Bloodborne offers a never-ending pool of content in the form of Chalice Dungeons.
Bloodborne guide: what are Chalice Dungeons?
Bloodborne hails from a studio famed for its intricate level design, so it's a little bit surprising that From Software has elected to include procedurally-generated content this time. On the other hand, this means your appetite for new challenges will never go unanswered.
Entirely optional, Chalice Dungeons are huge, multi-layer labyrinths sprawling beneath Yharnam. Each one is unique, but can be shared by uploading your dungeon for other players to access. You can download other's dungeons, too. There's a good 30 hours or more of content in the main Chalice Dungeon questline.
To play through a Chalice Dungeon, you'll need to wait until you've collected a Chalice and other necessary items to perform the access ritual. Inside, you'll encounter randomised enemies, traps, loot and bosses. Chalice Dungeons can be speedrun to complete boss battles for rewards, or explored thoroughly for treasure farming.
Chalice Dungeons come in a variety of difficulty. The deepest levels of later Chalices are extremely difficult - far, far, far more difficult than anything in the main game - whereas if you wait till end game to play early levels you'll find them boringly easy. In general, it's best to tackle them as you come to them. Note that Chalice Dungeon difficulty does not scale with new Game Plus, so there's no harm putting it off.
How to enter a Chalice Dungeon
The earliest you can access a Chalice Dungeon is after defeating the Blood-starved Beast in Old Yharnam, an optional but very worthwhile boss. This battle awards you the Pthumeru Chalice.
There are many different Chalices to collect, either within Chalice Dungeons themselves or from optional bosses in Bloodborne itself. The Chalices vary by Depth (difficulty) and material required to start the ritual, as well as by tile set - what sort of rooms, bosses and treasure you will find within.
Take the Chalice to Hunter's Dream and activate one of the dark altars along the stairs to begin a ritual. Entry level components can be purchased from the Bath Messengers, whereas high level ritual components are farmed within the Chalice Dungeons themselves.
When the ritual is complete you'll see a list of available Lanterns - just one originally, and more as you explore and unlock them - which you can warp to, just as with the Lanterns in the main game.
The Dungeon you create is randomly generate and unique to you, although it can be shared. Although the contents are randomly selected from an appropriate pool, here's what to expect:
- Within Chalice Dungeons, the main path is marked by a pair of gold-coloured lamps outside a door. Any paths you see before this lead to an optional side area, disconnected from the main dungeon, where you can usually find more ritual components.
- In the main dungeon, you will always encounter a gate marked by purple lamps. The main goal of each dungeon level is to find the lever that opens this gate, in order to proceed to the boss and ultimately the next level down. When you have found the lever and opened the gate, the lamps turn pale blue, allowing you to navigate quickly through completed sections. Beyond the gate, you'll find another golden lamp door leading to the boss, and possibly another side path with more ritual components.
- Having beaten the boss you'll find another Lantern, as well as a lift to the next level of the Chalice Dungeon.
Completing the Chalice Dungeon "quest line"
You need to complete every level of every Chalice to "finish" Chalice Dungeons.
As you complete each Chalice Dungeon, visiting every level, you'll receive a new Chalice leading to the next most difficult one. We suggest doing Pthumeru, Central Pthumeru, Hintertomb and then Central Hintertomb first. Completing Central Hintertomb rewards you with the Short Ritual Root Chalice, which you can use on the first altar to unlock quick multiplayer.
Otherwise, organising co-op and invasions in Chalice Dungeons is pretty difficult. You cannot initiate a co-op session in a Chalice Dungeon unless a player is currently playing the exact same Chalice Dungeon, so you will need to upload and share your creation, or both download the same one from the server.
Loot farming and weapon variants
As you complete Chalice Dungeons you will also receive Root Chalices. Every time you enter a Chalice Dungeon created from a Root Chalice, it will be randomised - although you can use codes, shareable among players, to generate the same one again. In general, Root Chalice Dungeons are a quick, fun way to farm or level up, as well as find sweet new loot, without doing the same thing over and over again. They are not part of the progression chain which leads you from one Chalice Dungeon set to another in increasing difficulty.
One of the key reasons to play Chalice Dungeons is to find Uncanny and Lost weapons. These are variant versions of the weapons that exist in the main game with different arrangements of Blood Gem types, allowing for unique customisations.
You can also use Root Chalice Dungeons to collect loot well ahead of when you might be able to find it in the main game, thanks to codes shared by other players.
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