world and setting. Once players access the DLC (more on that later), they are sent to the Hunter’s Nightmare, a strange realm seemingly adrift in time. This area holds a few of the characters that exist in the flavor text and backstory of Bloodborne, letting players meet (and of course fight) some of these characters who previously showed up in name only.

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The new area is a pretty sizable chunk of world to explore. Starting out in a twisted, strange version of the Cathedral Ward area of the first game, the new area eventually fleshes out into several completely new locals including a large, multi-level research building and a creepy fishing village. There’s less of the circling around and finding new routes like in the base game though, as the new areas mostly go from one to the next to the next. However, there are plenty of nooks and crannies full of secrets to explore.

Those secrets include a handful of new weapons to find. Bloodborne’s right hand weapons are all still “trick weapons,” meaning they can be transformed in some way by pressing L1. Some of the new weapons include one that can transform into a bow and another that can be lit on fire to deal explosive fire damage on the next attack. There are supposedly a few new left hand weapons as well but I’ve only managed to find one so far.

… content is first accessible pretty early on …
New weapons don’t mean much without something to use them on and The Old Hunters includes some new enemies and bosses to fight in its new areas. Just like the base game, the new enemies can be brutal, especially when they catch the player unaware. The new bosses seem like they could be pretty tough as well, although I made the mistake-ish of going into the new area very overleveled.

In terms of slotting into the main game, this content is first accessible pretty early on. I’ll detail the exact way to get here at the end of the review in case anyone would consider it a spoiler. The recommended level for the area, according the review guide, is 65. That’s a bit high considering when the player can first get access.

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On the other hand, I went into the new areas with my Platinum trophy, end-of-the-game character who is already past level 130. This made the new content a little easier than I would have liked and it allowed me to brute force my way through some of the encounters. I still died on a few occasions, as even level advantages aren’t overwhelming in the game, but it still made the new content easier than it would have otherwise been.

Outside of that though, The Old Hunters is a great addition to Bloodborne. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking to change up the model set forth in the base game. However, the original was good enough that even just adding more of the good stuff makes for a pretty satisfying experience.

… not a lot looks all that new here …
Visuals:
Not much has changed in the graphics department here. The game is still stunning and beautiful in a grotesque sort of way. The new enemies range from the gnarled, twisted abominations of science to the fishy inhabitants of the village. The new areas are hauntingly alluring as the drive to explore and find stuff overtakes the fear of what’s around the corner.

Enemies and areas alike fit in well with the established art direction of the game which is both good and bad. Good in that the package feels like a cohesive whole but bad in that not a lot looks all that new here. One nice, new touch in the areas that I noticed is that some of them seem to have more ‘living’ components. For example a pile of half dead corpses in one section, which would reach out and moan as the player passed.

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Audio:
Like the graphics, the audio hasn’t changed much from the base game. The sound design is still fantastic with the tense lack of music in most areas swelling in to the boss fight music that is great at putting the player on edge during a challenging fight.

One aspect of the audio that I noticed though was the recurring theme of bells. They’re already pretty prevalent in the original (and indeed in several of the Souls games as well) but here the theme seemed even stronger.

… Matchmaking has been improved …
You hear them everywhere from the ominous clock tower bells that ring as the player approaches new areas to the sinister bell-ringing NPC in a jail cell. Some stronger enemies in the last area also spawn in with a bell sound, leading to the “oh shit” moment of trying to find where they are when hearing that sound.

Online/Multiplayer:
The Old Hunters doesn’t do much on its own to shake up the Souls-formula multiplayer. All of the same old components are here, from the ability to summon allies to help with bosses, to the ability to invade other players on certain occasions. However, several updates to the base game have made some minor changes from what I wrote in my original review.

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Note: The rest of this section applies to patches available to all Bloodborne players regardless of whether they buy The Old Hunters DLC.

Matchmaking has been improved, making it easier to find other players online. They’ve also streamlined the process for doing cooperative play in the chalice dungeons and made it easier to match up with friends using the existing password system.

The most recent patch added The League, a new faction the player can join. Players in this faction get points for participating in co-op play. The points are tracked on a leaderboard, although sadly there doesn’t seem to be much reward beyond the first point, where the player is rewarded with a new emote if they talk to the right NPC.

… a great addition for any hunter …
Conclusion:
The Old Hunters is simply more Bloodborne, and a decent sized chunk at that. I’ve already spent ten or so hours exploring the new areas and there’s still plenty I haven’t found. With at least four new bosses to challenge and a handful of new weapons to play with, this is a great addition for any hunter looking to jump back into the world of Yharnam.

Score:
9.0


How to access the Hunter’s Nightmare

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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