Why Bloodborne is the new Dark Souls

Friday, 27 June 2014 16:09 GMT By Matt Martin

Bloodborne is a Victorian horror action RPG and a spiritual successor to the Souls games. Here’s eight reasons to get excited for Miyazaki’s latest.

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Bloodborne isn’t a sequel to Demons Souls or a continuation of the Dark Souls brand – it’s an entirely new, original IP.

That was the message during my Bloodborne briefing by From Software and director Hidetaki Miyazaki, but I wasn’t buying it at the start and I certainly didn’t believe it after watching 50 minutes of gameplay. If you apply the duck test it’s clear to me it’s Demons Souls and Dark Souls and more – and that’s something to be celebrated, not ashamed of.

Here are eight reasons why all Dark Souls fans should be rubbing their gauntlets in anticipation of Bloodborne:

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It comes from great stock

Bloodborne is being developed by From Software, directed by Hidetaki Miyazaki and produced by Sony Japan as an exclusive for the PlayStation 4. I don’t need to tell you Miyazaki worked on the original Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, and From Software worked on both, as well as Dark Souls 2 (and Xbox 360 gem Ninja Blade). But don’t underestimate Sony Japan’s involvement in this. An exclusive means it gets special care and attention for the PS4 platform and a proper marketing budget. If Sony puts its weight behind it, it’s an indication of something very special.

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Miyazaki is influenced by classic gothic horror

Victorian and gothic horror have been major influences for director Miyazaki, and you can smell the inspiration from classic literature like Dracula, Frankenstein, Jekyll & Hyde and Murders in the Rue Morgue. Bloodborne is also a story of man as beast, humanity versus its dark nature – the story concerns humans that have been turned into monsters by a virus in the fictional city of Yharnham. The city looks like Victorian London or Edinburgh, but Miyazaki says he doesn’t want it associated with one place, and it’s more influenced by Eastern European architecture and structures.

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Fights are proactive, not defensive

Miyazaki wants the player to fight for his or her life with every confrontation – so far, so Dark Souls. But where he claims it differs is in encouraging the player to press the attack, to pro-actively battle the enemy. A criticism with Dark Souls is that you stand with sword and shield and wait for enemies to strike before countering with your own blows. In Bloodborne you must attack first confidently and without hesitation, or run the risk of becoming quickly overwhelmed.

We witnessed the main character regularly tackle multiple enemies – in one case, three monsters at close quarters, a fourth with a firearm, and an unpredictable and vicious dog. There’s a lot of dodging – but not to escape – more as a way of staying a step ahead of your enemies.

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Transformative weapons and firearms add depth to combat

Weapons in Bloodborne have at least two different states, allowing you to transform them for alternative attacks. You can transform the weapon during combat too, almost instantaneously, to take advantage of multiple attacks. These weapons (like the Saw Cleaver shown during our demo) can be tweaked and strengthened throughout the game, although not upgraded significantly.

Bloodborne also introduces firearms to combat, but not for long-range attacks. Guns are used as close-quarters weapons, usually as more defensive or counter attacks, and are devastating at close range.

There’s beauty in the beast

What we’ve seen so far is only an alpha build with no HUD but it already looks pretty damn stunning. The moonlight reflections on the cobblestones, the incredible detail in the architecture, the decorative stones and the carved gargoyles, the wet blood on clothing, grass blowing in the breeze, the fumes and smoke as bodies are sacrificed, the autumnal colours – this is shaping up to be one of best looking games on PS4 so far. Check out the leaked gameplay footage if you don’t believe us.

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Exploration will be rewarding

The game is set in one expansive, interconnected location, but Miyazaki promises to offer lots of variety in the different districts of Yharnham. There will be shortcuts and hidden areas as you’d expect, but it’s not just about exploring the physical world. As in Dark Souls, there are untold stories of the city to uncover, none of which are likely to be presented in plain sight.

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Enemies will stalk the map

The Dark Souls games are a little stiff. Enemies appear in the same spots every time you approach an area and there are only a handful of other characters who dot the vast maps, dishing out cryptic advice (that’s not necessarily a criticism, it’s partly why the Dark Souls games are so great). But in Bloodborne enemies will be wandering around the environment, meaning you can’t expect them to be in the same place twice. Learning by rote is out, improvising is in.

Also, the population of Yharnham has a purpose. You can help save some of the NPCs from a monster attack if you want to, and in return they might help you with a boss fight later on in the same district of the city.

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Is bloodletting the new soul collecting?

This is part speculation from us, but there’s something more to the frequent and messy bloodletting than just visual effects. The game is awash with blood, and when asked if there was a gameplay reason behind it Miyazaki just replied that he hadn’t decided if it was to be more than just graphical. Maybe the main character benefits from soaking up the blood in the same way as you collect souls from the dead in Dark Souls. It would certainly tie-in with the name of the game, wouldn’t it? Blood born, indeed.

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