Bloodborne journal, part 2: Snake? Snake?! SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!

By Brenna Hillier, Thursday, 9 April 2015 09:19 GMT

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The Hunter I summoned must have been about the same level as me, and their gear wasn’t that great – but they wowed me with their skill. It was at this point that I started to think seriously about upping my own game. I wasn’t having any trouble exploring the environments, but the bosses were smashing me; there was something I was missing.

I spent a little time volunteering for co-op here, to take a look at how other Hunters were approaching the game. It seemed a lot of players were struggling with the Beast, so I figured there’d be plenty of opportunities to help out. This was correct, and also, I had a really great time. I still wasn’t learning anything beyond “everyone else has already done Rom and the Tontirus suicide run”, though, so I moved on.

After a little time exploring the new areas opened by the death of the Beast, including an unhappy side trip to Yahar’gul, Unseen Village, and my total failure to collect the badge needed to purchase Ludwig’s Holy Sword (arrrgh), I knuckled down on the Cathedral Ward.

Do you know, I hate it there? I hate it so much. There are three reasons for this. The first is Gravekeepers.

Fuck Gravekeepers.

The second is that I kept running into Death Dealers.

The third is that gate you need to buy a key to open – or possibly can open by going around the other way. For reasons I still don’t quite understand, you need to open this gate in order to common a co-op partner.

I really needed a co-op partner. I suspect now I was under-levelled for Vicar Amelia, actually, but at the time all I knew is I was terrified. It wasn’t that I wasn’t getting the timing right; it was that I had no opportunity to figure out that timing, because Amelia was killing me so quickly.

She’s a terrifying boss. She seems to fill the whole screen. All you need to do is get behind her, but doing that is difficult when you’re screaming and crying and her claws stretch across the whole room, blocking your progress and one-shotting you.

I spent a day trying to figure out why co-op wasn’t working, trawling dozens of forum threads of other players asking the same question. 24 hours later, the mystery had been solved. (Another 24 hours or so after that, From Software got back to me through several layers of translators and PR representatives to explain, too. That was kind of cool. I should have asked them something more exciting.)

Once again, summoning a co-op buddy got me through the battle in one go. I said earlier that co-op is Bloodborne’s easy mode, and this was really brought home to me by this second experience.

I started to feel a bit uncomfortable about using co-op all the time. I have no ambitions to be some sort of epic master Hunter or anything, but co-op isn’t always available, and I wanted to be comfortable enough in my own skills to not freak out when the difficulty ramped up – as I knew it would, and soon.

My next destination was Hemwick Charnel Lane. This area is optional and pretty short, and after you pass the deceptively difficult entrance path.

To get to Hemwick Charnel Lane you need to pass through a very nasty wooded area full of Henchmen with rifles. These guys are annoying enough on their own, but in mobs, they’re a nightmare. I spent more time making my way through this area than in Hemwick Charnel Lane itself. Because I’m an idiot, and I really wanted those Bone Marrow Ashes. They’ll be great for PvP! …eventually.

I also spent a great deal of time right at the end of the Lane, where a couple of Cleaver Brutes guard the path to the boss. It was here that I finally, finally started to get good at the game.

These guys just keep killing me. I died to them over and over again. I hadn’t met a single enemy this tough since the Netherbeasts right back at the start. I couldn’t stagger them with my feeble weapon and stats, and I couldn’t survive their attack combos. And these weren’t bosses!

Rather than fall into despair (again), I set my jaw. Clearly there was a lesson I needed to learn, and by gum, I was going to learn it now, before I needed it somewhere else.

In fact, there were two:

  1. Countershots are absolutely god damned vital. You could finish all the previous Souls games without ever using parry and riposte, but Bloodborne players really need to get Countershots down pat if they’re not willing to massively over-level.
  2. Dodging is not the same as in past Souls games. The quick side-step is vital. You need to be able to use it to move forward and under enemy attacks, counter-attacking.

Thank you, Cleaver Brutes, for teaching me this. I became a better Hunter thanks to you.

Next: more snakes than anybody has ever asked for.

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