Bloodborne doesn't give you that many weapons to choose from, but it does give you a lot of ways to power up and customise them.
Bloodborne guide: how to upgrade weapons
In Bloodborne, upgrading and customising your weapons is one of the most important ways to improve your damage output. In general, you'll see far greater results via upgrades and customisation than by levelling up when you reach end game.
Weapon upgrades and customisations are both performed at the Workshop bench in Hunter's Dream, and have different requirements:
- To upgrade your weapon, you need upgrade materials and Blood Echoes.
- To customise your weapon, you need at least one Blood Gem, and must have obtained the Blood Gem Workshop Tool from the path between Central Yharnam and the Cathedral Ward.
You can upgrade and customise all Trick Weapons and Firearms. Let's talk about the two processes individually.
Upgrading your weapons will improve their basic statistics, increasing damage output, and in some cases also increases the number of Blood Gem slots available for customisation; see below for details on that.
Upgrades are permanent and cost Blood Echoes - the game's main currency - as well as consuming Blood Stone.
Initial upgrades (up to +3) require Blood Stone Shards. Later upgrades (up to +6) require Twin Blood Stone Shards. Beyond this (up to +9) you'll need Blood Stone Chunks, and the final upgrade (+10) requires a Blood Rock.
Once you have upgraded a weapon, you lose the upgrade materials you used forever. This doesn't matter much when it comes to Shards and Twin Shards, but Chunks and Rocks are much more rare, and without farming many players will only find enough of them to fully upgrade one or perhaps two weapons.
As such, it's important to ensure you really like a weapon and intend to keep using it before committing to any upgrade requiring Blood Stone Chunks. Otherwise, go nuts - Shards and Twin Shards can be found all over the place, and are dropped by many enemies.
What weapon should I upgrade?
Unlike previous From Software games, starting weapons remain a viable option right through to the end of the main story line. That said, they're not great for the harder optional areas, and won't help you much in PvP.
The meta has not yet settled (and likely won't for quite a while) so your best bet when choosing a weapon for your initially play through is to go with your gut - what feels good to you? Upgrade everything you fancy to +6 and have a play with them, finding out which options suit you best, before you commit to a Blood Stone Chunk upgrade.
Here are some general guidelines for selecting which weapons to upgrade fully:
- Check the Attribute scaling
Each weapon has the capacity to scale with up to four Attributes - Strength, Skill, Bloodtinge and Arcane. How well they scale depends on the rating in the appropriate Attribute; a blank or hyphen means the weapon does not scale with that stat. E is the lowest, then D, C, B, A and possibly S (I haven't seen an S-scaling weapon yet). If your build is low on Strength, upgrading a weapon with A-rated Strength scaling isn't necessarily worth your time. (Conversely: if you love a weapon, build up its best-scaling Attribute when levelling up.)
- Balance speed, reach and power
Because each weapon has two forms, you can usually tick two sides of this triangle off in just one weapon. Your second upgraded weapon should ideally address the remaining requirement. You need to be able to hit enemies at range, hit them fast, and hit them hard, as the situation varies.
- How are the starting stats?
Take a look at the weapon's base stats and compare it to others. How weapons line up initially is generally indicative of how they line up at +10.
- Look at the Gem slots
By +6 you should have unlocked three Gem slots. If you have a favourite Gem that you absolutely must use, the weapon you choose should have a matching socket. See below for more details on that.
- What feels good?
In the end, it all comes down to which weapon you can use most easily. If the Threaded Cane works best for you, there's no point upgrading Kirkhammer.
Weapon customisation with Blood Gems
Unlike upgrades, weapon customisation is not permanent and does not consumer any resources. Customisation works by socketing Blood Gems in weapons; when upgraded, weapons can have up to three of these. Blood Gems come in a number of shapes, as do the sockets on your weapon, so you can't use every Blood Gem you find in every weapon.
Blood Gems are not consumed when socketing, and can be freely swapped in and out. It does not cost Blood Echoes to insert, remove or swap Blood Gems.
Blood Gems come in a number of rarities indicated in the number in brackets after their name. In general, the higher the number the more powerful and interesting the gem's effects.
Some Blood Gems are set items found in the world, but most are random drops, and enemies which drop them can be farmed until you find one with stats you like. You can collect a pretty huge number of gems before you have to start clearing out your storage to fit more in, so go wild farming them. Later areas in the game have better drops.
Blood Gems can have many and varied effects. Examples include but are not restricted to:
- Increased physical damage
- Increased physical damage of one or more type
- Change Physical damage to elemental or Arcane type
- Add status effect chance to weapon damage
- Increase damage when health full
- Health regenerates
- Better scaling
Combining your best gems in a single weapon can result in genuinely game-changing effects. Note that you can apply gems to all four of your equipped weapons; effects are only active while you're holding them, though.
One final note not strictly related to weapon customisation, but part of any advanced build, is to pay attention to what Runes you have equipped. In addition to the generic "carry more Blood Vials" and "earn more Blood Echoes" ones, you can set yourself up for battle with specific resistances and abilities, which is worth investigating. You need to defeat the Hemwick Witch in order to use Runes.
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